William E Carter II

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Kevin Yeager

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I've been interested in the Carter family that traveled first class on the Titanic. In school, we're doing these reports on passengers so I picked William "Billy" Carter II. I was wondering if anyone knew anything on them. My reports due on Sept 18. I hope someone can help me! Thanks
 
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Kevin Yeager

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I just read a message about Miss Lucile Carter and I had the middle names mixed up with the Older Carter and the younger Carter mixed up. I just want info on William Carter II, not the first! It is confusing with the names in that family though!
Kevin
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Hi Kevin,
As Andrew said, there is a good deal of information in his biography on this site. Apart from that, here are a few other tidbits.

William Thornton Carter, II was born September 14, 1900 in Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island and in his late teens went to England to study. He became a stockbroker and was quite a successful individual. He was not quite 6 feet tall and was slender with a long face, had blue-gray eyes, and brown hair. In photos of him in the 1930's his hair was already thinning significantly. By his first wife he had a son, Rudy, and a daughter Cintra. Later he married Ella deTreville Snelling who had two daughters by a previous marriage (one of them married a relative of Jack Thayer's wife). Ella died of throat cancer in 1984 at the age of 83 and barely 3 months later, William died suddenly of a heart attack on January 28, 1985 at his home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He was entombed in the family mausoleum in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

I hope some of the above is what you were looking for.

Regards,
Phillip
 
Apr 16, 2001
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William Thornton Carter II never liked to discuss the Titanic, and made it a point to carefully avoid researchers and others who were interested in his family's connection to the Titanic disaster.

However, William Carter's close friend Henry, who still lives in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, told me that William did "open up" to him about a few Titanic details that he knew were never shared with anyone.

On the subject of old cars, a passion both Carter shared with Henry, the discussion turned to the Titanic. Carter commented that his father's French Renault was lost in the sinking. Naturally, the conversation expanded and Carter related that the auto was brought aboard crated, and had been taken apart prior to boarding the Titanic in Southampton. Many historians believed the car was brought aboard assembled (as depicted in the Cameron movie) but Carter's own words dispute that belief. Carter was aware of the attempts being made to locate the Titanic, and quietly followed the latest developments. He did tell his friend that he doubted the ship would ever be found. Ironically, the ship was found seven months after Carter's death in 1985.

He also related the tale of how he parted from his beloved Airedale - a family pet to which he was very attached. He and the dog were constant companions and traveled everywhere together. He was saddened when he was forced to leave the dog behind - but trusted the assurances of John Jacob Astor who took charge of the dog and promised young Carter that he would look after him.

Carter also disputed the report that Astor placed a woman's hat on his head prior to boarding the lifeboat. He never wore a woman's hat off the ship at all. In fact, he stated that he wore the woman's hat after the Titanic sank. Feeling the cold, a hat was found in the lifeboat and Mrs. Carter placed it on her son's head to keep him warm. Then, the next morning, when William Carter Sr. watched boat #4 come alongside the Carpathia, he didn't recognize his son with the rest of the family. He called down to the boat's occupants inquiring about his son. Young Carter then removed the feathered hat and called up, "Here I am, Father."

Henry related that William told him that much of what he told him about the Titanic was "rare" and he knew that the remaining Carter survivor was extremely guarded about the subject and his family history. Henry went on the 1996 Titanic expedition to the wreck site with his wife, and brought along his scrapbook of photographs and articles that dealt with his old friend and their years together. When I first met him on the Island Breeze, Henry recalled that "'Ole Bill was a difficult fellow but if he trusted you, you were a friend for life. I didn't want to miss this opportunity to cruise out here, but I expect Bill to someday give me a few choice words about my decision. I'll just tell him that I thought they were going to bring up the old Renault!"

Mike Findlay
 
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Kevin Yeager

Guest
Everybodies information was great! That was the most information I had ever found on him. I do have a picture of him with his sister, lucile. I don't know what year that picture that was but that is the only one I have found of him. Thanks for the info!

Kevin
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Phil wrote:

>Apart from that, here are a few other tidbits.

Hi, Phil!

Good stuff -- as always!!

(Do you mind if I ask whose FBI file you'll be dipping into next?) :)

All my best,

George
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Thanks George--
As for the FBI files--I guess just who(m?)ever strikes my fancy at the moment :). Am still working to find a contact to help me get access to old KGB records-

Phil
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Another interesting Carter tidbit:

The Ellis Island records indicate that the Carter family arrived in New York City on the Olympic on April 3, 1912. Naturally, this could not have happened. Their names are crossed off on the original manifest indicating that they must have cancelled their passage on the Olympic very late. Their names remained on the passenger list and the records were adjusted when Olympic reached New York.

The Carters apparently delayed their stay in England for another two weeks in late March/early April, 1912, and decided to take the Titanic back.

Somehow I think that voyage on the Olympic two weeks earlier might have saved the Carter marriage (but certainly their manservant, Alexander Cairns, the two beloved Airedales, and the legendary Renault!

Mike Findlay
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Phil!

Re: the Carter family, I've heard there were some unusual parental allegiances among the Carter children. Is there any truth to the story that Lucile Carter favored the Brooke daughter over the Carter children?

(I know I'm taking a shot in the dark here, but I figured if anyone knew the truth about this matter it would be you.) :)

Take care, old chap, and have a great weekend.

All my best,

George
 

Ben Holme

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Feb 11, 2001
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Hi George,

Interesting. I'm sure Phil can help you with the "unusual parental allegiances" to which you refer, but it appears that there were factions, at least within the immediate Carter family (i.e. the Titanic Carters). This has been discussed here previously, but I gather this became particularly apparent following the parents' divorce. William Thornton Carter sympathized with his father while mother and daughter remained loyal to eachother. As a result, the descendants of Lucile (the Trowbridges/Reeves) have very little information and no photographs
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of Billy Carter.

If there is evidence of further parental alliances, I also would be interested as it would further suggest that this was indeed something elder Carters went in for.

Best Regards,
Ben
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Hi Ben,

You are absolutely correct. William T. Carter had a falling out with his mother, and although the two were cordial, they rarely saw one another.
Lucile Carter's eccentric behaviour as she aged also added to the "cool" relationship. Newport history is filled with memories of those who STILL remember her.

William T. Carter always believed that his mother was more at fault in bringing about the divorce - much of which had to do with William Carter Sr's escape from the Titanic. It actually bothered Lucile that the cream of Philadelphia and Newport society were snubbing her because her husband happened to be saved.

Lucile knew full well that her husband did not "desert she and the children" as she claimed in the divorce proceedings. Men were ordered to the starboard side while boat #4 was being prepared for launching. William Carter did leave the Titanic before his family but he certainly didn't know they were still aboard. Lucile used this fact to her advantage despite her husband's protests. William Carter Jr. knew the truth and therefore sympathized with his father.

Lucile Carter and her mother were closer, but there was still the accepted fact that Elizabeth Brooke (born 4/26/1916) was the "favored" child.

I still say the Carters should have taken the Olympic in late March 1912.

Regards,

Mike
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Ben!

Thanks very much for the additional information. Let's hope Phil G. will be able to fill us in on the rest of the details about the Brooke girl.

Take care, old chap.

All my best,

George
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Hey George,
I'll tell you what I can. Of course it is easy to say "yes" or "no" to a question like this but I don't think the answer is either. I've been in touch with all three branches and they are distinctive people. But I come away with the feeling that there weren't so many lines drawn in the sand where the children were concerned. As one of the W. T. Carter line told me--"it wasn't so much choosing his father over his mother as it was a young boy naturally needing a father figure around." Even today Elizabeth Brooke is very close to her relatives and the general family reminiscenses about old times together (among the children) are good. But--there are some hints that elements of the other side exist. I won't presume to know all of the emotions and reasons behind what I'm about to transcribe but the contrast of what is written is worth considering:

(Taken from the Last Will and Testament of Lucile Polk Brooke)

SECOND: I hereby ratify and confirm the gift and bequest I have made in my lifetime of all of my jewelry, and all my silver, glass, china, and all my household furniture and furnishings absolutely, to my daughter, ELIZABETH M. BROOKE.

THIRD: I give and bequeath--merely as a token of my love--the sum of Five thousand Dollars to my daughter, LUCILE CARTER REEVES, absolutely, if she survives me, or if she predeceases me, I give and bequeath the said sum absolutely in equal parts or shares to her children who survive me.

FOURTH: I give and bequeath--merely as a token of my love--the sum of Five thousand Dollars to my son, WILLIAM T. CARTER, II, absolutely, if he survives me, or if he predeceases me, I give and bequeath the said sum absolutely in equal parts or shares to his children who survive me.

FIFTH: All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, real, personal and mixed, of whatsoever nature and character, and wheresoever situate, including any and all estates over which I may have a power of appointment, I give, devise and bequeath absolutely and in fee simple to my executors and trustees hereinafter named, IN TRUST, nevertheless, for the following purposes:
(a) to pay all of the net income to my husband, GEORGE BROOKE, if he survives me, for his life, and at his death, or if he predecease me, then at my death, to pay the income to my daughter, ELIZABETH M. BROOKE, if she survive me, until she becomes forty years of age, at which time to pay, assign, transfer and convey the principal of my residuary estate, absolutely and in fee simple, to my daughter, ELIZABETH M. BROOKE."

There is much more--it is quite a long will--but the above gives a clue as to the contrast in what Elizabeth was to receive vs. the Carter siblings. Still it is worthy of note that she appointed her son, William Thornton Carter, II, as co-executor of her will, and that inarguably proves the esteem and trust she held for him even as she was dying (her will was written October 25th, 1934 and she died October 26th). And the fact that he served as co-executor seem to indicate a great degree of love for her--he was gaining very little materially by assuming the responsibility.

I hope this at least covers a little of what you wanted to know.

My best,
Phil
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Phil!

Absolutely! (Once again you've amazed me with the incredible depth and breadth of your passenger research.) :)

Thanks very much for sharing that information with us, old chap -- I appreciate it very much.

(Phil, are you *sure* you didn't study at the feet of Jack Webb...?) :)

All my best,

George
 
May 12, 2005
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All,

Isn't it at all possible that the Carter marriage was a problematic one to begin with? And that the gossip re: Billy Carter's survival was not the root of it? I ask because it seems, contrary to legend, that a goodly number of men who were rescued seemed to have managed successful marriages and careers after Titanic. That there were rumors is understandable but not all these men were seriously dogged by them. I think particularly of the two popular tennis players - Karl Behr and Norris Williams - who survived Titanic; they had quite exceptional careers and weren't thought meanly of, at least not to their detriment.

The Carter saga reminds me of that of the Duff Gordons who separated (possibly legally) in 1915. It has been bantered about in some circles (and it was hinted strongly at in a People Magazine piece not long ago)that the couple's troubles were Titanic-related.

I've no knowledge of the inner workings of the Carters' relationship but I know that the disaster was not the cause of the Duff Gordons' falling-out. If anything, the experience drew them together. It was a subsequent affair on Lucy Duff Gordon's part, during her stay in the US during WWI, that effectively axed the marriage.

I wonder if there were some similar problems in the Carter marriage?

Randy
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Randy,

The entire truth surrounding the Carter marriage and its demise will never be known for sure. There are conflicting reports that support both sides of the argument concerning who was to blame.

William T. Carter truly believed that his mother was more at fault and made this very clear. As others have tried to dispute, I didn't say that William severed his relationship with his mother. It just wasn't a close one - cordial and respectful. Being co-executor doesn't prove esteem or trust at all. Ruth Blanchard's mother put her in charge of her will but Ruth essentially had the duty of making sure that her younger brother Richard inherited everything.

William Carter always believed his mother rushed to bring about the divorce because of the persistent rumors that Mr. Carter deserted his family and happened to be saved. According to William, his parents generally had a good relationship until 1912. The cream of New York, Philadelphia and Newport society snubbed Mrs. Carter, and she was not too happy about it. Even after her marriage to George Brooke, she never fully participated in society functions as she did as Mrs. Carter. She always felt people were still secretly gossiping about her, and she often declined invitations so as not to give anyone the opportunity to speak ill of her. The home she rented in Newport still stands, but paled in comparison to the cottages she enjoyed prior to the Titanic.

Lucile Carter's personality changed as a result of the Titanic disaster and her son generally believed the experience was somewhat to blame. She grew more eccentric as she aged - much to the embarrassment of her son.

Regarding Behr and Williams...

Karl Behr was subject to the same ridicule that many of the male survivors endured. His late daughter, Sally Pettit, showed me letters that were sent to her father after the sinking criticizing his behaviour. One letter actually suggested that Behr bribed his way into a lifeboat. These allegations troubled Behr to a degree, but unlike some other male survivors, he did allow the gossip to envelope him. Frankly, he was not the least bit interested in what others thought. More than likely, his career sustained his position in society although his family was not part of "the cream".

R. Norris Williams did not suffer the criticism like his fellow male passengers. It was generally known that Williams survival was legitimate and that he happened to be saved because of his stamina in the 28 degree water. Mrs. Williams still has letters of congratulations that were sent to her husband after his rescue, in addition to expressions of sympathy towards the loss of his father. Like Behr, Williams' tennis career made him a national celebrity and nothing could tarnish the image apparently.

Interestingly, Behr and Williams played one another in Morristown, New Jersey, in the summer of 1915. No mention was made of their connection to the Titanic disaster - interesting.

Mike
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Randy wrote:

>Isn't it at all possible that the Carter marriage >was a problematic one to begin with?

Hi, Randy!

Yes, it's definitely possible (although at this late date we can never know for sure.)

>And that the gossip re: Billy Carter's survival >was not the root of it?

The gossip about Carter leaving the Titanic before his wife has always struck me as being especially unfortunate -- since he did not do so. In at least one 1912 interview Mrs. Carter freely acknowledged that her husband had seated her in boat #4 before attending to his own safety. Boat #4 was launched at around 1:55 a.m., but Collapsible C (containing Mr. Carter, and long thought to have been launched at 1:40 a.m.) did not actually leave the ship until around 2 a.m. It must have been particularly galling for Mr. Carter to have to put up with criticism from people who were misinformed about the truth of the matter.

Randy, have there been any late developments on the possible publication of your Duff-Gordon book? (A lot of people out here are keeping their fingers crossed.) :)

Take care, old chap.

All my best,

George