Laura, if you go to the home page of this website, you can scroll down and find a link to biographies of every passenger and crewman who was aboard the Titanic. You can also read all the threads that talk about these people to learn more.
The following is a passengers list from the SS Germanic, on which it appears that the Astor family returned from a family trip to Europe in 1878. 14-year-old JJ is mistakenly recorded as "I.I." Astor, but this would definitely be him, judging from the names of the rest of the family.
It must have been a fairly gala crossing, as Vanderbilts, Laniers and other prominent New Yorkers were also on board (though this was before JJ's mother relented and started noticing the Vanderbilts).
A look at JJ's mother's "400" list shows J. Clinch Smith was on it. I think I'd read that he was, but this confirmed it. Two interesting misconceptions about the list: the people on it were not necessarily the oldest families in New York. There are at least a few arriviste names there. Also, it was not only open to WASPs. Catholic families like the Carrolls and the Iselins made it. The list is below:
Of special note, one couple on it was Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Rhinelander Robert. This was the same family that Catherine Beatrice Cheape, sister-in-law of Margaret Ismay and victim of the Empress of Ireland, married into (then divorced out-of).
Also on the list were Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Mills. I want to re-peruse the list of Carpathia passengers because I think these people might have been on it.
Hello again Mike - you're right about TJ Oakley Rhinelander. A clipping in Phil Gowan's article on the American Ismays reveals that this was old J. Bruce's groomsman.
And, of course, Anne Tracy Morgan (JP's daughter, for anyone who doesn't know) was on the list, which I neglected to mention.
Also on the list were Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Rhinelander Jones. These would have been Edith Wharton's brother and sister-in-law. I LOVE turn of the century literature and LOATHE Edith Wharton, but we won't go into that here (except to say that I consider her an arrogant prig, who spent the decades after she'd become an expatriate railing against an America she was too sheltered and too much of a snob to ever get to know and this shallowness is reflected in the quality of her work).
What is relevant here is that there is another shipwreck connection to the 400 list in that Mr. Jones's and Mrs. Wharton's maternal aunt, Eliza Edgar, and her daughter died when the luxurious "Ville de Havre" went down in November of 1873. Also lost was their brother's fiance, Caroline Hunter, and her parents.
Actually, JJ Astor must have been related to Edith Wharton somewhere along the line, since the Astors, Rhinelanders, Schermerhorns and Joneses were all intermarried. Of course, the Astors were more nouveau than any of these other families and had to do some work (i.e. marry them) to get onto an equal footing with them. And it's been theorized that the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" relates to the Joneses of New York, but, hmmmm...
Thank goodness I'm mature enough not to have felt the need to seize this opportunity to go on my little Edith Wharton rant, which would have been completely irrelevant and misplaced here...
I went to primary school who is APPARENTLY great granddaughter to "Mrs Astor" but I dont know which one, I would LOVE to see how she was related to the Astors' if anyone has an Astor family tree. Thank you.
I saw the Beechwood estate featured on TV, I want to say it was A&E's "America's Castles" series. Gorgeous place. I don't think A&E does the series anymore. There still is a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel somewhere in NYC, right?
Here is the Beechwood's new website. New management came in a couple of years ago and the place is really doing well now- 25 years as a museum. I happened to stop in one day when the entry floor was being replaced. It is not one of the Newport Preservation properties so it is good to see the money is at last coming in to restore the rooms properly. The tours with costumed characters from the past are not to be missed. http://www.astorsbeechwood.com/
I saw a very interesting Biography Classics documentary about the Astor family on the Biography Channel today. It was updated to reveal Brooke Astor died in 2007. She was actually one of the interviewees along with other descendants.
I was fascinated by the rise of this family dynasty.
I don't know if it has been flagged on the board already but a new tome, guaranteed to whet the appetites of 'Society' afficianados like me, is shortly to hit the shelves. Written by Greg King, it takes as its focus the New York of Caroline Astor and her cronies - territory already covered in great depth by authors such as Eric Homberger (in 'Mrs Astor's New York') and Jerry E. Patterson ('The First Four Hundred') but which always rewards further exploration. King already has a biography of the ill-fated Tsarina Alexandra to his name, besides an in-depth study of life at court in the twilight years of Imperial Russia, and I can vouch for his well-researched, lively and informative style. Anyway, his new work is called 'A Season of Splendour' and I attach a link to its listing on Amazon below:
Here is my favourite photograph of Colonel Astor's exquisite first wife, Ava Willing Astor, who was widely held to be the most beautiful woman in American Society in the first decade of the twentieth century. Described by one writer as 'pathologically social', Ava scorned her husband (whilst freely spending his millions) and made no secret of her distaste for his company.
Ava treated her son Vincent with great coolness (if not downright cruelty, reportedly shutting him in a cupboard and 'forgetting' to let him out again) whilst her daughter Alice was reputed not to be an Astor at all.
One imagines that, by 1911, and like Maxim de Winter in Daphne de Maurier's Rebecca, the colonel was more than ready to concede the appeal of a gentle and comparatively unsophisticated debutante like Madeleine Force. One only wonders what the other first-class women aboard the Titanic made of her during the voyage. Many of them had known Ava for years and the new bride (heavily pregnant, too) must surely have felt very nervous under their scrutiny.
My pleasure. But, in fact, I didn't have to dig very deeply at all. The sheer volume of information relating to prominent (and even not so prominent) Titanic personalities now available on the internet is astonishing. Ava Astor was one of the most high-profile women of the era, despite being almost entirely forgotten today, and her every activity was extensively documented. There is enough material about her in the public domain for a full-length biography - who knows, I might try my hand at it one day! As you'll know, she eventually remarried Lord Ribblesdale, the quintessential Edwardian aristocrat, who was the subject of one of John Singer Sargent's most famous portraits:
Oh, and the article I attached above from The New York Social Diary gives a truly wonderful and illustrated over-view of the kind of landscape and milieu inhabited by so many passengers - Astors, Wideners, Carters et al - in Newport in the first few decades of the last century.