Isidor Straus Confederate Veteran of the American CW


Joey D. Oller

We often see in our mind the elderly couple huddled togother on the boat deck, refusing to part. Isidor Straus saying that he would not leave on a life boat as long as other men remain. The story of the Mr. and Mrs. Straus is one that touches our hearts when speaking of the Titanic. Many do not that Isidor Straus was in the Confederate Army, serving in a Georgia Regt. Co. Gracie had finished his book "The Truth of Chickamauga" (a battle which Straus was in) and loaned a copy to Straus so that he could read on while on the Titanic. Records state that he finished the book on Sunday morning and told Gracie his opinion of the book, which was good. I would like to know more about Isidor Straus' military service in the Confederacy. The Confederate Veteran Magazine did a story on Straus within months after the sinking which gave details, but not much on his private life in the military.
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Welcome, Joey! Agreed. Very interesting lives they lead, as well as their children. Have you seen this site?

Read the section entitled "Family values", when you get a chance. Words of wisdom, and gives you a personal feel for Isador. It makes sence why he refused to enter a boat before other men.
It has been a while since I did any research on the family, but they were an interesting search, full of tidbits! I am on the West Coast, so all mine was gleaned off books and internet searches. I am sure there are others that have much more data on the family, but here goes.
He had a large family (7 I believe) They had just lost a grandchild before sailing the Titanic, and this must have been a triple blow for the Family.
You can trace Ida Straus' family for ~MANY~ generations in Worms Germany. Macys, to this date, is known for quality, and affluence.
I have not learned a whole lot of his military service. I was under the impression that he was something like a blockade runner. Guess I had better get moving and get some other information on his CW service!
Take care, and again, welcome aboard!
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Just found this poem in an old issue of The Improvement Era, a magazine published by the Mormon Church in 1912. It refers to Mr. and Mrs. Strauss, and evidently was first published in a New York periodical called The Independant. Has anyone seen it before?

I cannot leave thee, husband; in thine arm
Enfolded, I am safe from all alarm.
If God hath willed that we should pass, this night,
Through the dark waters to Eternal Light,
Oh, let us thank Him with our latest breath
For welded life and undivided death.

(S.S. Cohen, quoted in The Improvement Era, vol XV, no 9, July 1912)

From what I can gather, Straus did no military service in the usual sense. He was some kind of agent who facilitated the buying of ships and possibly arms for the Confederacy. There was a kind of unofficial Confederate representation in Liverpool where shady deals were done. The British were rather ambivalent about the rebs. They needed cotton and liked to sell ships.

Right now, I can't find the details on the Internet. It's one of those things I've seen somewhere. What we need is a Civil War expert.

Straus can't have suffered much from his involvement with the rebs. When a member of the US House of Representatives died, Straus was invited by his party to take his place. This he did and served out the term. (I think he was a Democrat). Some of the tributes to Straus mention this, notably Senator Rayner in a speech that followed the presentation of Senator Smith's report.
I realize this post is rather old, but figured I'd add some info. He enlisted in a Georgia regiment and was elected as a lieutenant, I believe, but haven't been able to confirm whether he saw combat.

Isidor Straus later went to Europe to set up a blockade-running company, but the company never got off the ground and Straus was stranded in Europe with $1200. He engaged in trading Confederate bonds, turning that $1200 into $12,000. He returned home and the family relocated to New York shortly after Lee's surrender.

It doesn't appear he suffered at all from his connection with the Confederacy. He and his brother quickly established a successful store business in New York shortly after the war ended. In Congress he was a conservative Democrat, until he fell out of favor with the party, owing to his opposition to the Free Silver movement in the mid-1890s.
Straus, a master tailor, designed and stitched the famous Confederate Flag, aka the "Stars & Bars." He copyrighted the design with the Confederacy's version of the US Patent Office and was paid a royalty for each flag produced both during and after the Civil War, as his lawyers got the patent transferred to the regular USA patent office in 1866.

He used these lucrative royalties to found the Macy's chain of department stores, where he personally designed the store's entire male clothing line, including the White Star Line's officers uniforms. He was basically a 19th century version of Tommy Hillfiger.

As such, his trip on the Titanic was free. I believe he'd been in Europe and was bringing back samples of new synthetic fabrics from Germany such as rayon, etc. He even had some new sample uniforms with him, but the old salts on the Titanic were resistant to change and preferred their traditional wool uniforms. Had they been wearing the new synthetic gear when the boat sunk, many more of them likely would've survived as they were/are water repellent.

Mark Baber

Straus, a master tailor

Again, what evidence do you have for saying Straus was a tailor?

designed and stitched the famous Confederate Flag, aka the "Stars & Bars."

Where does this information come from?

his lawyers got the patent transferred to the regular USA patent office in 1866.

The U.S. Copyright Office (not Patent Bureau) provided protection for the design of the Confederate flag? Really?

He used these lucrative royalties to found the Macy's chain of department stores

He didn't found Macy's; R. H. Macy did. The Straus family acquired the store after Macy died. And it wasn't a chain in 1912, just a single store at Herald Square.

where he personally designed the store's entire male clothing line

Where does this come from? Contemporary accounts describe him more as the "back office guy."

including the White Star Line's officers uniforms

Again, what's the source for this statement?

As such, his trip on the Titanic was free.

According to the available ticketing information he paid £221 15s 7d for himself, Mrs. Straus and Ms. Bird.

He even had some new sample uniforms with him

Source, please?

many more of them likely would've survived as they were/are water repellent.

They died from being cold, not wet.
Fascinated to read your speculation about water-repellant uniforms, Scott. Put me in mind of a patent I once came across, taken out a mere year later in 1913, for self-destructing bootlaces. They automatically dissolved in brine, thus allowing the heavy footwear to be kicked off, and swimming to commence.
Hell, yes, the licorice lace. Oddly enough, Isidor had a consignment of prototypes packed away in the hold. Patent pending. If only they'd been available on deck, so many more lives could have been saved. Probably.

His best creation of all, however, was the self-inflating troll. Ideal for Halloween parties, and always good for a few laffs. Just a few, mind.
"You don't have permission to access" - must be one of those pics that only grown-ups are allowed to view, Paul.

Meanwhile, here's one for you. It's an inflatable Paul Rogers. You fix it in your chair in the office with some sticky-back plastic, then go down the pub. Alternatively you can fix it in your chair in the dining room at home. Then go down the pub. Carol will never spot the difference (provided you put a hat on it so she won't notice your hair's grown back).


Inger Sheil

Phew - vastly relieved now I see that it is trolling in action. Although just in case someone comes across this thread at a future date, it should be pointed out that Miller & Son provided the uniforms (not Macy's). Here's a good article about how WSL uniforms fitted into the merchant service designs of the era: