Dickinson H and Helen W Bishop


Rachel Boland

Member
Mar 10, 2000
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Sturgis, Michigan
I have a correction for the bio of Dickinson Bishop...His birthdate is listed in ET as 24 March 1887...This is wrong. I noticed several newspaper clippings that give this date. And according to his death record, it lists the same date. But that is second hand information. And from being a genealogist for 20 years, I have seen 1000's of mistakes like this. Especially when the information comes second hand.

The correct birth information:

According to the birth records it says he was born 15 April 1887 (source: State of Michigan, Cass Co. Birth Register, Vol. B page 212.).

If anyone would like a full transcript of the birth record, let me know. I have a photocopy of the full record.

As for Helen Walton Bishop, I have a lot of information on her and her family since she was from my hometown Sturgis (I have photos of her grave out at Oaklawn and other family photos). A collegue and I are in the process of compiling information on Helen for a book about her life.
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Dec 13, 1999
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Rachel:
Awhile back somebody asked what Dickinson H. Bishop's middle name was. Is it on the birth certificate?
Good luck on the continuing Helen Bishop research.
Mike
 

Trevor Powell

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Aug 22, 2005
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Hi, Because so little is written on the Helen and Dickinson, I would like to attempt to take on the challenge of publishing an article or even a biography on the couple. Apart from this wonderful site and all the Titanic books out there (I've been through all of them) Is there anyone I can contact who can provide me with further information and/or material (i.e. photographs) on Helen and "Dick"? The only photos I can locate are the news clipping of the couple in their bios and the two of Helen in 'Titanic: Women and Children First'. I know Dickinson had a daughter in his second marriage, but whether or not she is still alive I don't know (as of 2000 she was). The couple have been in my interest for quite some time.

Thanking you in advance,
Trevor Powell
 
Sep 5, 2005
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Trevor:

There are at least two books, I believe, written about prominent former residents of Dowagiac, Michigan and he is included, so I suggest you get in touch with the public library there, since I imagine these books have fairly limited distribution. I read an article about the publication of one of these books in which Bishop was described by one of the principals or principal employees of either The Beckwith Company or Round Oak as a "young playboy stockholder." His wife, on the other hand, was described as "the belle of Sturgis society." I don't know if those things have also been said in Titanic books.
 

Trevor Powell

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Aug 22, 2005
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Hi Caroline, Thank you very much. I will take this into consideration. Also, you are correct; his daughter I speak of came from his third marriage. Thanks again.

Does anyone know if she is still alive?
 
Jan 31, 2001
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A couple of years ago there was a board member who told us she was in the process of having a biographical book about the life of Helen Bishop published. She was having legal troubles at the time of the post; someone had stolen her research, I believe. However, she never updated us on the situation, so whose to say what became of the biography? An attempt to find that thread was fruitless.

I myself would be very pleased to see a thorough biography of the couple written. I'd certainly add it to my library.
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Okay, so I managed to find the thread after all. Here's the link:

 
Oct 15, 2000
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I was the one who posted that I was writing a book about Dick and Helen Bishop, it is finished and ready to go to press. The editors have it now and there are a few legal things to wrap up with the use of certain information, photos, etc, but I am hoping it will go to press by the spring of next year.

For those that knew of the legal problems with the theft of my work, I won the court case and the person has been dealt with, finally, and that was the biggest delay in the finishing of the book.

I didn't give updates because I didn't have any to give, sorry about that.
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Rachel,

I'm very pleased to hear of the positive outcome of your court case. No worries about the updates. I'm just glad we're that much closer to a new full-scale biography of two intriguing first class passengers. When it is released, I do still plan on making it an addition to my collection.
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 12, 1999
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Dear Rachel
What excellent news! Do you have a tentative publication date? Will it be available in book stores like Borders or through Amazon?
Mike
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 12, 1999
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Woops- sorry, I missed the line about it going to press in the spring. May I ask how someone stole your info? Did they hack into your computer or did you share it with a 'supposed' friend?
 

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
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Congrats, Rachel. I hope and trust you'll let us know as soon as it's released!

I look forward to it. I've always thought this couple especially interesting. Very much products of their times, with tragic results.
But this is only my sense of them, and I can't wait to see the results of your research!
 

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
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Rachel -
So I see it WAS you, as I suspected, who delivered that tantalizing tidbit on the "Women Drivers" thread I started a couple of years ago about Helen Bishop ramming a taxi with her electric car in Battle Creek. Then left me puzzling over what the deal was with someone delivering something so interesting and random before disappearing!

Well now I know why (and understand completely) and again I look forward to more such gems on the Bishops.
 
Oct 15, 2000
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There seems to be another snag in my book release, there are some people, who I will not name, that say I have slanted my portrayal of Dick in the book, saying I was too harsh and made him into a bad guy, etc.

Having to deal with that now. My lawyer has been working on drafting up something to please them, but they claim I am making him look like a "marry for money and convenience guy".

I only put in the facts that I could prove and backup with documentation.
 
Apr 13, 2012
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I thought perhaps this tangential history regarding the Bishops may be of interest to someone.

My husband and I bought our home in Dowagiac, MI in 2008. Some time after moving in, we learned from multiple reliable local historians and previous owners of the home that Dickinson and Helen Bishop were returning from their honeymoon on board the Titanic to take residence in our house. From what I understand, Helen may have been the first passenger into lifeboat #7, the first lifeboat lowered into the sea. Thus, as far as we know, the first passenger off the Titanic ultimately returned from the ordeal to our home.

A current fellow Dowagiac resident owns an original 1912 Dowagiac telephone directory with the listing reflecting Dickinson (and Helen) Bishop's 1912 address and phone number, confirming the address: 203 Main Street.

A good portion of the interior house looks much as it did in 1912, as it went through many years without changes to much of the interior woodwork, and, despite its age (built in ~1890), little remodeling of significance has taken place. An antique lamp mounted to the atrium staircase is thought likely to be original to the era of the Bishops. The kitchen still has a large original Victorian ice chest that can be filled from a back porch. Our four young children enjoy the history associated with the house and are a bit sad we plan to move in the coming year or two.

I took my children to visit Helen's grave on the 100th anniversary of the sinking. As is well-documented, Helen died in 1916, several years after suffering a traumatic brain injury in an automobile accident in 1913. (Ironically, I am a physician specializing in rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury.)

PS: Here is even more detail regarding the location of Helen's grave and our visit:

see Helen Walton Bishop (1892 - 1916) - Find A Grave Memorial

also see Find A Grave Contributor: Sally C. Palmer , which indicates her actual burial plot ("She is in Lot # 14 Block O").

finally see For Dowagiac family, Titanic anniversary hits home: They live in the former residence of couple who survived the tragedy | MLive.com for pictures.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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Yes, I'm necro-posting here, but in case anyone still cares... AFAIK they lived in the house Dickinson built for his first wife, Mary Lee Bishop, which is now the site of Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital (the hospital's street address is 420 High Street.) The mansion became a hospital and was torn down to build the current facility.
 

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