Open post

“High Class Confectionery”: Kate Phillips & Henry Morley

"High Class Confectionery": Kate Phillips & Henry Morley

In the spring of 1912, Henry Morley sold his candy shops.

The shops, collectively called Purveyors of High Class Confectionery and owned by L. Morley Confectioners, were fine-candy stores, and they were quite successful. The businesses were profitable enough for Henry to employ multiple shop assistants.

One of those assistants was Kate Florence Phillips, with whom Henry fell in love.

And so, on April 10, 1912, Henry and Kate boarded Titanic at Southampton. Henry's brother, who had aided him in selling the Confectioneries, waved the couple on from the quay. The lovers were planning to resettle in the United States, where they could begin a life together in San Francisco.

A candy counter in St. Louis, MO, circa 1910. Courtesy of the United States National Archives & Records Administration.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

But Henry had also left a life behind.

Henry Morley, who was 38 years old at the time he absconded with 19-year-old Kate, was a married man.

Henry had chosen to abandon his wife Louisa in order to elope with Kate. He had left "on holiday" under the pretense of going to a western climate in order to recuperate from an illness--and then he sold his businesses. Some funds were allocated to the continued support of Louisa and his daughter Doris; the rest of the money was intended as capital for a new shop in California, with Kate as his bride.

On March 2, 1912, Henry withdrew a large sum of money from his bank in Worcester. He spent the next month bouncing from address to address, passing Kate off as his wife.

Henry and Kate boarded with a joint Second-Class ticket under the very fake names of Mr. and Mrs. Marshall.

Titanic leaving Southampton, April 10, 1912. Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

How Kate and Henry spent their time during the voyage is undocumented.

While on board, or perhaps before embarking on the voyage, Henry gifted Kate with a love token he had purchased back in Britain: a silver necklace, boasting a deep-blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds. She reportedly wore it to every dinner on board, gleaming with pride.

When Titanic struck the iceberg on the night of April 14th, Henry is reported to have roused Kate from sleep. Before rushing up on deck, Henry removed Kate's necklace from a drawer and latched it around her neck.

On the boat deck, Kate wore only her cotton nightgown and her beloved necklace, and held nothing but a small seal-skin purse and her lover's arm. Henry could not swim, and he reportedly clung to Kate as they stood before the lifeboats. And then a sailor grabbed her away and forced her to board.

Kate Phillips's necklace, called the Love of the Sea. Courtesy of Titanic: The Exhibition, in NYC, November 2022.

© SOLILOQUISM

The lifeboat in question alternates between Lifeboat 11 and Lifeboat 13. It has been reported that Kate shared the lifeboat with two-month-old Millvina Dean, and that at one point, she was in Kate's arms.

Henry Morley died in the sinking. His remains were not recovered.

Young Kate arrived in New York alone, bereft, and impoverished. Somehow, she found an unnamed couple with whom to stay as she recovered from the trauma of the disaster.

And then Kate learned that she was pregnant.

Unfortunately, the couple who housed her did not want a baby to care for as well; Kate had no other option but to return to her parents' home in England.

In January of 1913, nine months after Titanic set sail and foundered, Henry Morley's daughter was born. Kate named her Ellen Mary.

It was a disgrace to be born without a father, but in my early childhood I was protected from the shame.

I was born in my grandparents' house on January 11, 1913, nine months to the day from when the Titanic called at Queenstown.

The house backed onto the river Severn and my earliest memory is of sitting in the family punt while my grandfather strapped me in. "Well make sure you won't drown," he would say. But I didn't know what he meant.

For the first nine years I was brought up by them. Once a year this woman would arrive from London and cuddle and smother me in kisses. I couldn't bear it. I had no idea who she was.

Ellen's paternity, though never publicly conceded, appears to have been acknowledged by payments made to Ellen's grandparents by Henry Morley's brother, in order to pay for her schooling.

Ellen suffered an emotionally and physically abusive childhood as her mother's mental health deteriorated.

Per Ellen's accounts, her likeness to Henry Morley seemed to amplify her mother's emotional pain. She would reprimand her young daughter for looking at her, for instance, because she had her father's eyes.

The shock of the Titanic must have disturbed my mother's mind. She had been on her way to another land with the man she loved. You'd think that she would love his child. But instead she rejected me...

One day, a bedridden Kate placed a gift in Ellen's hands.

When I was sixteen, my mother gave me a diamond and sapphire necklace and a seal-skin purse with two keys inside. She simply gave them to me with the words, "Here. Take these. They're yours, now," and she would not explain. I did not realize their importance, because she could never speak about the Titanic.

Kate rarely, if ever, saw her daughter again after that.

Kate Phillips was later committed to an asylum. She died in 1964.

Kate’s necklace, which was sold to collectors in the 1990s, is now called “The Love of the Sea.”

Open post

“I Have Never Seen Such a Sky”: Vera & Albert Dick

"I Have Never Seen Such a Sky": Vera & Albert Dick

By the time he was 24 years old, Albert Adrian Dick was already on top of the world.

He and his brother had become two of the most successful and diversified business owners in Alberta, Canada. What had begun as a sawmill enterprise in 1904 had been so successful that their venture evolved, and soon thereafter also boasted a real-estate business, a three-story office building, and a hotel in Calgary called the Alexandra.

Bert, as he was known, took to high living throughout the remainder of his twenties, enjoying poker and the company of beautiful women.

But at the age of 31, Bert at last decided it was time to settle down.

So he did exactly that. He wooed and wed the beautiful--and young--Vera Gillepsie. She was 16 years old at the time, 14 years younger than he.

Their wedding was on May 31, 1911. On that very same day, across the Atlantic, the RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast.

The launch of the RMS Titanic in Belfast, Ireland, on May 11, 1911. Taken by John Westbeech Kempster.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Bert's ongoing work commitments delayed the couple's honeymoon until the winter of 1911. They traveled to Egypt, the Holy Land, France, and Italy.

Bert got into some trouble in Naples, though, when he was somehow swindled by professional gamblers. Vera was livid upon hearing the news.

Bert reportedly accompanied Vera on a lavish shopping spree on their return trip through London, in order to placate his new wife in her ire. They purchased a large number of replica antique furniture at that time, planning to furnish their new home, a Tudor-style mansion in the wealthy Mount Royal District in Calgary.

An eastward view of the intersection of 8th Avenue and Centre Streets, Calgary, Alberta Province, Canada, circa 1912.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

By this point in her honeymoon travels, Vera was homesick and missing her mother fiercely--understandable, given that she was 17 years old. But she was enlivened to learn that Bert had booked passage on Titanic's maiden voyage for their return home, and Vera would meet so many glamorous, famous people.

Vera and Bert boarded Titanic at Southampton on April 10th as First-Class passengers. The couple occupied suite B-20; a lavish accommodation, surely, but not one of the exalted "Millionaires Suites" for which Vera had hoped.

In spite of this disappointment, Vera excited urged her husband up and down the ship. She wanted to examine and experience every opulent detail: the Grand Staircase, each First-Class public space, even the horse-riding machine in the gymnasium.

Unlike many of their peers in First Class, the Dicks were not accompanied by a maid or manservant. Vera, therefore, had to unpack her clothing on her own.

She claimed she was concerned about the range of sartorial choices she had available, as she had read in fashion magazines that fine ladies on board liners like Titanic changed their outfits upwards of four times a day.

And for that first dinner on board on April 10th, Vera was particularly anxious; she did not have the same sorts of jewels and finery as other First-Class women would.

That, accompanied by the fact that the Dicks might be perceived as Nouveau Riche by their fellow passengers, caused Vera an acute dread as she and Bert entered the reception room that night. Luckily for Vera, she eyed the other women in the area and her confidence returned. Yes, she had less gemstones, but she none the less felt very pretty.

Thomas Andrews, July 1911.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

That night, Vera and Bert Dick befriended a distinguished passenger: Thomas Andrews, the chief architect for Harland & Wolff. They made pleasant and intellectual conversation; Mr. Andrews seemed to enjoy their company.

Once Vera and Albert were seated at their table, things got awkward.

Their steward, a dark-haired and attractive 20-year-old named Reginald Jones, took a shine to young Vera, and she to him. She chatted gaily and laughed with him about the menu and the ship, unabashedly enjoying their exchange.

Bert decidedly did not. Once they were alone, he scolded his wife for her mindless flirtation. It was simply indecent to have such familiarity with the waitstaff, he insisted.

Vera outright dismissed his admonishment and deliberately continued her friendly chatter with Reginald Jones throughout the meal.

Vera then became vexed, when immediately after dinner, Bert elected to retire to the men-only First-Class Smoking Lounge.

For a man with such a gambling habit, she felt very strongly that room of cigars and playing cards was a perilous place for her new husband to spend time.

The First-Class Smoking Lounge on Titanic’s older sister, Olympic, circa 1911. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Other passengers supposedly overheard the couple's argument that night, and Vera told friends that they had fight after fight during the voyage.

On the evening of April 14th, Thomas Andrews invited the Dicks to dine with him at his table. Vera, though flattered, found herself bored. Bert and Mr. Andrews spoke of nothing but the technical and engineering aspects of the ship. And because they were seated at a different table than usual, Reginald Jones was not their steward.

The gentlemen were so engrossed that the party was the last to leave the dining saloon. They migrated to the Cafe Parisien for a late-night coffee.

Le Cafe Parisien on Titanic. Taken by Robert John Welch for Harland & Wolff.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

After Vera and Albert had parted ways with Mr. Andrews, they took a brief stroll around deck. They quickly found it too cold to enjoy the exercise, and so they retired to bed.

According to Vera, they were once again arguing quite heatedly when they were startled by a noise "like a thunderclap," although in a contemporary report by the Calgary Herald, he supposedly did not find the shock terribly "severe." Per a contemporary report, Dick then went up on boat deck to hunt the cause of the disturbance, where he saw ice on the deck. He returned to Vera in their cabin.

And then, according to Vera and Bert, there was a rather urgent knock at their cabin door.

It was Reginald Jones.

He had wanted to warn the couple that a collision had occurred, and that the Captain had ordered all passengers to hasten to the boat deck with their lifebelts. Bert and Vera dressed--although Vera only in her nightgown and kimono--grabbed their lifebelts and went up on deck as Reginald Jones had advised.

[Vera] went up on deck with him, because she said she wanted to see an iceberg. They were assured by the officers that there was really no danger and were advised to go back to their cabins. They did so, but Dick himself was not absolutely assured of the ship’s safety. This uneasiness was caused, said Mr. Dick, “through a previous railway accident which I had undergone, which made me decide to make sure that everything was safe."

Once there, the Dicks saw that many other First-Class passengers were simply milling about without direction. Reticent to enter the lifeboats that were being launched before their eyes, Vera and Bert wondered if it would be prudent to remain on the ship.

But then they encountered Thomas Andrews. He advised his new friends to get into a lifeboat immediately. Mr. Andrews delivered a bewildered Vera and dazed Bert to First Officer William Murdoch, who was launching odd-numbered lifeboats off the starboard side. "More passengers for you, sir," he said to Officer Murdoch. And then Thomas bid Vera and Bert farewell.

Vera reported that during this time, Reginald Jones found them once again, and urged her to put her lifebelt on, instead of carrying it as she had been. "Put your lifejacket on, ma'am," she claimed he urged her. "It's the latest thing this season."

As Vera and Bert embraced in parting, Officer Murdoch reportedly pushed Bert by the shoulder and urged him to follow his wife into Lifeboat 3.

Mr. Dick complied.

“During the lowering of the boat – which was 70 feet above the water – several times we were in danger of being “upended” as the new rope would not work well. However, we got afloat and safely away from the ship and cautiously picked our way among the large masses of floating ice. We had some difficulty at first in finding the oars, but I eventually found one and with the stokers commenced to row. I rowed all night until I was completely played out. We saw the great liner plunge to her water grave and heard the awful cries of the drowning people after the boat had disappeared."

While in the lifeboat, Vera whispered in awe to Bert. "I have never seen such a sky... even in Canada, where we have such clear nights." Floating in the dark and without a lantern, the crewman in the lifeboat took to lighting matches to check the time.

Once on board the rescue ship Carpathia, Vera collapsed in a deck chair in tears.

The Dicks later discovered that tragically, Thomas Andrews had not survived the sinking. And neither had Reginald Jones.

Vera and Bert were interviewed by the media after they disembarked from the rescue ship Carpathia in New York City. In these reports, it certainly seems that the Vera's youthful naivete was amplified for entertainment's sake.

“We were hurried helter-skelter into the lifeboats,” she said as she clung with a vise-like grip to her husband’s arm.

“Did you save any clothing!” someone asked.

“My nightgown and kimono,” she replied.

Then, pointing to a white worsted cap that she wore Mrs. Dick said: “I bought this thing in the barber shop on board the Carpathia.”

But this was hardly the most damaging representation of the Dicks due to the disaster. Specifically, Bert Dick was scrutinized and ostracized for his survival. Like other men who were rescued in lifeboats that night, he was accused of dressing in women's clothing to be permitted to board. His objections that he had been urged into the lifeboat by the First Officer--and that he had been one of twenty or so men in that same lifeboat--did nothing to sway public opinion.

As a result, the society elites of Calgary stopped patronizing Bert's hotel. Eventually, he sold it and turned his attention to real estate.

Yet, Bert seemed unaffected by this loss. He had been set right, he said, by the Titanic disaster. In the Dicks' interview with the aforementioned Calgary Herald just two weeks after the sinking, Bert said. “This is the most trying experience that I have ever gone through, and I will never forget the awful cries and moaning of the drowning, struggling people," He put his arm around Vera. "But it is to this little woman that I owe my life.”

And in an interview with the periodical Maclean Magazine, Bert is quoted as a changed man. "[Before Titanic] I thought of nothing but money... The Titanic cured me of that. Since then I have been happier than I ever was before."

Vera and Dick went on to have a daughter named Gilda, and they were married for the rest of their lives. He died in 1970; she, in 1973.

Open post

“Am Safe – Pray God”: George Rosenshine & Gertrude Maybelle Thorne

"Am Safe - Pray God": George Rosenshine & Gertrude Maybelle Thorne

When George and Maybelle boarded Titanic in Cherboug, France, in the evening of April 10, they became acquainted with other First-Class passengers as simply “Mr. and Mrs. Thorne.”

That was, as it turns out, only partly true.

Maybelle was married, yes. Just not to George Thorne.

Because George Thorne was an alias.

His actual name was George Rosenshine, and he was Maybelle’s secret boyfriend. Together with Maybelle in their palatial cabin, he traveled on Titanic as her fake husband. The only evidence of his true identity had been hidden away, in the assorted papers in his private leather satchel he carried.

Maybelle had absconded with George on his extended business travels back in 1911. Their adventure had become a round-the-world tour. 

They went to Singapore and Indonesia. They went to Japan. And the trip had ended in Paris, where they attended a fashion show.

This ultimate stop was, of course, for the benefit of George’s business. 

George was the co-owner of Rosenshine Brothers, a prominent importer of exotic materials, and Rosenshine’s specialty was ostrich feathers. Much of George’s fortune was made, in part, in fancy millinery—that is, in really big hats. 

Ostrich feathers, however, were not the sole plumes that Rosenshine employed. The New York Times reported on October 18, 1911, regarding a robbery in the Rosenshine factory in which tropical bird feathers were also taken.

The best men in the Detective Bureau have been set on the trail of a band of burglars who escaped with $3,000 worth of ostrich plumes and bird of paradise feathers from the warerooms of Rosenshine Brothers, 57 and 59 East Eleventh Street, after they had gained an entrance to the store, which is heavily wired with burglar alarms, by coming down the chimney like Santa Claus.

Ostrich plumes and the like were ubiquitous in fancy women’s hats, as well as in feather boas and the collars of jackets and shawls. The periodical The Illustrated Milliner published the following in a 1910 issue.

“These [ostrich feather] sales store up a considerable amount of business and promote trade throughout the entire establishment. Special advertising plans, attractive window trims and unique ideas are used with most satisfactory results.”

Alongside this text is a photo of a Macy’s window display containing a lush selection of ostrich plumes from Rosenshine Brothers.

The Paris fashion show left George in low spirits. If the sartorial choices were any indication, plumes were falling out of favor in the world of feminine fashion. The size and volume of those feathers selected were significantly diminished.

Never the less, George and Maybelle exuded happiness while on board. Per the account of First-Class survivor Renee Harris, the couple appeared very much content and in love. And it would seem that most of their fellow passengers were unaware that they were in the presence of an extramarital affair.

There is limited information regarding George and Maybelle over the course of the sinking. Fellow survivor Renee Harris last observed George on deck around 12:30am, approximately 15 minutes before the first lifeboat was launched. He was leaning on a railing on the starboard side, lamenting to Maybelle about an unspecified bad investment, anticipating a stymied cash flow once they returned home to New York.

Maybelle was saved in Collapsible D. On board Carpathia, she sent a hopeful telegram, although one would not be surprised if that hope was false.

Am safe - Pray God George was rescued by another boat with rest of men. Arrive Carpathia. Mabelle Thorne.

Sadly, George Rosenshine did not survive the sinking.

His body was the 16th recovered by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett and noted as follows.

NO. 16. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 50.

CLOTHING - Dark grey overcoat; black suit; black gloves; underclothing; marked " G. R".

EFFECTS - Gold watch; memo book; bunch of keys; letter of credit; Guaranty Trust Company, New York, No. 9899; notes in pocket book; $430; U. S. A. Bond in memo book; affidavit of personal prop. For Mrs. G. M. Thorne, N. Y.; letter of indication for above.

PROBABLY FIRST CLASS

ADDRESS IN POCKET BOOK

GEO. ROSENSHINE., 57 & 59 East Eleventh St., N. Y.

George’s brother Albert was waiting in Halifax, and arranged for interment in the family plot in Queens.

For decades, George Rosenshine was  something of a mystery to Titanic historians—because no one by that name had boarded.

But in 1964, over tea with historian Walter Lord, Renee Harris let the truth slip. As tantalizing as this was, however, there was no further substantiation of the claim.

Until 1993.

That year, a leather satchel was brought up from the debris field of the Titanic wreck. It had been discovered alongside compressed silverware and a leather cigarette carrying case with cigarettes intact within.

Inside the satchel, they discovered several typed letters to George Rosenshine regarding the business. Another was from a travel agent, indicating that George and Maybelle had made a stop in Yokohama.

And one was from Albert.

From the 47 and 59 East 11th Street, Manhattan, Rosenshine to Rosenshine... The outlook for the coming year for ostrich feathers and staple goods does not look promising...

I will have Betsy kiss the baby for you. She is looking and feeling well, thank God...

Received your letters from Japan... I am more than pleased that you are having the time of your life... 

I bought last week the following stocks...

Outlook for next year for ostrich feathers not promising. There is a tendency for shaped hats that do not any [illegible] or French plumes, and what little ostrich will be sold will be in the way of simple little fancy stick-up effects, of which it will be very hard to make a season. I have been to Atlantic City and Philadelphia for the last week, and have had a good time. Felix promises me to straighten out Steurer’s account with him direct, and give me a part payment on my account which, after deducting Steur’s account , now stands on our books about $10,000. It is a hard proposition to get any money from him... Mrs. Seese was in yesterday. I lunched with her and took her out last evening. She a bill of about Y Y [sic] hundred.

On April 13, 1913, Maybelle and Renee, as well as the widow of Jacques Futrelle, sailed out from Boston to the site of the Titanic’s foundering. Flower baskets were laid on the water following  a memorial by the ship’s chaplain.

As the ship moved away, the three women sang “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Open post

“The Titanic Was Also A Vessel of Hope”: David Vartanian

"The Titanic Was Also a Vessel of Hope": David Vartanian

David Vartanian (who Armenian name was Davit) was 21 years old when his family implored him to leave them—and his new wife—behind in Armenia.

He had just married his sweetheart, Mary, in 1911.

David was a Christian, and the Armenian populace was suffering more each day, persecuted and abused by the hand of the Ottoman Empire. Additionally, there was a rumor that the Turks were beginning to draft able-bodied young men from the villages, sending them to the front lines without any weapons.

So local families collaborated to save their sons.

David Vartarian’s salvation was the kindness of his Turkish neighbors, who gave David their dead son’s papers, so that he would be permitted to leave the country.

And so David banded together with four other young men from the village. They set their course on foot for a seven-day trek to the Black Sea, where they then sailed for Marseilles, France.

Once there, the group purchased steerage tickets on the RMS Titanic. They would leave from Cherbourg.

David’s compatriot Neshan Krekorian described the steerage accommodations as snug, but comfortable.

Both David and Neshan were among those who insisted that steerage passengers were barricaded below decks. The reasoning, however, is rarely cited to be anything more than fact, although malice is often implied: Third-Class passengers were not permitted under any circumstance to enter other parts of the ship belonging to First- and Second-Class. Certain areas were always locked or closed off to prevent any wandering.

Neshan Krekorian attested to breaking a chain on a door. David said they had to break down the gates.

David Vartanian made it to the boat deck in the end and soon thereafter found himself with no other option than to jump from Titanic.

And so David watched Titanic sink.

It was his 22nd birthday.

Before leaving Armenia, David reportedly had taught himself to swim in a nearby creek; he would maintain that this incidental choice saved his life that night in the Atlantic.

David Vartanian always maintained that he swam for the nearest lifeboat, but when he reached it, the occupants within slapped and pounded at his hands to make him let go. They were terrified, he believed, that he would capsize the boat while attempting to climb in. 

David did not speak English at the time. He did not understand.

He back away, but had to swim back. When those in the lifeboat saw that David was only attempting to hold on, and not crawl in, they let him alone. He shortly fell into unconsciousness, and they hauled him into the boat.

This is sometimes speculated to have been Collapsible A, which was partially submerged.

David’s family have since been told that sometime after David had been pulled aboard unconscious, that the lifeboat went under. David swam to another, it is said, where he entered without any hesitation from the passengers in the boat.

In the end, there is no conclusive evidence to be had about which version of events is true. We only know for certain that he was somehow saved from the water.

David Vartarian and Neshan Krekorian were the only survivors of the five in their party. 

Upon reaching New York, the two men were hospitalized. According to David’s grandson, "The lower half of my grandfather’s body had a bluish tint from being in the frigid water for so long, and remained that way.”

While he and Neshan were convalescing, a reporter visited at the hospital with a translator in tow. At some point during the interview, this journalist informed David that he was one of two survivors with the same first name. When asked which he preferred, he replied, “Titanic David.”

He went by “Titanic David” for all the rest of his life.

But David’s saga had not concluded in his survival.

David eventually left Canada for Toledo, Ohio. By 1915, he had heard that the village he had left behind had been decimated in the ongoing invasion by the Ottoman Empire.

He was led to believe that his beloved wife, Mary, was dead--inevitably killed in the genocide of the Armenian people.

In 1915, Mary’s brothers had miraculously found their ways to America and had set up in Pennsylvania. David met up with them to begin a campaign to track down his dear Mary. 

Dead or alive, he had to find her.

David proceeded to write to relatives, churches and convents, orphanages, newspapers, and anyone or anything else  that occurred to him.

And six years after he left Armenia, David Vartanian found Mary alive. 

Mary had fled her village in the genocide, but had returned to live with her sister.

She herself, having heard of the disaster and nothing more, had believed that David had been killed in the sinking of the Titanic.

According to the Vartanian family, David sent Mary money for the journey for nearly five years. Their daughter Rose revealed that money in Armenia was gold coin, so Mary kept each coin on a necklace. 

One day, Mary would reunite with her husband in America. Because she was not a legal citizen, she would travel to Canada first, and then cross the border.

Immediately before Mary left Armenia for her passage to Canada, her family convinced her to leave the necklace behind because, as Rose Vartanian repeated decades on, “where you are going, the streets are paved with gold.”

Their great-granddaughter Melissa has mused on the significance of the Titanic not just from the vantage of trauma, but also of promise.

While I do agree that the sinking led to great loss and devastation, the Titanic was also a vessel of hope to so many that were fleeing persecution, or searching a better life.

Upon her arrival in Canada, Mary Vartanian was met by an Armenian friend of her husband’s. He escorted her to the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls.

According to her great-granddaughter, “They told [Mary] to walk across the bridge, to keep a good pace, and not look back, because she was obviously entering the country illegally at the time.”

And at the other end of Rainbow Bridge, waiting for his lost bride, was David Vartanian.

They had not seen each other for ten years.

Open post

“As If All the Devils of Hell Had Been Let Loose”: Henry & Clara Frauenthal

"As If All the Devils of Hell Had Been Let Loose": Henry & Clara Frauenthal

In 1906, Clara Heinsheimer divorced her husband.

This was, predictably, a scandalous notion in polite society. And Clara more or less resigned herself to raising her child, a daughter named Nathalie, all alone.

But when one of Clara’s brothers passed away, her remaining brother Alfred was left in charge of an incredible estate worth more than $5 million. 

And so Alfred established the New York Foundation, which promoted charitable and educational causes.

Alfred had an active role in the selection of candidates and the distribution of grants to those who applied on behalf of their causes. And he was one of the first to make a donation to the Hospital for Deformative and Joint Diseases.

And that was how Clara met Dr. Henry Frauenthal, the surgeon who had founded the institution.

Henry was an eminent physician, to say the least.

He had achieved a great deal of acclaim, in particular, for his methods of treating chronic joint diseases; soon, in 1905, he and his brother Herman were opening their first hospital on Lexington Avenue, before moving to a larger building on Madison Avenue in 1906.

This was when he met Clara.

Henry was an ardent believer in the principle of treating the whole person, and as such, had patients spanning race, class, age, and gender.

It was this philanthropic philosophy that brought him fame as an innovative and successful treater of children afflicted with polio, which at the time was overwhelming the nation.

Henry and Clara eloped in Nice, France, in the autumn of 1911, with only Henry’s brother Isaac coming along to serve as the best man.

Clara was 42 years old by this point; Henry, 48. They were atypical newlyweds, perhaps, but no less affectionate for it.

Henry and Clara boarded Titanic in Southampton with First Class passage. Isaac joined them at Cherbourg.

Henry’s reputation as an eminent physician followed him aboard. When First-Class passenger Irene Harris fractured her elbow because “took a header six or seven steps” on the Grand Staircase (because she had slipped on the remains of a teacake), she requested the specific supervision of Henry Frauenthal.

At dinner on Sunday, April 14, Isaac told Henry and Clara that he had had a foreboding dream. 

It seemed to me that I was on a big steamship that suddenly crashed into something and began to go down… I saw in the dream as vividly as I could see with open eyes the gradual settling of the ship, and I heard the cries of frightened passengers.

Henry replied that maybe Isaac shouldn’t have had so much cheese before dinner time, as it was clearly making his imagination work as hard as his gallbladder.

As it turned out, Isaac was the one who was awakened later that same night by the collision with the iceberg, which he described as a “long, drawn-out rubbing noise.” 

Isaac went up to A Deck, where he noticed a number of fellow First-Class passengers milling about. And when John Jacob Astor stopped Captain Smith as he was descending the steps from the bridge, Isaac overheard the conversation: the situation was dire and the ship was sinking.

Isaac ran down to Henry and Clara, pounding on their door and waking them from sleep. 

The three soon found themselves waiting at Lifeboat 5 on the starboard side, which was overseen by First Officer William Murdoch and Fifth Officer Harold Lowe.

Clara was permitted to enter the boat; Henry and Isaac followed. How exactly they did so is contested.

While no survivor accounts make mention of any sort of upset or curiosity in how the Frauenthal brothers boarded, Mrs. Annie Stengel later filed a claim with White Star in which she alleged that a “Hebrew doctor” broke her ribs and knocked her unconscious when he jumped into the lifeboat. 

The Frauenthals only learned once the lifeboat had been rowed around 100 yards away from Titanic that the ship had collided with an iceberg.

After the ship sank, Henry in particular sat heartbroken with his face in his hands, absorbed in the anguished cries of those in the water. As a physician, he knew full well how unlikely their survival truly was.

The Denver Post printed Dr. Frauenthal’s firsthand account on April 19, 1912.

When the word came that we were sinking and the lifeboats were ordered over the side, the panic was fearful. From all sides came shrieks and groans and cries, and it seemed as if all the devils of hell had been let loose. "Just now I am so thankful to be alive that my appreciation of the horror is dulled. I am only afraid that when I recover from the first shock it will all come back to me again.

It was reported that Henry, Clara, and Isaac were the very first to leave the rescue ship Carpathia upon its arrival in New York.

They took with them a young Swedish woman named Dagmar Bryhl, who had lost both her brother and her fiancé in the sinking. The girl was frightened, alone, and frail, so Clara took her immediately to Henry’s hospital for rehabilitation.

The Frauenthal brothers, particularly Henry, were maligned for their cowardice, as many surviving men were.

Shortly after the disaster, Henry called upon Irene Harris to check up on her fractured elbow, which he had helped to set on the Saturday before the sinking.

It is reported that when he began to discuss Titanic with her, she snapped, “I wouldn’t have my husband at the cost of a woman’s life.”

I swear we thought every woman on the ship had been placed safely in the boats. It was 'Women first' with all of the men, and at least it seemed as if the decks had been cleared of them, for not one was to be seen save those already lowered. Then the officers ordered the men to leave the sinking vessel and we left for the boats, not knowing, any one of us, I think how many of our fellow men we were leaving behind as prey to death.

Henry was subjected to additional scrutiny because he appeared “too neat” when disembarking the Carpathia, instead of disheveled.

But Dr. Frauenthal’s patients were nothing less than elated that he had survived. The New York Herald reported the following on April 19, 1912, about Dr. Frauenthal’s first day back at work.

When in the city Dr. Frauenthal visits the hospital between nine and ten o'clock each day. It has been assumed that he will follow his custom, and the patients will be taken in wheeled chairs to the verandas to watch for his approach, which they will greet with cheers and the waving of handkerchiefs. An informal reception inside the hospital will follow.

Dr. And Mrs. Frauenthal survived Titanic, but they were less fortunate in the years that followed. Despite professional successes and further travel abroad, Henry and Clara both suffered from mental health issues as the years bore on. 

Henry’s health deteriorated alongside his marriage: diabetes caused him to lose some of his toes—a procedure that he supervised over, of course.

On March 11, 1927, Henry Frauenthal jumped out a seventh floor window of his hospital. 

His family, including his great-nephew, believe that Dr. Frauenthal’s suicide was because of his failing health, and a fear of the diabetes-related amputations that he foresaw as inevitable.

He was 63 years old. 

Owing to social mores, Henry’s suicide could not be reported on in any direct fashion. The medical examiner listed his cause of death as “a fall from a window due to mental derangement.”

Over one thousand people attended Henry’s funeral. Per his last will and testament, his ashes were reserved until they could “be scattered from the roof of [his] hospital to the four winds” on the fiftieth anniversary of its founding: October 4, 1955.

Clara was admitted to a sanitarium shortly after Henry’s death, where she remained until she died in 1943.

Open post

“Very Fond of Playing Patience”: William Harbeck & Henriette Yrois

"Very Fond of Playing Patience": William Harbeck & Henriette Yrois

William Harbeck was ending a season-long tour of Europe when he boarded Titanic as a Second-Class passenger; he was bound for home in Toledo, Ohio.

Ever since 1906, his star had been on the rise, beginning its ascent when he filmed the immediate aftermath of the infamous San Francisco earthquake.

Montgomery Street, San Francisco, 1906. Courtesy of the Edith Irvine Collection, Brigham Young University, Utah.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

He was then hired by the Canadian Pacific Railway and its Department of Colonisation. His goal, it was stated, was “to put Western Canada on the motion picture screen in a scenic, industrial and comic form.”

William produced over a dozen reels for the Railway, and his work was used in promotional material to make Western Canada a destination spot and entice Europeans.

And entice them, his films certainly did—as evidenced by the renewal of his two-year contract. 

The Railway then sent him on a trip to Paris to study with a French filmmaker named Leon Gaumont, who was the apparent master of outdoor, on-location shooting. So he left for Europe at the tail-end of February 1912, visiting London, Berlin, and Brussels. And Paris, of course.

On the first day of April, William wrote back home to his wife, Catherine; he planned to travel from Amsterdam, to London, to Southampton. Then homeward bound on Titanic. 

He already had another project lined up for when he was back in the States: to film the beauty of Alaska and the Yukon.

The aurora borealis over Dawson, in the Yukon territory, photographed by Morte H. Craig between 1902 and 1912. Courtesy of the University of Washington.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Furthermore, it’s believed that William had also been hired by White Star to film Titanic’s maiden voyage, owing to the claims of “Moving Picture News,” a trade periodical that asserted that he had, had a contract to the tune of $10,000.00.

But when William Harbeck boarded Titanic in Southampton on April 10, he did not do so alone.

He took to Titanic with a young woman on his arm.

She was a French model, 22 years of age, named Henriette Yrois. They had evidently become acquainted in Paris, where she lived.

The Second-Class entrance on Titanic's sister, RMS Olympic, circa 1911. Taken by / courtesy of Bedford Lemere & Co.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

But Henriette was not his wife.

Fellow passengers, however, certainly were under the impression that she was, possibly because William went ahead and told them as much, or maybe just because it was assumed because there was no other reasonable explanation for a May-December couple to be traveling together with no companions.

The sole evidence of a romantic relationship between William and Henriette exists in implication: they boarded jointly, and their sequentially issued tickets (and thus, cabins) neighbored one another. 

Lawrence Beesley wrote in his survivor account that he saw them on board at one point, and he was evidently under the impression that they were married.

In the opposite corner are the young American kinematograph photographer and his young wife, evidently French, very fond of playing patience, which she is doing now, while he sits back in his chair watching the game and interposing from time to time with suggestions.

Excerpt from "The Loss of the S.S. Titanic," by Lawrence Beesley.

Lawrence wrote that he did not encounter them again.

Other than that, there seems to have been very little documented about William and Henriette while on Titanic.

And neither of them survived.

Henriette’s corpse was never recovered. 

William’s body, however, was. It was identified by his “Moving Picture & Projecting Machine Operators Union” membership card.

William was pulled fron the ocean still clutching a lady’s purse, which contained jewelry and a wedding band. It was later confirmed to have belonged to Henriette.

The recovery crew of the MacKay-Bennett listed William H. Harbeck as follows.

NO. 35. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 40.

CLOTHING - Black coat; grey mixture tweed trousers and vest; red tie; black boots.

EFFECTS - Cheque books; travellers' cheques; lady's bag; gold watch and chain; two lockets; gold time meter; fountain pen; diary; false teeth; pencil; knife; diamond ring; union card. Moving Picture and Projecting Machine operators' union; 15 in gold, £15 6s. in silver, 10s. in purse in lady's bag; wedding ring in bag; pearl and diamond pin.

SECOND CLASS PASSENGER.

NAME - WILLIAM H. HARBECK. 114 24th Avenue, N. Y

When William’s widow, Catherine, arrived in Halifax to claim her late husband’s corpse, she was initially turned away by  theauthorities because “Mrs. Harbeck” had died on Titanic alongside her husband.

But reason eventually won out, and Catherine was permitted to transport William’s body home for burial in Toledo.

There was another mystery, however, that still has yet to be solved.

Catherine Harbeck solicited White Star for the items that had been recovered with William’s corpse, but White Star informed her that they had passed them on to the Provincial Secretary of Halifax because they were valued at over $100.00.

Catherine proceeded to provide the proper documentation to prove that she was the administratrix of her husband’s estate, and the effects were relinquished.

But it turns out that Catherine wasn’t the only person who wanted them back.

Months later, another letter arrived to the Provincial Secretary of Halifax, claiming ownership of the effects of the late Mr. Harbeck. The letter, from Seattle Washington, was signed by “Mrs. Brownie Harbeck."

The Secretary informed Brownie that the effects had already been expressed to Mrs. Catherine Harbeck, to which Brownie replied.

She inquired further about the specific amounts of money found on his body, both in gold and travelers checks. She continued, to much surprise, to claim that she was aware of Henriette's presence on the ship, and that she "knew the lady well."

After that, William’s son, John Harbeck, somehow discovered that the Secretary’s office was offering information about his dead father’s effects, which were legally in his mother’s custody. 

When the Secretary confirmed via letter that communication had occurred in fact between themselves and Brownie, John was irate.

The web of letters, still in the possession of the Nova Scotia Archives, end unceremoniously there.

To date, the identity of Brownie Harbeck remains unknown.

Open post

“Dressed Up in Our Best”: Benjamin Guggenheim & Victor Giglio

"Dressed Up in Our Best": Benjamin Guggenheim & Victor Giglio

Benjamin Guggenheim was scheduled to set sail on the Lusitania, until she was put out of commission for repairs.

So he elected to sail on Titanic.

Ben was the fifth son of the Guggenheim dynasty; his father, Meyer Guggenheim, was a mining magnate. It’s rumored that Ben, born in 1865 in Philadelphia, was the stereotype of a playboy; unlike his four older brothers, he had never known a life without luxury. He’d also reportedly been spoiled by his overly doting mother.

Benjamin Guggenheim.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Ben married a woman named Florette in 1884; they had three daughters. It was apparently a tense and nearly miserable union; per a 1978 biography by John Davis, Ben’s was hardly more than “a marriage of family fortunes."

Eventually, Ben found himself spending more and more time in Paris while Florette lived her life in New York.

Ben boarded Titanic in Cherbourg with his trusted valet Victor Giglio, as well as his chauffeur. Along with them was Ben’s mistress, Leontine Aubart, who was a performer in Paris, as well as her maid Emma Sagesser.

Ben was 46; Leontine, who went by “Ninette,” was 24.

There doesn’t appear to be much information about how Ben met Ninette, although it’s presumed it was while she was performing in Paris.

Nor do we know much about Ninette herself during the Titanic era. She was blonde and petite, and was a singer. That’s about all.

There has been speculation, however, that Ninette was actually a courtesan, but this has in no way been proven.

Whatever she was, she is rumored to have performed across Paris, particularly at a famed Montmartre bar called Cabaret du Lapin Agile.

Cabaret du Lapin Agile in Montmartre, Paris, circa 1905.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Ninette and Emma occupied cabin B-35; Ben and Victor, B-84. We don’t know how they behaved on the ship, but it can be assumed that they at least attempted to be discreet, given how scandalous they were.

Ninette and Emma were awoken by the collision with the iceberg. They went to alert Ben and Victor of the danger, and apparently woke them up in doing so.

Emma stated in an interview in 1937 that Victor chided her for making a fuss. Since the interview was conducted in German, interpretations vary, but essentially, Victor teased, “Oh, come on, icebergs? What even is an ‘iceberg’?”

Alongside Victor, Steward Henry Etches testified to attending to Ben in the moments after the collision.

They were in their room. I took the lifebelts out. The lifebelts in this cabin were in the wardrobe, in a small rack, and the cabin was only occupied by two. There were three lifebelts there, and I took the three out and put one on Mr. Guggenheim. He apparently had only gone to his room, for he answered the first knock. He said: "This will hurt." I said, "You have plenty of time, put on some clothes and I will be back in a few minutes."

Etches ended up pulling a large sweater over Ben’s lifebelt. On the boat deck, he saw the group moving from one lifeboat to another; Ben, he said, was trying to assist in loading the lifeboats and echoing the order of “Women first.”

Ben and Victor put Ninette and Emma in Lifeboat 9, despite their protests. Emma reported that Ben took a moment to speak to her in German. "We will soon each other again! It's just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again."

The girls wore nothing but their nightclothes and light coats, and suffered from painful exposure as a result. Despite, this Ninette later waxed poetic in her account to the Daily Mirror dated May 13, 1912.

I had in my cabin jewels worth 4,000 (GPB) as well as many trunks of dresses and hats. One does not come from Paris and buy one's clothes in America. That is understood, is it not?

Nothing could I take with me; nothing at all. Just as we were, in our night clothes, [Emma] and I went on deck where the lifebelts were put around us. One the deck there was no commotion; none at all. Oh these English! How brave, how calm, how beautiful! I, who am patriotic french woman say that never can I forget that group of Englishmen- every one of them a perfect gentleman- calmly puffing cigarettes and cigars and watching the women and children being placed in the boats…

My last night of the upper decks was still a group of those Englishmen, still with cigarettes in mouth, facing the death so bravely that it was all the more terrible.

 

Ben and Victor were, in many opinions, the shining example of this valiant stoicism that Ninette so admired.

And so, the two men are often remembered for the final moments of their friendship, when they would not be persuaded to be parted.

After seeing off Ninette and Emma, it is reported that both Ben and Victor disappeared below decks.

When Etches saw them again, their lifebelts were gone, and they were dressed in fine evening attire. They looked as though the hadn't a care between them.

Things weren't so bad at first, but when I saw Mr. Guggenheim about three-quarters of an hour after the crash there was great excitement. What surprised me was that both Mr. Guggenheim and his secretary were dressed in their evening clothes. They had deliberately taken off their sweaters, and as nearly as I can remember they wore no lifebelts at all.

“’What's that for?’ I asked.

“We’ve dressed up in our best,’ replied Mr. Guggenheim, ‘and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.’

Ben then asked Etches to communicate a message to Florette back in New York City.

The steward produced a piece of paper. He had written the message on it, he said, to be certain that it would be correct. This was the brief message:

"If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I've done my best in doing my duty."

Apparently, this was not Ben’s only attempt to communicate a last message back to Florette. According to the Washington Times dated April 20, 1912, Steward John Johnson reported that he had also been given a task.

[Benjamin Guggenheim] sent for Johnson, who he knew was an expert swimmer, and for his secretary and asked them, if they should be saved, to get word to Mrs. Guggenheim.

"Tell her, Johnson," the steward related, "that I played the game straight to the end and that no woman was left on board this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward. Tell her that my last thoughts will be of her and our girls."

Guggenheim then, according to Johnson, lit a cigar and sauntered up to the boat deck and was engulfed with the ship.

The enduring mystery is why Ben Guggenheim never entered a lifeboat.

Lifeboat 9 was the fifth boat to be launched on the starboard side by First Officer William Murdoch, who let men aboard  when there were no more women in his line of sight.

One could argue for chivalry, of course, but a recent discovery has led historians to believe that maybe Ben simply refused to abandon Victor.

A photo of Victor Giglio has come to light. Taken in 1901, it’s an image of Victor when he was only 13 and boarding at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire.

Victor’s father was Italian; his mother, Egyptian. This confirmed photo of Victor not only gives us an idea of what he would have looked like when he went down with the Titanic at all of 24 years old, but also demonstrates that he had dark eyes and a dark complexion—which almost guaranteed that he would have been refused a seat in a lifeboat.

This has led some to believe that Ben would not board a lifeboat while leaving his dear friend and confidante behind to die.

What happened to Benjamin Guggenheim and Victor Giglio as Titanic sank will never be known. Neither were ever recovered.

On board Carpathia, Ninette sent out a single telegram.

Moi sauvee mais Ben perdu

“I’m saved, but Ben lost”

Open post

“That Together With Sorrow and Worries”: Anna & Adolf Dyker

“That Together With Sorrow and Worries”: Anna & Adolf Dyker

Adolf Fredrick Dyker, who went by “Fred,” was born on a ship.

Fred’s parents were making a transatlantic journey from Sweden to New Haven, Connecticut, where public records indicated his father had lived since about 1870.

But the elder Mr. Dyker, who was naturalized in 1879, still owned a café in Stolkholm, where he traveled often. So Fred, despite spending at least some of his childhood in the United States, received his education in Sweden.

After a stint in a New York bank, Fred found work in his kinda-sorta hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, as a tram conductor on the Woodmont line during the summer of 1911.

It was recorded by the American Red Cross that Fred’s pleasant and courteous approach made him “an unusually valuable employee” who would have been fast-tracked for promotion. He earned $14 a week, which was probably a reasonably handsome paycheck for 1911.

Union Station in New Haven, Connecticut, circa 1914, where Fred Dyker would have reported to work as a tram conductor.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

I’ve also read that Fred kept a collection of the tram stubs he’d taken on his shifts, but I cannot find a primary source for this. It’s pretty adorable, though, so let’s assume it’s true.

In 1908, Fred married Anna Elisabeth Judith Andersson, a Massachusetts-born American who was also of Swedish descent.

Anna went by “Liza,” and was a musician and singer. She had attended Yale School of Music and sometimes participated in church choir, and was also giving music lessons to get by. Per census records, they lived in West Haven, Connecticut, with Liza’s parents.

In 1911, Liza and Fred received word that Fred’s father was dying in Sweden; they re-mortgaged their home to enable themselves to go abroad to arrange and settle his estate.

Titanic was their ride home. They boarded as Third-Class passengers at Southampton on April 10, 1912.

The steerage class is often considered minimal at best—particularly in contrast to the nearly criminal opulence of First Class—but in truth, it was some of the best quarters, dining, and overall treatment than some of its passengers would experience elsewhere or ever again.

The Third-Class Dining Saloon on RMS Olympic, Titanic's elder sister, circa 1991. Courtesy of Bedford Lemere & Co.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

On the night of the collision, Liza and Fred were wakeful. They were so awake, in fact, that Liza reported that she was still in her dayclothes, sans hat.

The couple soon found themselves at Lifeboat 16, which was far aft and under the supervision of Second Officer Charles Lightoller.

By all reports, Fred did not attempt to board the lifeboat with his wife, but rather stepped aside for other women and children. Fred gave Liza a kiss, as well as his hand to help her climb the gunwale, and said, “I’ll see you later.”

His tone has been reported to be flippant and cheery, and this is not unlike many husbands and fathers who put their loved ones into lifeboats alone. As the lifeboat pulled away from Titanic's side, Fred waved at Liza from the boat deck.

And as was true for so many broken couples and divided families, Liza and Fred would never see each other again. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported Liza’s statement in its April 19, 1912, issue.

I ran to the deck where I met Adolph. He had with him a satchel which contained two gold watches, two diamond rings, a sapphire necklace and 200 crowns. He couldn’t be saved in the boat I was in and he grabbed a preserver and said he would jump and try to save himself. That was the last I saw of him.

To add cruel insult to debilitating injury, Liza said the satchel that Fred had given to her was stolen as she was boarding Carpathia.

On board the rescue ship, Liza was suffering from extreme exposure and was under the care of the doctors on board. She managed to send only a brief telegram to New Haven that said, “Liza saved, Fred lost.”

At only 22 years old, she was already widowed.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on April 19, 1912, that Liza was “hysterical” when she disembarked from the Carpathia.

R.M.S. Carpathia docked in New York City after rescuing Titanic survivors, April 1912. From the George G. Bain Collection, courtesy of the Library of Congress

PUBLIC DOMAIN

When she finally got home, Liza was weary, bereaved, and bedridden for “many weeks.” According to her American Red Cross file, she was caused to lose her singing voice entirely from the illness and trauma that she’d suffered, and was fearful that she’d never regain it.

I lost my husband and everything I owned, I was wounded when I was brought from Titanic, that together with sorrow and worries has completely broke me down. My health have not recovered, I have tried to done some work to earn my living... 

Liza sued the White Star Line for the loss of her husband, as well as her luggage.

It would seem that Liza’s voice eventually recovered, as she reportedly returned to music lessons. She remarried some years later, and died in New Jersey in 1971.

Fred Dyker’s corpse, if found, was never identified. As was the case for the remains of virtually all Third-Class passengers, if it had been recovered, it would have been buried at sea.

As Fred Dyker was born on a ship, so he died on the same.

He was 23 years old.

Open post

“Our Boats Waited in Deadly Silence”: Karl Behr & Helen Monypeny Newsom

“Our Boats Waited in Deadly Silence”: Karl Behr & Helen Monypeny Newsom

Determination, thy name may well be Karl Behr.

Karl was born in Brooklyn to German parents. He graduated from Yale in 1906. Moreover, he was admitted to the Bar Association in 1910, and was by all accounts an extremely successful lawyer. He also mined for silver in Mexico.

In the meanwhile, Karl was one hell of a lawn tennis player. He played on the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1907; in that same year, he was ranked number 3 in the sport. He was also runner-up at Wimbledon in 1907.

All in all, it seemed to have been a hell of an excellent year for Karl, though he enjoyed similar successes in tennis for many years thereafter.

Karl Behr in the Men's Doubles at Wimbledon in 1907.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

At some point, Karl fell in love with Helen Monypeny Newsom, the gorgeous friend of his little sister, Gertrude.

And, as in many grand love stories, Helen's mother and stepfather, Sallie and Richard Beckwith, did not approve of their romance. Karl was 27, and Helen was just 19.

Helen’s parents disliked Karl so ardently that, in an effort to deter his courtship of their daughter, they took Helen on a trip to Europe in February 1912.

As though that would stop Karl.

Karl furtively booked a trip on the same outbound vessel, and slipped away with Helen in Morocco.

And Madeira.

And the South of France.

The star-crossed lovers at some point agreed to meet back in NY upon their individual returns.

Karl Behr playing tennis. Published in "Methods & Players of Modern Lawn Tennis" in 1915.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

But Helen was a delightfully headstrong girl in her own right. So while Karl was in Berlin, Helen sent him a telegram.

"SAILING HOME FROM ENGLAND ON TITANIC'S MAIDEN VOYAGE."

With this alert, Karl concocted a business trip and booked passage on Titanic in order to continue their courtship. And so, with an engagement ring in his pocket, Karl Behr set out to surprise his love. He booked passage on a train down to Cherbourg alongside a number of other First-Class passengers, including his future tennis rival, Richard Norris Williams.

After a pleasant train ride through the French countryside, Karl joined Helen and the Beckwiths at the stopover at Cherbourg.

He supposedly spent most of his time ingratiating himself to Helen's disapproving parents. And there just might have been—according to their granddaughter—also a lot of covert kisses and clandestine handholding during the voyage.

Titanic departing Southampton for Cherbourg, France, where Karl joined Helen and her family.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

According to family lore, Karl was the one who alerted Helen and her parents when he saw people donning lifevests and a noticed a "list to starboard"--which contradicts the usual report of a list to port. Although, since the damage did occur on the starboard side, a negligible list could have occurred before the water sought its own level, resulting in the famous list to port.

The party approached and were permitted to enter the second lifeboat launched starboard, by Third Officer Herbert Pitman and First Officer William Murdoch. According to Karl, he went up to boat deck with Mr. Beckwith only to say goodbye to Helen, but both men were asked to jump in to row by White Star Chairman Bruce Ismay.

Karl was interviewed by his alma mater's periodical the Yale Daily News on April 18, 1912, while standing on the pier in New York after having disembarked the rescue ship Carpathia.

Karl's was the first survivor interview to be published.

Our boats waited in deadly silence until, at 2:30 a.m., the Titanic settled at the bow and took her final plunge. The sight was too horrible for description as the men on board rushed toward the stern only to be engulfed and sucked down by the suction.

Per contemporary newspaper reports, it was in the lifeboat that Karl proposed to Helen. But their granddaughter, Lynn Sanford, dissents. When interviewed, she said, "The idea that my grandfather proposed to my grandmother on a lifeboat while people around them were dying? No, that wasn't him."

However Helen and Karl finally managed to become engaged, Titanic seemed to have softened the Beckwiths' hearts.

Helen Moneypeny Newsom on her wedding day, as published by the Boston Sunday Post dated November 8, 1914. Courtesy of Encyclopedia Titanica.

PUBLIC DOMAIN (published prior to 1923)

Helen and Karl were married on March 1, 1913. The New York Times article of the wedding published on March 2 described Helen's dress in great detail.

The bride, who walked up the nave with her stepfather, Mr. Beckwith, who gave her in marriage, wore a gown of white satin charmeuse with a long veil of duches point that was draped in with the gown in pannier effect, the lace being carried down into a train. The gown was also trimmed with duchess lace. She carried lilies of the valley and white orchids... Both Mr. Behr and his bride are survivors of the Titanic disaster.

By all accounts, despite winning his hard-fought love, as well as his wild professional and athletic successes, Karl seems to have suffered from debilitating survivor guilt, though Lynn Sanford states that though it was evident to her, her grandfather never admitted to as much outright.

Karl was part of the committee formed to honor Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia, the ship which had rescued survivors at dawn on April 15, 1912. When the Carpathia docked at her pier in New York for the first time since returning with Titanic survivors in 1912, the committee boarded and requested the Captain Rostron issue an order for all hands to muster in the ship's First-Class dining saloon. There, Captain Rostron was presented with an engraved silver cup and a gold medal of honor.

The New York Times reported on the event in its May 30, 1912, issue.

It was a striking picture, that of the brawny, weatherbeaten old bo'sun and the quartermasters and sailors in their blue uniforms mingling with the soot-begrimed firemen and coal passers who had come direct from the stokehole. In addition to the gold-laced uniforms of the officers and engineers, the cooks, in their white caps and aprons, were there with a big array of stewards. At the head of the table, beside cases of medals, was the silver loving cup, standing fifteen inches high, on an ebony base and bearing the following inscription:

Presented to Capt. A. H. Rostron, R. N. R., commander of the R. M. S. Carpathia.

In grateful recognition and appreciation of his heroism and efficient service in the rescue of the survivors of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, and of the generous and sympathetic treatment he accorded us on his ship.

FROM SURVIVORS OF THE TITANIC

 

Karl also testified against White Star in a class-action civil suit brought by other passengers; per Karl's testimony, Chair J. Bruce Ismay was acting in the capacity of supervisor as the lifeboats were being filled, and was not simply a passive passenger as White Star claimed. The suit ended in 1916 in a settlement of $663,000.00, after which the judge signed a decree putting an end to all lawsuits pertaining to the sinking of the Titanic.

Karl Behr helped to organize the Preparedness Parade--to encourage American intervention in the Great War--in New York City in 1916. But when the United States did intervene the following year, Karl was not permitted to join owing to his German heritage. Apparently unable to assuage years of sadness and remorse, Karl took briefly to a sanitarium in western New York state in 1917.

President Wilson at the Preparedness Parade in New York City, 1916. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Lynn Sanford has said that her grandfather "wished he had saved someone from the water so that at least an act of heroism could have resulted from his survival... He was crushed by inarticulate sadness beyond anyone's understanding."

Karl died in 1949; Helen, in 1965.

Open post

“For God’s Sake, Be Brave, and Go!”: Harvey & Charlotte Collyer

"For God's Sake, Be Brave, and Go!": Harvey & Charlotte Collyer

Harvey and Charlotte Collyer were an English couple boarded Titanic as Second Class with their young daughter Marjorie.

Harvey and Charlotte had met in Surrey while she was employed as a cook for Reverend Sidney Sedgwick, and Harvey was the church sexton. They married in 1905. In time, Harvey also became the church bellringer and a grocer in town, where the entire family was loved.

The Collyers had dreamt big. Charlotte suffered from tuberculosis, and so they elected to move to Idaho, where some other family had already settled and had consistently sent the Collyers letters in which they lauded the pleasant climate. Seeking to better Charlotte's health, they purchased a fruit farm. Before departing, Harvey withdrew the family's life savings from his bank and kept it on his person. What little possessions the family had were ALL in Titanic's cargo hold.

Before they departed, the church community organized a surprise farewell for Harvey. Charlotte wrote, "They led him to a seat under the old tree in the churchyard and then some went up into the belfry and, in his honour, they rang all the chimes that they knew." She said it was a kind gesture, but it made her uneasy.

Harvey wrote a letter to his parents that was sent off while Titanic was stopped in Queenstown on April 11, 1912.

My dear Mum and Dad
It don't seem possible we are out on the briny writing to you. Well dears so far we are having a delightful trip the weather is beautiful and the ship magnificent. We can't describe the tables it's like a floating town. I can tell you we do swank we shall miss it on the trains as we go third on them. You would not imagine you were on a ship. There is hardly any motion she is so large we have not felt sick yet we expect to get to Queenstown today so thought I would drop this with the mails...

Lots of love don't worry about us. Ever your loving children
Harvey, Lot & Madge

Charlotte, nauseous the night of April 14 from too rich a dinner, was in bed. She wrote of the collision, "The sensation, to me, was as if the ship had been seized by a giant hand and shaken once, twice; then stopped dead in its course."

Harvey went up on deck and Charlotte had begun to drift off to sleep by the time he returned. He said they'd hit an iceberg--"a big one"--but an officer had assured him there was no danger. But as a clamour began to resound above them, Charlotte asked Harvey if anyone had seemed frightened. Soon thereafter, Charlotte threw on a coat, tied her hair back with a ribbon, and wrapped her daughter in a White Star blanket over her pajamas, and the three went out on deck. Marjorie was crying, as she had left behind her "dollie" from two Christmases past, and no one would go back to rescue it.

Officers kept yelling that there was no danger. But then Charlotte saw a horrific sight.

Suddenly there was a commotion near one of the gangways, and we saw a stoker come climbing up from below. He stopped a few feet away from us. All the fingers of one hand had been cut off. Blood was running from the stumps, and blood was spattered over his face and over his clothes. The red marks showed very clearly against the coal dust with which he was covered.

Excerpt from 'How I was Saved from the Titanic" as printed in the May 1912 issue of "Semi-Monthly Magazine."

When she asked him if there was danger, he frantically presented his mangled hand. The unnamed stoker then laid his head down on a coil of rope and fainted.

The Collyers were on Second Officer Charles Lightoller's side of the ship, but Charlotte wrote with admiration mostly about First Officer William Murdoch, as well as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe. Like survivor Charles Joughin, Charlotte Collyer attested to a number of women being afraid to go in the lifeboats, or otherwise leave their husbands behind.

Charlotte held her husband tightly, and not taking seats in the first two boats before them.

When the third boat was half-full, she wrote that "a sailor caught Marjorie, my daughter, in his arms, tore her away from me and threw her into the boat." Then, "A man seized me by the arm. Then, another threw both his arms about my waist and dragged me away by main strength. I heard my husband say: 'Go, Lotty! For God’s sake, be brave, and go! I’ll get a seat in another boat.'"

The men who held me rushed me across the deck, and hurled me bodily into the lifeboat. I landed on one shoulder and bruised it badly. Other women were crowding behind me; but I stumbled to my feet and saw over their heads my husband’s back, as he walked steadily down the deck and disappeared among the men. His face was turned away, so that I never saw it again.

Excerpt from 'How I was Saved from the Titanic" as printed in the May 1912 issue of "Semi-Monthly Magazine."

As far as Charlotte claimed, Marjorie never got the chance to say goodbye to her father because she was flung into the boat so fast.

But according to Marjorie herself, she did. "My father raised me in his arms and kissed me, and then he kissed my mother. She followed me into the boat... The women in one of the other boats said they wanted somebody to row for them and father got in that boat."

There's fair reason for either of them to have rearranged the truth: trauma, wishful thinking, false memories.

Charlotte's account of the night is considered one of the more graphic survivor stories. It includes a young lad who pleaded, sobbing, for a spot on the lifeboat, and then for his life with an officer's pistol aimed at his forehead, as well as another man who ran across the deck and flung himself into the boat, supposedly injuring a girl by landing on her. He was forcibly removed.

Charlotte and Marjorie watched the sinking in horror from Lifeboat 14.

I shall never forget the terrible beauty of the Titanic at that moment. She was tilted forward, head down, with her first funnel partly under water. To me, she looked like an enormous glow-worm; for she was alight from the rising water line, clear to her stern — electric lights blazing in every cabin, lights on all the decks and lights at her mast heads.

Excerpt from 'How I was Saved from the Titanic" as printed in the May 1912 issue of "Semi-Monthly Magazine."

Charlotte was also of the minority of passengers who witnessed the break.

She heard the "deafening roar" of an explosion within the ship, then "millions of sparks shot up to the sky, like rockets in a park on the night of a summer holiday. This red spurt was fan-shaped as it went up; but the sparks descended in every direction, in the shape of a fountain of fire." According to Charlotte Collyer, the stern stood straight on end before lowering into the water. And like young survivor Jack Thayer, she described the passengers on board as akin to swarms of bees.

I saw hundreds of human bodies clinging to the wreck or leaping into the water. The Titanic was like a swarming bee-hive, but the bees were men, and they had broken their silence now.

There was water in the bottom of the lifeboat.

At one point, Charlotte half-fainted, and her long hair got caught in the oar and was ripped from her scalp. Someone gave her a blanket.

Little Marjorie continued to cry for her lost doll, desolate with the thought that it was going to the bottom of the sea with no one to take care of it. Her beloved dollie was gone, along with her father, her family's entire savings, and everything else the Collyers owned in the world.

Lifeboat 14 (with mast up) approaching the rescue ship Carpathia. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Once on board Carpathia, Charlotte searched in desperation for her husband, but learned that he was not among the saved.

The scene on board Carpathia that morning, as the lifeboats crept in, was harrowing by all accounts. "We could only rush frantically from group to group, searching the haggard faces, crying out names and endless questions."

Harvey Collyer's body, if ever recovered, went unidentified.

Charlotte grieved in a letter to her mother written on April 21, 1912, from Brooklyn, New York.

Oh mother there are some good hearts in New York, some want me to go back to England but I can't, I could never at least not yet go over the ground where my all is sleeping.

Sometimes I feel we lived too much for each other that is why I've lost him. But mother we shall meet him in heaven. When that band played 'Nearer My God to Thee' I know he thought of you and me for we both loved that hymn and I feel that if I go to Payette I'm doing what he would wish me to, so I hope to do this at the end of next week where I shall have friends and work and I will work for his darling as long as she needs me. 

Oh she is a comfort but she don't realize yet that her daddy is in heaven. There are some dear children here who have loaded her with lovely toys but it's when I'm alone with her she will miss him. 

Oh mother I haven't a thing in the world that was his only his rings. Everything we had went down. Will you, dear mother, send me on a last photo of us, get it copied I will pay you later on. 

 

Mother and daughter did soldier on and get to Idaho, but not without significant monetary help raised in the wake of their total loss, as well as the $300 Charlotte was paid for her exclusive story.

Charlotte ended her exclusively (ghost)written story as follows.

I must take my little Marjorie to the place where her father would have taken us both. That is all I care about — to do what he would have had me do.

 

But they did not stay in the United States. The pair were photographed on a porch swing in Payette, Idaho, while making use a White Star Line blanket.

Charlotte and Marjorie shortly after the sinking. From the George Grantham Bain Collection, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

They returned to England, and Charlotte Collyer remarried in 1914. Sadly, she died as a result of her tuberculosis in late 1916. Then Marjorie's stepfather died in March 1919.

Marjorie, now three times an orphan by the age of fifteen, was sent to live with her uncle Walter on his farm, where she lived until she was married on Christmas Day of 1927.

SOURCE MATERIAL

[ital]

Posts navigation

1 2
Scroll to top