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“For Those Few Minutes, the Ship Was Alive Again”: Adolphe Saalfeld

"For Those Few Minutes, the Ship was Alive Again": Adolphe Saalfeld

Adolphe Saalfeld called himself a chemical merchant.

More specifically, he was a self-made man of business who dealt in perfumes. 

His wholesale firm, called Sparks-White & Co., Ltd., was a distillery of fragrance, created by chemists and marketed for global distribution. Adolphe was its head chairman.

Adolphe, who was 47 years old, was bound for America on a pleasure trip: he planned to see Niagara Falls, and visit both Montreal and Chicago.

He also traveled with the intention to promote his perfumes as a wholesale distributor to potential clientele, or perhaps establish a brand-new stateside outlet for his perfumes.

He boarded the Titanic in Southampton on April 10, 1912, as a First-class passenger. Adolphe would occupy a cabin on C Deck.

With him, he carried leather satchels, which altogether contained over 60 small vials of perfume oils.

Before officially embarking, Adolphe had taken a tour of the ship with his nephew and fellow chemist, Paul Danby. Paul wrote back to his wife in awe of Titanic’s luxuries, describing it as “wonderfully appointed.”

Adolphe wrote a letter to his own wife, Gertrude, on the same day. In this and subsequent letters, he calls her “Wifey.”

Both Adolphe and Paul took pride in believing that they had written the very first letters on board Titanic.

Adolphe would write a second letter to his beloved Gertrude later in the evening. 

"Dear Wifey,

...It is not nice to travel alone and leave you behind. I think you will have to come next time... I have a small table for two to myself. I had a very good dinner and to finish had two cigars in the smoke room and shall now go to bed as I am tired... 

So far, apart from occasional remarks I have not spoken to anyone. I want to keep quiet and have a thorough rest. As I do not know whether I will be up in time for the mail at Queenstown, I am posting this letter tonight. A kiss for you and love to all from your loving husband."

Citation from "On Board R.M.S. Titanic" by George Behe, 2012.

Adolphe was very clear in his intention to preserve his solitude on the journey. And so--outside of his own correspondence to Gertrude--his movements throughout the voyage are not well-documented.

At the time of the collision with iceberg on April 14th, Adolphe reported that he was in the First-class Smoking Lounge.

He also wrote that the iceberg was more than visible to the passengers as Titanic scraped by.

In smoking room on Sunday night 11.45 -- slight jar felt which for a moment made us think some breakage machinery, but soon engines stopped and stepping from verandah cafe iceberg plainly seen and felt.

Citation from "On Board R.M.S. Titanic" by George Behe, 2012.

To date, it has not been proven which lifeboat saved Adolphe Saalfeld on the night Titanic sank. But it is often reported to have been Lifeboat No. 3. 

This boat, along with all the other odd-numbered vessels, was launched from the starboard side by First Officer William Murdoch—who, in spite of the Captain’s decree—permitted men to board lifeboats once women and children were scant about.

Adolphe seems to have taken to a lifeboat early in the sinking. He left all of his belongings behind--including the satchels that carried his perfume samples.

"...saw boats being lowered and noticed general reluctance people going into them. Then I saw a few men and women go into a boat and I followed and when lowered pushed off, and rowed some distance fearing suction in case Titanic sinking -- All expected to go back after damage patched up, but as we drifted away gradually, saw Titanic sink lower and lower and finally lights on her went out, and others in my boat said that they saw her disappear. Our boat was then nearly 2 miles away but pitiful cries could be plainly heard."

Citation from "On Board R.M.S. Titanic" by George Behe, 2012.

After the sinking, Adolphe’s plans for his new American parfumerie do not appear to have been fruitful; it is likely that they were entirely undermined. As an affluent male survivor of the Titanic disaster, Adolphe was reported ostracized from society.

He returned to England and his beloved Wifey, Gertrude.

Family members later claimed that Adolphe’s experiences on Titanic robbed him of sound sleep for the rest of his life.

He reportedly took the calling upon his chauffeur, a man known as Patch, to drive him about the emptied streets into the wee hours of the morning, until he could at last doze off.

Adolphe Saalfeld passed away in 1926 at the age of 61.

But his was a story unfinished, even with his death.

In 2000, a leather satchel was recovered from the Titanic's wreck site. Crumbling but whole after nearly nine decades on the seafloor, the bag still bore Adolphe's name.

His perfume samples were still contained within. A few vials had broken open, but most were found to be intact.

Historian, artifact curator, and Titanic expert Bill Sauder described the moment that Adolphe Saalfeld's satchel was opened to the world above, for the first time since 1912.

"The one thing I'll remember about Titanic artifacts until the day I die is when the Saalfeld perfume vials came up.

When you recover things from the Titanic: it's wet; it's rusty, and it's rotten. And the smell that comes off of it is perfectly alien, perfectly fetid; you know it's a kind of death you have never experienced.

And so the lab is kind of unpleasant. And then all of a sudden somebody opens up this satchel--this leather satchel--and out comes the fragrance of heaven... It's all these flowers and fruity flavors, and it's delicious. It's the most wonderful thing you've ever had.

It was just a complete overwhelming experience. It was like, all of a sudden the fragrance of heaven, you know, kind of moves through the room. So instead of being surrounded by all of these dead things, um... for those few minutes, the ship was alive again."

The memory of this extraordinary, ethereal moment moved Mr. Sauder to tears.

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“All Quite Calm and Collected”: Frederick Dent Ray

Frederick Dent Ray was 32 years old when he signed onto Titanic’s crew on April 4, 1912.

He had set out for sea at just 17 years old, and appears to have travailed ports around the globe.

When the Second Boer War came, he enlisted in the Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Infantry. A bout of enteric fever—more commonly known as typhoid—eventually got Frederick booted from service, and he was returned back to England.

But Frederick did not settle in at home quite yet.

He soon took himself to South Africa, and he joined the Cape Mounted Police. He there engaged in Lord Methuen’s final wartime campaign.

Frederick returned again to England after that, entirely unscathed.

By 1908, he was a married man. He and his wife Annie initially settled in Southampton, but census records find them in Reading by 1912.

Frederick put himself back out to sea, undertaking employment with the White Star Line as a First-class saloon steward. Per his own description, Frederick’s duties were “to wait at the tables and set the saloon generally. That is all.”

Most notably, Frederick served on the R.M.S. Olympic for an extended period. He was even on board in September of 1911, when the Olympic collided with the H.M.S. Hawke.

On board Titanic, Frederick was assigned the attendance of particular First-class passengers for the duration of the trip.

His passengers included celebrated artist Frank Davis Millet, Mr. Clarence Moore, the Clarks, and Major Archibald Butt, a close and coveted aide to American President Howard Taft.

On the evening of April 14th, Frederick was waiting starboard-side tables in the dining room. 

That particular night, he waited upon Mr. Millet and Mr. Moore as they dined together—but not Major Butt, as he had been extended an invitation to the Wideners’s dinnner-time gala for Captain Smith. This was taking place on the opposite side of the very large saloon. 

Frederick’s shift was to end at 9:00 p.m.

After work, Frederick retired to his cabin at about 10:30 p.m.

Frederick’s cabin was located aft on E-Deck, and was designated as Room 3. He shared this “saloon waiters’ quarters” with 27 other stewards.

Frederick was asleep when Titanic collided with the iceberg, and the impact aroused him from sleep. He later described it as “a shock. Similar to a train being pulled up in the station.”

He thought only that something had gone awry with the engines and laud awake for a few minutes. 

Another steward, who was Frederick’s superior, then instructed him to get out of bed right away, because the ship had struck an iceberg. It was serious, he said, and they needed to get to their stationed lifeboats.

Frederick thought he was kidding. And so he laid in bed a bit longer before falling back to sleep.

When Frederick next awoke, a colleague was standing in the doorway, shouting, “All hands to the boats!” 

And so Frederick finally got up, dressed and donned a life vest, and made his way to the boat deck. 

On C Deck, he met with a colleague, Second Steward George Dodd, who instructed Frederick to go find another lifebelt. Frederick searched through five staterooms before locating the item and returning it to George. 

Then Frederick continued up to the boat deck and his assigned boat, Lifeboat No. 9. This was located on the starboard side, which was overseen by First Officer William Murdoch.

Once Frederick arrived, he saw that things were “dragging” and felt very cold.

Senator SMITH.
When you got to lifeboat No. 9 and saw those 8 or 10 men standing around it and one or two passengers and no women, what took place?

Mr. RAY.
I went to the rail and looked over and saw the first boat leaving the ship on the starboard side. By that time I was feeling rather cold, so I went down below again, to my bedroom, the same way that I came up.

And so Frederick went back down to the stewards’ quarters on E-Deck to grab an overcoat. 

While there with his open suitcase, Frederick took a moment to grab some handkerchiefs, which he said he “had a good supply of” thanks to his wife. He also had the presence of mind to grab toiletries like his toothbrush and shaving gear. 

“I thought wherever I was next...” he later recalled, “I should require them.”

Frederick began making his way back up to the boat deck.

En route, he saw the alleyway called Scotland Road was deserted, and E-Deck was flooding. 

Frederick then ran into First-class passenger Martin Rothschild on the stairwell, whom Frederick knew from his prior stint on Olympic. The two men spoke briefly about the accident.

"I spoke to him and asked him where his wife was. He said she had gone off in a boat. I said, 'This is rather serious.' He said, 'I don't think there's any occasion for it.'" So we walked leisurely up the stairs until I got to A deck and went through the door."

Martin Rothschild would not survive.

That conversation was not all that Frederick Dent Ray attested to, regarding his second trek to the boat deck.

On the way up, I saw the purser with five of the staff of the pursor's office with the safes open, and they had mailbags there. They were putting the jewels and jewel boxes into the mailbags… and talking, chatting one to the other. I continued… on my way up to the boat deck, and on the way up, I heard a fiddle. I wondered whoever was playing a fiddle at that time? ... and [it] transpired afterwards that it was a band. I thought it might be a passenger playing a fiddle…

they weren't playing any tune… they were tuning on the fiddle.

Frederick thereafter reported to Lifeboat 9 and assisted passengers in boarding, then moved to Lifeboat 11 to do the same. Some were reticent; some were recalcitrant.

Frederick then proceeded down to the next lifeboat—No. 13–which he stated was about half-full with women and children. The sailors then instructed men to board, in order to help in rowing the boat. 

It was then he spotted First-Class passenger Washington Dodge, with whom Frederick had already become acquainted.

"I met him on the Olympic in on the previous occasion and I persuaded him to come on the... come back on the Titanic. And of course, when we sailed from Southampton, I recognised him, and we had a chinwag and talked to one another, and he had a wife and a little boy about four years old, about [?] of that. And... I said, Where's your little... where's your wife and little boy? He said, well, he said, they've gone in another boat. And I said, well, I said come on. I said you get in this boat. We want somebody to row."

Frederick then followed Mr. Dodge into Lifeboat 13.

There, as Frederick recalled, a woman was in the midst of a panic attack. And Frederick in turn seems to have lost his patience.

"She was crying all the time and saying, 'Don't put me in the boat; I don't want to go in the boat; I have never been in an open boat in my life. Don't let me stay in.' I said, 'You have got to go, and you may as well keep quiet.'"

One of the sailors then dropped a bundled baby down into Frederick’s arms, with its mother climbing down into the lifeboat shortly thereafter.

Lifeboat 13 had a harrowing descent. It was “jumpy” and uneven according to Frederick, but it also nearly killed its passengers.

Nearing the water, Frederick and others foresaw danger.

…we got nearly to the water, when two or three of us noticed a very large discharge of water coming from the ship's side, which I thought was the pumps working. The hole was about 2 feet wide and about a foot deep, a solid mass of water coming out from the hole. I realized that if the boat was lowered down straight away the boat would be swamped and we should all be thrown into the water. We shouted for the boat to be stopped from being lowered, and they responded promptly and stopped lowering the boat.

The men used the lifeboat’s oars to push away from the boat, but their escape was hardly over.

Because there were no sailors in the boat, none of the occupants seemed to know how to cut the lifeboat loose from the ropes. 

And the discharging water had pushed Lifeboat 13 aft.

Directly under Lifeboat 15, which was descending with rapidity.

People screamed for knives to cut the falls, and the men—most notably Lead Stoker Fred Barrett—frantically severed the ropes. 

Lifeboat 15 came within two feet of crushing to death the 60-plus people in Lifeboat 13.

Once away from the ship—a decision that Frederick Dent Ray claimed he had objected to—Fred Barrett was elected in charge of the tiller.

And so Frederick Dent Ray, along with other able-bodied men, rowed throughout the night.

We pushed out from the side of the ship. Nobody seemed to take command of the boat, so we elected a fireman to take charge. He ordered us to put out the oars and pull straight away from the ship. We pulled all night with short intervals for rest. I inquired if the ladies were all warm, and they said they were quite warm and they had a blanket to spare. There seemed to be very little excitement in the boat. They were all quite calm and collected.

Later, in a letter to Titanic historian Walter Lord, Frederick explained how the handkerchiefs he had pocketed from his suitcase, came in handy to help the men on board stay warm.

"...of course you know that after going up to my lifeboat, I went back for my overcoat & looking in my (bunk?) I saw 6 handkerchiefs which were to become very useful as the people in the boat were complaining of the cold to their heads, so I told them to tie a knot in each corner & they had a very good improvised cap, Mrs W.Dodge had one, & in the morning, six heads were crowned."

Frederick also recalled in an earlier letter to Mr. Lord that he had accidentally absconded from Titanic with two salt spoons in his pocket. A mistake, he swore it was, and not petty larceny.

My wife has just reminded me that I have not told you how I came to have 2 salt spoons in my pocket on that night. She is afraid you might think that I was going to pinch them, how it happened was in cleaning the table it meant going the length of the saloon to put them in the side board drawer...

Frederick Dent Ray was called to testify on Day 9 of the American Senate Inquiry. He was not summoned to appear at its British counterpart.

Frederick Dent Ray would turn out to be one of the Titanic’s longest-lived survivors overall, as well as the longest-lived surviving crewmember.

He died in 1977, aged 97.

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“Curses and Prayers Filled the Air”: Robert Williams Daniel & Eloise Hughes Smith

"Curses and Prayers Filled the Air": Robert Williams Daniel

Robert Williams Daniel stood dazed and determined on the Carpathia, knocking on a stranger's door and wearing an oversized suit that wasn't even his.

At 27 years old, Robert had survived the sinking of the Titanic--although no one, including himself, seemed to know exactly how.

But however he was saved from the ocean, the third-hand account from the Carpathia's medical officer attests to Robert having been saved in a red "woolen sleeping garment" or nightshirt, and shoes. Robert also reportedly wore his late father's pocket watch tied around his neck.

Carpathia's physician, Dr. Arpad Lengyel, had been assigned to attend to Titanic's steerage survivors. And since this is where he first treated Robert, who he found to be "delirious"--insisting he was a doctor himself--and underclothed.

So Dr. Lengyel, believing Robert was a colleague in the medical field in a pitiful state, gave him his own suit to wear. Robert reportedly had no recollection of this interaction when Dr. Lengyel tended to him the next day.

When it was discovered that Robert was, in fact, a First-class passenger of the sunken ship, he was transferred to an alternate area of the Carpathia.

And then, on a ship full of widows, Robert eventually set out to befriend the bereaved newlywed from West Virginia: Eloise Hughes Smith.

Standing before the doorway of her cabin--lacerations on his bruised face, wearing "a pair of trousers large enough for a giant [and] a blue shirt he had bought from the Carpathia's barber"--the still-reeling Robert offered his companionship to 18-year-old Eloise, so that she might feel protected while the survivors awaited the Carpathia's arrival in New York City.

She was newly pregnant, suddenly widowed, and absolutely inconsolable. Barely three months earlier, she had been another man's bride.

When Robert disembarked Carpathia with Eloise in his arms, she was reportedly "in a fainting condition." They were some of the first to appear on the ship's gangway.

After Robert had parted ways with Eloise and her father on the quay, his mother found him despite the fact she barely recognized him. The New York Sun reported that he was  "total wreck" and almost too weak to stand. Reporters swarmed him immediately, and his confused--and confusing--narrative unfolded.

Robert reportedly "reeled" at least once, and removed himself to lean on a railing to steady and compose himself.

"Let me smoke a cigarette before we go on," he is reported as having said at last.

The reporters pressed Robert about the bruises and cuts on his face.

"[On Titanic's stern, there] seemed to be thousands fighting and shouting in the dark... Everybody seemed to have gone insane. Men and women fought, bit and scratched... [there were] men praying as I struggled to get to the rail. Curses and prayers filled the air... I grabbed something and uttered one prayer. Then I went over the side of the boat. I tried to wait but suddenly found myself leaping from the rail, away up in the air and it felt an eternity before I hit the water. "

Robert had boarded Titanic in Southampton, having been in London on business, and occupied "an inside cabin" on A-Deck, although the exact cabin has never been conclusively determined.

And he had boarded alone--save for his new puppy, a cherished French bulldog named Gamin de Pycombe.

While his time spent during the voyage is not well-known, Robert's movements during the sinking are documented thanks to his friend, Edith Russell--who had a cabin around the bend from his.

Titanic trimmer Paddy Dillon, who himself swam in the water before being pulled aboard a lifeboat, also recalled seeing Robert within five minutes of the ship's submersion.

"Then [Titanic] plunged and then seemed to right herself. There was about 15 of us when she took the first plunge. After the second, there was only five of us left. One of these was a Mr. Daniels [sic], a First Class passenger. He only had a pair of knickers, a singlet and a blanket thrown over his shoulders. I think he jumped for it."

Robert would proceed to regale the press with so many stories about fellow passengers as the Titanic went under--including Jack ThayerRichard Norris Williams and his father, the Carter family, and Ida and Isidor Straus--as well as First Officer William Murdoch and Fifth Officer Harold Lowe.

Robert was also sought out by the bereaved family members of victims who were anxious to learn the details of their last moments.

Later in 1912, Robert had plans to meet up with fellow survivor Colonel Archibald Gracie, with whom Robert had formed a fast and profoud friendship while on board Carpathia. The Colonel was writing a comprehensive book of the disaster based upon passenger recollections and testimonies, and the men wrote to each other regularly.

Robert, having been abroad once again in England, was asked by reporters in December of 1912 about Colonel Gracie. He did not know that his friend had died the week earlier.

When Robert was informed, he was "overcome with grief" and declined to speak any further.

By 1914, Robert began calling upon another Titanic survivor with whom he shared traumatic memories: the widowed Eloise Hughes Smith.

Her father was not a little displeased, given that his daughter was, at the time, involved in ongoing litigation with her late husband's family on behalf of hers and Lucian's infant son.

In spite of Congressman Hughes's misgivings, Robert and Eloise grew to be closer and closer friends, and that friendship evolved into romance.

And so, in a remarkable turn of events, Robert Williams Daniel married Eloise Hughes Smith in a quiet ceremony in New York City in August of 1914.

The next day, Robert departed for London yet again.

There, he became stranded for over two months due to the outbreak of the Great War, which delayed Eloise and Robert in announcing their marriage to society.

Once Robert was permitted to return to the United States, he and Eloise settled in Philadelphia with Eloise's son, Lucian Smith, Jr., and Robert's new English bulldog. Among their neighbors were the Carter family, who had also survived Titanic.

In February of 1919, Robert was sent overseas to France at the behest of the United States War Department to handle money that would be used to convert French currency in the possession of American soldiers returning from the war front. He was subsequently awarded a medal for his distinguished service.

But by the time Robert returned, his marriage to Eloise was sadly deteriorating.

They separated in 1920, in the wake of rumors of his marital infidelity. And in 1923, Eloise filed for divorce after learning, according to her legal claim, that Robert was residing with "an unknown blonde woman" in New York.

The divorce was granted without contest. According to the divorce decree, Robert was to remained unmarried for five years.

By December of that same year, he remarried in New Jersey. And in 1929, he would marry a third and final time.

Eloise would likewise remarry a third time, when she was widowed yet again. Her fourth and final marriage would end in a swift divorce.

After all of that emotional tumult, Eloise reverted her surname to Smith--that of her first husband, Lucian P. Smith, and the love of her life.

Eloise Smith died in 1940 from a heart attack at only 46 years old.

Her ex-husband, Robert Williams Daniel, died later that same year from cirrhosis of the liver. He was 56 years old.

Regardless of its outcome, Eloise and Robert are noted as the sole survivors to marry after meeting in the wake of the disaster.

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“Keep Your Hands in Your Pockets It Is Very Cold Weather”: Eloise Hughes Smith & Lucian P. Smith

"Keep Your Hands in Your Pockets It Is Very Cold Weather": Eloise Hughes Smith

Eloise Hughes was 18 years old when she debuted herself to society in January of 1912. Since her father was a Congressman and her mother's family was also famously political, she was announced in a contemporary newspaper report as "a debutante of the congressional circle."

And rumor is that, from the moment 24-year-old Lucian Smith set eyes upon her photograph, he was hopelessly enamored.

The two married just a month later, in early February.

It was a grand affair. The Washington Post reported of the ceremony that Eloise radiated in "a gown of white satin trimmed with rare lace with a veil and orange blossoms and carried a shower bouquet of orchids."

Eloise and Lucian then embarked on a spectacular honeymoon.

Their outward-bound vessel with Titanic's elder sister, the R.M.S. Olympic,

The newlyweds visited Egypt, where they rode camels around the pyrmaids at Giza, and Lucian even scaled one to its summit.

They traveled through the Middle East, and then moved on to Europe.

Lucian and Eloise Smith decided to bring their adventure to a close in April of 1912. They debated which vessel to take home, torn between the faster Lusitania and the brand-new, gilded Titanic.

The reason for the curtailed honeymoon is most often reported to be a matter of Eloise having found herself pregnant; this, however, is not something she mentioned in the known letters that she sent home.

"Lucian is getting so anxious to get home and drive the car and fool around on the farm....We leave here Sunday... By boat to Brindisi [Italy], by rail to Nice and Monte Carlo, then to Paris and via Cherbourg either on the Lusitania or the new Titanic."

Courtesy of [source]

Eventually, Eloise and Lucian made their choice for passage.

They boarded Titanic in the port of Cherbourg, France, as First-class passengers on the evening of April 10th.

Eloise took to bed earlier than her husband during the voyage. While she retired, Lucian would play cards in the First-Class Smoking Lounge.

On the night of the collision with the iceberg, Lucian and Eloise took dinner in the First-class dining saloon, where they observed the party the Widener family was hosting in honor of Captain Smith.

Not being guests of the celebration, which Eloise later wrote "was not particularly gay," the Smiths removed themselves to the Cafe Parisien, and listened to the ship's band.

Eloise excused herself for bed around 10:30 p.m.

Lucian, as usual, went to play cards.

That particular night, he sat down to a game of whist with three gentlemen from France, including the famed aviator Pierre Marechal.

When Titanic struck the iceberg, Lucian and his fellow card-players reportedly bore witness to it.

In an article by the times published April 20, 1912, "the Frenchmen" attested to what they saw.

"We were quietly playing auction bridge with a Mr. Smith from Philadelphia, when we heard a violent noise similar to that produced by the screw racing. We were startled and looked at one another under the impression that a serious accident had happened. We did not, however, think for a catastrophe, but through the portholes we saw ice rubbing against the ship's sides."

Eloise, who was in bed, later attested that while the collision woke her, she eventually fell back to sleep. She awoke a second time when Lucian entered the room.

In response to his wife's inquiry as to what the matter was, Lucian replied calmly. "We are in the north and have struck an iceberg: It does not amount to anything, but probably delay us a day getting into New York," he told her. "However, as a matter of form, the captain has ordered all ladies on deck."

Eloise wrote that as she dressed to go up on deck, she and Lucian had leisurely conversation about their plans once they arrived in New York.


Eloise later described the scene on deck as First-class passengers awaited the ready of the lifeboats.

"There was some delay in getting lifeboats down: in fact, we had plenty of time to sit in the gymnasium and chat with another gentleman and his wife. I kept asking my husband if I could remain with him rather than go in a lifeboat. He promised me I could. There was no commotion, no panic, and no one seemed to be particularly frightened; in fact, most of the people seemed interested in the unusual occurrence, many having crossed 50 and 60 times. However, I noticed my husband was busy talking to any officer he came in contact with; still I had not the least suspicion of the scarcity of lifeboats, or I never should have left my husband."

Twice thereafter, Eloise refused to enter a lifeboat without Lucian.

Distraught, she approached Captain Smith, who was in the middle of using a megaphone. She told him she was alone on the voyage save her husband, and asked if Lucian could go with her into the lifeboat.

Eloise wrote Captain Smith ignored her, and only continued to announce, "Women and children first!" through the megaphone.

Lucian pulled her away.

"He then said, "I never expected to ask you to obey, but this is one time you must; it is only a matter of form to have women and children first. The boat is thoroughly equipped, and everyone on her will be saved." I asked him if that was absolutely honest, and he said, "Yes." I felt some better then, because I had absolute confidence in what he said. He kissed me good-by and placed me in the lifeboat with the assistance of an officer. As the boat was being lowered he yelled from the deck, "Keep your hands in your pockets it is very cold weather." 

Lucian and Eloise would never see each other again.

Eloise was saved in Lifeboat 6. She stated the lifeboat was lowered haphazardly, almost vertically, before the falls were cut with a knife provided by a fellow female passenger.

"We were some distance away when the Titanic went down. We watched with sorrow, and heard the many cries for help and pitied the captain, because we knew he would have to stay with his ship. The cries we heard I thought were seamen, or possibly steerage, who had overslept, it not occurring to me for a moment that my husband and my friends were not saved. It was bitterly cold, but I did not seem to mind it particularly. I was trying to locate my husband in all the boats that were near us."

Safely on board Carpathia, the newlywed widow was gifted the cabin of a kind honeymooning couple named Charles and Emma Hutchinson.

Eloise searched for Lucian throughout the Carpathia, in disbelief that he had not been saved.

Desolate and all alone in the cabin of other newlyweds, Eloise is reported to have heard a sudden and unexpected knock upon the door.

Standing there, in an oversized suit that had been donated to him by the Carpathia's physician, was Robert Williams Daniel.

Robert, a fellow First-class passenger on Titanic, reportedly felt honor-bound as a Virginian gentleman to offer his protection and accompaniment to the bereaved young Eloise while she was alone on board Carpathia.

Upon the ship's arrival in New York, Robert carried Eloise in his arms down the gangway to the dock. There, he entrusted her "in a hysterical condition," according to contemporary periodicals, to the care of her waiting father, Congressman Hughes.

But Robert and Eloise would see each other again.

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“God Help Me, I Told a Lie”: Kate Gilnagh

"God Help Me, I Told a Lie": Kate Gilnagh

A week before Kate Gilnagh stepped aboard the R.M.S. Titanic, a fortune teller had called at her family's home in County Longford, Ireland.

According to Kate's relatives, her father Hughie was turning the woman away when 17-year-old Kate stepped forward, insisting that she would like her fortune told for a sixpence.

The fortune teller reportedly took Kate's palm and told the girl: she would soon cross water, and although there would be danger, that Kate herself would not come to harm.

Kate Gilnagh boarded Titanic in Queenstown, Ireland, as a steerage passenger on April 11, 1912. She was emigrating to America to join her sister Mollie in Manhattan.

Kate took to cabin 161 on E-Deck.

And by lucky chance, she found herself bunking with three other girls all also from County Longford: they were two other Kates, and a Margaret.

Over the course of the voyage, Kate Gilnagh seems to have become acquainted with more male passengers who came from Longford--this was hardly surprising to anyone, according to reports, due to her memorable beauty.

Kate also is reported to have socialized with Eugene Daly, a 29-year-old piper who is rumored to have caught her eye while on deck.

On the night of the collision, Kate recalled to Walter Lord that there was a lively party happening in the communal portion of steerage. She even detailed that a rat had, at one point, scurried through the mess of dancers, inciting short-lived chaos.

Eventually, Kate and her three bunkmates had retired to their cabin when a man with whom they had become acquainted, rattled the door.

According to Walter Lord, this was none other than Eugene Daly.

Kate Gilnagh and her cabin-mates attempted to make their way to the upper decks. But they were stopped en route.

According to Kate, an unidentified crewman blocked the way of the group in an attempt to keep the steerage passengers in order. And when she herself tried to pass through an unknown barrier, said crewman halted her in her path.

It was then that she reported her friend Jim Farrell shouldered his way through the crowd with ferocity.

"At another barrier a seaman held back Kathy Gilnagh, Kate Mullins and Kate Murphy... Suddenly steerage passanger Jim Farrell, a strapping Irishman from the girls' home county, barged up. 'Great God, man!' he roared. 'Open the gate and let the girls through!' It was a superb demonstration of sheer voice power. To the girls' astonishment the sailor meekly complied."

Excerpt from "A Night to Remember," by Walter Lord, page 57.

With Jim's help--and Kate later referred to him in an interview as their "guardian angel"--the group ascended the decks.

But somewhere along the line, Kate Gilnagh is reported to have gotten spun around and had gotten lost from her friends. She told Walter Lord that she quite suddenly found herself alone on the portside Second-class promenade with no apparent means to reach the boat deck above.

The deck, Kate said, was eerily devoid of people, aside from one man leaning on the railing and staring grimly out toward the blackened sea. Seeing her plight, he offered for her to stand on his shoulders so she might reach and climb up onto the deck above them.

Kate accepted.

Just as she hauled herself onto the boat deck, a nearby lifeboat--often reported as Lifeboat 16--was starting its descent. Kate attempted to board, but she was blocked yet again by a crewman telling her the boat was at capacity.

"But I want to go with my sister!" she spontaneously cried out.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking, Kate Gilnagh told the following to the New York Daily News.

"God help me, I told a lie... at first they didn't want to let anyone else into it because it was overcrowded. I said that I wanted to go with my sister. I had no sister aboard. They let me get in, but I had to stand because we were so crowded."

Citation courtesy of "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

Jim Farrell had also made it to that same lifeboat, but he did not leave the deck.

According to a contemporary report from the Irish Post, on May 25, 1912, the pair had one final, somber interaction.

"[Kate Gilnagh] further states that she was wearing a small shawl on her head which got blown off, when a person named Mr James Farrell on Clonee, gave her his cap.

As they were being lowered, he shouted: 'Good-bye for ever' and that was the last she saw of him."

Citation courtesy of "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

When Kate arrived in New York City, she was listed as a domestic servant, aged 17 years, and destined for a relative's house on East 55th Street.

Her sister Mollie was reportedly "inconsolably arranging a Requiem Mass" for her sister's repose, when Kate walked into the room.

Fifty years later, Kate retold the story to the New York Daily News.

"My relatives thought I was dead and when I got to my sister's house they were preparing for my funeral."

Citation courtesy of "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

Mollie and Kate immediately arranged to take a portrait together.

They did so to reassure their family back in Ireland that Kate had somehow, by the grace of heaven, survived the sinking of the Titanic.


Lord, Walter. "A Night to Remember." St. Martin's Griffin, 2005 edition.

Molony, Senan. "The Irish Aboard Titanic." Wolfhound Press, 2000.

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“I Wish the ‘Titanic’ Were Lying at the Bottom of the Ocean”: Edgardo Samuel Andrew

"I Wish the 'Titanic' Were Lying at the Bottom of the Ocean": Edgardo Samuel Andrew

Edgardo Samuel Andrew was newly 17 years old when he boarded Titanic in Southampton.

He did not want to go.

Edgardo Andrew grew up on a cattle ranch called El Durazno, in Argentina.

He was born to English-immigrant parents, named Samuel and Annie, in March 1895. Edgardo was the second-to-last of eight children, but his younger brother died in infancy, making Edgardo the de facto baby of the family.

Samuel Andrew died in 1906, leaving Edgardo's older brother as administrator to both the business and his family.

It was commonly accepted practice for expatriate families to export their children for their schooling back home. And the Andrew family did just that.

So in 1911, in keeping with the tradition dictated by his siblings before him, Edgardo set off for school in Bournemouth, England. He went at the behest of his elder brother, Silvano.

Silvano had himself attended school back in Britain, where he studied marine engineering and steam engines over the course of six or seven years.

Silvano then returned to Buenos Aires and joined the Argentinian Navy.

He was thereafter shipped off to United States: first to Quincy, Massachusetts, and then New Jersey.

While there, Silvano began courting an affluent widow named Harriet White Fisher, and he eventually quit the Navy to work as an executive for Harriet's prominent company, called "Fisher and Norris Anvil Works."

It was well into the spring of 1912 when Edgardo received a letter from Silvano: he and Harriet Fisher were engaged to be married. And soon.

The wedding was scheduled for April 27, 1912, in New York.

Silvano wanted Edgardo to attend--not just as a guest at the wedding, but also to enjoy the bounty of American life, and possibly even work alongside him at the Anvil Works.

Edgardo, of course, accepted the invitation and booked immediate passage to New York from Southampton.

On board the R.M.S. Oceanic.

Edgardo's ship was scheduled to depart from the Southampton docks on April 17th, 1912, only ten days before the wedding.

He had not considered the coal strike, which had only recently ended on April 6th and was still impacting sea travel. It left most vessels without fuel for their scheduled routes.

Including the Oceanic.

Edgardo's ship was berthed indefinitely, moored alongside smaller vessels like the S.S. New York. And most likely, it had had its limited coal supply pilfered by its parent, the White Star Line.

To supply the maiden voyage of Titanic.

Edgardo felt he had no choice: to make it in time for his brother's wedding, he would have to depart England sooner than scheduled.

And so, he transferred his ticket to Titanic, which was set to leave a week earlier, on April 10th. It would afford him more time; and really, it was his only option.

Edgardo was displeased with the adjustment for a particular reason.

He had recently received a letter from a dear friend--often presumed to be a romantic interest, or even fiancee--back home in Argentina: a girl named Josefina Cowan.

Josefina wrote to Edgardo that she would soon be taking passage to England, and that she dearly hoped to see him.

But with his alternate passage on Titanic already booked, Edgardo had to dash both her hopes and his. He responded on April 8th.

"You can't imagine how sorry I am leaving without seeing you, but I've got to go and there's no other way...

When I received your first letter telling me you were coming... I was so happy about the news I could not think of anything else, and I was making every program... but sadly my anticipated programs will not come true..."

In that same letter, Edgardo expressed his bitterness toward what he felt was the sole impediment between himself and Josey: the necessity of his travel on Titanic.

The plain irony would become his epitaph.

"You figure Josey I had to leave on the 17th this (month) aboard the "Oceanic", but due to the coal strike that steamer cannot depart, so I have to go one week earlier on board the 'Titanic'. It really seems unbelievable that I have to leave a few days before your arrival, but there's no help for it, I've got to go. You figure, Josey, I am boarding the greatest steamship in the world, but I don't really feel proud of it at all, right now I wish the 'Titanic' were lying at the bottom of the ocean."

And so, on April 10th, Edgardo rode the train to Southampton and embarked on Titanic. He held a Second-class ticket.

He was all alone.

His spirits seem to have lightened, however, once he had settled on board.

While Titanic steamed toward the port of Cherbourg that same afternoon, Edgardo popped into the barber shop and bought two postcards: one for his brother Wilfredo back home at El Durazno, and one for his friend in Italy.

Edgardo began the postcard to Wilfredo: "From this colossal ship I'm pleased to greet you."

On Titanic, Second-class passengers shared dining tables.

And so young Edgardo became friends with his table-mates. They were Jacob Milling, who was a railway machine inspector from Copenhagen, and Edwina Troutt, who was traveling to visit her sister.

Just like Edgardo, Edwina had likewise been inconvenienced by a transfer of passage from the lamed Oceanic.

Edgardo seemed to have spent a significant amount of time in the company of his new friends.

Edwina recalled that both Edgardo and Jacob wrote letters each morning. She also reported on conversations between them about how ardently Jacob missed his wife, and his excitement to send her a wireless message.

And according to Edwina, on the evening of April 14th, the trio was "in the Library talking over various things."

Edwina later wrote the following recollection about the actions of both Jacob Milling and Edgardo Andrew once Titanic struck the iceberg.

"I heard the ship make a stumbling noise, enough to wake me... [after the collision] I met only a few curious women & Mr Andrew. I tried to find out out what was the matter, & the officer told me, 'It's only an iceberg. ou must go back to your stateroom or you'll catch cold.'

...I saw them lower one lifeboat with no one in it & noticed the men were also uncovering another. I then realised something was the matter. I at once went to the state rooms of all my friends & told them to dress in case we were called up. Then I met Mr Milling & he said 'What is the trouble, Miss Trout? What does it all mean?' I said, 'A very sad parting for all of us. This ship is going to sink.' (Mr Andrew laughed at me & said impossible)

Mr Andrew & I then went looking for other friends & so many of them couldn't do anything for themselves so we helped them with their life preservers..."

In a spoken interview decades later, Edwina recalled that Edgardo had tried to convince her that the ship could not--and would not--go down.

Elsewhere, she reported that Edgardo even gave her his life vest.

Edgardo died in the sinking that night. His body, if ever recovered, went unidentified.

But in 2001, a leather suitcase was recovered from the shipwreck, about 800 feet off of the stern. The luggage was submitted for restoration.

It was Edgardo's.

Remarkably, once opened, it was found to still be neatly packed. The contents included his shoes, as well as a school notebook.

Therein, written in pencil, researchers found that he had taken up pages, just signing and re-signing his name.

Edgardo Samuel Andrew--only 17 years old and looking toward his future--seems to have been practicing his signature.


Behe, George. "On Board RMS Titanic: Memories of the Maiden Voyage." The History Press, 2012.

National Geographic, "Drain the Titanic." Documentary directed by Wayne Abbott. 2015.

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“Steadfast in Peril”: Titanic’s Post Office

"Steadfast in Peril": Titanic's Mail Room

Titanic’s “R.M.S.” designation meant “Royal Mail Steamer.”

The White Star Line, unremarkably, was under contract with the British government to efficiently and expediently transit mail.

And Titanic did in fact carry mail.

3,364 bags of it, to be precise. 

These thousands of sacks, containing multiple millions of pieces of mail, arrived on board at all three port destinations reached.

Most mail bags embarked at Southampton and Cherbourg, with 1,758 at the former port and 1,412 at the latter. A comparatively small amount of 194 followed at Queenstown, before Titanic turned toward the open sea.

Receiving and sorting this mail by journey’s end was the sole responsibility of only five mail clerks. 

Two of these men, James Williamson and John Richard Jago Smith, reported from the ranks of the Royal Mail.

Three American clerks—Oscar Woody, John March, and William Gwinn—joined them from their employ within the United States Postal Service.

Maritime postal clerks were esteemed, to say the least.

These men were elite, with most having been recruited from the Railway Mail Service and Foreign Mail Section after extended service. Such clerks have been noted to sort an average of 60,000 pieces of mail per day with minimal error.

And the five clerks on board Titanic were no exception to this rule of excellence.

Titanic’s postal quarters were split between two deck levels: the Post Office on G Deck, and the Sorting Mail Room on Orlop situated directly beneath it. They were located forward on the starboard side, within the fourth watertight compartment.

Titanic's mail facilities were by all accounts more polished--and far more generous--than any that the postal clerks had previously experienced. 

On most vessels, the mail sorting room was distant from the hold that stored the still-bagged mail, and it was typically constricted and dingy.

Titanic, on the other hand, provided such spacious accommodation. And it boasted an infinitely efficient design: the two rooms were “stacked” one over the other, with a wide companionway connecting them for easy access.

The expansive post office had racks and cubbies for envelopes. Additionally, there was a broad sorting table and even a latticework gate that allowed the clerks to separate registered mail from the rest.

The sleeping quarters originally assigned to Titanic's postal clerks were situated among steerage cabins.

The Postal Museum in London possesses letters from the ship’s inspection on April 9th, the day before her maiden voyage. Therein, the writer(s) take umbrage with conditions of the clerks’ accommodations among Third-Class passengers--and in derogatory terms.

"The [sleeping] Cabins are situated among a block of Third Class cabins, and it is stated the occupants of these latter, who are mostly low class Continentals, keep up noisy conversation sometimes throughout the silent hours and even indulge at times in singing and instrumental music…if their [id est, the mail clerks] work during the day is to be performed efficiently it is essential that they should enjoy a decent sleep at night."

Consequently, the mail clerks were swiftly given alternate, more peaceful accommodations.

They were also reassigned a private dining room on an upper deck--a saloon they shared with the two Marconi operators.

From the moment the Titanic set sail, the five postal clerks would have been at work sorting through the literal thousands of bags of mail in the hold: categorizing all parcels and post according to their intended destinations. 

Additionally, the First- and Second-Class Reading and Writing Rooms had postal boxes stationed outside their doors for passenger use.

The clerks, therefore, may have been alternately tasked with retrieving any such mail—and certainly worked to sort all of that, too.

The goal was to have all mail successfully dispatched at the so-called “quarantine station” in New York Bay, where all incoming ships had to tarry for health inspections.

Therefore, the mail would have disembarked even before the ship’s passengers.

At the time of the iceberg strike, the five men were in their private dining area celebrating the imminent birthday of American postal clerk Oscar Woody.

He would be turning 41 years old the next day, on April 15th.

Upon feeling the collision, the five mail clerks immediately made their way to the post office on G Deck.

Mail on board a ship was considered seriously precious cargo, and the clerks were duty- and honor-bound to safeguard it at all costs. 

And so the men set to bundling and transferring all the mail they could manage into sacks and closing them up for transport to the upper decks.

Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall was sent down to the mail room by Captain Smith.

At the American Senate Inquiry, Boxhall retold his story of meeting the postal clerks. 

Looking down into the open companion way that connected the post office where they stood to the mail hold directly below them, Boxhall stated he saw full-up mail bags floating by.

[Senator Fletcher] 3682. Did you do so?
- I was proceeding down, but I met the carpenter. 

3683. What did you say to him?
- I said, "The captain wants you to sound the ship." He said, "The ship is making water," and he went on the bridge to the captain, and I thought I would go down forward again and investigate; and then I met a mail clerk, a man named Smith, and he asked where the captain was. I said, "He is on the bridge." He said, "The mail hold is full" or "filling rapidly." I said, "Well, you go and report it to the captain and I will go down and see," and I proceeded right down into the mail room.

3684. What did you find there?
- I went down as far as the sorting room deck and found mail clerks down there working.

3685. Doing what?
- Taking letters out of the racks, they seemed to me to be doing.

3686. Taking letters out of the racks and putting them into pouches?
- I could not see what they were putting them in.

3687. You could not see what disposition they were making of them?
- I looked through an open door and saw these men working at the racks, and directly beneath me was the mail hold, and the water seemed to be then within 2 feet of the deck we were standing on.

3688. What did you do in that situation?
- (continuing): And bags of mail floating about. I went right on the bridge again and reported to the captain what I had seen.

In a contemporary report, Officer Boxhall reportedly recounted his time in the mail room with further detail.

According to Boxhall, the clerks continued their work even as the post office began to flood not five minutes later.

They began hauling the heavy sacks--at least 100 lbs each, one under each arm--moving waist-deep through the frigid seawater.

Over and over again.

"When he got down to E deck, where the mailroom was located, he says he found it awash. Gwinn was there in his nightclothes, having rushed down from his room two decks above. Three other clerks were also there and all were bundling registered mail in sacks. It is estimated that its value was $800,000.

Boxhall says that the four men loaded themselves with heavy sacks of mail and stumbled on decks. at that time the boats were being launched."

Eventually, the struggling mail clerks appealed to the stewards for aid, and bedroom steward Alfred Theissinger obliged.

Alfred later recalled the following.

"I urged them to leave their work. They shook their heads and continued at their work. It might have been an inrush of water later that cut off their escape, or it may have been the explosion. I saw them no more."

All in all, Titanic’s postal clerks salvaged approximately 200 bags of mail from the post office on G Deck—but in the end, none were saved.

Tragically, nor were they.

All five men—Woody, Smith, Williamson, March, and Gwinn—died that night.

Two of their bodies were retrieved from the sea by the MacKay-Bennett: John March, and Oscar Woody.

The United States Postmaster General stated the following in a recommendation to the Postal Committee of the House of Representatives.

"The bravery exhibited by these men," [Postmaster General] Hitchcock said, "in their efforts to safeguard under such trying conditions the valuable mail intrusted [sic] to them should be a source of pride to the entire Postal Service, and deserves some marked expression of appreciation from the Government."

In Britain, a memorial was dedicated in Southampton: it reads “Steadfast in Peril.”

In 1999, a documentary revealed that the mailroom was accessible via the front cargo hatch. 

Inside the post office on G Deck, the underwater robot--called Robin--found the mail sorting table, overturned and slowly rotting. Nearby, the latticework fence that segregated registered mail from the rest was open.

Then Robin descended further into the mail room on Orlop deck.

There, the submersible encountered canvas bags, grown over with sea life, and still full of mail.

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“I Think It Is True That They Can Smell Danger”: Titanic’s Rats

"I Think It Is True That They Can Smell Danger": Titanic's Rats

When Thomas Ranger, a fireman on Titanic, arrived in Washington DC for the American Senate Inquiry, he had experienced the luxury of hotel lodgings in Washington, D.C.

When Thomas arrived back home in Britain, however, and was asked to testify before the British Board of Trade, he slept multiple nights outside on the bank of the Thames.

Another bedless man amidst “benches and tramps," Thomas Ranger stated he “prefered to walk than sleep” at the Sailors' Home.

All because of vermin.

Ranger and other surviving crew, on standby to be called before the Board, had been advised to stay at the Sailors’ Home in London, which had offered wayward seafarers interim accommodations between voyages since the 1800s. 

In May of 1912, however, the rooms in the Sailors’ Home were overly full—to the point that makeshift quarters were put out in the yard.

Meanwhile, construction to the building was ongoing, with bricklayers. The Titanic survivors were assigned to the vicinity of the remodeling efforts.

And Thomas Ranger could not bear to sleep there because the construction had disturbed and displaced an unspecified quantity of rats.

It’s no revelation that rats are—and have been—everywhere.

Even on a grand, new liner’s maiden voyage.

Yes, Titanic indeed had a rat population.

Rats have congregated on ships for so long and with such regularity that they are believed to have spread worldwide alongside human, thanks to our human Age of Conquest when ships dominated the open seas.

It’s reasonable to hypothesize that rats would have boarded the Titanic much like they have any other vessel in history: by running up unguarded mooring lines, as stowaways within waiting cargo, and even by taking up residence within the walls during construction in the shipyard.

Interestingly, around the time of the British Inquiry into the Titanic disaster, a law had recently been enacted that mandated the use of rat-guards on mooring lines, upon penalty of a five-pound fine.

But rats are cleverer than that.

Oftentimes, rats were so plentiful aboard that firemen working the boilers had a particular method of killing shipboard rats on-sight: by scooping the offending rats up with their shovels and flinging them into the fiery maw of the furnace.

For this reason, many ships had at least one cat on board.

In the case of Titanic, this rumored mouser was named Jenny: a newly adopted stray about to birth a litter.

According to Violet Jessop, Jenny the Ship's Cat was tended to primarily by a scullion named Joseph 'Big Joe' Mulholland.

The Sunday Independent reported on Joe's own account on the anniversary of the sinking, in 1962.

"There was something about that ship I did not like and I was glad to lift my old bag and bid goodbye...

Big Joe is still fond of cats and perhaps he has a reason. He recalls that on his way down to the Titanic before she set sail from Belfast with bands playing and crowds cheering, he took pity on a stray cat which was about to have kittens. He brought the cat aboard and put her in a wooden box down in the stokehold.

At Southampton, when he was ruminating whether to take on the job of store-keeper on the trip or sign off, another seaman called him over and said: 'Look Big Joe. There's your cat taking its kittens down the gang-plank.'

Joe said, 'that settled it. I went and got my bag and that's the last I saw of the Titanic.'"

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic" by Senan Molony, 2000.

As the paper reported: "When his cat walked off, so did Joe."

And so Titanic's left on her maiden voyage mouser-less.

There is no official record of how many rats were on Titanic.

But eyewitness accounts attest to at least a half-dozen.

Fireman Jack Podesta gave an interview to the periodical ‘Southern Evening Echo’ in 1968, in which he reported having seen rats behaving oddly down in the boiler rooms on Saturday April 13th—the day before the iceberg strike.

"On this very morning, my chum and I had just gone across firing our boilers and we were standing against a watertight door—just talking—when all of a sudden, on looking through the forward end on [Titanic’s] starboard side, we saw about six or maybe seven rats running toward us. They passed by our feet; in fact, we both kicked out at them and they ran after somewhere. 

They must have come from the bow end, about where the crash came later. We did not take much notice at the time because we see rats on most ships, but I think it is true that they can smell danger."

But it wasn’t just crew that sighted rats on board.

There are fleeting mentions that children in third-class chased the occasional rat.

And third-class passenger Kathy Gilnagh also told Titanic historian Walter Lord that on the night of April 14th, she had seen a rat.

Shortly before collision, there was a large party in the common area of steerage.

And Kathy Gilnagh told Walter Lord that, at some point during the frivolity, a rat scurried across the room--presumably dashing across the makeshift dance floor. According to Kathy, the girls shrieked and may have even cried, but a few boys gave chase.

Kathy did not elaborate about whether those boys managed to catch that particular rat.

But the party reportedly continued on.

Even during the collision with the iceberg.


Molony, Senan. "The Irish Aboard Titanic." Wolfhound Press, 2000.

Lord, Walter. "A Night to Remember."

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“Not Bad for A Shipwrecked Man”: Patrick O’Keefe

"Not Bad for a Shipwrecked Man": Patrick O'Keefe

Patrick O’Keefe had tried to sell his ticket for Titanic for £7.

Patrick had been awaiting the Titanic’s arrival in a hotel in Queenstown, Ireland. And he had dreamt the night before his departure that the ship would sink.

Patrick had moved to America two years earlier in 1910, when he was only 19 years old. Freshly settled in New York City and living with his cousin, he worked as a porter and general laborer.

Patrick's work strengthened him with regular heavy lifting. He also reportedly had a tradition of swimming in the River Suir each Christmas Day.

In 1912, at the age of 21, Patrick had returned to Ireland to visit with his family and meet his new stepmother. He had initially booked passage back to America on the SS Baltic. 

But Patrick’s brother, James, convinced him to stay over an extra week in Ireland so the entire family could be together for Easter on April 7th.

And so Patrick transferred his ticket to Titanic.

Having failed to find a taker for his doomed ticket, Patrick reluctantly embarked on the Titanic at Queenstown on April 11th.

He did so only because he feared derision.

He wrote to his father, “I thought if I went back to Waterford again the boys would be laughing at me.”

Patrick was crestfallen to leave Ireland behind again. He sent the following postcard to his father before boarding the Titanic.

"I feel it very hard to leave. I am down-hearted. Cheer up, I think I’ll be alright — Paddy."

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Patrick’s shipboard activities are not very detailed.

On the night of the sinking, he made his way up to the boat deck and presumably remained on board in the ship’s final moments before it broke.

Patrick reportedly cast himself overboard with two Englishmen, named Edward Dorkings and Victor Sunderland, both of whom were fellow steerage passengers. According to Victor’s own account, he jumped when he saw nearby stokers doing the same.

Patrick was adept at swimming and unphased by the frigid seawater, due to his customary Christmas swims. 

And so Patrick, along with Victor and Edward, swam toward the lifeboat Collapsible B, which had floated away from Titanic’s deck upside-down.

Again per Victor Sunderland’s account, the three grabbed hold of the collapsible as it floated past Titanic's forward funnel—which came crashing down only moments later.

Balancing on the sloped, slick back of Collapsible B, Patrick O’Keefe began hauling other survivors up onto the boat.

Perhaps this seemingly Herculean task was a bit easier for him than most, thanks to his strength from his work as a porter.

On May 16, 1912, the Cork Examiner reprinted the following report from a stateside periodical, about Patrick.

An act of heroism was performed by Mr Patrick O'Keefe who, plunging into the sea from the steerage deck, managed to capture a collapsible raft on which he first pulled an Englishman from Southampton then a Guernsey Islander, and after that with the assistance of those he had already rescued, some 20 other men

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Furthermore, Junior Marconi operator Harold Bride--who had himself survived the sinking on Collapsible B--testified in the American Inquiry about an unnamed passenger who was at the center of assistance efforts that night.

And there was a passenger; I could not see whether he was first, second, or third.

Senator SMITH.
What kind of a looking man?

I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have you learned who it was?

No, sir; I heard him say at the time he was a passenger.

Senator SMITH.
Was it Colonel Gracie?

I could not say. He merely said he was a passenger.

Senator SMITH.
Where did he get on?

I could not say. I was the last man they invited on board.

Senator SMITH.
Were there others struggling to get on?

Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many?


And according to the Brooklyn Eagle, who interviewed Father Michael Kenny about his visit to Titanic survivors in hospital:

"O’Keefe’s success in rescuing lives after he assumed absolute command of the raft was one of the many providential avenues of escape provided for the steerage passengers of which I heard many recitals during my visit to St. Vincent’s."

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Patrick reportedly never spoke on the matter himself, and he was never summoned to testify at either the American or British inquiry.

He was noted by St. Vincent’s Hospital as having sustained heavy bruising, and eventually received a grant from the American Red Cross.

Back in Ireland, Patrick’s father was bereft and had scheduled Masses to pray for the repose for the soul of his lost son.

But then, he received a telegram from his boy.

"Dear Father,

I write you these few line to let you know I am safe and feeling fine. Do not worry for me, for I am all right and going to start work in the morning at twelve dollars a week (not bad for a shipwrecked man). Dear father, I am sure you felt downhearted when you heard the Titanic was lost. I dreamt myself she was going down before I left Queenstown… I lost everything I had on the Titanic but, thank God, my life was spared."

Citation from "The Irish Aboard Titanic," Senan Molony, 2000.

Mr. O’Keefe immediately adjusted the aforementioned masses from bereavement to thanksgiving for his son’s miraculous survival.

Patrick went on to his new job, eventually working as a window dresser for an unidentified department store. Later on, he became a lift operator in a New York City office building.

Patrick O’Keefe declined to ever speak about the sinking of the Titanic.

But at the outbreak of the Great War in America, he traveled to Canada to enlist as a British subject--rather than be conscripted into the American forces and be forced to cross the Atlantic again.

So profound was his aversion to sea travel, in fact, that after 1912, Patrick never once stepped foot in Ireland again.

Patrick O'Keefe died from a heart attack in 1939. He was 49 years old.

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“My Friend Was a Gentleman Farmer”: William Crothers Dulles

"My Friend Was a Gentleman Farmer": William Crothers Dulles

William Crothers Dulles was a millionaire bachelor from Philadelphia.

Contemporary reporting indicates that he had a law degree, but if he did, he never seems to have practiced. To date, there is not even a record of a law degree being issued to him by his reported alma maters.

William was a member of an elite driving club in New York. He was also a dog fancier, having shown his Cavalier King Charles spaniels at shows throughout the Northeast.

But his life’s absolute passion was thoroughbred horses.

William was a horse breeder of some renown; his country home and farm in Goshen, New York, was called Tophill.

Tophill Farm was also where William also housed his extraordinary equine library and collection of equine art, which was rumored to be one of the most extensive in the world at the time.

This may very well have been true, given that William built a fortified bunker in which to store it all.

According to the New York Herald, “his library of sporting books was well known on both sides of the Atlantic. He had a vault of steel and concrete constructed for their safekeeping.”

And William alone kept the key to it.

William had been wintering in Europe alongside his mother Mary Dulles, since late January of 1912.

He was reported to have been inseparable with his mother following the loss of his father Andrew twelve years prior, always acting as his mother’s escort to Philadelphia events. Mary had been in Europe since December 1911, visiting with William’s younger sister Margaret and her husband Ettore.

In the spring of 1912, William had been dallying in Britain on the hunt for more rare equine tomes to add to his legendary library.

But then, for reasons unknown, Mrs. Dulles and her son parted ways in Paris so he might return home.

William Crothers Dulles boarded Titanic at 39 years old, at the port of Cherbourg, France.

As a First-Class passenger, he occupied cabin A-18. And he traveled alone, save for the company of his little dog, which--in keeping with the dog shows he participated in--is presumed to have been a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

There is hardly an account that provides any insight into William’s time spent on board.

But fellow First-Class passenger William Sloper attested to having made fast friends with Mr. Dulles, reporting briefly that they had shared a dining table with "a Mr. W.C. Dulles of Goshen, NY, and a Mr. Hoyt of New York City [who] were not saved."

"I remember I chummed around those first four days with a young, unmarried man about my age by the name of William Dulles who had been the steamer going over in the winter. My friend, Bill Dulles, was a gentleman farmer and trotting horse breeder from Goshen, New York. I saw him early on Sunday evening [April 14th] but I never saw him again. Later he was listed among the missing."

William Dulles died in the sinking of the Titanic. There are no known reports of his last moments. 

The body of William Crothers Dulles was the 133rd corpse recovered by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett. It was noted as follows.

N0. 133. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 50.

CLOTHING - Green suit; grey sweater and overshoes.

EFFECTS - Gold watch and chain; gold plated knife and chain; gold tie clip; "W. C. D."; four memo books; gold stud; 11s. 6 1/2d.



A particular possession was notably absent from the listed effects: the single key to William’s bunker-full of celebrated equestrian treasures, which were still locked away at Tophill Farm.

The Chicago Evening Post reported on April 16th—the day after the sinking—of the pall cast over Paris.

And that reporting made specific mention of William’s inconsolable mother.

"The American colony in Paris was plunged into profound grief this morning by the definite news of the stupendous loss of life caused by the wreck of the Titanic. Hundreds of permanent residents and of the American tourists staying at the hotels had relatives on board. They had gone to sleep last night comforted with the assurances cabled here that all had been saved, and it was only when they received their newspapers this morning that they learned the terrible toll of fatalities…

The White Star office was besieged by weeping women, several of whom had sons on board. Among these was Mrs. William Dulles, who left the office in a state of collapse, supported by her friends."

The death of William Dulles was orbited by bizarre occurrences. 

On April 19th, the Evening Bulletin reported an interview with William’s cousin, Dr. Charles Dulles, who was crestfallen that his cousin had not survived the sinking.

Therein, the Bulletin also mentioned a mystery woman, leading to speculation that William Dulles was secretly engaged—a rumor vehemently denied by his acquaintances.

"A handsome woman, elegantly dressed, inquired at the White Star Line offices in New York last night for information regarding Mr. Dulles. When told there was no record of his rescue, she hurried to the Surveyor of the Port and got a pass to the pier for the Carpathia's arrival. She was then lost sight of. Dr. Dulles said to-day he had no knowledge of the woman's identity."

Furthermore, in the midst of the tragedy, the Newark Star reported on that same day that a strange and harrowing incident had occurred at Tophill Farm. 

An employee of William Dulles by the name of John Pippin had appeared on the property “wildly intoxicated… and violent.” He was subsequently kicked by one of the horses. 

Drunk and bleeding, he then wrested the keys from the property caretaker and made his way to the late William’s bed, where he passed out.

Police arrested John Pippin at midnight after breaking in the door, which he had barricaded with furniture and a bunk bed.

Pippin had also armed himself with an axe, although according to the report “he had no opportunity to use it.”

William Crothers Dulles was interred in a family mausoleum in Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery on May 6, 1912.

His world-famous library was eventually auctioned off in December of 1912, but only after expert attempts to break the lock to the bunker that safeguarded it.

New York’s American Courier reported in January 1913 that “in order to open the vault, his executor found it necessary to employ an expert locksmith, who worked many hours before he succeeded in his task.”

Prior to sale, William's collection was noted by the New York Herald as “the largest and Choicest Collection ever offered for sale by auction in America or Europe.”

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