Encyclopedia Titanica


Mother and Daughter Tell How Young Trentonian and London Friend Excelled in Gallantry and Cheerfulness in the Time That Tried the Souls of All Aboard the Sinking Liner

Trenton Evening Times

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That Washington A. Roebling 2d only son of Charles G. Roebling, the president of the John A. Roebling Sons Company, would display both great calmness and great courage, in the face of imminent peril, was the confident expectation of those who knew him best. It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that he was one of the most chivalrous of the younger heroes of the Titanic disaster, and numerous survivors are relating tales of how both he and Stephen W. Blackwell, son of ex-Senator Jonathan H. Blackwell, scorned places in the lifeboats. The Times told yesterday of the adieu that young Roebling calmly bade Miss Caroline Bonnell of Youngstown, Ohio, after he had aided in putting her into a lifeboat. A more detailed story of his work is now related by Mrs. William T. Graham, wife of the president of the American Can Trust, and her 19-year-old daughter, who tell graphically of the quiet heroism of young Roebling and Howard Case, a young Londoner. Roebling and Case aided in saving Mrs. Graham and her daughter, and worked energetically against time to save other women and children; then, according to Mrs. Graham they went to their death, with smiling faces.


A reporter met Mrs. Graham and her daughter, yesterday afternoon just as they were departing for their home in Greenwich, Conn. Both appeared to be in good health, though nervous and excited. They spoke in the highest terms of Mr. Roebling and Mr. Case, and said that it was hardly conceivable that man could be so gallant and calm. This is Mrs. Graham's story:

"My daughter and I had a stateroom on the port side, near the stern, and we were awake, although in bed, when the iceberg was struck. It was a grinding, tearing sound. We didn't regard it as serious. I dressed lightly, but my daughter tried to go to sleep. "With us, in an adjoining bedroom, was my daughter's companion, Miss E. W. Soutes (sic), a teacher. She was the only other member in our party and was later saved with us. She got up, too, but my daughter insisted that the danger was imaginary and told us to go to sleep. "Shortly after there was a rap at the door. It was a passenger we had met shortly after the ship left Liverpool - Washington A. Roebling, 2d. He told us that it would be best to be prepared for an emergency. I looked out of my window and saw a big iceberg. We lost no time getting into the saloon. In one of the passages I met an officer of the ship. "'What is the matter?' I asked him. "'We've only busted two pipes,' he said. 'Everything is all right; don't worry.' "'But what makes the ship list so?' I asked. "'Oh that's nothing,' he replied, and walked away.

"On the deck we met Howard Case. We had been introduced to him. We had had many pleasant talks with Mr. Case and I asked his advice, because I had already seen one boatload of passengers lowered and I wanted to know if it would be safer to stay on board. Mr. Case advised us to get into a boat.

"'And what are you going to do?' we asked him. "'Oh,' he replied. 'I'll take a chance and stay here.' "Just at that time they were filling up the third lifeboat on the port side. I thought at the time that it was the third boat, which had been lowered, but I found out later that they had lowered other boats on the other side where the people were more excited because they were sinking on that side. "Just then Mr. Roebling came up too. He told us to hurry and get into the boat. Mr. Roebling and Mr. Case bustled (sic) our party of three into that boat in less time than it takes to tell it. They were both working hard to help the women and children. The boat was fairly crowded when we three were pushed into it. A few more men jumped in at the last moment, but Mr. Roebling and Mr. Case stood at the rail and made no attempt to get into the boat. "They shouted good-bye to us, and -- what do you think Mr. Case did then? He just calmly lighted a cigarette and waved us good-bye with his hand. Mr. Roebling stood there, too - I can see him now. I am sure that he knew that the ship would go to the bottom. But both just stood there. "I counted our fellow passengers. We were thirty-four, including two sailors, two ship's boys and a half a dozen or more other men. The men didn't say a word. The women quarreled a little because some of them didn't have room to sit down. Then there was a long argument as to how far we should go out. Some seemed to think that we ought to stay very near, because, they said, the ship wouldn't sink anyway.

Others were in favor of going away out. "The trouble was that there was no one in command, and the two sailors couldn't do much. The men were silent, and that is why the women did most of the talking. There were sixteen oak locks in our boat, but we lost three oars right off because those who handled them didn't know anything about rowing. Then I took the oar myself. I don't think I helped very much. I was snappy cold, and I was dressed very lightly. Everybody seemed rather dazed, but not so very excited. That came later. "We went out about three-quarters of a mile, I think, following another boat which carried some green lanterns. That was the only thing we had to go by. Behind us the lights on the Titanic went out, and in an hour and a half the big ship went down. It was in that hour and a half that the passengers got their fright. We couldn't tell what was going on, on the ship - but those shrieks and cries! I'll never forget them. And there were many shots. I don't know how many. "I saw many dead. That was frightful. I saw Mrs. Harris on the Carpathia . She appeared dazed and didn't say anything. I saw Mrs. Astor too. She didn't appear ill when I saw her. Throughout the journey to New York I didn't see Mr. Ismay. You see, he remained in his cabin." Mr. Graham, at this point, asked his wife whether she ever wanted to go abroad again. "Never," she replied, without hesitating. "And how about you, Margaret?" he asked. "Well," replied the daughter, hesitating a moment, "at least not immediately."


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2011) ROEBLING AROUSED SLEEPERS TO FLIGHT AND SCORNED TO SAVE HIMSELF (Trenton Evening Times, Saturday 20th April 1912, ref: #12640, published 12 May 2011, generated 8th August 2022 01:16:25 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/roebling-aroused-sleepers-to-flight-and-scorned-to-save-himself--12640.html