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There is no answer to such a question. Why did Edith Evans not make it into Boat D? Why didn't the Allisons at least save their little girl? Why did the three second class stewardesses die? There are theories but no answers.
 

Gary.J Bell

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All i meant Randy, was i personally cant find an excuse or plausable theory why she never made it or chose not to. Stories like Miss.Ishams get the brain working overtime!

Gary
 

Inger Sheil

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I wasn't aware of the Robert Todd Lincoln connection - very interesting stuff.

I don't know if the family were entirely unsuccessful in finding anyone who interacted with her the entire voyage - Gracie's remarks pertain specifically to the last night: 'she is the only one of whom no survivor, so far as I can learn, is able to give any information whatever as to where she was or what she did on that fateful Sunday night.'

With what little data we have, Gary, I suppose it is very difficult to find a reason for why she never made it into a boat. People do not always react in a logical manner in a crisis, and we have little to no information on the woman's psychological makeup or frame of mind.

Sadly, some folks do fall through the cracks when an event of that scale unfolds - there are many of whom we only catch glimpses that night through one or two witnesses who by chance recall seeing them. And then there are many who no one remembered seeing.
 
May 1, 2004
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This issue keeps rankling. For example: wouldn't Miss Isham at least have made an appearance in the FC Dining Saloon or the FC Restaurant? And nobody remembers her.

One thing I've always kept in mind after reading Beesley's book is that the passengers were led to believe that the ship would remain afloat until other vessels arrived and transhipped them. Only a handful of men knew The Titanic would founder.

Thus, isn't it possible that a crew member, when queried would pass along the mis-information? The truth was kept secret for fear of a general rush of the lifeboats.

This is just one more point to ponder. I'll let y'all know if The Mystery of Miss Isham starts keeping me awake at night!!!!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Jonathan, in answer to your question this is what Lightoller recalled: On the Titanic passengers naturally kept coming up and asking, did I consider the situation serious. In all cases I tried to cheer them up, by telling them "No," but that it was a matter of precaution to get the boats in the water, ready for any emergency. That in any case that they were perfectly safe, as there was a ship not more than a few miles away, and I pointed out the lights on the port bow which they could see as well as I could.

But Lightoller was not aware that this was mis-information. Though a senior officer, he was not party to the knowledge that Andrews and the Captain had of the true condition of the vessel and its inevitable fate. Many of those questions from passengers were a response to the first distress signals being fired, and at that time he believed the ship would remain afloat for many hours, if not indefinitely. It was only his own observations of the rising water level that caused him eventually to realise the truth of the situation.

It's understandable that many women were less than keen to take part in the 'precaution' of being lowered 70' into the darkness in an open boat, and apparent from testimony that some were quite terrified of the prospect and prepared, perhaps, to avoid it whatever the consequences. Others may have later changed their minds about the relative safety of the boats but taken a long time to do so. Many women survivors who were still on the boat deck during the later stages recalled surging crowds and a need for personal assertiveness or help from male companions to get through and into a boat. Miss Isham appears to have been a quiet and unassuming person with no companions to urge her to get to a boat in the early stages or help her in the later. I'm not saying that any of this explains the particular death of Miss Isham, but they are just some of the reasons why a woman who had no problems of access to the boat deck might not have made it into a boat.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>One thing i just cant grasp, is why would she? why would she want to just resign herself to dying?<<

Bob's ideas seem the most plausible to me. I don't know if I can buy that Lightoller was unaware of just how serious the situation was. (Lifeboats are never launched for light or frivilous reasons) but that's neither here nor there. The fact is that whether all the officers knew or not, the gravity of the situation was played down, in my opinion, to avoid what would have been a disasterous panic.

Whether or not Miss Isham was aware of just how much trouble the ship was in we'll never know. She seems to have kept a very low profile. What I saw at the Maine Martime Acadamy Symposium may provide some means of understanding the why. One of the attendees, Lori Stone, participated in an experiment which hinted at the difficulties of loading lifeboats, particularly for a woman in edwardian attire. You can see a bit of what happened HERE. You'll note the ankle length dress she wore and how awkward it was for her to simply move from one table to the next.

Now, picture a woman in nearly the same attire being asked to do this in the dead of the night, on a tipping and increasingly unstable ship, in freezing wheather, with no way of seeing what's waiting for her in that yawning inky black chasm if she makes the slightest misstep. True, the ship looks a bit shaky, but it looks a lot safer then that boat. Put yourself in any 1st class ladies shoes and what would you do? (Remember that they didn't all have the benefit of knowing how it all turned out.)
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>(Remember that they didn't all have the benefit of knowing how it all turned out.)<<

No, but the Captain, Andrews, and Ismay, and supposedly, the officers did, and panic or no, they should have, IMHO, told the passengers this to motivate them. According to several sources, including the movie ANTR, panic swarmed over the decks near the end. These individuals should have known that panic would set in sooner or later as the ship began to go farther and farther under. All they did was put off what they had most likely known all along was the inevitable.

>>...to avoid what would have been a disasterous panic.<<

I know that this was the case, but I don't buy it, Michael. Bah, it was disastrous anyway, so the attempt was pointless, and no doubt those who knew the consequences beforehand considered how pointless such a "playing down" would have been--and was. To me, not telling the passengers earlier on made the situation worse, if it had any effect at all. IMHO, it was not a matter of whether or not the passengers should have been told of the dangers, but rather how the passengers should have been told. Delivery makes all the difference in the world. Telling the passengers earlier on, if the delivery was appropriate, might have saved lives.

Ignorance isn't bliss--it's deadly!

I know you'll probably disagree with me, but these are my thoughts.
 
Jan 10, 2006
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All:

Regardless of what other circumstances that may have contributed to Miss Ishams death there were two things that worked to her advantage:

1. She was Woman
2. She was first class

At some point that night she had to have willingly made up her mind that she was going to die. If she had been 3rd class I never would make those assumptions. We all know that being a certain class almost always determined your fate.

Take a look at Mr. Stead. Regardless if he believed that a rescue ship would be there in an hour he had still resigned himself to to whatever fate had in store for him that night. No one recalls him ever making his way to the boats, in the calm beginning or the mass confusion at the end, Mr Stead chose to die!! I think that same mentality can be applied to some of the women aboard the Titanic. With all the effort that went into securing first class women that night it was nearly impossible to have missed Miss Isham. If she was in fact mistakenly looked over, well that is just another tragic event in the Titanic story.

Geoff
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>If she was in fact mistakenly looked over, well that is just another tragic event in the Titanic story.<<

Chances are that's very unlikely. As a 50-something woman, if she wanted to get into a boat, she would have made an effort. The only way a 50-year-old woman would have been looked over was (1) if she was in her cabin and unaware, or (2) if she wished not to be found for some reason. According to Gracie's account above, he was certain that she was not in her cabin. Therefore, it's logical to presume that she, for whatever reason, willingly stayed clear of being rescued.

Does anyone else agree or disagree with this logic?
 
Jan 10, 2006
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Mark: I agree with what you are saying. I was just mentioning that it is possible she was looked over. If there had been a thorough search for ladies in first class Miss Evans would have been placed in a boat much earlier.
Gracie says he was certain that Miss Isham was not in her cabin. I cannot argue his testimony because I was not there, however, as we have seen in the past, some survivors were certain of such things as the ship staying intact when she went down. Modern technology has found that too be false. All I am saying is that it is possible Miss Isham resigned to her cabin. I doubt she was unaware of what was going on. Like I said, Isham is a great tragedy of the Titanic regardless of her reasons for staying behind.

Geoff
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I know you'll probably disagree with me, but these are my thoughts.<<

Yes I do, and the way events went down in actual shipwrecks tends to bear me out on that. Titanic had a surplus of warm bodies an acute shortage of boats to put them in, and a panic would have made things dramatically worse. The officers of the Titanic had the benefit of centuries of aquired experience and knowladge of how crowds behave in a crisis situation...badly! The Arctic, the General Slocum, and RMS Atlantic are but three examples of that.

Individually, people tend to be smart, savvy, and well able to make sound judgements. collectively, they're cattle just as unpredictable, and just as easily spooked. That's why you'll find that even to this day, the practice in an evacuation is to tell them as little as possible. Captain Erik Wood has spoken to this in a number of threads on several occasions. You may want to search out some of his insights on this.

Doing what it takes to promote order and avoid panic is never pointless. It's the only thing that keeps the body count down.
 
Jan 22, 2001
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Ann's biography says

"It is likely that Ann and the Ryersons knew each other"

If the families knew each other, wouldn't Ann's relatives probably contact Mrs. Ryerson and ask about her?

Does anyone know if Mrs. Ryerson ever mentioned seeing her at all during the voyage?
 
Mar 26, 2001
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Barring future information, the Isham story will remain a tantalyzing mystery on the same level as Edith Evans however I'm inclined to a couple possible scenarios both of which make the assumption that Miss Isham wasn't fully aware of the danger.

She may have had a similar reaction as one account has attributed to Edith Evans in being hesitant about traversing the distance to a life boat in Edwardian garb. The demonstration shown in the link in Michael Standart's note shows how challenging an undertaking it was.

I believe it is most likely that Miss Isham may have wandered the decks, aware something was up but oblivious that the ship was actually sinking under her feet. This is based on the accounts of the dozens of First Class women who made their escape on boats 2, 4 and D.

It is very telling that the large group of affluent passengers were willing to obediantly wait over an hour for lifeboat 4 and the few complaints made were not to express concern for their safety but annoyance over being told to go down a deck and then up and then down again. I think if this group had a fuller idea of the situation, husbands such as Astor, Ryerson or Widener would have been quite vocal in pressuring the crew to see immediately to their families' well being.

And I always thought two of the most extremely lucky escapees were Ida Hippach and her daughter whose whereabouts seem to be a mystery until they wandered onto A Deck just in the nick of time to catch 4. If Miss Isham had had such a stroke of luck her story might have been different.

Meanwhile, it is obvious that Col. Gracie's charges were completely ignored. And if a group of four ladies right there on deck could be overlooked so long, what about Miss Isham if she was by herself. And it seems that Mrs' Appleton and Cornell had to take the initiative to save themselves while Mrs. Brown and Miss Evans were calmly chatting amidships, less than 20 minutes before the ship sank when Gracie found them.

While not as blatant a victimization as experienced by Third Class, it seems the First Class were victimized in their own way by the "avoid panic at all costs" mindset and Miss Isham and Evans are the most obvious examples of the collateral damage engendered by lack of knowledge.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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>>The officers of the Titanic had the benefit of centuries of acquired experience and knowledge of how crowds behave in a crisis situation...collectively, they're cattle just as unpredictable<<

Actually, if the officers had the benefit of knowledge of how crowds behave, then those crowds aren't so unpredictable. That's what drives the officers to act the way they do, because they predict the crowds will act freakishly.

>>You may want to search out some of his insights on this.<<

I will do so. Thank you. However, I still disagree, although I do respect experience.

Another thing is this: if you tell people one thing, say, that the sky is green, all they have to do is look up and see it's blue. People aren't stupid, and when they see that the crew is being evasive or non-responsive regarding such things, they may tend to lose faith or trust in that crew.

Still, the cases that you provide do tend reflect a pattern in human behavior that is all too prevalent in the world: when crises strike, people panic. When panic sets in, no rational thinking is liable to take place. If I remember, I think I did mention this elsewhere, too.

>>Doing what it takes to promote order and avoid panic is never pointless. It's the only thing that keeps the body count down.<<

Are you saying, then, that had the officers, and Andrews, told the passengers earlier on, more would have died?

Then Arthur said: >> I think if this group had a fuller idea of the situation, husbands such as Astor, Ryerson or Widener would have been quite vocal in pressuring the crew to see immediately to their families' well being...it seems the First Class were victimized in their own way by the "avoid panic at all costs" mindset, and Miss Isham and Evans are the most obvious examples of the collateral damage engendered by lack of knowledge.<<

It appears that I am not the only one who shares this perspective. As I said: Ignorance is deadly. I've been in dangerous situations before where the 'authority' at hand had been evasive, and I noticed it. I was annoyed by their dishonesty and ignorance toward me, and kindly let them know so. This especially after I did my own investigation and discovered the actual truth of the situation--which I was able to handle. I never jump to conclusions in a crisis situation; I always check things out for myself and then act, or react, accordingly, although not everyone is of like mind. The evasive, non-responsive, and uncooperative self-righteousness of 'authority' just gets in the way. From my experience, that's one thing that contributes to the ensuing panic, as smart and observant people notice the inconsistency between physical evidence and the authoritative confirmation to that evidence. Those involved in the crises grow weary and lose faith in the said 'authority' and grow even more confused in the long run.

Anyway, thanks, Arthur.


In any case, I'll check Eric's threads and see what he's had to say.

Thanks again, Michael.
 
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>>I believe it is most likely that Miss Isham may have wandered the decks, aware something was up but oblivious that the ship was actually sinking under her feet. This is based on the accounts of the dozens of First Class women who made their escape on boats 2, 4 and D.<<

On the other hand, Arthur, if the women who were rescued in the forward lifeboats were lacking information on the situation and survived, how can we say that lack of information was the cause of Ms. Isham's demise? All the women were in the same boat (no pun intended), so wouldn't the conditions apply equally to each one? That is, unless, as stated before, Isham was either (1) in her cabin, unaware, or (2) she wished not to get into the lifeboats for whatever reason, possibly because she believed the Titanic wasn't going to founder--a belief that various sources suggest assisted in the decision by many people who refused to get in the lifeboats.

Oh yes! This gets back to the "lack of information" issue, doesn't it?


Then again, I can only presume that that may have been a possible, and plausible, reason; I don't know with certainty that this was the case. Aside, from the cabin scenario and the belief that the ship wasn't going to founder, there is a plethora of possible reasons why she did not get into the boat: maybe she was depressed and found a chance to end her life and took it; maybe she was preoccupied with an animal of some sort and focused her attention on that; maybe she was inside the ship, caught up in some engrossing conversation with others; maybe she . . . There are endless possibilities, and until we gain some insight from some yet-undiscovered testimony, we shall never really know for sure.
 

Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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Quite by coincidence, I was reading the "Graveyard of a Legend" chaper in Michael Davies book tonight, and he makes reference to anotherpassenger whom no-one recalls seeing: George Wright. Davies notes that "a friend of his said he could only think that, as a heavy sleeper, he had never woken up".

An interesting hypothesis, and IF true, it would make a mockery of the idea that passengers were awakened by the stewards. But we may never know for sure.

Best wishes

Paul
--
http://www.paullee.com
 
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Michael Friedman

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A fascinating discussion. I remember a few years ago we were discussing Miss Isham & the theory was introduced that perhaps she was the legendary lady with the Great Dane who refused to enter a boat without her dog. In fact, I may even have been the one who suggested it; as I remember, another poster clarified the matter, saying that the connection had been made, but in a work of fiction (the Great Dane itself is probably fiction too, isn't it? Just like the St. Bernard & Rigel the Newfoundland dog, right?)

If I recall correctly Robert Lincoln, Edward Isham and Arthur Ryerson's father were all partners in Lincoln, Isham & Company. In fact, Robert named his only son (the president's only grandson)Isham, apparently after his partner. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. If that's all true, it might make a case for the Ryersons being most likely to have had information re: Miss Isham's shipboard whereabouts.

Building on Mr. Hopkins' previous comment, maybe she was caught up in an engrossing conversation with Mr. Stead himself!

Now here's a thought I've had before: Peter Daly claimed that a lady appealed for his help as the ship was sinking, and he helped her overboard, then followed himself. I've often wondered if that could have been Miss Isham (although if could just as easily have been Edith Evans).
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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The question of whether or not the correct course of action would be to fully inform the passengers and instill a greater sense of the urgency of the situation is one that has been debated many times before, with no consensus reached.

I can see the point of the argument that making passengers more cognizant of the danger would have made it easier to convince them to board boats, but I can also see the reasons why the Titanic's officers feared a panic. And not just among the crew, either - Stengel recalled a conversation with an officer that pointed to the fact that the crew may have attempted to commandeer a boat:
quote:

Mr. STENGEL. My judgement about the officers is that when they were loading I think they were cool. I think so far as the loading of the boats after the accident was concerned, sir, they showed very good judgment. I think they were very cool. They calmed the passengers by making them believe it was not a serious accident. In fact, most of them, after they got on board the Carpathia, said they expected to go back the next day and get aboard the Titanic again. I heard that explained afterwards by an officer of the ship, when he said, "Suppose we had reported the damage that was done to that vessel; there would not be one of you aboard. The stewards would have come up" - not the stewards, but the stokers - "would have come up and taken every boat, and no one would have had a chance of getting aboard of those boats."
If this seems like an extreme scenario, it should be remembered that there were reports that an officer had to drive a group of crewmen from one of the collapsible lifeboats.

Beesley also described the lack of panic, and the obstacles faced by the officers:
quote:

...an almost complete absence of knowledge on any point. I think this was the result of deliberate judgement on the part of the officers, and perhaps, it was the best thing that could be done. In particular, he must remember that the ship was a sixth of a mile long, with passengers on three decks open to the sea, and port and starboard sides to each deck: he will then get some idea of the difficulty presented to the officers of keeping control over such a large area, and the imossibility of any one knownin what was happening except in his own immediate vicinity.
There were examples in recent history in which passengers and crew had panicked, and the result - at least as far as the Titanic's crew understood it - had been a Darwinian struggle for survival. Stories abounded of the wreck of a French vessel for which there was a sole female survivor.

Even without disseminating the information that the ship was going to go down, there were instances of the crew needing to use physical force when loading the boats - Poingdestre and Scarrott at the aft port boats come to mind.

I take your point, Mark, that passengers picking up on the suppressed concern could cause further anxiety, and it seems that some did deduce that something was terribly amiss (as early as Graham and her shaking chicken sandwich!). But these cases were isolated, and I don't think we can demonstrate any real instance when these triggered a panic of the sort that the deck officers were trying to avoid. Presumably the men who Scarrott had to deter with a tiller knew that something was seriously wrong, although how they found out is not clear. However, this demonstrates - to my mind, at least - the potential danger if the idea of imminent peril became more widespread. I think Beesley may have come closest to hitting it on the head.​
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Still, the cases that you provide do tend reflect a pattern in human behavior that is all too prevalent in the world: when crises strike, people panic. When panic sets in, no rational thinking is liable to take place<<

And that when you get down to it is the bottom line. You can be certain that Captain Smith and company knew this, had the benefit of knowing past history to support these concerns, and took the steps they needed to in order to avoid this.

>>Are you saying, then, that had the officers, and Andrews, told the passengers earlier on, more would have died?<<

Very possible. This wasn't a gamble they could afford to take. The events as they actually went down tend IMO, to support that. Lightoller and Lowe didn't resort to bringing out, threatening the use of, and in fact (in Lowe's case!) firing their weapons because everybody was under their best behaviour. They did this because the situation was degenerating and it was the only way they saw in their judgement to keep matters from getting a lot worse.
 
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Cornelius Thiessen

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Michael, I know this was not a shipwreck at sea but look at the 911 tragedy in NYC.The people inside from what I understand well knew what had happened and the descent from the upper floors down those stairs seemed to be as calm as you could get under the circumstances.I hope this is'nt an apples and oranges comparison but i thought I would mention it.