Mrs Futrelle's Lifeboat


Arun Vajpey

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Although common sense indicates that Lily May Futrelle was rescued on Lifeboat #9, her post disaster statements have been so varied and contradictory that boats #16 and Collapsible D have also been considered as possibilities. So, I went through my books and other references to try and make some sense of the information therein.
  • Seattle Daily Times of April 22nd-23rd - statement that she was standing near Lifeboat #8 waiting for her husband when she saw Ida Straus get out of the boat, cling onto her husband Isidor and refuse to return to the lifeboat. (p204 On A Sea of Glass); a few minutes later, she was still there as #8 was loaded and loading proceeded on #6 (p207 On A Sea Of Glass). As #8 was lowered at 01:00 hours, these statements allow possibilities for #16' #9 or D as being her own eventual boat.
  • In a statement to the Atlanta Constitution on 26th April 1912, she claimed that she saw Lifeboat #4 being lowered from A-deck with Mrs Astor, Mrs Thayer, Mrs Widener, Mrs Carter and Mrs Ryerson in it, implying that she was still on the deck of the Titanic herself. While all those other women were definitely on #4, the lifeboat was not lowered till 01:50 am, by which time #16 and #9 were long gone. For this statement to be true therefore, Mrs Futrelle should have been saved on Collapsible D, as some claim.
  • In the same statement, she then indicated that she left in the next boat (which was the next to last boat) but did not say that it was a Collapsible boat. She said that there were 12 women and 18 men in her boat, 17 of the latter being crew members. AFAIK, there were not that many men on Collapsible D. Also, she did not mention any of the events associated with lowering of Collapsible D (Woolner/Steffanson jump or Duquemin/Hoyt swim)
  • Mrs Futrelle stated that "2 Collpasibles" were launched after her boat and Mrs Irene Harris, Mrs Jane Hoyt and Mrs Gertrude Throne were in one of them. She could have been referring to Collapsibles D & B and those other 3 women were all on Collapsible D. But here Mrs Futrelle is referring to #D as if it was one of the 'other' boats ie not one that she herself was rescued in; adding to the confusion is the fact that on the port side forward, there was no lifeboat lowered 'between' #4 and Collapsible D.
  • In his book Dusk to Dawn that is based largely on survivor accounts, Paul Quinn appears to have convinced himself that Lily May Futrelle was rescued on Lifeboat #16. On pp199-200 she is supposed to have said that her husband took her to the 'starboard' side and put her into Lifeboat #16. Although #16 was a port boat, one might argue that a woman of her social class would remember the boat's number better than the difference between port and starboard. Then on pp241-2, she refers to a "little Frenchwoman" in her boat who "wailed and writhed" in hysteria; she is also mentioned on p253. AFAIK, there were no French women, little otherwise, on #16 or D but there were two on #9, Leontine Aubart and her maid Emma-Marie Sagesser. She also claimed that the crew on board her lifeboat were mostly stewards and poor rowers - there were 7 stewards on #16, eight on #9 and just one on D. While the presence of the French woman and many stewards supports Lily Futrelle's boat as being #9, her next statement did not. She claimed that there were a large number of "wild-eyed steerage women" on her boat who were poorly attired for the cold; while #16 and D had many Third Class women, #9 had mostly Second Class women with only a few from Third Class.
TITANIC by Eaton & Haas (1987): Says that Jacques Futrelle escorted his wife (Lily May) onto lifeboat #9 (Daily Mirror/Philadelphia Inquirer)

TITANIC: Women and Children First: States that she and Mrs Harris were anxiously waiting on the deck of the Titanic waiting for their husbands to return but NOT specifically that they were in the same lifeboat.


On A Sea of Glass has several specific references related to Mrs Futrelle's rescue. I have already mentioned abut her being in the vicinity of Lifeboat #8 waiting for her husband, who arrived just as that boat was lowered.
  • On p213, she is back with Jacques, with him persuading her to get into a lifeboat. It was at this point that she bid him farewell and they slightly separated; she saw him join JJ Astor in a smoke. Moody saw her and rather forcibly escorted her to #9. (Daily Boston Globe April 17th 1932 – LMF is supposed to have said that she was on #9 and recalled seeing the Lines women on it, recognizing mother and daughter. Also recalled Able Seaman ‘Paddy’ McGough)
That above is the strongest evidence that Lily May Futrelle was indeed rescued on Lifeboat #9. The presence of Elizabeth and Mary Lines, Paddy McGough and Moody's action support it. Moody lowered Lifeboat #16 at about 01:20 am and crossed over to the starboard side where loading of #9 was proceeding rapidly under Murdoch's supervision. If he saw Jacques and Lily May Futrelle on the way, it would tie in with both his escorting Lily into #9 but also Jacques persuading her to go. Lifeboat #9 was lowered at about 01:28 am.
 
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Your a good researcher Arun when it comes to this stuff. But a question I have. If you look at a lot of the pictures of Titanic's lifeboats many don't seem to show a number on them at least to where its visible. Would the passengers even know which boat they got into? Just curious.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Good question and my initial guess would be yes, they would for a number of reasons.

In the earlier lifeboats when things were less frantic, those congregating near and eventually getting into boats like #5, #8 etc, would simply realize which boat they were in. I am not sure if the number was mentioned on the boat itself (I feel it was) but even so they would have known listening to the crew members with them etc.

Later on, those in #10, Collapsible C etc might be too tense to notice immediately but in almost all boats there were 20 to 60 people including several crew. That would have been "their world" for several hours till they were picked up by the Carpathia. Human tendency being what it is, when we are exposed to such a microcosm for a length of time, we tend to know a lot about it even if it is not interesting in any way. Someone like Charlotte Collyer for example might not have noticed anything about any boat that she was sitting in under ordinary circumstances but under stressful situations like a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with no certainty as to if and when they'd be rescued, information that they normally would not have bothered with tends to burn into the brain.
 
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Thanks for the reply. What you said makes sense. I got curious because some boats didn't seem have numbers on them. My only guess and it's just a guess is that maybe the numbers were only on the inboard side on the boats as to the way they were mounted on the ship. Starboard side boats would have the numbers on the port side so the crew could see them...Port side boats the opposite. I will go look at some of numbers to see if that might be the case. In the link below of pics you can see some have numbers others don't. At least I can't make them out.
 

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I found original pictures with lifeboats No. 11 and 13 with the numbers on the starboard side of them. They were starboard boats so my number theory doesn't work out. You can disregard that question. Cheers.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Getting back to Lily May Futrelle (LMF), I am curious about her ambiguous statements, especially the one to Atlanta Constitution less than 2 weeks after the disaster. She is supposed to have told them that she actually saw Lifeboat #4 launched with all those rich women on board, while she herself was still on the Titanic itself. That clearly cannot be the case because #4 was lowered at 01:50 am, some 22 minutes after #9, the most likely boat in which LMF was herself. No doubt that statement of hers was what led some people to deduce that LMF was rescued on Collapsible D.

They say a picture can say a thousand words. I know this sounds like wild conjecture but from my own point of view it is a strong gut feeling. There is a rather well known post-disaster photograph of Lily May Futrelle being escorted to a waiting car by Boston Post reporter Robert Norton. It appears on p195 of the Eaton & Haas book and a few others, with LMF wearing a ridiculous Napoleonic hat. I was struck by the almost whimsical expression on her face, unexpected in someone who just lost a husband and went though the disaster experience. That and some of the statements she made to the press indicated to me that LMF was not averse to a bit of publicity even at a time like that. Her statement to the Atlanta Constitution, which is highly unlikely to be true, suggests that she might have said so to indicate that she was still on board the ship when the likes of Mrs Astor, Mrs Thayer, Mrs Widener, Mrs Carter and Mrs Ryerson left in a lifeboat just so that she was one up on them.

On a side note, I found it interesting that the Futrelles were not even mentioned in a few leading Titanic works like Walter Lord's A Night To Remember and Don Lynch's Titanic: An Illustrated History.
 

George Jacub

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Getting back to Lily May Futrelle (LMF), I am curious about her ambiguous statements, especially the one to Atlanta Constitution less than 2 weeks after the disaster. She is supposed to have told them that she actually saw Lifeboat #4 launched with all those rich women on board, while she herself was still on the Titanic itself. That clearly cannot be the case because #4 was lowered at 01:50 am, some 22 minutes after #9, the most likely boat in which LMF was herself. No doubt that statement of hers was what led some people to deduce that LMF was rescued on Collapsible D.

They say a picture can say a thousand words. I know this sounds like wild conjecture but from my own point of view it is a strong gut feeling. There is a rather well known post-disaster photograph of Lily May Futrelle being escorted to a waiting car by Boston Post reporter Robert Norton. It appears on p195 of the Eaton & Haas book and a few others, with LMF wearing a ridiculous Napoleonic hat. I was struck by the almost whimsical expression on her face, unexpected in someone who just lost a husband and went though the disaster experience. That and some of the statements she made to the press indicated to me that LMF was not averse to a bit of publicity even at a time like that. Her statement to the Atlanta Constitution, which is highly unlikely to be true, suggests that she might have said so to indicate that she was still on board the ship when the likes of Mrs Astor, Mrs Thayer, Mrs Widener, Mrs Carter and Mrs Ryerson left in a lifeboat just so that she was one up on them.

On a side note, I found it interesting that the Futrelles were not even mentioned in a few leading Titanic works like Walter Lord's A Night To Remember and Don Lynch's Titanic: An Illustrated History.
I have ten interviews with Mrs. Futrelle published in April, 1912, but the latest one that I located--from the Atlanta Semi-Weekly Journal, April 30, 1912---contains what might be the most important statement from her as it relates to Titanic researchers:

“The story is so big,” she said, “that the newspapers have never published it fully. I could talk about It for six hours myself and not tell it all. No one person can know all of the details and many of the things I have said have just been rumors, and accounts of these have often been garbled. The reporters give them as facts from me, when I specifically stated I was telling them simply what I had heard, either in the lifeboats or on the Carpathia.’’
THE ATLANTA SEMI-WEEKLY JOURNAL, ATLANTA, GA., TUESDAY, APRIL 30 1912.

In short, she's saying that in previous interviews reporters attributed to her stories that she specifically told them she had heard from others. This, obviously, is why there's so much confusion about what she saw and heard and how that helps determine what lifeboat she entered.
 

Arun Vajpey

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The reporters give them as facts from me, when I specifically stated I was telling them simply what I had heard, either in the lifeboats or on the Carpathia.’
True, but surely she would have remembered which particular lifeboat she was in during that interview that took place only a fortnight after the disaster? Did she allude to that in her interview?
 

George Jacub

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On a side note, I found it interesting that the Futrelles were not even mentioned in a few leading Titanic works like Walter Lord's A Night To Remember and Don Lynch's Titanic: An Illustrated History.

Mrs. Futrelle addressed this very point in a letter to Walter Lord in November, 1955, following the publication of A Night to Remember. You can find this letter on Charles Pelligrino's Titanic website. Her letter reads in part (with ... designating illegible sections):

"The editions of the Boston papers didn't seem to like the idea of the Futrelles being left out of your story, and down to ... a flock of reporters to find out why. I told them you had contacted me, and I have given you a great deal of information about the continual inaccuracies that had been printed over the years. And that you had noted them in some "if" paragraph. But that didn't seem to explain why the Futrelles were not even mentioned as being aboard. The Herald reporters brought down a letter, ... before ... had sent me to corroborate facts. Holt wanted them in her review of the book. I okayed the letter to avoid discussing it. I felt I had been more or less to blame for the Futrelles being left you, but couldn't answer why all the other Massachusetts passengers were not mentioned."

She also states:

"I also noticed you have dismissed my boat, No.9, with a passing gesture, and with all the material I have, happenings you haven't even touched on I am sorry I did not write you of the hazzardous and almost tragic launching of No.9"
 
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George Jacub

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True, but surely she would have remembered which particular lifeboat she was in during that interview that took place only a fortnight after the disaster? Did she allude to that in her interview?
The single and most consistent clue in all her 1912 interviews of the boat she entered is the number and make-up of the people in the lifeboat (crew, one male passenger, four first class women, the rest steerage women--sometimes a mix of second class and steerage women). The boat that best matches her description is No. 9.
 

Arun Vajpey

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The single and most consistent clue in all her 1912 interviews of the boat she entered is the number and make-up of the people in the lifeboat (crew, one male passenger, four first class women, the rest steerage women--sometimes a mix of second class and steerage women). The boat that best matches her description is No. 9.
Not completely. Although lifeboat complement lists are subject to some errors, most accounts have quite a large number of Second Class women on board Lifeboat #9 and only a few Third Class women, if any. In fact, the only Third Class passenger listed as being on board #9 on ET was a man, Benoit Picard. Kyrila Scully's compilation has 2 more passengers from Third Class on Lifeboat #9, again both men.

Therefore, Mrs Futrelle's claim of "wild eyed steerage women" seems more than a bit fanciful. Such inconsistent and improbable statements might be why Walter Lord decided to avoid mentioning the Futrelles in his book.

However, her mention of Elizabeth & Marly Lines, Paddy McGough and a Frenchwoman on her boat is far more suggestive of #9. Also her statement that Moody shepherded her into a Lifeboat. I have a hypothesis (no more) about why she told some people that she was escorted by Moody and her husband to the 'starboard lifeboat' #16. That was, of course, a port boat.

Between 01:00 am and 01:10 am her statements suggest that she was in the vicinity of Lifeboats #8 (as it was lowered) and #6 being readied for launching.. At about that point she was searching for her husband and may have found him a bit further aft. If the couple had them continued aft, they would have come across Lifeboat #16 just as Moody completed its loading and ordered it lowered (at 01:20 am). Thereafter, Moody crossed to the starboard side where Murdoch had almost completed loading of #9 and dragged Mrs Futrelle along. If both boats had made an impression on Lily Futrelle's mind, she could easily have got the numbers mixed up a few days later.
 

George Jacub

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Kyrila Scully's compilation has 2 more passengers from Third Class on Lifeboat #9, again both men.
Krila Scully's "Lifeboat Manifest" is completely unsourced. As such, it's just a list of names and her best guess as to who was where. (Johan Niskanen and Juho Stranden were not in Lifeboat No. 9, but that's another discussion for another time.) As an aside, she names Franz Kasper, Thomas Street, Allen Baggott and Harry Yearsley as crewmen in No. 9. Has anyone seen any interviews with any of these men that can be used to justify their placement?
Arun, will you post the actual paragraphs of the Daily Boston Globe story where Mrs. Futrelle names Moody, McGough, and Mrs. and Miss Lines so that everyone can see the context? Thanks in advance.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Arun, will you post the actual paragraphs of the Daily Boston Globe story where Mrs. Futrelle names Moody, McGough, and Mrs. and Miss Lines so that everyone can see the context? Thanks in advance.
I'll try. I have a printout somewhere in my "Titanic pile" and got to search for it a bit. This will be hampered for a day or two because my 92 year old mother-in-law fell and broke her hip the day before yesterday. She's fine after surgery but I have to rush back and forth to the hospital.
 

George Jacub

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I'll try. I have a printout somewhere in my "Titanic pile" and got to search for it a bit. This will be hampered for a day or two because my 92 year old mother-in-law fell and broke her hip the day before yesterday. She's fine after surgery but I have to rush back and forth to the hospital.
Family comes first. Take care.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Arun, will you post the actual paragraphs of the Daily Boston Globe story where Mrs. Futrelle names Moody, McGough, and Mrs. and Miss Lines so that everyone can see the context?

1617888035313.png


This above is the photo I was on about, supposedly taken after she got off the Carpathia on 18th April 1912. I have a better blow-up of that photo somewhere but darn if I can find it! The man on her right leading her on is Boston Post reporter Robert Norton

The story about her confirming the Lines women and Paddy McGough (all from Lifeboat #9) was in the Daily Boston Globe of 17th April 1932, twenty years later. I do not have any photos of that.


Krila Scully's "Lifeboat Manifest" is completely unsourced. As such, it's just a list of names and her best guess as to who was where.
Accepted, but I have seen no Third Class women passengers listed on Lifeboat #9 from any source, including here on ET. Therefore, Lily Futrelle's story about a "lot of wild-eyed steerage women" in her boat must be a flight of fancy.

That particular quote is from Paul Quinn's book Dusk to Dawn and as I said, he appears to have convinced himself that Mrs Futrelle was rescued on Lifeboat #16 - and there were many Third Class women on #16. Unfortunately, Quinn's book is not very good on reference material despite devoting a few pages for "Sources of Quotations". He merely confirms that Mrs Futrelle made those statements but not when or where. If it was several years after the disaster, a memory lapse was possible; it looks like the Futrelles were near Lifeboat #16 as its loading was completed and it was launched (at 01:20 am). If, as Lily Futrelle said several times, she continued to hesitate to get into a lifeboat without Jacques and so could have missed getting into #16. Moody launched #16 and then crossed over to the starboard side and #9 (where Murdoch was already in charge) and if he saw Lily on the way, her story about him pulling her along into a starboard lifeboat makes sense. Lifeboat #9 was lowered at 01:28 am and so the timelines are also compatible with her story but over the years, she could have got mixed-up with the numbers.
 
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George Jacub

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The story about her confirming the Lines women and Paddy McGough (all from Lifeboat #9) was in the Daily Boston Globe of 17th April 1932, twenty years later. I do not have any photos of that.
I don't mean to be a pest, but I hope you can clarify a few points. Correct me if I'm wrong but I gather that you don't have a copy of the Daily Boston Globe story of April 17, 1932; that you read a summary of what's in the story in a book, possibly On A Sea of Glass; and that the authors of the secondary source cited the Globe story as their source. I'm wondering if the summary was an actual quote from the Globe story or just a paraphrase? IF it's a quote, can you post the quote? I tried, possibly 10 years ago, to find the 1932 interview with Mrs. Futrelle but it was behind a paywall and I, instead, was able to dig up contemporary 1912 interviews when her memory would be much fresher.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I don't mean to be a pest, but I hope you can clarify a few points. Correct me if I'm wrong but I gather that you don't have a copy of the Daily Boston Globe story of April 17, 1932; that you read a summary of what's in the story in a book, possibly On A Sea of Glass; and that the authors of the secondary source cited the Globe story as their source. I'm wondering if the summary was an actual quote from the Globe story or just a paraphrase? IF it's a quote, can you post the quote? I tried, possibly 10 years ago, to find the 1932 interview with Mrs. Futrelle but it was behind a paywall and I, instead, was able to dig up contemporary 1912 interviews when her memory would be much fresher.
You are not a pest at all. Please feel free to ask anything and I'll be glad to help if I can. I am a persistent type myself when things like this are concerned and can appreciate - even admire - fellow "fanatics" ;)

I have to be honest and say that I don't think that I have a copy of that particular Boston Daily Globe. Having said that, I have collected so many newspaper clippings, old-fashioned photostat copies, magazine cutouts, old magazines and especially my own scribbled notes made and collected over 35+ years that I would not be surprised if a copy of J J Astor's last will and testament turned up in my 'Titanic pile'. Browsing through them at this time would be difficult because of the family circumstances that I mentioned above and also the fact that about a third of them are back in the UK. If that particular copy of DBG turns up, I promise to post it here. Meanwhile, it might be worth trying the newspaper office itself; I think it still exists?

Yes, I was quoting off what is mentioned on On A Sea Of Glass, including the reference section. Yes, it is just a fairly descriptive paraphrase in the "End notes" section of the book and not the actual quote. But as it mentions Moody, the Lines women, Paddy McGough and lifeboat #9 itself, it seemed to all come together.
 

George Jacub

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You are not a pest at all. Please feel free to ask anything and I'll be glad to help if I can. I am a persistent type myself when things like this are concerned and can appreciate - even admire - fellow "fanatics" ;)

I have to be honest and say that I don't think that I have a copy of that particular Boston Daily Globe. Having said that, I have collected so many newspaper clippings, old-fashioned photostat copies, magazine cutouts, old magazines and especially my own scribbled notes made and collected over 35+ years that I would not be surprised if a copy of J J Astor's last will and testament turned up in my 'Titanic pile'. Browsing through them at this time would be difficult because of the family circumstances that I mentioned above and also the fact that about a third of them are back in the UK. If that particular copy of DBG turns up, I promise to post it here. Meanwhile, it might be worth trying the newspaper office itself; I think it still exists?

Yes, I was quoting off what is mentioned on On A Sea Of Glass, including the reference section. Yes, it is just a fairly descriptive paraphrase in the "End notes" section of the book and not the actual quote. But as it mentions Moody, the Lines women, Paddy McGough and lifeboat #9 itself, it seemed to all come together.

Thank you for your efforts.
 

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