She was then Margaret Easton (the widow of Dr Charles Easton) and was on a holiday cruise with a daughter and granddaughter. She suffered a heart attack on board the ship and died on August 21. Margaret's body was taken back to be buried in Newport, Rhode Island in the US.
No annoyance at all, Mauro, I am pleased to help. If you have any questions which are difficult for you to ask in English, there are other members who can read Spanish so you may want to ask in both languages.
Can anyone tell me more about Margaret Hays please? I've read the biography page, and know some more things such as her dogs name and recently read in a book that she was the first person put on a lifeboat with her dog.
But as I volunteer at a Titanic exhibit and I portray Margaret, I'd like to know a bit more about her to properly portray her. Any help is appreciated.
I'm by no means an expert on Margaret's story, never having studied her in any depth, but I'll be pleased to share what little I know (if only in the most general way) if that helps you to get to grips with the character.
Margaret Hays would, I imagine, have been loosely described in contemporary gossip columns as a 'Society girl'. This doesn't really tell us very much, other than that she came from a wealthy background and was well-connected, but we can at least infer that she was entirely comfortable moving among the American upper classes. It is worth noting that she attended the smart and exclusive Briarcliff Junior College and was travelling on the 'Titanic' with her former class-mate, Olive Earnshaw, and Olive's mother, Lily Potter. On a thread entitled 'Passenger Education', Brian Ahern and I swapped what little information we have about Briarcliff. It was popularly known as 'Debutante U' and was regarded as little more than a place where the older girls went to rest between parties - so we can assume that it wasn't too taxing academically! Nevertheless, Margaret would have been well-tutored in the social graces and would no doubt have been perceived as a well-bred young lady by her fellow first-class passengers.
Aged 24 in 1912, Margaret had taken a trip to Europe in late 1911 or early 1912 with Olive and Lily (the latter acting as chaperone for the unmarried girls) - foreign travel was far more of a luxury back then and was only really for the rich. Her ticket cost over £80, a considerable sum, which would have allowed her
to enjoy all the comforts the 'Titanic' offered.
Judging from the two photographs I have seen, Margaret was evidently a very attractive young lady. One hopeful suitor - Gilbert Tucker - even followed her across the Atlantic and escaped with her and her party in one of the earliest lifeboats to leave the ship, No. 7. Margaret famously carried her pet Pomeranian with her - one of only three first-class dogs to survive, the others belonging to Henry Sleeper Harper and Elizabeth Rothschild.
Margaret cared for the two Navratil boys at her home in New York until they were claimed by their mother. I'd say that she was obviously a capable and warm-hearted young lady - the delightful picture of her with her baby daughter, featured on her ET profile page certainly gives me this impression.
Almost exactly a year after the 'Titanic', Margaret married Dr Charles Easton. The wedding was extensively covered by the press - full details can be found on this website - and was an event of considerable elegance and grandeur, as befitted a lady of Margaret's background and pedigree. After her marriage, Margaret settled with her new husband in Newport, the most prestigious and exclusive Society holiday resort of the era. She died in Argentina, from which I assume that she continued to enjoy foreign travel well into later life, despite her traumatic experience aboard the 'Titanic'.
I hope that this might be of some use to you. My esteemed fellow board-member, Brian Ahern, is a great authority on the lives of the American first-class passengers and might like to make his own contribution.
Just a few extra points. The ticket price (a little over £83) covered the fares for all three ladies, so their cabin accommodations would have been fairly basic but it was of course the public facilities that contributed most to the experience of 1st Class travel.
Margaret's friend Olive was a married woman, but had filed for divorce. The trip to Europe had been organised by her mother mainly for Olive's benefit, as a distraction from her troubled home life.
As I mentioned in an earlier posting above, Margaret was indeed on a holiday cruise when she died in Argentina.
Brandy, I recommend Craig Stringer's excellent CD-ROM publication Titanic People, a comprehensive collection of passenger and crew biographies. I'm sure it would be of general interest, but specifically it includes a fairly detailed account of the experience of this particular group on the night of the sinking.
Thank you Bob. I typed my previous post in considerable haste and overlooked the fact that Olive Earnshaw had a husband of her own in 1912.
As a matter of interest - could Olive have acted as Margaret's chaperone herself, despite the fact that they were exact contemporaries? I rather think she could, her status as a wife (albeit an unhappy one) being of more importance than her age.
Do we know the itinerary of Lily, Olive and Margaret during their trip to Europe? And did any of the women file itemised insurance claims after the sinking?
Martin, I imagine you're right that her married friend could have chaperoned Margaret, but I'm no expert on Edwardian etiquette. Craig Stringer mentions that the ladies travelled down through Italy to the Holy Land and on to Turkey, meeting Gilbert Tucker somewhere along the way. They certainly filed insurance claims, Margaret's being the highest at a very precise $2640.65, but I've no idea what items were included.
I've read several different accounts on Margaret boarding the lifeboat. In one book it states she was the first to board lifeboat #7. In the ET Biography it states she was after Mrs. Potter and Olive..??
I think it doubtful that we will ever know for sure who was the first lady into the boat. In his classic account of the sinking, 'A Night to Remember', Walter Lord has the intrepid movie star and model Dorothy Gibson at the front of the queue. One thing is certain - at that early stage, any passenger who was prepared to leave the warm, brightly-lit and seemingly secure 'Titanic' for the dubious safety of an open rowing boat on the dark and freezing Atlantic displayed considerable courage. Remember that the drop to the water was nearly seventy feet and the distance alone would have acted as a deterrent to many women.
>>any passenger who was prepared to leave the warm, brightly-lit and seemingly secure 'Titanic' for the dubious safety of an open rowing boat on the dark and freezing Atlantic displayed considerable courage.<<
That and/or considerable foresight. The period clothing didn't help matters a lot either. You might find http://home.comcast.net/~bwormst7/Symposium/lifeboat.html to be illuminating as we tested this at the Maine Maritime Acadamy Titanic Symposium three years ago. Check out the outfit that Ms. Lori Stone is wearing. She wasn't facing a 70 foot drop into freezing water, but when those tables were only three feet apart, she balked at trying to go from one to another. Can't say as I blame her.
The drop from Boat Deck down to the water was some 60 feet at the best of times and would have been a little less when you consider that Titanic had settled somewhat in the water by the time the first boats began to leave.
However, some passengers remarked that it was so dark, you couldn't see where the water was anyway. If this really was the case, it wouldn't matter whether the drop was 50 or 100 feet, the passengers were brave enough going into the unknown!
60 feet...70 feet...or 100 feet...as you say, it was still a considerable drop and I certainly wouldn't have relished making what was quite literally a leap in the dark! Certainly not before it became clear that the 'Titanic' was in serious difficulty, anyway.
The link supplied by Michael was most interesting and provided me with food for thought. Securing a seat in a lifeboat was obviously preferable to being left behind and Margaret Hays and her party were fortunate to be given the opportunity in the first place. Nevertheless, the very act of abandoning ship came complete with its own terrors. Encumbered by their long, tight skirts, the ladies had to negotiate a sizeable gap above a very large drop, stepping downward - probably most awkwardly - into what was essentially an over-sized rowing-boat, which would have been swinging and swaying on its falls all the while. And, once in, there was no guarantee that the davits wouldn't fail, pitching them into the icy Atlantic below.
With hindsight, we take the courage displayed by Margaret Hays, Lily Potter and Olive Earnshaw for granted - they had it easy, compared to the 1,500 poor souls left aboard when Collapsible D departed. Yet their bravery in the early stages of the sinking shouldn't be underestimated.
I have an article somewhere that states that a maid for Margaret's grandmother predicted some sort of accident to Margaret. I think the article continued on that Mrs. Bechstein scoffed at such an idea. Kind of amusing that the paper would take the time to report all that. Must have been grasping.