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“Look Here, You Crazy Thing”: Edith Rosenbaum Russell

"Look Here, You Crazy Thing": Edith Rosenbaum Russell

When Edith Rosenbaum boarded Titanic as a First-Class passenger at Cherbourg, she brought pretty much her life on board with her in her trunks.

And much of it was what one would typically expect of a young woman working in the fashion industry: lovely dresses and fine jewelry.

Edith Russell, photographed by Henri Manuel.


But one item was out of the ordinary: a musical toy pig.

Edith, who had been born in Cincinnati, had spent the previous four years living in Paris for haute couture.

Her little toy pig was papier-mache and spotted, wrapped in black and white fur. Upon winding its corkscrew tail, it played the song “La Maxixe.”

It was, as she called it, a mascot. Her mother had given it to her in 1911, after Edith had been in a nearly fatal auto accident. Her fiance, Ludwig Loewe, had been killed.

But Edith had survived, with only a concussion to recover from. And so her mother gifted her with the pig, a traditional symbol of good luck in France, as a charm. Edith promised her mother that she would keep it nearby always.


My mother gave me this pig as a mascot a year earlier. I'd been in tornadoes and fires and floods. I was always in trouble. Then I was in a motoring accident, and was thrown into the tyre on the back of the car. I rolled clear as it crashed into a tree. Everyone else was killed but me.

"My mother brought me this pig and said "Look here, you crazy thing, I'm giving you a mascot.

"Promise me you'll have it with you always."

Edith had originally booked passage on the George Washington, which was set to depart on April 7th, as she was keen to arrive in New York. But her editor wired that she was needed to cover the Paris-Roubaix races. Edith consequently bumped her passage out to April 10, and exchanged her ticket for one on Titanic.

Movie star Gene Gauntier with luggage, circa 1912.


Later, Edith would say that she should have known better because a fortune teller had warned her. Per an account of her experience that she wrote in 1934:

Were I of a superstitious nature, or given to following my instincts which are very strong, I should never have taken my trip on the Titanic, leaving Cherbourg for New York on April 10, 1912. In the month of January, when in Biskra, Africa, an Arab fortune-teller predicting my fortunes in the sand, held up his hands in amazement saying, ‘Madame will be in a very grave accident at sea.’ I naturally discredited this, but for months afterward felt an impeding sense of calamity…

Arriving in Cherbourg, my premonition of ill was so strong, that again I was tempted not to take the trip, and even telegraphed my secretary, expressing my fears.

On board, Edith Rosenbaum found her First-Class suite on A Deck. It is rumored that she had also booked a secondary cabin on E Deck to accommodate her 19 trunks.

Edith claimed that she had inquired about luggage insurance with a man named Nicholas prior to boarding at Cherbourg, but she had been assured that it was an unnecessary precaution because Titanic was “unsinkable.”

Edith stated that she spent the majority of the trip doing the usual things for a First-Class girl.

The first few days of the trip were uneventful, marked by the usual making of acquaintances, promenades on deck, dinners in the Ritz, tea in the Winter Gardens, etc. As a matter of fact, it was only by looking out at sea; that one realized that one was on the ocean.

Edith recalled that the day of April 14 was “brilliantly fine, but icily cold.” She figured that the only warm place in the whole boat was her bed, so that is where she elected to stay until about 4 o’clock in the evening. “If you were to go inside of your Frigidaire, or hold your hand over a solid block of ice,” Edith wrote, “you would get an idea of the temperature. The cold cramped one’s face and hands.”

After a gala dinner, Edith returned to her stateroom. After turning in, she heard a calamity below-deck and looked out her window to see a “white mass” moving by, into the distance.

Edith put on her fur coat and popped into a friend’s room to suggest they go up to boat deck. Edith said the few people there were in “various stages of undress.” Someone pointed out a nearby iceberg.

Frankly, I was overjoyed. I had always wanted to see an iceberg, from the time of my geographical school days; not realizing the danger of the encounter. I remember one man commenting that if icebergs were supposed to be two-thirds below water, and one- third above, ‘this must be a corker.’ We all regarded it as a joke, and ran to the forward part of the deck, picking up bits of ice scattered about. Someone suggested a snow-ball fight.

An unspecified officer advised the party that they had struck an iceberg but all was perfectly fine and they should get back to bed. Edith said she had returned to her room and was undressing when a steward knocked on her door and told her that all passengers had been instructed to put on lifebelts.

Edith hastily put on a dress and her fur coat, grabbing anything to hand that she could think of. And then, for reasons even she never fully understood, she locked her trunks and tidied her room.

I was met by my room steward, Wareham, fully dressed in overcoat and derby hat. I asked, ‘Wareham, do you think there is any danger, or is it simply the rule that all passengers should put on life belts?’ He answered, ‘It is a rule of the Board of Trade that all passengers must put on life belts and that women and children are put aboard the lifeboats. Now I do not think that the boat can sink. In all probabilities we shall tow her on to Halifax.’ So I said, ‘If you have any idea of going to Halifax, here are my trunk keys, and you better clear my trunks at the customs.’ I remember now, but did not at the time appreciate the significance of his reply, ‘Well, if I were you, I would kiss those trunks good-bye.’

Edith left her room soon thereafter.

I shall always remember the last view of my stateroom – the rosy, soft light of the table lamp, the red reflection of the radiator. Everything so cozy and still: I little thought it was my last look.

On her way out, Edith asked Wareham to go back to her suite for her beloved mascot, which he did gladly. According to her account titled, "I Survived the Titanic," the exchange went something like that. "I said, “Well, don’t you think it would be a good thing for me to keep my mascot with me?” He said, “Yes, it would be rather a good thing.”

She said that as Wareham proceeded down the corridor, she recalled saying that the ship was distinctly aslant.

On her way to the First-Class Lounge, Edith stopped into the quarters of her friend, Robert Daniel, who is noted in Titanic history for bringing with him the most expensive dog on the ship, a French bulldog named Gamin de Pycombe.

Edith recalled, “It was whining and crying. I remember taking it and tucking it under the bed covers, and patting its head.” Edith and Mr. Daniel then carried on to A Deck.

But the dreaded cold and lack of order led Edith to take to an armchair in the First-Class Lounge. She stayed there until she caught the eyes of Bruce Ismay, who was—by Edith’s account and others’ as well—pretty much frantic.

I then went out up to the Boat Deck and found myself standing next to Mr. Bruce Ismay, the Managing Director of the White Star Line, who was wearing his black evening trousers and a nightshirt with frills down the front. He was shouting orders/ A number of men on the other side of him were banked up almost in a solid mass near the cabin bulkhead. He spied me and called out: "What are you doing on this ship? I thought all women and children had left! If there are any more women and children on this ship, let them step forward and come over to this stairways immediately."

Mr.Ismay practically threw me down a narrow iron stairway to the deck below. There has been much criticism of Mr. Ismay, but he certainly saved my life. I passed between two lines of sailors to the rail. Two burly sailors got hold of me and attempted to throw me head foremost into the lifeboat which was suspended alongside. But when I noticed how far from the rail that lifeboat was, swinging on its davits from above, I became terrified -- so much so that my legs and feet went rigid and my slippers fell off. I screamed to the two men: "Don't push me!" One replied, "If you don't want to go, stay!"

Edith guessed she spent the next five minutes searching for her slippers.

One of the crew then grabbed the toy pig from Edith's arms and told her that at least they’d save her “baby.”

And because Edith had promised her mother that wherever she would go, the mascot would go, she—with the assistance of a nearby gentleman who offered to lift her over the side—got into the lifeboat. She found her pig as the boat was being lowered away.

It was Lifeboat 11, which was one of the few to exceed capacity. Edith, seeing the young children wriggling and crying. And so she played the song on her toy pig.

Edith later credited the bravery of many, especially Bruce Ismay—surely some of the only praise he received in the wake pf the disaster. “What thrilling deeds of heroism! Bruce Ismay certainly saved my life, and I don’t doubt that he saved many more."

On board Carpathia, Edith set out to send a telegram to mother that began with “Lost all.” But she took in the decks of the Carpathia, crowded with widows and orphans and the bereaved, and crossed it out. Instead, she wrote, “Safe. Carpathia. Notify Mother.” In 1934, she wrote, “My losses were only material, while there were so many who lost those whom they loved.”

“I survived Titanic,” Edith once said. “But I never really escaped it.”

Edith Rosenbaum went on to become one of the first, if not the first, female correspondent to enter the trenches with soldiers during the First World War by signing on as a journalist with the American Red Cross. In 1920, she changed her surname to Russell due to anti-German sentiments.

She died in 1975 at the age of 95.

In 2001, during a James Cameron expedition to the Titanic wreck, Edith’s stateroom was found and explored. The dressing table was still upright, with its mirror still intact.

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“Immeasurable Sorrow and Unending Grief”: The Allison Family

“Immeasurable Sorrow and Unending Grief”: The Allison Family

Bess Daniels met her future husband, a stockbroker from Montreal named Hudson Allison, in 1907 while they were passengers on a train.

They married in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in December of that same year, on Hudson’s 26th birthday. Bess was newly 21.

Less than five years later, Hudson and Bess boarded the Titanic as First-Class passengers at Southampton on the morning of April 10, 1912. With them were their young children—Lorraine, who was 2 years old, and their infant Trevor—and four servants.

The Allisons occupied First-Class cabins on C-Deck, which they shared with their maid, Sarah, and Trevor’s new nurse, Alice Cleaver.

Their cook, Mildred, and their chauffeur, George Swane, were booked with Second-Class cabins.

The Allison Family


The Allison family had sailed to the United Kingdom in order for Hudson to attend a meeting of directors, as he was on the Board of the British Lumber Corporation. They took a side trip up to the Scottish Highlands so Hudson could pick up horses for the Allison’s stock farm back home. While there, they also hired the four servants that were traveling with them on Titanic.

On the night of April 14, Hudson and Bess dined with Major Arthur Peuchen and fellow Canadian Harry Molson. Later, Bess brought little Loraine up to the First-Class Dining Room to awe at its Jacobean prettiness.

When Titanic struck the iceberg later that night, the new nursemaid Alice woke the Allisons, but per her (presumably defensive) account, they dismissed her concern, insisting that it was nothing more than her imagination.

Some time after the engines had ceased, Mr. Allison finally consented to go up on deck to seek the trouble. Alice said that she advised that the family would have to evacuate the ship, and Mrs. Allison became “hysterical.” Alice, wrapping the baby, did her best to calm Mrs. Allison.

An officer then came by and advised an immediate evacuation to the boat deck. And so Alice, with the bundled baby Trevor in her arms, exited the suite. She claimed that she found Mr. Allison in the hallway.

[I] here met Mr. Allison outside the cabin but he seemed too dazed to speak. I handed him some brandy and asked him to look after Mrs. Allison and Loraine and I would keep Baby [Trevor]… some confusion occurred outside as to which deck we should go and that is how [Mr. Allison] came separated, afterwards I learned from one of the staff that Mrs. Allison was hysterical again and that Mr. Allison had difficulty with her…

Alternate accounts reflect that Alice took Trevor with her to retrieve George and Mildred in Second Class, without informing either Mr. or Mrs. Allison.

In the end, it is reported that George Swane escorted Alice to Lifeboat 11. Trevor was then carried into the boat by bedroom steward William Faulkner, who was instructed to stay aboard, and thusly also rescued in Lifeboat 11.

Also in the lifeboat was Mildred, the cook that the Allisons had hired. According to a letter from Mildred to her mother on April 19, 1912, written on board Carpathia and postmarked from Grand Central Station in New York City:

No sooner was I on deck that I was bustled to the first class deck and pushed into one of the boats and I found nurse (Alice Cleaver) and the baby (Trevor Allison) were there. It was awful to put the lifebelt on it, seemed as if you really were gone.

Mrs. Allison, meanwhile, had already been seated in Lifeboat 6 with her little daughter, Loraine.

But Bess Allison jumped out of the lifeboat.

Per their friend Major Peuchen, who was interviewed by the Montreal Daily Star:

Mrs Allison could have gotten away in perfect safety, but somebody told her Mr Allison was in a boat being lowered on the opposite side of the deck, and with her little daughter she rushed away from the boat. Apparently she reached the other side to find that Mr Allison was not there. Meanwhile our boat had put off.

In a separate interview, Major Peuchen elaborated upon Bess’s actions.

She had gone to the deck without her husband, and, frantically seeking him was directed by an officer to the other side of the ship. She failed to find Mr. Allison and was quickly hustled into one of the collapsible life-boats, and when last seen by Major Peuchen she was toppling out of the half-swamped boat.

Bess and her daughter, possibly alongside Hudson, were last seen together on deck near the officers quarters.

Mr. and Mrs. Allison, their little girl, and George Swane all died in the sinking.

Young Loraine Allison was the sole child of all in First and Second Class to die. Her mother was one of only four First-Class women to die.

Hudson Allison’s body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett and noted.

NO. 135. - MALE.

CLOTHING - Leather coat; blue suit; grey silk muffler.

EFFECTS - Keys; letters; photos; stock book; three pocket diaries; one C. P. Railway ticket book; two pocket books; card case; $143.00 in notes; chain with insurance medals; £15 in gold; $100.00 Thomas Cook & Sons travellers' cheque; £35 in notes; gold cuff links; diamond solitaire ring; gold stud; knife; silver tie clip; $4.40 in odd coins; traveller's ticket.


Thereafter, George Swane’s body was also found.


CLOTHING - Blue suit; grey socks; low shoes.

EFFECTS - Chain; sovereign case, empty; 33s 5d in cash; one tie pin; two motor licenses.

NAME - GEORGE SWANE, 73 Little Cadogan Place, London, S.W.

The bodies of Bess Allison and little Loraine Allison, if ever recovered, went unidentified.

Upon their arrival in New York City, Alice Cleaver relinquished custody of the now-orphaned Trevor Allison to his uncle and aunt, George and Lillian Allison.

Trevor Allison died in 1929 from food poisoning. He was 18 years old.

And then, years on, Titanic was forced to shoulder its very own Anastasia story.

Decades later in 1940, a woman named Helen Loraine Kramer came forward, claiming on a radio show to be the long-lost toddler, Loraine Allison. Over the course of time, she insisted that she had been saved in secret—and then raised—by no less than Thomas Andrews, who she claimed had disguised his identity under the alias of "James Hyde" to avoid persecution.

Kramer’s granddaughter reinvigorated the rumor in 2012, claiming to have found definitive proof in the form of paperwork in the late Kramer’s suitcase.

Genetic testing was finally performed in 2013 as a result of the Loraine Allison Identification Project. It proved that Kramer’s absurd claim, unsurprisingly, to be entirely false.

David Allison, grandson of Hudson’s brother Percy, issued the following statement.

The Allisons never accepted Mrs Kramer’s claim, but the stress it caused was real. It forced my ancestors to relive painful memories described to me as immeasurable sorrow and unending grief… I would like to thank Deanne Jennings and Sally Kirkelie for offering their DNA to stop this harassment. This was a courageous, selfless act, and I will remain forever indebted for their act of kindness.

David’s sister, Nancy, also said the following.

These DNA results have uncovered a colossal fraud that has haunted my family for years. It was all about the money …. Debrina [Kramer’s granddaughter] wants to write a book and no doubt there are others out there who want to profit from our story. It is our story. Leave us in peace.

Tantalizing though some may find them, dear reader, it is only kind to remember: conspiracy theories do harm to  innocent people.

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“I’ll Stay and Take My Chances”: Clarence Moore

"I'll Stay and Take My Chances": Clarence Moore

Clarence Moore left his home of Washington D.C. in March of 1912 with a singular goal: to get himself a whole lotta dogs.

Clarence was an accomplished man of business and a famed equestrian in the United States. According to the New York Times report dated April 16, 1912, "Socially he is one of the best-known men in Washington."

Clarence Moore had traveled across to England on this leisure trip in order to purchase foxhounds for the Loudoun Hunt at the brand new Rock Creek Hunt Club, which was back home in Virginia.

Per an interview with a member of the Rock Creek Hunt Club, published April 18th, 1912, "Clarence Moore was the most daring horseman I have ever seen, and yet one could not call him reckless. He knew every phase of fox hunting, which was his greatest hobby."

So, after purchasing 50 pairs of foxhounds, he and his manservant, Charles Harrington, booked First-Class passage back to America on Titanic. Clarence had originally intended for the hundred dogs to travel with him on Titanic, but ultimately elected for alternate passage for them.

Clarence and Charles boarded in Southampton, sans canines.

Clarence Moore’s dear friend, Major Archibald Butt, had also boarded Titanic that day. Archie, being a military aide to President William Howard Taft, was a fellow Washington elite. They sometimes played golf together.

Archie had arrived to the dining saloon promptly after boarding, it is said, in order to permanently reserve a table for the voyage—for himself, Clarence, and Archie’s housemate, painter Francis Davis Millet, who would board later in the day at Cherbourg.

The three men would have adjourned to the Palm Room following their meal, and likely played a hand of cards before retiring.

Clarence would spend his evenings on board with Archie and Millet, typically playing a game of whist well into the dark hours of the evening.

After lunch in the afternoon of Sunday, April 14, Clarence Moore and Archie Butt took a stroll about the promenade, despite the stark and sudden chill that was keeping so many other passengers indoors.

When Titanic struck the iceberg, Clarence was awake and at whist yet again with Archie, joined by William Carter and Harry Widener. Theirs was not the only party at card-playing; in fact, the group shared the room with professional card sharps such as George Brereton, who admitted to actively seeking a victim at the time. It is reported that Clarence Moore had at some point been indulging the tables in his personal tales of the West Virginian wilderness--especially his feat in guiding a newspaper reporter to an interview with Captain Anse Hatfield, of the notorious Hatfield & McCoy feud.

According to Archibald Gracie, the group seemed entirely engrossed and initially unbothered by the curious goings-on.

Clarence and Archie are reported to have stuck together as the sinking progressed, providing calm and steadfast reassurance to those women who were reticent to enter lifeboats. According to a number of survivor accounts, both men stood “in an unbroken line” with others who declined to enter lifeboats.

Repeatedly, Moore refused to take a place in one of the boats, the survivors who saw him say. His friend, Butt, knew that he was an oarsman, in fact, he realized that Clarence Moore could do most anything any true sportsman could, so he requested Moore to man an oar in one of the last lifeboats to leave the ship.

“No, major, I’ll stay and take my chances with you; let the women go,” Moore said to his companion according to Robert William Daniels, one of the survivors... “And he evidently stuck with Butt until death took them both,” said Mr. Daniels. “The two men jumped at the eleventh hour and were lost.”

Colonel Archibald Gracie also offered praise for the conduct of Major Archie Butt. It is reasonable to deduce that Clarence Moore aided similarly in the company of his friend.

Returning to a description of the scenes immediately after the Titanic crashed into the mammoth iceberg, Colonel Gracie told of the heroic work of Major Butt, John Jacob Astor, Clarence Moore, Jacques F. Futrelle, H. B. Harris, and other men, who stood aside in obedience to the law of the sea that the woman and children might live...

My last view of Major Butt---one that will live forever in my memory---was with that brave soldier coolly aiding the officers of the boat in directing the disembarkation of the women from that doomed ship. The recollection of him that is seared into my very brain is impressed by his last assertion of that manliness and chivalry so peculiarly his, that stately demeanor so well known to all Washingtonians. He died like the soldier and brave man he was.

It was reported that Clarence Moore and Archibald Butt jumped ship together "at the eleventh hour" as Titanic's boilers exploded.

The public eagerly awaited news of the famous Americans who were presumed lost in the sinking of the Titanic, particularly Major Butt, Clarence Moore, and other societal and affluent paragons such as John Jacob Astor.

Articles ran in newspapers with the 1912 equivalent of clickbait:

"Clarence Moore, Who May Have Lost His Life, Well Known in Capital."

"Moore's Partners Give Up Hope of Hearing From Him."

"Mrs. Moore Awaits Word from Husband."

Neither Clarence nor Major Butt survived. And their bodies were never found.

Clarence's wife, Mabelle, was repeatedly described as prostrate with grief "about Mr. Moore, who was aboard the Titanic and whose death seems certain."

Their conclusions have not been communicated to Mrs. Moore, who is prostrated.

Yesterday, Mrs. Moore attempted to make arrangements to have a steamer sent out to aid in the search for the lost and was only dissuaded with difficulty by friends of her husband, who assured her that everything possible was being done to save passengers, give the survivors comfort, and to obtain a complete list of the names of the survivors.

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“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.



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.”

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“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.

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“True Distinction and Refinement of Soul”: Edward Austin Kent

"True Distinction and Refinement of Soul": Edward Austin Kent

Edward Austin Kent was born in 1854 in Bangor, Maine. He graduated from Yale in 1875, and moved on to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. 

He returned to the United States in 1877, and undertook an impressive and extensive architectural career. In his chosen hometown of Buffalo, New York, he contributed to the landscape.

By 1912, at 58 years old, Edward was on a multi-stop European tour that included both France and Egypt. He had designs to retire when he returned to America.

And although he was invariably ready to begin that peaceful chapter of his life, he delayed his voyage home just a little longer—so that he might sail on the maiden voyage of the brand new Titanic.

Edward boarded as a First-Class passenger in Cherbourg on the evening of April 10, 1912. 

On board, he immediately fell in with the elite circle of writers spearheaded by Colonel Archibald Gracie. They referred to themselves as “Our Coterie.” Colonel Gracie wrote the following regarding the fated night of April 14, 1912.

That night after dinner, with my table companions, Messrs. James Clinch Smith and Edward A. Kent, according to usual custom, we adjourned to the palm room, with many others, for the usual coffee at individual tables where we listened to the always delightful music of the Titanic’s band. On these occasions, full dress was always en regal; and it was a subject both of observation and admiration, that there were so many beautiful women—then especially in evidence—aboard the ship.

© Excerpt from "Titanic: A Survivor's Story," by Colonel Archibald Gracie. 1912.

It was the gentleman’s decency at the time to offer companionship to women traveling alone. And because Edward was a bachelor, he and another member the Coterie, Hugh Woolner, took it upon themselves to offer accompaniment to Mrs. Helen Churchill Candee. 

Mrs. Candee was 59 years old and an accomplished writer. She had been in Europe conducting research for her work-in-progress, called “The Tapestry Book,” when her daughter reached out to tell her that her son, Harry, had been in an accident, and urged an expedient return to the United States.

In her account of Titanic, Helen also described the Coterie in the First-Class Lounge.

At dinner, two hours later, the scene might have been in London, or New York, with the men in evening jackets, the women shining in pale satins and clinging gauze. The prettiest girl even wore a glittering frock of dancing length, with silver fringe around her dainty white satin feet.

And after dinner there was coffee served to all at little tables around the great general lounging place, for here the orchestra played.

Some said it was poor on its Wagner work, others said the violin was weak. But that was for conversation's sake, for nothing on board was more popular than the orchestra. You could see that by the way everyone refused to leave it. And everyone asked of it some favorite hit. The prettiest girl asked for dance music, and clicked her satin heels and swayed her adolescent arms to the rhythm.


How gay they were, these six. The talkative man [Colonel Gracie] told stories, the sensitive man [presumed to be Edward Austin Kent] glowed and laughed, the two modest Irishmen forgot to be suppressed, the facile Norseman cracked American jokes, the cosmopolitan Englishman [Hugh Woolner] expanded, and the lady (the writer, Helen Churchill Candee] felt divinely flattered to be in such company.

The evening was presumably brought to a close shortly thereafter—until the iceberg strike.

Hugh Woolner wrote of the immediate alarm felt by the men in his vicinity.

…We sort of felt a rip that gave a sort of a slight twist to the whole room. Everybody, so far as I could see, stood up and a number of men walked out rapidly through the swinging doors on the port side, and ran along to the rail.

Soon thereafter, Helen Churchill Candee found herself wearing a lifebelt and rushing up on deck with Hugh Woolner, who had immediately set out to search for her.

The pair encountered Edward Austin Kent on the Grand Staircase.

She pleaded with him to take valuable tokens, reportedly because she believed that he had a far stronger chance of surviving than she, and because Edward was in possession of pockets. Upon her insistence, Edward accepted an ivory-and-gold cameo miniature of Mrs. Candee’s dear mother, and a flask of brandy. 

Edward, along with Woolner and another gentleman of the Coterie, escorted Mrs. Candee to Lifeboat 6, which was being launched off the port side by Second Officer Charles Lightoller.

When Colonel Gracie found Edward, he asked after the well-being of Mrs. Candee. He said, “She is safe and in a boat, Mr. Gracie.”

While Edward’s actions after the launch of lifeboat 6 have never been detailed, accounts attest to him continuing to assist women into lifeboats with haste. Mrs. Candee last saw him at his dapperest, standing unflustered at the rail and waving.

It is reported that Edward Austin Kent never left Titanic. The sea closed over him 2:20am.

He did not struggle or flounder.

Word of the sinking was reaching shore as the lifeboats were still in the water. But there was no word of Edward.

And so, on April 21, his bereft sister Charlotte published the following in the New York Sun.

TO SURVIVORS OF THE TITANIC—Information of any kind concerning Edward A. Kent during voyage of the Titanic will be gratefully received by the family. CHARLOTTE M. KENT. The Lenox. Buffalo, N. Y.

Mrs. Candee’s daughter Edith replied to Charlotte’s plea via letter. Therein, she detailed her mother’s encounter with Edward on the Grand Staircase, although it appears that Edith (or Helen) moved the set piece to the boat deck for dramatic effect.

On April 27, the First Unitarian Church, which Edward had himself brought to life, held a service for Edward. Every seat was filled.

Reverend Richard Boynton, at a pulpit adorned with both a large floral wreath and an anchor, made this remark among many eulogizing Edward.

Edward Austin Kent, with his brother, William Winthrop Kent, of New York, gave us one of his best in designing and erecting this building. It is fair that we all believe to judge a man by works, So judged, we must accord Mr. Kent true distinction and refinement of soul.

That same day, the crew of the Mackay-Bennett sent out a telegram listing those bodies which had been recovered.

Edward Austin Kent’s was among them. And in his pocket still, were Mrs. Candee’s effects.


CLOTHING - Grey coat; dress suit pants.

EFFECTS - Silver flask; two gold signet rings; gold watch; gold eye glasses; gold frame miniature of "Mary Churchill Hungerford"; knife; a pocket books; 48 francs, 75; 2 studs, one link.


Edward’s corpse, along with all those onboard the Mackay-Bennett, was brought into port at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Edward's cousin and brother-in-law were there to receive his remains.

He was laid to rest in Buffalo, and the miniature and flask were eventually returned in sadness to Mrs. Candee.

The chairman of the Royal Institute of British Architects issued his condolences, lauding Edward as "the very best type of American gentlemen."

Edward Austin Kent’s headstone is engraved as a testament to his kind and quiet courage.


As Helen stated years later about the loss of her male companions on board Titanic, “We all love a gentleman… Time has nothing to do with effacing that.”

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“They Told Me the People Were Singing”: Elizabeth & Madeleine Mellinger

"They Told Me the People Were Singing": Elizabeth & Madeleine Mellinger

Elizabeth Maidment was born in 1870 in Middlesex, England, and records indicate that she had five siblings. 

She married Claude Mellinger in 1895, at age 25.

But they did not move much further. 

By 1901, Elizabeth and Claude are reflected on the census as living at separate addresses: Claude at the registered family address, and Elizabeth and her children listed as visitors at a friend’s home.

They had five children, all in all. The first in 1895; the last, 1904.

It is not clear when the couple became estranged, but Claude sent their middle daughter, who appears to have gone by her middle name of Madeleine, a final letter from New Zealand in 1909.

By 1910, Claude Mellinger was registered as a resident of Australia.

Claude was reportedly a journalist of great accomplishment and talent. Per Madeleine, her father was “a genius whose extravagant high living brought the family to ruin.” But her mother never elaborated further on the “mistake” he’d made that finally expelled him from England.

Elizabeth clearly struggled an enormous amount in the years following Claude’s vanishing act. They had to auction off the furniture and the prized family heirlooms. And then lost their home altogether. And despite acting as a nanny/travel companion, finances forced her to ship her children off to relatives.

In 1911, her oldest daughter Eugenie Claudine is recorded as living with her, but her remaining children seem to have gone into the system… her son Alexander and Madeleine were both listed as inmates in children’s homes.

But in 1912, Elizabeth caught a break.

She was hired on as a housekeeper at Fillmore Farms, an estate in Bennington, Vermont, that was owned by the Colgate family—yes, of toothpaste fame.

She and Madeleine boarded Titanic at Southampton as Second-Class passengers. Elizabeth was 42 years old; her daughter was 13. 

It is unclear why none of Elizabeth’s other children accompanied her.

Also on Titanic and also headed to Fillmore Farms was First-Class passenger Charles Cresson Jones, who was the estate’s superintendent. He had been in the UK to purchase sheep from a Dorset-based farmer by the name of James Foot, and to attend a livestock sale as well. 

While it not definitively proven how Elizabeth came to snare the job of housekeeper at the Colgate estate, it is certainly reasonable to assume that she may have made the acquaintance of the superintendent during his travels.

And they clearly were acquainted. Mr. Jones is reported to have visited Elizabeth and her daughter in Second Class to show them photos of Fillmore Farms and Bennington. 

He came to our table—which was reserved… He had on a fur coat, full length, and I had never seen such a thing on a man. He gave me a golden sovereign (another first). Sunday, before lunch, he came over to our cabin in second class to bring pictures of lovely Bennington in spring, and to tell us what to do upon landing. We never saw him again alive.

Later in life, Madeleine admitted that, not knowing of Mr. Jones’s marital status, she fancied that that Mr. Jones might fall in love with Elizabeth and become Madeleine’s new father.

According to an interview with the Toronto Star, Madeleine answered the cabin door shortly after the collision with the iceberg.

We were asleep in our berths when a man banged on our door and told us to put on warm clothes and lifebelts and to get on deck.

As an adult, Madeleine realized that, had she not been there to answer that knock upon the door, that she might very well have ended up motherless in addition to already being fatherless. Because when the steward knocked, Elizabeth was sleeping, and the loud sounds did not rouse her.

And that was because Elizabeth was hard of hearing.

Elizabeth and Madeleine vacated the room in a hurry—so much so, that upon reaching the deck, Madeleine realized that her mother was not wearing any shoes. 

The pair found themselves on the port side. They were lucky enough to enter Lifeboat 14, which was launched by Second Officer Charles Lightoller and overseen by Fifth Officer Harold Lowe. 

Officer Lowe would go on to experience a hero’s welcome at subsequent hearings due to his brave conduct and no-nonsense attitude.

Madeleine later described the sinking. Other passengers apparently tried to shield her from the trauma, but she was 13 years old and clearly knew better.

I could see the lights of the ship starting to go under water, then soundlessly, perhaps a mile away, it just went down. It was gone. Oh yes, the sky was very black and the stars were very bright. They told me the people in the water were singing, but I knew they were screaming.

Officer Lowe eventually transferred the passengers of Lifeboat 14 into other boats so he could return to search for survivors in the water. Elizabeth and Madeleine were moved into Lifeboat 12.

This lifeboat would succeed in the rescue of survivors on the capsized Collapsible B. And one of those survivors was Second Officer Charles Lightoller.

Lightoller’s coat was white with ice. And so Elizabeth Mellinger, who was still barefoot, removed her wool cape and placed it on Lightoller’s shoulders. Elizabeth then took his hands and rubbed them between her own to do what she could to warm him.

Once on board Carpathia, Elizabeth’s hypothermia finally caused her to pass out. And so she was removed to the infirmary to treat the frostbite in her feet.

Madeleine had been hauled up on deck separately from Elizabeth. By the time she settled, her mother had already been taken away. By people Madeleine did not know, who did not know Elizabeth or anything about her daughter.

Madeleine proceeded to wander the decks, calling out her mother’s name through tears. This desperation was later seized upon by newspapers as a the pitch-perfect embodiment of Titanic’s sorrow.

Elizabeth and Madeleine eventually found each other later that day. And then Second Officer Lightoller found them, too.

He wanted to give Elizabeth a token, to thank her for her kindness to him during the rescue. But he lamented that all he had on him was his “little tin whistle,” that he had used to call for help, balancing on the back of Collapsible B in the dark.

But that was more than enough for Elizabeth Mellinger. And so she accepted it gladly.

And all her life, Officer Lightoller’s whistle was one of Elizabeth’s most coveted possessions. When she died in 1962, Madeleine was responsible for bestowing it upon another in accordance with her mother’s last wishes.

And the giftee was Walter Lord, famed Titanic historian.

“The whistle has a curious pitch,” Lord told Madeline during a phone conversation, mentioning this only in passing.

    “What do you mean?” Madeline asked.

    “It’s not the sort of sound I would have expected it to make,” Lord replied. Sensing, then, that something was wrong on the other end of the line, he tried to explain further just how pleased he was to have Lightoller’s whistle. “And, of course,” he added, “the first thing I did was to blow it.”

    “Oh, no,” Madeline said. “We had never blown the whistle, Mother or I—and in fact no one has—in all the years we owned it. And always, always, we believed Lightoller should have been the last one to do so.”

Walter Lord claimed he had no idea about the sanctity of the whistle, but it did not matter. Madeleine reportedly did not speak to him again for 7 years.

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“My! I Wish I Could Go Out There Sometimes!”: Titanic’s Elevators

"My! I Wish I Could Go Out There Sometimes!": Titanic's Elevators

The Titanic was the last word in luxury, equipped with elite amenities and thoughtful details. And among its many novel components, a particular technology often goes unacknowledged: the elevators.

All in all, they were pretty nifty contraptions and certainly enjoyed by the passengers. Lawrence Beesley mused upon as much in his account, which was published only two months after the sinking of Titanic.

Perhaps nothing gave one a greater impression of the size of the ship than to take the lift from the top and drop slowly down past the different floors, discharging and taking in passengers just as in a large hotel.

© "The Loss of the S.S. Titanic," by Lawrence Beesley. 1912.

Titanic was neither the first nor the only passenger vessel to include this particular convenience. But it was among the few.

They were designed, of course, to surpass all others in the simple feat of exceptional customer experience. In fact, the White Star Line boasted the following in their promotional materials while expressing lavish awe for the First-Class Grand Staircase.

Looking over the balustrade, we see the stairs descending to many floors below, and on turning aside we find we may be spared the labor of mounting or descending stairs by entering one of the smoothly-gliding elevators which best us quickly to any other of the numerous floors of the ship we may wish to visit.

Titanic was outfitted with four passenger elevators: three available to First-Class passengers, and the remaining one for those in Second Class. In conjunction, the ship was staffed with a total of four Lift Attendants, one responsible for each passenger elevator. 

The position of List Attendant was categorized as Victualling Crew. The Victualling Department was made up of 421 people tasked with all manners of service provided to those on board the ship, from foodstuffs to linens to barber services to bathroom cleaning. And of course, elevator services.

Titanic’s elevators, as well as those installed on her elder sister Olympic, were designed and installed by R. Waygood Co., an established and international firm that was headquartered in London. The Otis Elevator Company has claim to those bragging rights today, however, owing to the fact that it merged with R. Waygood in 1914.

The lifts were electric in operation, but not in any modern sense of the word. There were no buttons to be pushed, and no door that automatically closed. They were, in essence, manual—powered by electricity but controlled by hand. The Lift Attendant was responsible for controling a lever which decided the direction of the lift. It took a bit of finesse to ensure a jostle-free ride from start to end, and skill to operate the lift so that it stopped at the desired deck with its gate perfectly aligned to the floor onto which the passengers would alight.

The ship’s four steam-powered engines generated thousands of amps of 100-watt electricity, which catered not only to the elevators, but also to equipment on the Bridge, deck cranes, loudspeakers, kitchen equipment, fans, and heaters—and, of course, the approximately 10,000 incandescent lightbulbs in use on board.

It is reported that each elevator’s capacity was 10 people at a time, including the Lift Attendant therein.

The Grand Staircase of the RMS Olympic from the Boat Deck, circa 1911. Taken by William H. Rau. The First-Class Elevators were immediately in front of the Grand Staircase on A Deck.


The three First-Class lifts were tucked into a taut and tidy row just forward of the famed Grand Staircase on A Deck. Their course ran all the way down to E Deck. A curious design choice, considering the athletic amenities exclusively available to First-Class passengers occupied lower decks than the lifts could achieve. By terminating on E Deck, First-Class passengers found themselves one deck above the Swimming Bath and adjacent Turkish Baths of F Deck, and two decks too soon to access the Squash Court on G Deck. Lift passengers wishing to access those facilities would need to take leave of the elevators at the last available floor, and then proceed to take the stairs.

These gilded lifts, unlike the walled-off box elevators of today, were open-faced cages. They were designed in the Empire style, their frames trimmed with carved wood and accented ornate wrought-iron gates. They were outfitted with individual light fixtures and inviting sofas for passengers to make use of on their arduous vertical journeys.

The First-Class lifts were staffed by William Carney, who was the oldest of the Lift Attendants at 31 years old, as well as Frederick Blades and Alfred John Moffett King, who were 17 and 18, respectively.

Second-Class Entrance on RMS Olympic. The elevator sign is visible. Taken by Bedford Lemere & Co, 1911.


The sole Second-Class elevator could be found aft, alongside the main staircase; it ran from Boat Deck to F Deck. It skipped A Deck entirely, however, because A Deck was exclusively accessible to First-Class passengers. This elevator was operated by Reginald Pacey, who was 17.

Reginald had never been employed on a ship before.

Lawrence Beesley, one of the very few Second-Class men to survive the disaster, wrote the following of young Mr. Pacey in his recollections.

He was quite young,—not more than sixteen, I think,—a bright-eyed, handsome boy, with a love for the sea and the games on deck and the view over the ocean—and he did not get any of them. One day, as he put me out of his lift and saw through the vestibule windows a game of deck quoits in progress, he said, in a wistful tone, "My! I wish I could go out there sometimes!" I wished he could, too, and made a jesting offer to take charge of his lift for an hour while he went out to watch the game; but he smilingly shook his head and dropped down in answer to an imperative ring from below.

Lawrence also wrote that he didn’t believe Reginald was on duty with his lift on the night of the disaster, but he was sure that had the boy been on duty, he would have offered his passengers nothing but a kind smile, even as he knew the ship was sinking. 

“I wonder where the lift-boy was that night,” Lawrence Beesley wrote. “I would have been glad to find him in our boat, or on the Carpathia when we took count of the saved.”

 Reginald Pacey, along with the three Lift Attendants Carney, Blades, and King, all were killed in the sinking of Titanic.

While the bodies of William Carney and Alfred John Moffett King were identified during the Mackay-Bennett’s recovery efforts, both Reginald Percy and Frederick Blades were lost.

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“I Didn’t See Much Chance in Living”: Frank Winnold Prentice

"I Didn't See Much Chance in Living": Frank Winnold Prentice

On May 13, 1912, the RMS Oceanic encountered the Lost Lifeboat of Titanic: Collapsible A. Therein, the crew discovered three corpses that had been brutalized by a month of relentless sun and churning sea, as well as a wedding band that had been lost by the dying husband who had taken it from his dead wife.

The recovery of Collapsible A by the RMS Oceanic, May 13, 1912.


And despite the horror of the discovery by everyone aboard the Oceanic that day, it is sometimes reported that there may have been a single crew member aboard who was undoubtedly affected in an even more profound way than his shipmates.

If true, that gentleman’s name was Frank Winnold Prentice. 

Frank was English-born. According to birth records, he was newly 23 years old when he signed onto Titanic as an Assistant Storekeeper, although he is often reported as having been but 18. On Titanic, he was promised to earn a monthly wage of 3 pounds and 15 pence. He had reportedly transferred from the Celtic.

The SS Celtic circa 1919, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.


Storekeepers were classed as part of the ship’s Victualling Crew.

At 11:40pm on April 14, 1912, Frank was on E Deck port-side, in the “Storekeepers’ Room”—the cabin that he shared with 5 other storekeepers. He maintained that he did not feel the collision itself, but that he noticed a change in the motion of the ship—likening it to hitting the brakes in one’s car—and the ceasing of the engines.

Frank and two of his mates, fellow shopkeepers Cyril Ricks and Michael Kieran, found their ways up to the well-deck, where they observed that although the iceberg itself had passed into the night, that remnants of it were scattered across the floor.

Photograph taken on the morning of April 15, 1912, by the Chief Steward on the Prinz Alabert, who took the photo because of an unusual red color that appeared like a paint smear. At the time, the Steward did not know about the Titanic disaster.


Frank began assisting passengers with their lifebelts and encouraging them, particularly the ladies, to board the lifeboats, which he said many were outright unwilling to do.

It seems, given the multiple testimonies that Frank gave about Titanic, that a particular meeting haunted his thoughts: that of American wife, Virginia Clark and her husband Walter. 

Before I got my lifebelt on, I met a young couple, and, uh, I’ll tell you her name: it was a Mrs. Clark. They had spent their honeymoon in France and we had picked them up at Cherbourg. And she was having trouble with her lifebelt, so I fixed that onto her. And I said, “I think you’d better get into a lifeboat.” And there was one on the port side… so she said, “No, I don’t want to go; I don’t want to leave my husband.”

So I said, “Well, it’s just a precautionary measure. You get in; your husband will follow later on.” And I got her away, and that was that.

As Frank told it, he, Cyril, and Michael retreated to the stern as the steerage passengers “swarmed the decks,” believing that they had done all in their power.

It is here, so to speak, that Frank earns his distinction, even among Titanic survivors: because he jumped from the stern. 

And somehow survived.

And I was hanging onto a board—we had two boards, starboard and port, which said, 'Keep clear of propeller blades.' And I was hanging onto one of these and I was getting higher and higher into the air; and I thought well, now I’ll go and I dropped in; I had a lifebelt on. And I hit the water with a terrific crack.

Luckily I didn’t hit anything when I dropped in; there were bodies all over the place. And then I looked up at the Titanic.

There it was. The propellers were right out of the water; the rudder was right out. And I could see the bottom.

And then gradually she glided away. And that was that. That was the last of the Titanic.

In a separate interview, Frank described what he met in the ocean below him.

When I dropped down into the water it was among 200 or 300 live or dead bodies… I was lucky when I hit the water that I did not hit anything… I searched for my friend [Cyril Ricks] and he had not been so lucky. He had hit something and was hurt.

Sadly, Cyril had been critically injured in the dive.

I found Ricks. And, uh, he had hurt himself. He’d hurt his legs; he’d dropped on something. And he didn’t say very much… and he died. And… I was eventually—I seemed to be all by myself. The cries for help and prayers had all subsided, and everything was quiet.

And then Frank “paddled off… bumping into bodies all the time.”

In his 1979 interview with the BBC, his account of what followed, although brief, is an emotional moment in which he speaks through welling tears.

I didn’t want to die—I mean, I didn’t see much chance of living, but I was gradually getting frozen up. And, um [holds back tears]… by the Grace of God, I came across a lifeboat, and they pulled me in.

That lifeboat was Lifeboat 4. Along with Frank, the people in this boat picked up seven other crewmen. One of those, a fireman, was trying for some reason to exit the boat; by Frank’s account, the occupants worked together to hold or tie this fireman down. It is unclear whether or not Frank assisted.

Regardless, when Frank found safety in Lifeboat 4, he also found a sad surprise. One that even in his elder years, appeared to moved him dearly.

And I sat down on a seat, and who should be—I sat next to Mrs. Clark…The girl I’d put into a lifeboat. [tears] And she said—the first thing she said, where’s my—I have I seen my—have you seen my husband? So I said, “No, I haven’t, but I expect he’ll be all right.”

Anyway. I was in a pretty bad way then, as you can imagine—frozen solid, almost. And she wrapped me round with her cloak—she had some sort of blanket or a coat on. Anyway, I think ,uh… she probably saved my life—I don’t know. But I saved hers; at least I think I might have done, I think I did. And she saved mine.

Frank returned to the sea shortly thereafter. Records indicate that he signed onto the RMS Oceanic in July of 1912, although that date does not abide Frank’s recollections that he was present for the gruesome discovery of Collapsible A in May of that year. Whether records were incomplete, or Frank Prentice was mistaken, is indiscernible. 

He carried on, serving in the First World War. He was regularly addressed in his interviews as a Major.

Frank granted many interviews in print and video regarding his survival account throughout his life. He regularly recounted hearing “people crying, praying… [and] the band playing Nearer My God to Thee and them singing.” 

And he maintained that Titanic was a victim of J. Bruce Ismay’s pursuit of speed. “That ship,” Frank insisted, “was thrown away.”

"Der Unterbang der Titanic." Engraving by Willy Stower, 1912.


Frank Prentice was likewise adamant that the amount of lifeboats--20, which was in excess of the legal minimum--was criminally insufficient.

She had a lot of people on board… and they must have suffered more than I did, I imagine… some of then didn’t even leave their cabins, even. And they must have died in their cabins—they must have had a lingering death… it was almost like murder, wasn’t it?

Frank also carried with him a lifelong memento of the disaster: his pocket watch, stopped forever at 2:20am—the time that Titanic went under. When asked by his interviewer in his 1979 BBC recording when he entered the water, Frank replied thusly.

I think about two o’clock. I think it lasted… it was frozen up like I was. I think it lasted about twenty minutes in the water.

And when asked if he was “bothered” by the memories of Titanic, Frank answered:

Talking about it, I should probably dream about it tonight. Have another nightmare… [awkward chuckle] You’d think I’m too old for that, but you’d be amazed. You lie in bed at night and the whole thing comes round again… [pauses; tears up]

And that is the point at which the interview footage concludes.

Frank Winnold Prentice was one of the longest-lived surviving crew members of Titanic. 

He died at the age of 93, in 1982.

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“Locker 14, F Deck”: Sidney Sedunary

"Locker 14, F Deck": Sidney Sedunary

Samuel “Sidney” Sedunary signed onto Titanic on April 4, 1912. He hailed from Berkshire, England, and was the eldest of 7 children.

Sidney was assigned as a Second Steward in Third Class. He had only recently been married to his sweetheart, Madge Tizzard, in late 1911. He was 25 years old; she, 24.

And by the time he boarded Titanic, Madge was pregnant.

Even though he was comparatively young at the time of his assignment, but he’d already had 8 years of experience at sea. In April of 1904, at just age 17, Sidney joined the Royal Navy. His record indicates that he was acknowledged for excellent conduct; his appearance is also noted with brown hair, brown eyes, and a tan complexion. 

After 1908, Sidney moved to the private sector, serving on the Adriatic, and then on Titanic’s elder, and practically identical, sister, the RMS Olympic.

A promotional postcard distributed by the White Star Line to advertise the quality of Third-Class accommodations in the Olympic class.


As the Second Steward in Third Class, Sidney was required to support the Chief Steward, a man named James W. Kieran. 

Most stewards were roomed en masse on F Deck. But Sidney was gifted with a E-Deck cabin shared with only one other crew member: Ludwig Muller, the sole translator hired for the entirety of Third-Class passengers.

A Third-Class passenger cabin on the RMS Olympic, circa 1911 or 1912.


There is comparatively little information regarding the circumstances of Third Class on the night of the sinking. Much of what is known is ascribed to the testimony of John Hart, one of the eight surviving Third-Class Stewards.

Third-Class evacuation during the sinking was inevitable bedlam. With multiple languages and a single ship translator, confusion was rampant. But it wasn’t just that. Many passengers, even in Third Class, were adamant that it was safer to stay on the ship. John Hart testified that many of the 59 people in his charge “refused to put [lifebelts] on… they said they saw no occasion for putting them on; they did not believe the ship was hurt in any way.” 

John Hart continued.

Some of them went to the boat deck, and found it rather cold, and saw the boats being lowered away, and thought themselves more secure on the ship, and consequently returned to their cabin… I heard two or three say they preferred to remain on the ship than be tossed about on the water like a cockle shell.

During the British Board of Trade Inquiry cited above, John Hart testified to witnessing Sidney working with his superior mid-sinking. (Please do note that Sidney's surname is transcribed phonetically as "Sedginary").

I waited about there with my own people trying to show them that the vessel was not hurt to any extent to my own knowledge, and waited for the chief third class steward, or some other Officer, or somebody in authority to come down and give further orders. Mr. Kieran [id est, the Chief Steward] came back. He had been to sections S, and Q, and R to see that those people also were provided with lifebelts… he had also his assistant with him, one by name, Sedginary. [Sidney Sedunary.]

Immediately thereafter, when asked again, Hart repeated that Sidney had been assisting James Kiernan in distributing lifebelts.

What about the assistant; you say his assistant was with him?

- Yes.

John Hart estimated that he received his initial orders to get lifeboats on his passengers after “three parts of hour” after the iceberg strike at 11:40pm, so he believed it was about 12:30pm. He came across Sidney and Chief Steward James Kieran sometime after that, after they had been to Section S, Q, and R, which were toward the stern and split between three decks: S on G Deck, R on F Deck, Q on E Deck.

G Deck had started to flood at 11:55pm. The forward section F Deck saw water by 12:05am; forward E Deck, around 12:10am, along with water traveling down Scotland Road—the well-known but rarely-named ship-long hallway.

The Chief Steward had to instruct all the other Third-Class stewards throughout the ship. While those stewards receiving instruction were ferrying people in groups up to boat deck—John Hart testified to having taken two or three trips up—the Chief Steward and his assistant were completely embroiled in managing directions on G, F, and E Decks.

The Third-Class General Room, as depicted in a promotional illustration by the White Star Line to advertise Third-Class accommodations in the Olympic class.


Inevitably, since Sidney was in the company of James Kieran or otherwise transmitting his orders to lower Stewards, he presumably moved between the forward (bow) and aft (stern) sections on E, F, and G Decks—which were already flooding to variable degrees.

Segregated in the depths of the ship and at points likely wading through frigid seawater as he acted as Kieran’s right-hand man, Sidney had to have known how frail his chances of survival truly were.

But even as he watched others—colleagues and passengers—move to the upper decks and back again, Sidney was dedicated in his duties as the ship foundered. 

As far as we can deduce from the evidence, he spent the majority of the sinking down below, unlocking cupboards and distributing lifebelts instead of seeking a lifeboat.

A Third-Class Stairwell on C-Deck on the RMS Olympic, circa 1911. Courtesy of Bedford Lemere & Co.


Sidney Sedunary likely did get up to boat deck. Only once it was too late.

And after the exhaustion and adrenaline of the evacuation, he could not survive the cold.

His corpse was the 178th recovered by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett, and was noted thusly.


CLOTHING - Blue serge suit; black boots and socks; uniform coat and waistcoat, with buttons.

TATTOO ON RIGHT ARM - Anchor and rose.

EFFECTS - Gold ring; knife; nickel watch; pawn ticket; pipe; ship's keys; 20s.; $1.40; 8 francs 50.


Sidney Sedunary was buried at sea.

White Star sent Madge a death notice that was cursory at best.


With that, they returned his effects to his 24-year-old widow: some change, Sidney’s broken pocket watch, which had frozen shortly after he entered the water and before Titanic went under—and a key with a metal tag that read “Locker 14, F"D"k.”

So this key that had been taken from Sidney’s body and remitted to Madge Sedunary was more than a simple key: it was a tribute to his unsung and steadfast courage on the last night of his life.

Madge gave birth to Sidney’s son and only child at the end of 1912. He was named after his late father. And in 1921, 9 years after Sidney’s death, Madge remarried—to his younger brother Arthur. They  had a son 5 years later, in 1926.

Sid Sedunary, Jr., died in 2010, at the age of 97. He was the last known surviving Titanic orphan.

6 years following Sidney Jr.’s death, the key that had been removed from his father’s body was sold at auction for £85,000.

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