George W Vanderbilt


Todd Walker

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Jan 25, 2005
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I know George W Vanderbilt was booked to sail on Titanic but sailed instead on Olympic leaving Southampton April 3rd and arriving NYC on April 10th. His Valet Edwin Charles (Frederick) Wheeler sailed on Titanic with Vanderbilt's trunks. Does anyone know how many trunks where on board of Vanderbilt's and Wheeler? What room was Wheeler in? Any other info would really be appreciated on this matter. I have a history club on George Vanderbilt's estate at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BiltmoreEstate/
please join us there if you are a Biltmore or Vanderbilt collector or history fan. Todd
 
Jan 31, 2001
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I visited the estate last year for the first time, and I loved it there. Interestingly, I asked several tour guides about the estate's Titanic connection, and none of them had a clue about it. I was hoping to learn something new about Mr. Wheeler and the Vanderbilt/Titanic story, but I ended up being the one telling the guides what I knew of it.

Offhand, I recall hearing that in the estate's archives there is a letter from (I believe) Mr. Vanderbilt's mother-in-law expressing her relief that they had chosen to sail on Olympic. Also, in a pretty popular picture of Titanic's second class promenade area, one of the gentlemen seen walking there has been identified as Mr. Wheeler.
 

Todd Walker

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Jan 25, 2005
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Hey B W, yes there is no shocker that the Biltmore people dont have any info that they share about the Titanic issue. I have informed them about how untrue their story is about cancelling their booking at the last minute they say. In fact George, his wife Edith, and his Daughter Cornelia sailed on the Olympic April 3rd and arrived NYC April 10th. They were accompanied by another relative Mrs. Elliot Shepard. There is supposedly a letter in the files at Biltmore by Mrs. Lila Sloane concerning her relief they were not aboard Titanic. There are a few Vanderbilt books by relatives of George with tid bits about him not being aboard but no facts as to why. George died in 1914 but his wife did not die until 1958 and his daughter until 1976 and I find it hard to believe they werent questioned about such a historic event but according to Biltmore they did not. The picture of Wheeler you speak of is widely seen but not confirmed. Edwin Wheeler, well there just isnt much I can find out about him. He was born and raised in Bath, England but there were no stories about him in the newspapers of the day other than his name listing. Ive seen where it was said he worked for Vanderbilt for many years but in fact I believe he may have just been hired. Of all the travel documents I have of George, Mr. Wheeler was never in his company before only Mr. Kenny who was George's longtime valet. Todd
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Interestingly, I asked several tour guides about the estate's Titanic connection, and none of them had a clue about it.<<

I'm not surprised to hear that. Most of the employees there have little reason to be concerned with it, and the tourguides tend to know only what they're told. Very few if any of them are professional historians.
 

Todd Walker

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Jan 25, 2005
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I even had one tour guide tell me they had Titanic tickets in their archives only to have the Curator have a fit saying no they didnt when I asked the next day. Are there images of the 1st class and 2nd class tickets for the voyage of Titanic somewhere I can see them?
 
Jan 31, 2001
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>>Most of the employees there have little reason to be concerned with it, and the tourguides tend to know only what they're told.<<

Ah, so I learned. I wasn't expecting them to know a book's worth of knowledge, but I had anticipated that the guides had at least been briefly informed of the mansion's connection to the Titanic, seeing as how the event is so popular and holds a particular interest to many people.
 
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Regarding the popularity of the Titanic, I was referring to the general public and not the Vanderbilts in particular. Wasn't Alfred Vanderbilt actually G.W. Vanderbilt's nephew? That has been my understanding, although my knowledge of Lusitania personalities is limited.
 

Henry Loscher

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Mar 6, 2003
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Michael, From what I observe, the Titanic is what is talked about here in Florida. I have heard not one word uttered here in the past year about the Lusitania. Of course, my area of Florida might not be representative of the rest of the US. Regards, Henry
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Michael, From what I observe, the Titanic is what is talked about here in Florida.<<

But not at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. In fact, the Lustiania is also scarely mentioned, although it is discussed in one of their books. Again, not especially surprising. The Titanic didn't kill any of the Vanderbilt family. The Lusitania did.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 12, 1999
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Hi Todd-
I have a passenger list from October 1912 where George Vanderbilt and family were going oversea on the Kronprinzessin Cecilie. Ironically,
Titanic victims Edith Evans and WF Hoyt were aboard. I am amazed about the misinformation regarding Alfred Vanderbilt's actions on the Lusitania. Several survivors who knew him like George Kessler and Rita Jolivet gave solid accounts regarding him.
Mike
 

Todd Walker

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Jan 25, 2005
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Hi Michael,
Do you mean Edith Evans and WF Hoyt were survivors of Titanic? or victims because they would be dead in Oct 1912 :)
I have George Vanderbilt returning on Kronprinzessin Cecilie from Cherbourg in Dec 1912, can you tell me the exact date in Oct of the sailing of George? also listing names of people in his party and any info on them? That would be a big help.

How do we go about finding passenger lists for ships like this. I have found from the ellis island records the sailings home by George Vanderbilt but I always wondered how I could find the departures to Europe too. Thank You for your help. Todd
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 12, 1999
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I am sorry Todd, I meant October 1911.
I bought this passenger list awhile back. I'll dig it out and see what the exact sailing date was. If I remember correctly, it was just Mr and Mrs V. I am not sure who would else would have been associated with them, but if you think of any names, let me know and I will check.
Mike
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 12, 1999
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Ironically, the Vanderbilts came home on that Olympic voyage with a the Loney family. The parents were eventually lost on the Lusitania while the daughter survived.
 

Henry Loscher

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Mar 6, 2003
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Michael, I would suggest that the interest here in the Clearwater/Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida area is due to our having 2 major Titanic Exhibitions, one in St. Pete about 7 or 8 years ago, and one in Tampa at MOSI about a year and a half ago. Also, some schools I have given talks to incorporate the story of the disaster in their curriculum.

Also ther is an exhibition on-going in Orlando, about 100 miles from here.

Regards, Henry
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Wasn't Alfred Vanderbilt the nephew of George Washington Vanderbilt? This has been my understanding, but, like I said, my knowledge of Lusitania passengers is limited.
 

Todd Walker

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Jan 25, 2005
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Michael I really would appreciate exact dates and any info included with GWV, maybe edith his wife was with him as well as Cornelia, maybe a valet by the last name of Kenny or Wheeler....also possible if there were other Vanderbilt's, Astor's, Shepard's. Thank You big time!!!!!
 
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The first time I heard this story was when I read Lee W. Merideth’s book “1912 Facts About Titanic.” (1999, 2002, 2012, Rocklin Press). I’m not trying to be too critical of Merideth, but he made a mistake in his retelling, because it says (chapter 10, page 112 of the Centennial edition): “...George W. Vanderbilt and his wife also cancelled the day before their departure because his mother talked them out of the trip; she, too, did not like maiden voyages...” However, it could not have been George’s mother who warned him, because according to her Wikipedia entry, she died in 1896. That was even before Morgan Robertson’s novella “Futility: or Wreck of the Titan” (1898) came out!