Twenty-five dollars is the estimate put on the damages suffered by one survivor of the Titanic. It is the amount the White Star line apparently considers a fair compensation for long hours of fatigue in a lifeboat, for the loss of clothing and money—all in the world perhaps; for maimed hands and frozen feet and limbs.
It is the sum paid Annie Kelly, a pretty, young and unsophisticated Irish girl, who was one of the last women to leave the sinking ship. And, for this sum, a receipt was obtained while the young woman was in a semi-conscious condition, her had guided in signing the document by a representative of the company, releasing the company from further liability.
Miss Kelly arrived in Chicago half dazed, with little memory of what had happened to her. She was shipped more like a piece of freight than a human being, to her relatives, the Misses Anna and Mary Garvey, 303 Eugenie street. When rescued she had nothing to clothe her but a thin combination suit, a pair of stockings and slippers, and a coat she had put on when she hurriedly left the Titanic to take her place in the lifeboat.
Struggling to speak, her arms and legs purple and swollen from being frozen, unable to feed herself because of partial paralysis, due to her experiences, the young woman said today:
Bills Pinned to Underwear
I found $25 pinned to my underwear this morning. I had not observed it before, and it all came back to me at once that I had signed some kind of a paper in the hospital.
“I thought I was signing my ticket for Chicago. Four men came to my bed in the hospital and told me to sign something. I couldn’t write—even yet I can not feed myself.” She exhibited the swollen, purple hands and arms—“so one of them held my hand while I wrote. I was so very tired, even that seemed an effort.
“Then one of the men pinned something on my clothes lying on the bed. I had really forgotten the incident until I found the money. I wondered why there were four men, but they said they were witnesses. I asked them if I would get to Chicago to my sisters and cousins and they said, ‘Oh, you’ll get there all right.’”
“But I didn’t leave as soon as I thought I would. It seems there was some misunderstanding about the steamship company paying the sisters of St. Vincent’s Hospital where I was taken for attending me.
Put on Train Scantily Clad
“When I finally left I was so embarrassed I huddled into a seat in the train. It was awful to start on a journey sick but to be almost without clothes was worse. I had a simple undergarment, my shoes and stockings and a cloak my mother bought for me in Ireland. It has no sleeves and my bare arms showed. I was deeply humiliated. An actress, Miss Stella Donnelly of Cincinnati took off part of her clothes and gave them to me, and another girl, Miss Anna McGowan, who was the only other one of seventeen girls who were saved from the steerage, cut the waist from her dress and gave me the skirt.”
Annie Kelly is destitute. With the exception of the $25, she has no money, and is without employment or clothing.
Chicago Daily Journal, Wednesday, April 24, 1912, p. 1, c. 2 (item, with photo, p. 2)