Edgar Joseph Meyer

What does anyone know about this passenger, who perished in the disaster? His family appears to have had some strong connections to San Francisco, and to fellow passenger Dr. Washington Dodge, in particular. His relatives later ganged up on Dr. Dodge and ousted Dodge from the presidency of the Federal Telegraph Company, on January 14, 1919. Several months later, Dr. Dodge committed suicide. Any information would be appreciated.

He and his wife, daughter of the founder of Saks Fifth Avenue, were among the people the Duff Gordons met on board Titanic. In her memoirs (p 167), "Lucile" writes:

"...After dinner we went down into the lounge, where we met Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Meyer. I had my little autograph book with me and got them to write in it. It was one of the "Confession" books, which were so popular just then. Mr. Meyer filled in his "likes," "abominations," etc., and then came to the column marked "madnesses." He laughed as he said: "I have only one - to live," and wrote it down. In less than two hours after he was drowned..."

Of course Lucile's timing is wrong as it would have been sometime before 10 pm that she and Cosmo were in the lounge.

At any rate, the little autograph book was among the things she saved from Titanic, along with a few bits of jewelry she put into a bag. The book, the bag (minus the jewels), her night wrap (now in the possession of Phil Gowan), her fur, and her autographed lifebelt were kept by her all her life in solemn memory of the Titanic. Sadly, so far is is known, only the wrap is still in existence.

I've often wondered about all the other people (both Titanic folks as well as other celebs) whose names were recorded in her little book. What a find that would be if it should turn up. Her library was broken up on her death and my opinion is that it was among the books scattered to the four winds. It is possible it will be discovered someday. At least one book from her collection - a rather naughtily-inscribed volume from Frank Harris - surfaced on eBay recently.

Thanks, Randy. Gosh, if that little book shows up somewhere it would be worth a small fortune. But who knows if it survived. I'm really intrigued by the Meyer family's connection to Dr. Dodge. Edgar's father, Eugene, might have been the one who got Dr. Dodge the vice president position at the Anglo London Paris National Bank, in San Francisco, right after the disaster. Several years later, Dodge left the bank, and took over the Presidency of Federal Telegraph Company. Very likely, through Lazard Freres in New York, Eugene invested heavily in the Federal Telegraph Company, which had its shares take a nose dive. Dodge sold his shares before the collapse in the price, and obtained a big commission from the sale of the company's assets. At that point, Eugene and the rest of the family must have turned on Dr. Dodge, and destroyed him. The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away. The fact that Eugene lost his son on the Titanic (while Dodge survived) adds an even more bitter dimension to all of this.

By the way, do you happen to know who this guy "C. Altschul" is? He attempted to wire Dr. Dodge on the Carpathia, and in the marconigram he inquired about Edgar Meyer and Isador Strauss. I ran across the marconigram on the "Marconicalling" site.

Incidently, in the Oakland Tribune, where I ran across this information on Edgar and Eugene Meyer, there was a photo of Lady Duff Gordon. It was unusual, and one I had never seen before. She looked very young, and had this sort of high society "smirk" on her face. It wasn't a smile at all. It seemed like the type of look women had in the fashion ads of the teens and 20s. When I get a chance, I will copy it and send it to you.

The Meyer connection seems curious.I thought the Meyers were from New York. Did Mrs. Meyer, or else Edgar's side of the family, move out to San Francisco after the Titanic?

You are probably onto something as to Edgar's father's grudge - re: Dr. Dodge's survival - at least having partly to do with his acrimony toward Dodge. But it seems like something more is there. Sour grapes over some sort of business deal gone awry?

As to the odd name "C. Altschul" in the cable you refer to, this might well have been a misspelling but you probably have considered that. The wireless was terrible with names wasn't it? All kinds of screw-ups.

I'd be very interested in the photo (and accompanying article?) you came across of Lucy Duff Gordon. I'm wondering if this was from around 1914-15 as it was then that she was contemplating a branch of Lucile, Ltd in San Francisco. The board of directors apparently nixed the idea and the premises which scouts had found there were never used. Her projected plan to open a shop in 'Frisco has always intrigued me as there's so little known about it.

Good luck on your continued research into Dr. Dodge - and now this intriguing tie-in with the Meyers. If I can help in any way, I'm happy to.

I've been trying to find out more about Edgar Meyer. His father, Marc Eugene Meyer, generally known as Eugene Meyer, was born in 1847, and lived for many years in Los Angeles. He eventually moved to San Francisco, and raised a large family, which included Edgar, two sisters, and the youngest, Eugene, who was born in 1875.

Eugene, Sr., moved to New York to become the managing partner of the Lazard Freres office there in 1893. His son, Eugene, Jr., worked there too, apparently. Eugene, like his father, became very successful in business.

The two sisters married the Stern brothers, Abraham and Sigmund, in San Francisco --who acquired the Levi Strauss company, from Strauss when he died.

Eugene, Jr., became quite powerful in later years, in publishing and financial circles.

Notably, his daughter was the late and famous publisher of the Washington Post, Katherine Graham --of Nixon-Watergate scandal fame.

"C. Altschul" likely refers to Charles Altschul, a New York businessman who died in 1927, and father to Frank Altschul, a powerful financier in the 1930s and 1940s. I think that Charles may have worked a Lazard Freres, too. Given Altschul's effort to reach Dr. Dodge aboard Carpathia, and ask about Edgar, this suggests and even closer connection between the Meyers at Lazard Freres, and Dr. Dodge.

In sum, the Meyer family had strong San Francisco connections. It seems that Dr. Dodge probably knew the Meyers, or the Sterns, or both.
Uhhh...Jan...I smell one helluva book here with all the research you've done into Dr. Washington Dodge. Is one in the making? If not, you might want to consider it.

Michael H. Standart
No, Michael, but an ET Article is coming shortly. This Meyer family connection is important because it links the 1919 financial scandal and Dr. Dodge's death, with the Titanic disaster. The Meyer family was disenfranchised by Dr. Dodge's financial dealings, and had already lost a close family member on the Titanic --where Dodge had survived. Thus, they had more than one motivation to destroy Dr. Dodge. And with all their financial power, they had the wherewithal to do it.
Well, an article can lead to bigger and better things. So in regards the book;go for it!

What's the worst that can happen? You'll get published and savaged by the critics. People will think "Gee, if the critics hate it, it must be good", buy copies by the caseload and you can retire.

I don't see a problem with that!

Michael H. Standart
Here's some corroboration of my theory: in the 1890s, Eugene Meyer (Sr.) lived only two blocks away from Dr. Dodge, in San Francisco. Sigmund Stern, and wife Rosalie (Edgar's sister), lived a couple of blocks in the other direction. Meyer's name, however, was not on the list of notables who attended Dodge's wedding to Alice Lampson Shepherd, in 1891.

I went to the bookstore to get Kathrine Graham's biography, but it's sold out.
Great photo Jan. Thanks for posting the link. I'm supposing that's his little sister and see a definite resemblance between her and Edgar's own daughter, Jane (who looked nothing like her mother).

Ben Holme

Hi Jan,

What a fascinating find! Edgar Meyer was one of about five 1st class passengers whose photograph I doubted I would ever see. Despite being a well-known resident of New York, I don't recall seeing his photo in the NY times in the weeks following the disaster.

Best Regards,

Thanks for that great photo. It's amazing, he's young on that photo, but he didn't change much when he grew up, he basically looks the same (but younger) as in a New York Times photo (I think 19 April 1912).