Personal letter to me from Mrs Snyder regarding her Titanic experience


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Dennis Foley

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Happy New Year all: I know this is probably a dumb question but is anyone out there interested in my posting here a letter written to me by the wonderful Mrs. John Snyder in 1976 (answering a letter I wrote her re: Titanic)?? There is an especially interesting part on her view of Captain Smith! I ask this now because it is somewhat long and don't have the time right now to do it. I will check this thread over the next few days and if anyone is interested I will be glad to share it with you. See ya....Dennis
 
Feb 7, 2005
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I'm sure there are many here on ET who would be very interested in reading the letter. Please post it--and thank you in advance for sharing it with us!

Happy New Year to you,

Denise
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hi Dennis
I think it would be a great addition. I remember she gave an interview where she said her stateroom window was not sealed properly and that cold air would seep in.
Mike
 
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Dennis Foley

Guest
By letter postmarked 11/22/76, Mrs. Rawley Miller (Mrs. Snyder's daughter) was so wonderful as to send me the following typewritten letter, signed by Mrs. Snyder, with a handwritten note from Mrs. Miller.

Dear Mr. Foley: I only wish you were here so I could talk to you as I have so many people the last sixty years. I am glad you have done a lot of research on the Titanic for it would be most difficult to tell you the whole story.

Your idea of some personal things that happened to us and some of the feelings we had abut the Titanic will help condense this letter.

First, I must tell you that Captain Smith was the captain of thee ship we took to Europe to start our wedding trip. Upon leaving New York, he gave orders to go ahead before he gave order to untie from the pier. Not too serious but a little frightening as we almost took the whole pier with us! Secondly, when we arrived in Gibraltar, Captain Smith ran on a sand bar so it was impossible for us to go ashore, and most disappointing. Our next stop was Naples and we were mighty glad to leave the ship for we had a feeling Captain Smith would have a third mishap.

After traveling three months in Europe, we arrived in Southampton and found our reservations for our return home had been transferred to the Titanic "The Greatest Ship in the World". Our only concern was who the captain might be. We were told we would have the notice at dinner the day of departure. To our horror, it was Captain Smith!!

We never say him again until the "Night to Remember" his third and last mishap!

We were very fortunate for as a rule women and children are saved first but everyone had heard that the Titanic was unsinkable so refused to get into the lifeboats. Captain Smith was frantic and finally asked us ten brides and grooms to set an example and get in the lifeboat. It was frightening as the ship was listing so much we had to be literally thrown out to the lifeboat and lowered 84 feet. It was a terrifying experience for the crew (two young boys) had never been in a lifeboat before so didn't know about putting in the plug. Consequently, the boat soon filled with ice water up to our knees. Many people froze to death. The Carpathia came to our rescue in about five hours and we brides and grooms and many others were pulled up in the baskets on the the Carpathia. We never left each other, but just sat on the floor and shook. Finally one bride became very cheerful and told us about having had her fortune told in Cairo. She was told she would be in a shipwreck then an earthquake and finally an automobile accident. We all became more cheerful and realized we had to get to dry land sooner or later to be in an earthquake. It gave us a new lease on life and we could hardly wait to hear whether the Carpathia was going to a foreign country or New York. New York was decided upon and in four or five days we were on home land. I know you have read all about our arrival which was so sad for many and joyful for others.

I am sorry to say Mr. Snyder died of a heart attack on the golf course in 1959, one of the reasons I did not attend the Titanic meeting. Hoping to meet you some day. Sincerely, Mrs. John Snyder.

What a wonderful letter from two wonderful ladies. I am very happy to share this with my friends at Titanica. Cheers......Dennis
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Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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Great letter, Dennis...have you considered submitting the transcription so that it links to the Snyders' bio pages here?

But...

Secondly, when we arrived in Gibraltar, Captain Smith ran on a sand bar...Our next stop was Naples

Gibraltar? Naples? Smith? Not possible.

Three months before Titanic's sailing, E. J. Smith was captain of Olympic, which went nowhere near the Mediterranean. Only the New York/Boston to Mediterranean routes involved a call at Gibraltar, and by the time that service was instituted in late 1903, Smith was already well-set on the North Atlantic express service. He never, that I know of, commanded ships on the Mediterranean service.

The same, I think, is true of Henry Smith, also a White Star commander at the time; I'm quite sure that by the time of the Snyders' honeymoon, he was also on the North Atlantic, not the Mediterranean.
 
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Dennis Foley

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Jason: I have had the pleasure of having met maybe 10 or so survivors over the years, but Mrs. Snyder was not one of them. Dennis
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Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
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Hi Dennis-
That was a great letter. Thanks for sharing it. Hmmm... I wonder what Captain she was thinking of? And I wonder what her impressions were of her voyage many years later on the Santa Paula compared to Titanic; was she nervous? All points to ponder.
Mike
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I'm afraid the letter is more for the psychologist than the historian. The "ten brides and grooms" sounds imaginative. There were four married couples in boat 7, the Bishops, Greenfields, Snyders and Taylors. I doubt they were all recently married.

I wonder if Mrs Snyder had a hazy memory of an earlier Mediterranean cruise on Carpathia under Captain C A Smith. That would have had to be a couple of years before Titanic, but memory plays tricks. Has anybody checked the date of Mrs Snyder's marriage?
 

Julie Dowen

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May 12, 2004
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Dennis- what a historical contribution. Of course her words may be exaggerated; she was a woman of that flourishing era (or any for that matter!)and told the story, if going by the date of the letter, when she was 87 years old! I loved the part about the "bride who became cheerful" who, of course, is Mrs. Helen Bishop. From her bio -
https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/biography/29/

“An interesting, and tragic, addendum to this story began when Helen, in an effort to buoy the spirits of the people in lifeboat No. 7, related to them a story. While the Bishop’s were honeymooning in Egypt a fortune teller had divined her future. She would survive a shipwreck and an earthquake before an automobile accident would end her life. "We have to be rescued," she said, "for the rest of my prophecy to come true." During a later vacation in California an earthquake jolted the couple, fulfilling the second part of the Egyptian’s prophecy. Finally, on November 15, 1913, the couple was returning to Dowagiac from Kalamazoo, Michigan, in their motor car when it went out of control and struck a tree. Helen suffered a severely fractured skull and was not expected to live. She recovered with a steel plate placed in her skull, but the accident caused a change in her mental condition and their marriage suffered. In January 1916, the couple divorced."

This true story and encounter makes you think about the humanity in this tragedy - the spirit of life and will for immediate survival. Look at poor Helen Bishop, the whole prophecy came true within 19 months!

When Mrs. Snyder wrote: "It was frightening as the ship was listing so much we had to be literally thrown out to the lifeboat and lowered 84 feet. It was a terrifying experience for the crew (two young boys) had never been in a lifeboat before so didn't know about putting in the plug. Consequently, the boat soon filled with ice water up to our knees"

She may have been referring to George Alfred Hogg, 29, and Mr. Archie Jewell, 23, both deckhands and lookouts aboard the Titanic from Belfast, Ireland. There was also an able-bodied seaman from England, Mr. William Clifford Weller, 29, in lifeboat 7 who previously worked on Titanic's sister ship, Olympic.
 
Dec 13, 2006
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That was very disturbing about Captain Smith. Doesn't sound like a "much celebrated" person to me. Perhaps it was his old age and the fact he knew of his mishaps. I bet he was proably forced to retire (save face).
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I see a contemporary paper says the Snyders were married in January 1912, so the part of the story about going to Europe for three months makes sense.

The biography on ET mentions the ten brides and grooms, but doesn't identify the paper than mentioned them and I don't seem to have it.

The "Captain Smith" remains a mystery. It certainly wasn't E J Smith.
 
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