Miss Constance Willard

Constance Willard

Miss Constance Willard, 20, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 6 June 1890, the daughter of David Willard and Cora Day.1 She had four siblings: Irma (later McCall) (1880-1976), Paul Day (1882-1956), Eugenia (Jean) Florence (1892-1893), and Louis Gray (1894-1896).

In the 1900 U.S. Census it lists the family living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A. David as a lumber Dealer and Cora having no occupation, Irma, Paul, and Constance, are present In this census.  In the 1910 U.S.A. Census they are living in Duluth, St Louis, Minnesota,  David is listed as retired, and Cora and Constance are listed as jobless.

Miss Willard boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (Ticket Number 113795, £26 11s).

I had been reading in my bed late Sunday night... I had just shut my book when there was a tremendous crash. I sat up in bed. The crash was followed after a moment by a great trembling; then for a moment it was unnaturally quiet because the engines had stopped and with them the vibration. I had a peculiar sensation that something had happened which I had been expecting. I was not in the least alarmed.

I had an uneasy feeling so I thought I’d call the steward. There was no answer when I pushed the bell. I repeated it several times and then I kept it ringing. Finally he came into the room. His face wore a scared expression which struck me as rather funny. He told me I must put on my clothes and get out on deck.

At first, Miss Willard refused to get into a lifeboat, and so an exasperated officer said, "Don't waste time--let her go if she won't get in!" But eventually, Miss Willard got aboard. She was rescued, probably in lifeboat 8 or lifeboat 10.

I finally did get into the fourth from the last to leave the ship. There were only 15 people in the boat I was in and of these there was only one other first-class passenger. The others were five sailors and the balance steerage passengers. I shall never forget the sinking of the Titanic. We had not gone off the Titanic 20 minutes before she went under. The ship was lighted until it disappeared under the waves. Shortly after it had sank the cries of those in the water rent the air. (Duluth News Tribune, Duluth, 9 May, 1912)

In the 1920  US census Constance is listed living with her uncle Eugene Day, Aunt Mabel Day, and grandmother Lavinia Day living at 1540 west 8th street, Riverside, California, U.S.A. She was listed in the 1930 U.S census as a single 39-year-old women who was without a job living in Riverside, California, U.S.A and in the 1940 U.S. Census as a retired single woman who had completed 1 year of college.

In later life, it seems Constance suffered from mental illness and was hospitalized at Las Campanas Hospital in California.  She was remembered by a staff member as quiet, reserved and 'prematurely aged' with long white hair with several cats which were her sole companions.  When the hospital showed the film A Night to Remember she sat and watched impassively. She never talked about the sinking and on the 50th anniversary of the disaster staff at the sanitorium were instructed to avoid the subject and discourage reporters from trying to interview Constance.

Constance Willard never married, she died on 25 April 1964 in California.  Constance Willard was cremated in Compton, California, USA and her ashes were buried at Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.2

WILLARD

In Compton, Calif., April 26, 1964, Miss Constance Willard, late resident of 4310 Orange Street, Riverside, Calif.  Sister of Mrs. Irma McCall of Altadena, Calif., Paul Willard of Minnesota and Jean Adair Wortz of 4310 Orange Street, Riverside, California.  PRIVATE services will be conducted Tuesday morning at 11:00 o'clock in the M.H. Simons & Co. Chapel with Rev. Harold V. Harlsough officiating. Cremation in Evergreen Cemetery.  - Riverside Press, Riverside, California, April 27, 1964, page B-11

Her sister Irma McCall died in Minnesota in 1974.

Notes

  1. David H  Willard (1852-1935), son of Andrew Willard and Jane Temple, and Cora Day (1856-1919) daughter of john Wesley Day and Lavinia Gray.
  2. Her death certificate says she was buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Riverside, California. Possibly this was a temporary measure since the burial in Minnesota did not take place until 10 September 1964. 

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Pictures

Constance Willard Portrait
CONSTANCE WILLARD PORTRAIT
 

Articles and Stories

(1964) 
Hibbing Daily Tribune (1912) 
Chicago Tribune (1912) 
Chicago Journal (1912) 
Unidentified Newspaper 
Unidentified Newspaper 
 

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Comment and discuss

  1. David Willard said:

    Great site USA Email:willard1@pclink.com

  2. Brittany Perera said:

    Does anyone have any information on Constance Willard? I have already read her biography on the site, but any additional information would be extremely helpful. Thank you. Brittany

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  3. Andrew Maheux said:

    Brittany, There is a bit of info on her in the book, Titanic: The Great lakes Connections including a different photo. Andrew M.

  4. Mike Herbold said:

    Andrew: I've been by Ms. Willard's simple house in a nice old section of Riverside, California. Tried to locate her ashes at Evergreen Cemetery, which is only a few blocks down the road from where she lived, but, even with the cemetery director's help, never could find a record of it. Appears her ashes may have been left with relatives. Thanks for the info about the Great Lakes Connection book. For some reason I never got around to buying it. Now I will. Can I ssume it has some things about the Crosby family also?

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    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hi Mike, Their is a lot of good information on the Crosby family in the book. I have a copy of it and I would recommend it

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  6. Brian Ahern said:

    Does anyone know if Constance ever had any sort of career? I've always been interested in knowing what sort of life she led, since she's a rather shadowy figure in accounts of the voyage and sinking. And it's always struck me as strange that a 20-year-old girl was travelling alone in 1912. Wouldn't have been considered proper in many quarters. At least I assume she was alone. The only other Duluthans on board were the Silveys, and I've never seen any record of Constance knowing them. Any thoughts? Brian Ahern

  7. Ben Holme said:

    Hi Brian, Miss Willard was apparently travelling in the company of the Carter family of Philadelphia. Constance's aunt, anxious that her neice would be returning to Duluth alone, solicited the help of William Carter, who agreed to allow the 20 year old to accompany them on the return journey from London and across the Atlantic. Craig Stringer's excellent CD "Titanic Poeple" provides more detail on this. Strangely, neither Constance of the Carters mentioned eachother in later acounts, although they undoubtedly departed the sinking liner together on boat #4. Both Constance Willard and... Read full post...

  8. Peter Engberg-Klarström said:

    Dear Ben, I have seen the suggestion that Miss Willard left the ship in boat No 4, but her own story certainly doesn't match No 4 at all; from her story it can be assumed that she left in a boat more towards the stern, possibly No 10. But I don't really know. She is indeed rather sparse with details.... Peter

  9. George Behe said:

    Hi, Ben! >Strangely, neither Constance of the Carters >mentioned each other in later acounts, I have an interview with Miss Willard in which she described how Mr. Carter later told her about his own experiences on Collapsible C. (Carter said that Mr. Ismay regretted the presence of the Chinamen on his boat when so many "fine, valuable men" were being left behind.) Ironic, eh? All my best, George

  10. Peter Engberg-Klarström said:

    Hello George. Did she hint at what boat she actually was in herself?

  11. Brian Ahern said:

    Thanks for the replies. That's very interesting, Ben. I've never seen her name linked with the Carters' and wouldn't have guessed at it. I suppose her aunt must have befriended the Carters in Europe. Thanks again, Brian

  12. George Behe said:

    Hi, Peter! She said she "must have been in the eleventh or twelfth boat lowered" and that the boat wasn't very crowded. I'm afraid that leaves a lot of latitude for various interpretations. All my best, George

  13. Peter Engberg-Klarström said:

    Hello again, George. That is exactly the kind of information I wanted; I just can't see her in No 4, and she said in another interview that there were seven men and several children as well as about 20 women, which to me didn't sound much like No 4, particularly when she never mentions crewmen dragged out of the water or tying up with other boats or rescuing men from an overturned collapsible and so on. Thank you!! By the way, I don't think I have got your e-mail address....??? Best regards, Peter

  14. Ben Holme said:

    Hi Peter, Interesting. I, too, had originally accepted boat #10 for Miss Willard, that is until the story of the Carter acquaintance surfaced and made me re-think things. However, if there is no account of her presence in boat #4, and perhaps more crucially, there is no mention of the "stepping through the window" incident, then I would agree that boat #10 is a safer option. Like Mrs. Futrelle and Mrs. Holverson, she's a tricky one to assign, boat-wise. I know George had what struck me as very interesting thoughts on the mystery of Mrs. F's boat. Hi George, Fascinating insight into... Read full post...

  15. Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Brittany, I have just added the newscutting below to Miss Willards site - I think it came from Mark Baber some time ago here it is along with my printout on her: WILLARD, Miss Constance. Saved in Lifeboat number 4. London address: C/o White Star Line, 1, Cockspur Street, London, S.W. UK. Died 25th April 1964, and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery, Riverside, California. From Hibbing (Minn.) Daily Tribune, April 23, 1912) Miss Willard Tells Of Wreck Girl Well Known Here, Who was on the Titanic has reached St. Paul. St. Paul, Minn. - April 23 - Miss Constance, the... Read full post...

  16. George Behe said:

    Hi, Peter! >By the way, I don't think I have got your e-mail >address....??? You're luckier than other people. :-) My ET member profile contains my email address. (Just go to one of my messages and click on my name to reach the profile.) Hope you're well, old chap. All my best, George

  17. Anne Mac Gregor said:

    The "Irma McCall" that is mentioned as Constance Willard's sister is incorrect. In your "Family Information" section you list Constance's sister Irma with a DOB of 1881. The Irma McCall, who died in Long Beach in 1976 is my cousin and is not a relative of Constance Willard. My cousin Irma Taylor McCall was born in New Berlin, IL in 1899. Please correct this. Thanks, Anne Mac Gregor

  18. Martin Williams said:

    I have a particular fascination with the William E. Carters (rather worryingly, I even dreamt of Lucile Carter a couple of nights ago!) and I dimly recall having once read of some sort of connection between them and the enigmatic Miss Willard. Interestingly, therefore, it was purely by chance that I today stumbled upon some information which sheds light on their relationship. Miss Willard's aunt, referred to in a post above, appears to have been one Mrs F.J. Mackey, whom 'The New York Times' of 16 August, 1900, called 'so prominent in English Society'. Mr Mackey was an expert polo player... Read full post...

  19. Brian Ahern said:

    Interesting, Martin! I knew, from this thread, that the Carters were acquainted with Constance's aunt, but I had no idea the aunt was so well-placed. I had always wondered if the Carters had been cornered into escorting some hayseed across the Atlantic and if they were less than thrilled about it. I wonder how far their 'care' of Miss Willard extended. Did she dine with them? Was she much in their company, or did they merely check to make sure her dining companions, etc were not objectionable? Needless to say, I don't expect anyone to have the answers.

  20. Martin Williams said:

    Hi Brian Yes, I too was slightly surprised to learn that Constance Willard, from a relative backwater like Duluth, had connections with Society high-flyers like the Mackeys and the Carters. Then again, she obviously had SOME reason to be in Europe in the winter of 1911/12 and all the sources seem to agree that she had been visiting her aunt in England. That a provincial paper like the 'Advertiser' should remark on her presence in Leamington around that time seems proof positive that Mrs Mackey was the aunt in question - and my hypothesis that she met the Carters during that hunting season... Read full post...

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Credits

Günter Bäbler, Switzerland
Sam Kostichka
Phillip Gowan, USA
Don Lynch, USA
Delia Mahoney
Brian J. Ticehurst, UK
Mike Walton, USA
David R. Willard, USA

References and Sources

Minnesota, Births and Christenings, 1840-1980
US Census
The Riverside Press (Riverside, California) 27th April, 1964, Death Notice
State Of California Certificate Of Death
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Andrew Wilson (2011) Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived, ISBN1847377300
www.lakewoodcemetery.com
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2019) Constance Willard Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #318, updated 25th April 2019 09:49:08 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/constance-willard.html