Encyclopedia Titanica

Tells of his experience on Titanic

Interview with Titanic Survivor Emler Zebley Taylor

Morristown Gazette

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Elmer Z. Taylor, one of the rescued passengers of the Titanic ship, was a school mate and an intimate acquaintance of Mr H. L. Douglass, of Morristown, both having been raised in Smyrna, Del.  The following article from the Smyrna Times giving Mr Taylor's account of the terrible accident, will be read with interest:

Mr and Mrs H. D. Boyer, Mr Joseph H. Wright, Mrs C. E. Rowland, of this town; Mr Edgar Wright, Philadelphia, and Mr and Mrs Gove S. Taylor, of New York, composed the Smyrna contingent who saw the steamer Carpathia land with the Titanic survivors late Friday night and welcomed home and to safety Mr and Mrs Elmer R. [sic] Taylor, the only Smyrnians who were on the ill-fated ship.  All succeeded in getting passes to the wharf. The scene at the wharf, the big crowd assembled and the anxious suspense of it all will linger long in the memory.  Mrs George W Taylor, mother of Elmer Z. Taylor, and Mrs Joseph H. Wright went as far as Philadelphia, where they spent Sunday with the Taylors.  Mrs Taylor bore up well under the awful, nerve-racking exposure and fatigue.  She was but lightly clad when she left the sinking ship. Fortunately Mr Taylor had time to dress and wore his overcoat. The coat during that five hours wait in the life boat proved a great comfort to Mrs Taylor. All of their baggage was lost. After a few days stay in New York, they went to their home, 4130 Penngrove Street [Pennsgrove Street?], Philadelphia, and will visit Smyrna shortly.

Mr Taylor gives vivid description

The Philadelphia North American of Saturday gave a graphic description after an interview with Mr Elmer Z Taylor. The latter, after giving praise to managing director J Bruce Ismay for his courage and cool headedness in the manner in which he assisted the passengers to escape, going on to tell of his personal experiences.

"I was in our stateroom asleep when the crash came," said Mr Taylor. "My wife was reading. The jar awakened me, but it seemed very slight. Mrs Taylor was thrown forward and explained to me that she thought the boat had climbed up on something. Of course, the engines stopped almost instantly, and more out of idle curiosity than anything else, I dressed and went on deck. There was no confusion, although a few bits of ice could be seen scattered about. In the smoking room several games of cards were in progress, the players not enough interested in the fact that the ship had stopped to go on deck.

"I returned to my state room and found my wife dressing, and presently a steward came and told us that while there was no danger, everyone was ordered to Ddon life preservers and go on deck. I fastened one around Mrs Taylor and carelessly carrying one for myself, we went to the boat deck. At the time I thought I would not put mine on. It made me look too fat, but the officers insisted. Shortly after our arrival on deck I noticed that the ship listed a trifle, and with this realisation came that perhaps the damage was more serious than I at first supposed. Then came the order to take to the boats. Mr Ismay was standing near and I assisted him in loading the first two boats with women. The third boat was not near full when all the latter were accommodated and the third officer ordered "men in." That is how I happened to leave the wreck so early.   The fact of the matter is both myself and the other men who were in the boat were rather angry at being forced to remain out in the cold in an open boat for a few hours, as we thought, and then have to be hauled aboard the liner again. I can frankly say that had it not been for the insistence of my wife I should have remained on the ship, believing it the safest place.  It was approximately 30 minutes after the first crash when the third boat went over the side and the danger soon became apparent. The portholes along the vessel's side were just even with the water, and we could see how she was listing. From that moment the horror of the Titanic's fate gripped us. We realised that she was sinking. As we pulled away from the ship we could occasionally hear a bulkhead give way with a noise like a slight explosion.  The night was pitch dark, although the sea was as smooth as velvet. From our boat the Titanic was a beautiful sight – a blaze of light from bow to stern – yet we could not help realising how rapidly the icy sea was claiming her for its own.

Thre-quarters of an hour later the lights went out and the vessels doom was sealed. Everyone realised it. While we could see only the dim outline of the hulk in the darkness, we could see it settling. Suddenly it lunged forward, settled back, and a tremendous explosion occurred. The ship broke directly in the middle, the bow sinking almost instantly, the stern settling quietly beneath the waves with scarcely a ripple. The cries of pain and despair of the victims, as they struck the water after the stern sunk, will linger in my memory forever. The sound defies description as the unfortunate men and women struggled in the ice cold water. It continued for what seemed an interminable length of time, and then came a ghostly quiet.  We were left alone – a handful at the mercy of the wintry ocean. There was no demonstration among the women in our boat as the liner disappeared from site. They were remarkably calm and collected assisting each other in every way, uncomplaining.  Every eye was gazing over the vast expanse of ocean in hope that something might be sighted.  The treatment accorded us aboard the rescue ship was the most gracious, officers, crew and passengers alike, doing everything in their power to make us comfortable and lift the burden of our sorrow.    A number of the men passengers on the Cunard liner gave up their staterooms and berths to the women from the Titanic. Clothing was furnished and the kitchens kept running day and night to provide food for the sufferers." Mr Taylor, who is a mechanical engineer, estimates the speed at which the Titanic was travelling when it struck the berg at 22.75 knots per hour. He said: "Saturday we travelled 546 knots in 24 hours and at that speed the giant engines of the ship were making 75 revolutions per minute. Just before dropping off to sleep Sunday night, I took out my watch and timed the revolutions. They were identical with the day before..
Daily newspapers have been full of the horror of the Titanic accident which founded in mid ocean on the night of April 14th, after collision with an iceberg. Further revision of the lists, after the Carpathia arrived in Port showed that only 705 persons were saved.  This makes the death roll 1635, including some half-dozen who died from exposure. Of those who reached New York, one fourth were in hospitals Friday night, and many more under care of private physicians. The utter needlessness of the disaster was established in all of the testimony given before the United States investigation committee.  The Titanic's officers knew early Sunday evening that there was ice ahead. They discussed it and figured that they would be approaching the field about 11 o'clock. Yet Captain Smith was not on the bridge when the ship struck a half hour before midnight, and the huge liner was driving ahead at the rate of 21 to 23 knots an hour. This reckless speed was the prime cause of the horror, while the sacrifice of more than two-thirds of those aboard was due to the fact that for those 1600 human beings there were no lifeboats or life crafts.  Although few of the stories of survivors agree in details there is abundant testimony of the gallant courage of men who refused to live while women and children could be saved.

Over 200 bodies, some of which have been identified, have been recovered by the cable ship McKay Bennett. Among them is the body of John Jacob Astor.



Michael Poirier, USA


Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) Tells of his experience on Titanic (Morristown Gazette, Wednesday 1st May 1912, ref: #612, published 12 November 2021, generated 27th November 2021 05:34:55 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/tells-of-his-experience-on-titanic.html