Astor Gave Up Lifeboat Seat

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

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Though Boat Left With Sixteen Empty Places.


Colonel Obeyed Order Women and Children Go First, Smilingly.


Mrs Astor, Contrary to Early Reports, Reaches Her Home in Perfect Health.

    In the face of many conflicting rumors, the statement came with positiveness from the home of Colonel John Jacob Astor, at 540 Fifth avenue, today, that Colonel Astor was either actually in the lifeboat which saved Mrs. Astor or was about to enter it when, in company with nearly a dozen other men, he obeyed the order smilingly that only women and children were to be taken away, and left the boat to go down a few minutes later with the Titanic.
    This statement, which came from a source so close to Mrs. Astor as to warrant the fullest credence, also disclosed the amazing fact, borne out by the word from scores of other survivors of the Titanic, that Colonel Astor’s life and that of the men who yielded place with him in the boat which carried Mrs. Astor was needlessly sacrificed.
    It showed that after Colonel Astor and the others had obeyed orders and had calmly given up places in the boat, the small vessel pulled away from the sinking steamship and that then the quartermaster discovered that he had accommodations for sixteen more passengers.
    This startling statement of the facts connected with the separation of Colonel Astor and his wife asserts also that after those in charge of the boat to which he had been refused admittance had found they had needlessly abandoned the dozen men who had sought to go with them, they rowed back toward the sinking Titanic. Their effort, however, came too late. As they neared the steamer it went down. The small boat’s crew felt the suction and again pulled wildly away from the place. The information from the Astor household recites that they barely escaped being dragged down by the suction.

Mrs. Astor in Excellent Health.

    This word came after Mrs. Astor, her personal maid, and her nurse, both of whom had been with her in the disaster, had been taken from the Carpathia to the Astor residence at Fifth avenue and Sixty-fifth street. They had been met at the Cunard Line piers by three of the Astor automobiles, which carried Vincent Astor, Miss Katherine Force, Mrs. Astor’s sister; Raoul P. Kimball of 135 East Fifty-fourth street, Manhattan, the family physician, and another doctor, Nicholas Biddle, a trustee of the Astor estate and Colonel Astor’s private secretary.
    The party had been prepared to find Mrs. Astor in serious condition. Instead they stood by while she walk practically unaided down the long piers and got into the waiting limousine without assistance. She took with her in her personal automobile, beside Vincent Astor and her sister, the maid and the nurse who had been her companions in the disaster.

First Taken to home of her Father, William H. Force.

    The automobile which carried Mrs. Astor went directly to the home of her father, William H. Force, formerly of Brooklyn, at 18 East Thirty-seventh street, Manhattan. Mr. Force has been ill for some months, though not confined to his home. The shock of the Titanic’s loss, however, made his condition such that he was unable to go to the pier to meet his daughter. Mrs. Astor, therefore, made her first trip to the home of her father and mother to show them personally that she was in excellent health.
    After a stop of a few minutes at the Force home, Mrs. Astor went on to her own home with those who had accompanied her in the automobile. After she had arrived at the Astor home, admittance was refused to all inquirers except for one brief statement, given out to a representative of the Associated Press by Mr. Riddle, that her health warranted the assertion that she was in no danger whatever.
    This was borne out to the full by the brave way in which Mrs. Astor walked from her automobile up the steps of her home. And when she had gotten into the house Dr. Kimball spent a few minutes in consultation with her, to announce a few minutes later that she had apparently suffered absolutely no ill effects. His verdict was that she was merely tired out and in need of rest.
    So that she might be present to be of any service that might be required. Mrs. Astor’s sister, Miss Katherine Force, spent the night with her. Unnerved by the scenes through which they had passed, little else was told Vincent Astor and Miss Force by Mrs. Astor and her attendants than the bare facts of the catastrophe. Young Astor was still in such a highly nervous condition and overwrought, because he was finally prepared to abandon hope that his father might have been saved, that he had no word for anyone.

Colonel Astor, Accompanied by Valet and Faithful Dog, calmly Waited End on Liner’s Deck

    It was, however, made certain to him before his home was shrouded in darkness that the last seen of Colonel Astor had shown him, accompanied by his valet and by his faithful terrier, Kitty, calmly waiting on the decks of the Titanic for what might come.

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Related Biographies:

John Jacob Astor
Madeleine Talmage Astor


Michael Poirier, Gordon Steadwood


Encyclopedia Titanica (2013) Astor Gave Up Lifeboat Seat (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday 19th April 1912, ref: #19586, published 3 October 2013, generated 20th September 2021 08:44:08 AM); URL :