Dr Alice Leader was born as Alice May Farnham on 10 May 1862 in Batavia, Genesee, New York.
She was the daughter of Reuben Humphreys Farnham (1827-1902), a prominent New York businessman, and Frances Elizabeth Humphreys (1841-1909), both native New Yorkers. She had four siblings: Anna Elizabeth (b. 1868, later Mrs Clarence Newton Dwight), Edith (b. 1871), Reuben (1873-1919) and Jessie (b. 1877, later Mrs Donald Tolles) and the family appear on the 1880 census living in Attica, Wyoming, New York.
Her father Reuben was a native of Attica, New York and came from an old American family of English ancestry. He had studied law in Ballston Spa, New York and was admitted to the Bar in 1852. Instead of pursuing a law career he travelled to Kansas where he dabbled in real estate where he made his fortune before returning to New York in 1860 and establishing the First National Bank of Batavia in 1864. In 1869 he and his family returned to Attica where he was prominent in the affairs of the town and he operated a brewery before his death on 2 April 1902.
Alice received a privileged education and graduated from the Attica Union Academy before entering medical school in Philadelphia, a career path most uncommon for women at the time. She studied in Paris and later returned to the USA and served in the Willard Insane Asylum and the Insane Asylum of New York City.
She was married on 2 November 1892 in St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York to John Augustine Leader. John was the son of Irish immigrant parents Richard Leader and Ellen McCarthy and he was born in Auburn, Maine in January 1863 and grew up in Lewiston, Androscoggin, Maine. Alice and John, who remained childless, were prominent physicians in John's home town of Lewiston. John Leader died suddenly in Boston on 9 October 1900 aged 37.
Alice had spent a three-month-long vacation in Panama and France and was returning to her home and medical practice in New York. She boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 17465 which cost £25, 18s, 7d) and she shared cabin D-17 with Margaret Swift. She was also acquainted with Mr and Mrs Frederick Kenyon whilst aboard.
Following her survival Dr Leader related that she saw no panic aboard the ship during evacuation and spoke of the generosity of those aboard the Carpathia towards the survivors.
After her rescue from the Titanic Alice returned to work. She retired in the 1920s (one source says 1936) and was a frequent visitor to the Orlando, Florida area where a married sister lived.
Alice Leader died whilst visiting relatives in Orlando on 20 April 1944 aged 81 and she was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Attica, New York.
References and Sources
The Winter Park Herald (Florida), April 28, 1944 (Obituary)
New York Herald, April 19, 1912, p. 4
State of Florida Certificate of Death (#8809)
Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Articles and Stories
Worcester Evening Gazette (1912)
Brooklyn Daily Times (1912)
Evening Bulletin (1912)