Frank and Anna Warren were the only first class passengers on the Titanic from the state of Oregon. They were returning from Europe after a three month celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary. Frank Warren may well have been the only passenger on the Titanic to have a town named after him - Warrendale, Oregon. Warrendale was home to a fish cannery owned by the Warrens located on the Columbia River.
The Warrens legacy on the Titanic has often been overlooked. But a letter written by their daughter Frances just weeks after the sinking sheds incredible light on the tragedy and the intense heartache that followed.
The letter was written from their Portland home. It is addressed to friends that Mr. And Mrs. Warren had traveled with in Europe. The letter is post marked May 20th 1912. Frances thanks them for their loving sympathy at this time. She is sharing news of the tragedy with them since those who because of life long friendship or main attachment almost had a right to know those last hours.
She mentions that on that tragic her mother and father had quickly left their stateroom when word of the accident reached them. On their way to the boat deck they met Helen Ostby who was looking for her father. They encouraged Helen to join them. Helen would never saw her father again. When they arrived at the boat deck they found very few people on the starboard side of the ship. There was no panic from any of the passengers and they had no reason to suppose there was not room for all in the boats. Mrs. Warren was the second person put into her boat . But while being put in she caught a limb. While trying to free herself in the utter darkness amid the deafening roar of escaping steam she saw her husband turn back to assist other women and children who had climbed to the deck. She managed to free herself and while the boat was being lowered that awful seventy feet to the water, not filled to its capacity she believed her husband must be in the other end of the boat. She called out his name. He never replied.
On the Carpathia she clung to a false hope. She believed the Titanic had carried 30 lifeboats. And while the Carpathia had picked up 13 she prayed that some other ship had rescued the remaining. She didnt learn until arriving in New York that there were never 30 lifeboats and no more survivors.
Mrs. Warren and Helen Ostby did have some good fortune on the Carpathia. Helen found two friends on their honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Chapin, who offered them the beds in their stateroom while many others had only the floor to rest on.
Frances in writing the letter not only shares the tragedy from her mothers eyes but hers as well. The cruelest thing for us was the suppression of news that first Monday. Our first intimation of the tragedy came from the morning paper which I not being able to sleep Sunday night, got up and read at 6 A.M. We were in hourly communication with N.Y. all day. Every telegram offered congratulations and assured us absolutely that every life had been saved. When towards night, the truth came in an awful flood, George (her brother) had barely time to make the evening train. The next morning her mother was reported as being on the Carpathia and Frances too set out for New York. The Carpathia docked on Thursday night. Frances and her brother arrived on Saturday five hours apart. She found it hard to forgive the erroneous reports and had the truth been told at the start we could have reached Mother Friday. She and her brother were grateful that their mother had been taken care of by a school friend of Frances who gave her mother a daughters care until they arrived.
Frances made the trip home with her mother. Brother George went to Halifax hoping their fathers body would be recovered. George waited in vain for two weeks and then made trip back to Oregon alone. Frances writes poignantly: I feel perhaps it is best and weeks of waiting have ended thus - that my father sleeps where he gave his life so bravely. He loved the sea & was never so happy as when on it.
She writes of her mothers courage and how she is trying to meet life as father would have her. She ends the letter with touching words about her father.:
Because you were there with them I wanted to write you myself this letter. I am so glad they had these last three months alone together as they shared their fortieth anniversary. It sometimes seems as if this ending must be an evil dream and that we can not have lost our father, friend and comrade. Such he was to each of his children.
He gave up his life as nobly as he always lived it and we are trying to be worthy of our heritage and in as brave a way face this overwhelming sorrow and help mother bear it.
It was all so unnecessary - such wanton waste of human life. But of that I cannot write.
Our hearts are full of gratitude that mother is spared to us.
Again with sincerest thanks - ever sincerely yours, Frances E. Warren.
Little has been written about the only first class couple from Oregon who sailed on the Titanic. But this touching letter gives an amazing perspective of how horrible the tragedy was and how remarkable the Warrens were.