It seems these cemetery outings always turn into adventures. After calling Acushnet Cemetery and getting horrific directions from the office manager, I ended up on Rt. 24 North 20 minutes from Boston- at one point ending up at the dog track! If you plan to visit Ellen's grave, make sure to get on 195East to 140 and take a left off the ramp. Achushnet is a tiny town just outside New Bedford, about 20 minutes northeast of Fall River. The rose granite stone is just behind the yellow office/garage complex. I wondered how Ellen ended up here, the opposite side of the stone below indicates perhaps her brother may have had a plot, or perhaps his wife Margaret. Today I went to the Newport Library and found no local paper obituary for Ellen who died in Newport, but as she died at home, and not at the hospital, the librarian said many times it did not make the paper. She also died on a Sunday, Sept. 11, 1949, and there was not a Sunday paper then. Hoping to avoid the rush hour traffic jam yesterday in Achushnet, I went into the library across the street from the cemetery. They had no idea about Ellen Bird and were excited to know of her. The ladies pulled out old newsclipping scrapbooks hoping to find something about Ellen but there was nothing. Apparently the only other person with Acushnet connections of any celebrity was Victorian actress Laura Keene, who was Americas's first woman stage producer -but better known as the star of "Our American Cousins" at Ford's Theatre. John Wilkes Booth passed her in the wings on his way to shoot Lincoln- she leapt across the footlights to comfort Mrs. Lincoln and then cradled the President's head in her lap while waiting for help. The Smithsonian still has the bloody cuff from her costume- the whereabouts of the rest of the dress is unknown. She was about the same age as Ellen was on Titanic during her great moment in history- and both ladies shared the date -April 14th- and both came to Achushnet at the end.
This is the house where Ellen and her husband lived, and where Ellen died, on the second floor at 20 Everett Street, Newport. Just around the corner Molly Brown spend her last Newport Summer on Catherine Street at Pine Lodge, and Margaret Hays lived one street over on Ayrault Street (#36)- all these houses are just a couple of blocks off famous Bellevue Avenue.
The Beatties occupied only the second floor- this is a very large house on a beautiful tree-lined street of Victorian homes. I have never been able to find a photograph of Ellen-she probably worked hard taking care of other people all her life and never had time to pose for photos. Does anyone know if one exists?
Many thanks for sharing. I find it facinating traveling to various cemeteries in search of family graves. Almost all had passed on before I was born, which makes such a process more intriguing, in my opinion.
Are you from Massachusetts? I live a few towns over from Acushnet--they have great peach and apple orchards there.
Also, I had read a post many months ago regarding a Titanic survivor that was buried in the town of Bridgewater, MA. Would you know who that was and the cemetery by chance? I would like to try and locate their grave.
Eric, it is Francis Millet I think who is buried in East Bridgewater. I actually got lost there too on the way to Achushnet. I seem to recall he was from Mattapoisset. There were so many cemeteries I decided not to try to find him without directions. I live on the CT-RI stateline nearly Westerly, R.I. which has been a convenient place as so many passengers are in the Massachusetts/CT/NY/PA/NJ. area, it has been possible to get to many over the years. I am glad to hear there is a photograph of Ellen-perhaps from earlier days in England? I had hoped there might be a wedding photograph.
Interesting to read about the trip to the cementeries. I definitely would have to take a bus if I had done a thing like that.
You had got even more out of it inside the cementery if you had been there late at night in autumn with bad weather, rain and wind.
I am sorry I have to correct you a little bit: According to the obituary about Mrs Edward Beatie (Mrs Ellen Bird) from the New Bedford , Massachusetts, Standard Time newespaper Mrs Beattie died in a Newport resting home, not at home.
Here is the obituary:
Mrs Ellen Bord Beattie 66 formerly of New Bedford and wife of Edward Beattie, died yesterday in a Newport rest home,
Born in Norfolk, England she sailed abroad the Titanic on its disasterous voyange in 1912, She was one of the more than 700 survivors of the sinking. She resided in New Bedford a number of years and left this city for Newport about 25 years ago, She was employed in the households of prominent Newport familiesÂ¨.
Surviving besides her husband are two brothers, William of New Bedford and Benjamin of England, four sisters, Mrs Emma Beauchamp, Mrs Annie Carney, Mrs Mary Amis and Mrs Abbie Sturdy, all of England, and several nieces and nephews.
In the book "Titanic the Norfolk survivors the author John Balls has written six pages about Mrs Bird. There is a picture of a street in Staxford where Mrs Bird was born, and a picture of Old Buckenham Church and the school Ellen Bird attended.
According to the book she died at Aquidneck Convalescent home.
You are right about John's excellent research on Ellen--despite contacting members of the family in England, he managed to get only photos of the old homeplace and peripheral things but no one had a photo of Ellen herself. The we tracked down a living great-niece in the United States and she was able to identify Ellen in two Kodak type photos that her mother had kept through the years. These two photos of Ellen will be made public at some future time and John will include them if another edition of The Norfolk Survivors is published.
I have a copy of the obituary you've quoted above and apparently it was the only one published at the time of her death--interesting though, the city directory for Newport for that year lists her with her date of death.
Thanks for the correction Arne, I have copied your post for Bill Harrison who is doing the book on Newport Titanic people. Aquidneck Convalescent Home is no longer in business- Newport is on Aquidneck Island along with the towns of Portsmouth and Middletown. There is no obit in the Newport Daily News for Ellen, but the folks in New Bedford are looking into possibilities there of some information and have promised to call this week. Lovely place Norfolk- fields of lavender.
If I'm not mistaken, didn't Bill Harrison say that the Aquidneck Nursing Home was the location where Ellen died at 20 Everett Street in Newport? I recall him saying that Ellen lived in one of the rooms at that location and died there. He did say that other people lived at that residence when Ellen died - giving the impression that it was a nursing home of some sort. I don't recall and the files aren't accessible at the moment.
Actually Mike, I just heard from the historical society- yes, The Aquidneck Convalescent Home was the address and house posted in the photo above - it is clearly marked in the 1949 directory of Newport. She had rooms on the second floor in the final stages of her life. It is a small world, as we were chatting about Ellen, relatives of Dr. Easton came in, so that led to another whole opportunity to gather information on another passenger!
After a little further investigation this week, it would seem Ellen's brother William, and his wife Margaret, (whom he called Maggie)worked for a clothier in New Bedford called "Wing's"- on Purchase Street for many years as a salesman. An amusing place to work if one's name is Bird! The company is gone now, torn down but for the old wrought-iron gate. The Birds must have done well for themselves as William had a home in town which is still standing, and also a summer place down on Clark's Point. If Ellen's husband worked in Boston in the hotels, it may be he stayed up there during the week and Ellen was a live-in domestic. I have yet to find a home for the two of them in New Bedford or Newport and it may be they stayed on the weekend with William at either of his houses. I guess Tuxedo Park is the next field trip!
Re: Ellen Bird Dear Shelley Dziedzic, I would like to thank you for the wonderful research you have done, and wonderful articles you have written. I would very much like you to contact me, as there is information which I would like to share with you, and I hope there is some more information you have on Ellen. Although my information, is very little, it is a very interesting story. My Bird family only knew of her existance, and thought she went down with the ship. They knew she was family, and a maid, but did not even know her name was Bird. I hope you will contact me, Sincerely Tracy.