Miss Ellen Bird was born on 8th April, 1881 at Old Buckenham, Norfolk, the daughter of Samuel Bird (shepherd) and his wife Maryann. She was one of 11 childrens of the Birds. The family lived at Stackford Old Buckenham, Norfolk.
Bird was living in London when she was employed as a maid, by Mrs Isidor Straus just prior to their return to New York. The Strauses had been in Europe since January 1912 and were trying to find a new French maid to bring back. They had no success but did hire an English maid prior to sailing. This girl left them at the last minute and Ellen Bird was hired. In letter from Ida to her children she expresses her wish that this new girl work out.
Ellen boarded the Titanic at Southampton, she occupied Cabin C-97 (Ticket No. PC 17483).
After the collision, as Mrs Straus dithered over whether or not to enter a boat, she handed Miss Bird some of her Jewellery but then decided to take it back. Ida also gave Ellen her fur coat saying that she, would not be needing it. After being rescued, Ellen tried to give the coat back to the family, specifically to Sara Straus Hess, the Strauses oldest daughter. Sara told Ellen, Ida had given her the coat and she should keep it. Mrs Straus stood back to stay with her husband.
Encouraged by her steadfast employers Ellen Bird boarded Lifeboat 8 and was saved.
Ellen went to work for the family of Frederic Spedden of Tuxedo Park, New York. The Speddens were also on the Titanic and had also travelled to Europe in January 1912, coincidentally on the same ship as Isidor and Ida Straus.
Ms. Bird stayed with the Speddens till her marriage to Mr Edward Beattie. Beattie was apparently a hotel worker (1) but is also referred to as a yacht captain. She lived the rest of her life on Rhode Island.
She died childless in Newport, Rhode Island on 11th September, 1949 and is buried at Acushnet Cemetery, Massachusetts.
Sometime in the 1920's, one of the children of Isidor and Ida Straus was staying at a hotel in Boston and one of the employees introduced himself as Ellen Bird's husband.
The Straus Family Historical Society
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer At Port Of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship: Carpathia) - National Archives, NWCTB 85 T715 Vol 4183
John Balls (1999) Titanic: The Norfolk Surviviors. Nostalgia Publications, Dereham.
Joan Adler, USA (Straus Family Historical Society)
Laura Cole, USA
Leighton H Coleman III, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Articles and Stories
The New York Times (1912)
New York Times (1912)