Who Knew Who Aboard Titanic


May 12, 2005
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On the Cassebeer thread, suggestions were made by Mike Poirier, Ben Holme and others that a separate topic should be started about "Who Knew Who" among Titanic’s passengers and crew. The subject could also be expanded to include info about which passengers and crewmembers were previously acquainted, socially or professionally. It would be great to dissect accounts, and identify especially those unnamed people who appear in survivor stories. Renee Harris has been suggested, May Futrelle and of course the suddenly popular Eleanor Genevieve Cassebeer, etc.

Edith Russell has been mentioned a lot already as having been one of the more social of Titanic’s first class women passengers. It isn’t surprising that her accounts are so well known to readers, since she was, in later life at least, probably the most media-active of survivors. Edith not only gave regular print, radio and TV interviews but she also wrote articles herself for numerous magazines and newspapers. Edith was feisty and ill-tempered but also very hard-working, funny and generous. She was surely an eccentric and became even more of one as she aged.

Her stories tend to deviate quite a bit from reality in her last years, due probably to failing memory but also because she was extremely bored by interviewers asking "the same damn questions," as she told one friend.

I’m working on an article on "Edy," as many friends called her in her younger years, for the Titanic Commutator, which Ed Kamuda will be helping out with, drawing on his personal correspondence with her over a period of years (and also sharing some funny anecdotes).

Now to Edith Russell’s shipboard companions and/or acquaintances. I don’t have all her accounts handy at the moment but the people she mentions the most are Robert Daniel, Phillip Moch, Bruce Ismay, and her steward, Robert Wareham (whose son, by the way, she befriended).

As others have pointed out, she also recalled (not always by name and to varying extents) Ramon Artagaveytia, the Walter Clarks, the J.J. Astors, W.T. Stead, Archie Butt, Frank Millet, Renee Harris, Lucy Duff Gordon, Washington Roebling, Frank Aks, Leah Aks, and a large number of merchants and buyers with whom she may or may not have known pre-voyage, These include Benjamin Forman (or Foreman?), Herman Klaber (she spelled it Klauber) and George Rheims. She also mentions an unnamed Gimbels buyer, a "number of Toronto buyers" who "were mostly lace and textile buyers," and a "young lace man" (unnamed).

Edith Russell (at that time Rosenbaum) was a fashion industry "insider," being not only a columnist and correspondent but a stylist and importer, so it’s no surprise she knew so many people.

Of the buyers she mentions, I’ve found information to confirm that she knew only George Rheims before boarding Titanic, but I wonder about Forman, since she knew him well enough to recognize him in the reading and writing room on April 14. She claimed in a letter to Forman’s brother that it was the first time she’d seen him en route, so the inference is they already knew one another. She made a lot out of her friendship with Lucy Duff Gordon but the two didn’t actually meet until they were aboard Carpathia. Edith, however, was on Lucile Ltd’s invitation list from the time of the opening of its Paris branch in April 1911, and she had written several glowing reviews of Lucile’s collections before boarding Titanic. The women continued their friendship into the 1920s; Lucy actually gave one of her last interviews before retiring from Lucile Ltd to Edith.

Edith’s most interesting and potentially controversial friendship was with Bruce Ismay, whom she seems to have known pre-1912. There was, and still is, much speculation about a romantic relationship between the two —— as humorous as that may be to those who only think of Edith as an old lady. Both Walter Lord and William MacQuitty believed Edith was involved with Ismay on some personal level. And Geoff Whitfield has interviewed Ismay’s family who’ve confirmed a friendship with an outspoken young American woman during the 1910-12 period. That sounds like our Edy!

Oddly (if it’s true there was an affair), Edith was also friendly with Mrs. Ismay, who sometimes invited her to lunch when she was in London!

I have not been able to get to the NMM but I know Walter Lord’s files contain two or three 1912 letters between Ismay and Edith. If anyone can help me find out more about those letters, I’ll be very appreciative!

Oh, in looking over Edith’s 1964 account in the Ladies Home Companion, I note that she mentions meeting several Swedish ladies on the boat train to Cherbourg. Would one be Margaret Frolicher? Were there other Swedish women in first class?
 
May 12, 2005
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PS) I just remembered that Edith claimed she met Robert Daniel at Cannes before boarding Titanic, so there’s another pre-voyage acquaintance.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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In terms of Swedish ladies, I was thinking more of Sigrid Lindstroem. (of whom I've seen very little).
 

Mike Poirier

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Thanks for starting the thread Randy. Do you notice, she always mentions Philip Mock, but never his sister? I wonder if she was angling for him?
 

Ben Holme

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Feb 11, 2001
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I'm grateful to Randy for persuing the idea of a seperate "acquaintaces" thread

While I'm familiar with many of Edith's accounts, I had little idea as to the extent of her shipboard social persuits! I was interested to learn, for example, that Edith was acquainted with Messrs. Roebling, Brandeis, Klaber, and Artagaveytia, amongst others.

Such little information survives extant concerning these elusive personalities that one cannot help but wonder as to the impression they may have left on the gregarious Edith Russell.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Another connection, is that the Comptons knew the two sisters, Mrs. Lewis and Anne Eastman. The two ladies of course ended up cancelling their passage on the Titanic.

Daniel.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Charles,

To be quite honest I have no idea where I know this from. It wasnt from a Compton account though. My memory has failed me once again as this has become "common knowledge" to me with no trace of its source. If I find where I read it I will let you know. Perhaps Craig Stringer might be able to help?

Regards,

Daniel.
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi, all:

Mike , thanks for your idea about Sigrid Lindstroem. I didn’t remember the name from the first class list. And till you brought it up, I didn’t notice that about Edith mentioning Phillip Moch, but you’re right. Edith may have been batting her eyes at him and Sis didn’t approve!

Ben, most of the people from Edith’s accounts are just those with whom she had passing conversations. Roebling, for instance —— she says he made a comment just after the collision that the ship’s bulkheads would hold and that all would be safe, etc. As to Archie Butt, they had no interaction but she claimed she saw a gun in his hand while he was talking quietly with others on deck. The mention Edith makes of Stead and Millet is interesting because she alleges she was on deck, looking over the scattered ice, when both men came out and stood nearby, talking to each other about the trouble. She gives a pretty plausible account of their conversation; Walter Lord’s reference in ANTR to Stead going back to read a book was taken from Edith’s memory of overhearing his chat with Millet.

So, yes, Edith made the most of her abilities as a journalist (and a gossip!) that night.

I wonder whom the Astors socialized with? It seems every survivor said they saw the Astors at some point, but one is left to wonder who really was close with them on the voyage. Col. Astor would have known a lot of the other wealthy men but how did their wives regard Madeleine? I haven’t done much looking into her Titanic story. I know it was widely reported that she, Eleanor Widener and Noelle Rothes shared Captain Rostron’s cabin after their rescue, so maybe they had made friends on Titanic?

By the way, Ben did you not receive my email about the Rothes graves? I just remembered I hadn’t heard back from you about it.

Randy
 
Jan 5, 2001
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The reference to the Comptons knowing Miss Eastman and Mrs Lewis comes from the New York World on April 19th 1912. The article was about an inquiry from a George Lewis, who was seeking news of his mother at the White Star Offices. Mrs Lewis had gone abroad as a friend and chaperone to Miss Eastman, and the article mentioned that the couple were travelling with the Comptons. Mrs Lewis was not the sister of Miss Eastman, but a friend of the family.
Hope that helps.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Craig,

I was looking for a mention of the Wilkinson ladies the other day. I thought that you had a reference on your CD to them, but could not locate anything. They appear on the 2nd Class on-board Passenger List.

I also looked for Mullen cross-channel ticket 404 £1. Are you able to tell me anything about this person?

Also I could not find fireman Thomas Hart, who I understand is not to be confused with the Liverpool Thomas Hart, who turned up at his mother's home and claimed that his Discharge Book has been stolen. Are you able to provide any information on Titanic's Thomas Hart, 49, of 51 College Road, Southampton? - I recall being told that his sisters received monies from the Titanic Relief Fund.

Any information would be appreciated.
Regards,
Lester
 
Apr 26, 2005
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Randy, I noticed that many of the people who did remember Mrs. Astor in their accounts/stories, made references (most of the time) to her whereabouts *after* the collision and very rarely before, except for very few people, like Edith Russell who said she chatted with the Astors on the tender at Cherbourg.

In what account by Miss Russell did she mention the conversation between Stead and Millet, and the reference to Mr. Roebling? Can this account easily be tracked down and obtained?

The very few references to Mr. Roebling I know about come from Miss Bonnell and her aunt.
 
May 12, 2005
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Charles:

The references to Stead, Millet and Roebling (and also to Butt and Harris) are in an "as told to" article published in Pageant Magazine in the 1950s. Normally this kind of story is punched up by the author but I have the feeling that in this case, writer Seymour Ettman did a creditable job, drawing information out of Edith Russell that she might not have used had she written the piece unaided. (Edith liked to be the "star" of the story, so she didn’t always mention those who were more famous than she)

I don’t know how common or popular this magazine was but some libraries should have it. When I have the time, I’ll post the story to ET. But in the meantime, for those in the US interested in ordering the article via inter-library loan, the full citation for it is:

Pageant Magazine, October 1953, Vol. 9, No. 4, "I Was on the Titanic," by Edith Russell as told to Seymour Ettman, pp. 76-81.

Here is an image of the opening pages.

edith_russell_magazine_1.jpg
 
Apr 26, 2005
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Thanks for the reference, Randy. Do municipal libraries usually agree to order this type of magazine for particulars? Is it an easy process? I'll definately try to get this.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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I wonder if Edy knew Bill Sloper as when you read their accounts about the last sunset, they are almost identical and both talking about being a crowd watching it.

Charles- the only people who come to mind of people who spent time or saw the Astors before the sinking were Helen Bishop and Madeleine Newell. I suppose if Helen and Madeleine spent time together, Nelle Snyder must have as well.
Perhaps the Harders. I've not seen too much from Nelle's point of view in the early years after the sinking- so I can't say if she mentioned the Astors.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Craig & all,

Thank you for confirming the Comptons and Lewis/Eastman connection. Actually come to think of it, wasn't Eastman a niece or a cousin of Lewis? I seem to think/recall that the two ladies were related in some way rather than just being friends?

It seems that Mrs. Astor moved in a circle of women her own age. Didn't Mrs. Snyder make some comment about newlyweds being together? I can't remember if she said this in reference to having cabins close together or that they tended to socialize together on the Titanic. Also, wouldn't Margaret Brown be a plausible candidate as she knew them before the voyage? She crossed with the Astors on the Olympic and also met up with them in Egypt?

Daniel.
 

Dave Gittins

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A group that's so obvious that even I know it was Archibald Gracie and his three friends, the sisters, Charlotte Appleton, Malvina Cornell and Caroline Brown. All were friends of Gracie's wife and Mr Appleton was an old school friend.

Through the sisters, Gracie met Edith Evans, their niece.

Some books give the impression that Gracie attached himself to the women like some kind of knight errant, but it was just an ordinary, friendly relationship.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Apparently, the Titanic and what could have happened, didn't put off Eastman/Lewis as I came across a 1913 passenger they were on for the George Washington.
 

Ben Holme

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Some other less-known passenger connections:

William Sloper, William Dulles, and William Hoyt were a trio of table companions (The Three Bills!)

Isaac Frauenthal was acquainted with Charles Natsch of Brooklyn.

Frederick Seward knew Hugh Rood, at least by sight.

I've heard it suggested that the Stengels and the Rothschilds knew eachother, but have yet to be satisfactorily convinced that the latter name in Stengel's clothing manufacturing company "Stengel and Rothschild" referred to the Martin Rothschild of Titanic fame.

A connection, of lack thereof, between the two couples might quickly be established by the existance (or not) of any surviving accounts in which Mrs. Rothschild makes reference to the Stengels or vice versa.

Best Regards,
Ben
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hello Lester,

I'm afraid that people who cancelled did not make it to the CD, although I have a file amoung my master copy. However, I can tell you that I have Mrs S. George Wilkinson (Mary), aged 40, and her daughter, Ada C, aged 18. They travelled, as you probably know, on ticket 39827. I'm not sure why the couple cancelled.

Cross-Channel passenger Mullen is a mystery to me. The second class passengers travelling to Cherbourg are a hard group to trace. Take the Rev Davies, for example. I have spent more effort on him than a little, but still don't know who he really was. Of the second class travelling Cross-Channel, I have information on Mr de Grasse, and Miss Kneese. It may interest you to know that Miss Kneese came from a rather well-off family, who had a hotel in Bournemouth.

Actually, thinking of who-knew-who I suspect that Thomas Dyer-Edwardes, and his wife, who were travelling to France, were probably acquainted with fellow Cross-Channel passenger, Gerard Noel, who lived not far from them in Gloucestershire.

Hope this helps
Craig
 

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