Mr Francis Davis Millet, 65, was born on 3 November 1846 in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.
Accompanying his surgeon father to the Civil War, Millet served as a drummer boy to a Massachusetts regiment and later served as a surgical assistant. A brilliant student at Harvard, he became a reporter, then city editor, of the Boston Courier. From a pastime of lithography and portraiture of friends, he decided to devote himself to art. Entering the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at Antwerp, Belgium, he won an unprecedented silver medal in his first year and a gold medal in the second. A constant traveller, Millet kept his newspaper contacts open, and during the Russian-Turkish War he represented with distinction several American and English newspapers. He was decorated by Russia and Rumania for bravery under fire and services to the wounded. Millet's literary talents led him to publish accounts of his travels and, besides writing short stories and essays, he translated Tolstoy's Sebastopol.
Millet's work as a decorative artist includes the murals of the Baltimore Customs House, Trinity Church of Boston, and the Capitol Buildings of Wisconsin and Minnesota. His paintings are found in the Metropolitan Museum, New York City, and the Tate Gallery, London (see illustration above). In addition, his administrative skills, won him acclaim as superintendent of decoration at the World's Colombian Exhibition in Chicago (1893), and as organizer of the American Federation of the Arts for the National Academy. At a memorial for Millet in 1913, Senator Elihu Root said:
"He must have been born with a sense of the beautiful and a love for it, for he devoted his life to it....He was one of the most unassuming and unselfish of men....He was a man of great strength and force, decision and executive capacity....He always pressed on to the accomplishment of his purposes, purposes in which self was always subordinate...."
In 1912 Millet resided in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a first class passenger (ticket number 13509, £26 11s) He occupied cabin E-38. He accompanied his friend Major Archibald Butt.
While on board the Titanic Millet wrote to a friend, the letter, which was posted in Queenstown. In the letter he complains about his fellow passengers:
Queer lot of people on the ship. There are a number of obnoxious, ostentatious American women, the scourge of any place they infest and worse on shipboard than anywhere".
He also observed a number of passengers that had brought their pets with them:
"Many of them carry tiny dogs, and lead husbands around like pet lambs."
Millet died in the sinking, his body was recovered from the sea by the crew of the MacKay Bennett (#249):
NO. 249 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE, 65 - HAIR, GREY
CLOTHING - Light overcoat; black pants; grey jacket; evening dress
EFFECTS - Gold watch and chain; "F.D.M." on watch; glasses; two gold studs; silver tablet bottle; £2 10s in gold; 8s in silver; pocketbook
NAME - FRANK D. MILLET (?)
The body was forwarded to Boston and buried at East Bridgwater Central Cemetery.
Courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA
Mr Millet's story was told in a limited edition biography published privately by Joyce Sharpey-Schafer: "Soldier of Fortune: F.D. Millet," (The volume is now out-of-print.) And in Washington DC a memorial was erected to his memory and that of his friend Major Butt.
References and Sources
Hudson Observer, 17 April 1912, Millet, the Artist, is Reported among the many Drowned
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Brian Ticehurst (1996) Titanic''s Memorials World-wide: Where they are Located. ISBN 1 871733 05 7
George Behe, USA
Frederica Romeo Burgess
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Craig Stringer, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK