Mrs. Mary Eloise Hughes Smith was born on 7 August 1893 in Huntington, West Virginia. Her father was West Virginia Congressman James A. Hughes and her mother was Belle Vinson Hughes, a member of the Vinson family well-known in politics.
Her father being a member of the House of Representatives, Eloise spent a significant amount of her childhood in Washington, D.C. Upon her debut to society in January 1912, Eloise caught the attention of Mr. Lucian Philip Smith. Mr. Smith, who was 24, was a prominent resident of Morgantown, West Virginia, where he had attended and graduated from West Virginia University.
The couple married on 8 February 1912 at the Central Christian Church in Huntington. The wedding was described by a local newspaper as “one of the most brilliant wedding functions the city ever witnessed.” The Smiths left for a long honeymoon that would take them to Egypt, the Middle East, and, finally, Europe.
According to family lore, the newlyweds decided to end their journey early when Eloise discovered she was two months pregnant. She wrote home excitedly:
'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....I will love so much to tell my Sunday School class when I get home...'
The Smiths booked a first-class passage back to the United States onboard the Titanic. They boarded the ship in Cherbourg on the evening of 10 April 1912, and occupied cabin C-31.
On Sunday evening, following dinner in the Café Parisian, Lucian was playing a game of cards with three Frenchmen. When the accident occurred at 11:40, Eloise had already retired for the night. She was awakened after the collision by Lucian, who “leisurely” informed her: “We are in the north and have struck an iceberg. It does not amount to anything, but will probably delay us a day getting into New York. However, as a matter of form, the Captain has ordered all ladies on deck.”
On deck, Eloise approached Captain Smith and, informing him she was alone, asked if her husband might not accompany her in the lifeboat. Her request was refused by the repeated order of “Women and children first!”
Eloise was rescued in lifeboat 6, under the command of Quartermaster Robert Hitchens. Lucian was lost, and his body was not among the recovered that were identified.
On the eighteenth day of the U.S. inquiry, Eloise's affidavit was read before the senate committee by Congressman Hughes. In it, she stated the whole disaster “seemed to be a moneyed accident.”
On 29 November 1912, Lucian Philip Smith II was born.
Mrs. Eloise Smith, a Titanic widow, of Cincinnati, gave birth to a baby Nov. 30. Mrs. John Jacob Astor telegraphed her congratulations to the mother of the posthumous child.
Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 5 December 1912
On 18 August 1914, Eloise remarried; this time wedding fellow first-class survivor Robert Williams Daniel of Richmond, Virginia. The couple divorced in 1923. Eloise would marry twice more before reverting back to her first married name of Smith.
Eloise Hughes Smith died on 3 May 1940 in a Cincinnati, Ohio sanitarium. She was 46. Her death was attributed to a heart attack. She was interred in the Vinson family plot in Spring Hill Cemetery, Huntington, West Virginia.
References and Sources
State of Ohio Certificate of Death
Huntington Herald Dispatch (West Virginia), 9th May, 1940, Obituary
Senate Hearings, 20 May 1912, Affidavit
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
New York Herald, 19th April 1912
Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 5 December 1912
Joseph Platania Huntington Quarterly A Titanic Tale
Gavin Bell, UK
Phillip Gowan, USA
Brandon Whited, USA
Related Articles and Documents
Titanic Passenger and Crew Summary
Name: Mrs Mary Eloise Smith
Born: Monday 7th August 1893 in
Huntington West Virginia United States
Age: 18 years 8 months and 8 days.
Last Residence: in Huntington West Virginia United States
1st Class Passengers
First Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 13695 , £60
Cabin No.: C31
Rescued (boat 6)
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Friday 3rd May 1940
Buried: Spring Hill Cemetery Huntington West Virginia United States
Travelling Companions (on same ticket)
Mr Lucian Philip Smith
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