Not on you Nelly


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Harry Peach

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I read a Titanic book about 8 or 9 years ago (just after the Cameron Film) and in it's description of the sinking, - It had an account from a crew member who approached a young couple during the sinking - to pursuade the lady into a boat - he described them as a Western Couple (not sure what that means) and she said "not on your Nelly, we've come this far together, i'm not leaving now" - she was apparently in good spirits despite her fate.
Anyway I don't know if anyone knows who this couple may have been and the book I'm refering to, I assumed at that time it was a 1st class couple, but as the 4 women who perished in 1st class can be accounted for and don't fit her description, or of course - this lady may have eventially gone into a later boat - maybe by force etc, or she may have been one of the several 2nd class wives to die, anyone know?
 

Julie Goebel

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That sounds like a young couple Lightoller saw, she said "not on your life"

From his book:

As I returned along the deck, I passed Mr. and Mrs. Strauss (sic) leaning up against the deck house chatting quite cheerily. I stopped and asked Mrs. Strauss, “Can I take you along to the boats?” She replied, “I think I’ll stay here for the present.” Mr. Strauss, calling her by her Christian name said, smilingly, “Why don’t you go along with him, dear?” She just smiled, and said, “No, not yet.” I left them, and they went down together. To another couple, evidently from the Western States, that I found sitting on a fan casing I asked the girl, “Won’t you let me put you in one of the boats?” She replied with a very frank smile, “Not on your life. We started together, and if need be, we’ll finish together.” It was typical of the spirit throughout.
 

Brian Ahern

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The "evidently" indicates some uncertainty on Lightoller's part as to where they were actually from. Perhaps "evidently from the Western States" referred to a second or third class couple immigrating to the Western States, or returning to the Western States from a visit to the old country?
 

Julie Goebel

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I took it to mean he thought she was from the western states by her american accent (or lack of a british accent) I think he may have thrown the "evidently" in there in case she was from Canada. I'm not sure if the "girl" even existed or if he in fact was talking about Ida Straus.
 
Jul 20, 2000
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All,

I understand that the young couple referred to by Lightoller are generally identified as being John and Elizabeth Chapman. They were a "Western couple". - That the area in England they came from is generally known as the "West Country". - Note the name of the newspaper containing an item about them: https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item/3588/

Lester
 
Apr 30, 2007
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[ I’m not sure the girl existed or if he in fact was talking about Ida Straus ]

In Lightoller’s description he uses the following words:

“to another couple” — indicating they were not the Straus’s, who he clearly recognised having already referred to them by name.

"evidently from the Western States" - as against the Eastern States where the Straus's were based.

“…that I found sitting on a fan casing…” — he had already stated the Straus’s were leaning up against the deck house when he saw them.

“…I asked the girl…” — as Mrs Straus was 63 I doubt if he would refer to her as a “girl”.

Not sure why his statement about this incident is doubted. Why would he make it up?

IF he did make it up what was he trying to achieve?

After all he’s giving praise to others not himself.
 
Apr 30, 2007
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Lester

An Englishmen would not refer to Cornwall as a 'Western State' but as a 'Western County'.

If Lightoller was referring to Mrs Chapman it is more likely that he'd have said she was "evidently from the West Country".
 

Bob Godfrey

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Here in England we have only one State - The State. There is no way that an English person would refer to an English County as a State, any more than an American would refer to his President as a Prime Minister. Lightoller knew very well the meaning of the phrase and uses it elsewhere in his book to describe the Americans he teamed up with in the Yukon, whom he refers to variously as "USA boys", "Black Hills boys" or "Western States men".
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Julie Goebel

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Bob, I assumed he meant the United States by saying "western states". I didn't think English people used the term "states" and you confirmed that they don't.

Steve, it's not that I doubt what Lightoller saw. Ida Staus is usually the one portrayed saying something like "We started together, and if need be, we’ll finish together" I'm not sure who first thought she said that if she didn't. I always assumed she did and not a younger girl. Maybe in the movies it sounded better coming from and old woman verses a young one.
 
May 27, 2007
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"Not on your life. We started together, and if need be, we’ll finish together"
Sounds like something an American girl/woman would say to me.

Do we know of any young American couples on board who did not survive? Or left the ship very late in the sinking.
 

John Clifford

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We also need to remember that Ida Strauss was reported as saying "We have been together for many years, and where you go I go. I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so we will die, together". That is quite distinct from "Not on your life. We started together, and if need be, we’ll finish together".

This couple might have perished; will have to see the names of couples from 2nd & 3rd Class who died, or else they got off quite late.

"Western States" could have meant either parts of Canada or the US, as many of our states were formed in the early 20th Century: Arizona and New Mexico were admitted to the United States in early 1912, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were formed in 1905.
Charles Lightoller may not have easily recalled the states' names, if people mentioned being from Montana, Idaho, or Nevada.
 

Harry Peach

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Thanks Julie - That was definately the right account - I'm suprised I remembered so much after reading it so long ago.

Were any of 2nd class couples who died together American?
 

Bob Godfrey

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I've not given this enough thought to be confident who the couple might have been, but I'd consider the Caldwells (2nd Class). He was from Iowa, she from Pennsylvania (but educated in Missouri) and they were married in Colorado. They were a young couple in their 20s. Caldwell's later account states that they arrived early on deck but without any sense of urgency to board a boat. He mentioned being sent down to A deck and then returning to the boat deck. This suggests they might have spent some time hanging around in the vicinity of boat 4, which would place them in the right general location for a meeting with Lightoller. Eventually, however, they were among the last passengers to board boat 13 as it was going down.

The complication is that Mrs Caldwell was carrying a small baby wrapped in a blanket. Would Lightoller have thought that worthy of mention? Would he have noticed? - it was dark and lots of people were carrying blankets and bundles. If it was the Caldwells, the "started together and finish together" comment would be ironic, as the couple were later to divorce!
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Brian Ahern

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I too had thought that the couple had been identified as the Chapmans of western England. But the word "states" threw me.

I'm inclined to think that Lightoller was mistaken about where the couple came from. A lot was happening - he could have simply been mistaken in placing her accent or remembered it wrong later.

There were a handful of American women in second and third class who were visiting their husbands' home countries (Lulu Drew, Jennie Hanson, for example - not that it was likely to be either of them). I can't think of any who died with their husbands.

Other factors that make the couple difficult to identify are that the girl might ultimately have been prevailed on to get in a boat, and they might not even have been married. Gertrude Thorne was an American and stood by her man until the last boat was leaving. Sure, she wasn't a "girl" and it would be hard to guess what she meant by "starting out" together; but, again, who knows if Lightoller remembered all of the details with 100 percent accuracy?
 
May 27, 2007
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It does sound to me like what an American would say in 1912. As if I'd know. Maybe the girls husband made her get into a later boat. the Caldwells. It could be Mrs. Caldwell. Sounds like a comment a girl who was educated in Missouri would say in 1912. Mr. Caldwell from Iowa well fancy that. Just like me. I'm not for sure but I think the couple or the wife were Americans. Not saying a British woman wouldn't stick to her man but I couldn't see her saying
"Not on your life. We started together, and if need be, we’ll finish together"
as I could see an American saying that. Of course as I said earlier, what do I know about how a British woman would phrase it? Mystery anyone?
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Hi John,

"Western States" could have meant either parts of Canada or the US

Definitely not Canada, as we don't use the term "States" when we are referring to the areas of Western Canada. We say "Western Provinces", even though "States" and "Provinces" have the same meaning.
 
Apr 30, 2007
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Questions for those with knowledge of the ship's construction.

What is a fan casing exactly and how many were there?

Where were they in relation to the lifeboats?

Were they on A deck as well as the boat deck?

From the answers to the above questions is it possible to identify where exactly Lightoller met the 'girl'?
 

John Clifford

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Hi Jason.

not Canada, as we don't use the term "States" when we are referring to the areas of Western Canada. We say "Western Provinces",..
My question is what was Lightoller referring to, and could he have used "states" like a generic term, or could he have known the couple to be Americans?
 
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