Mrs Martin Rothschild (Elizabeth Jane Barrett)1 was born on 10th February 1858 in Watkins Glen, Schuyler County, New York, the fifth daughter of James William Barrett (an English born innkeeper) and his Irish born second wife Mary2.
Elizabeth Barrett (a devout catholic), was married to the New York clothing manufacturer Martin Rothschild (a Jew) by Father Gallagher at Holy Name Church, New York City, on 2nd June 1895. Martin Rothschild was the uncle of writer and poet Dorothy Rothschild, later Dorothy Parker (1893-1967).
The couple, who were childless, lived at 753 West End Avenue, New York but travelled extensively.
They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as first class passengers (Ticket No. PC 17603, price £59 8s).
Mrs Rothschild was rescued in lifeboat 6 along with her Pomeranian (one of three dogs that were saved from the Titanic). The dog had apparently gone undetected during the loading of the lifeboats, and during the night as no survivors remembered the canine until the morning of rescue. When the lifeboat came alongside the Carpathia, crew members at first refused to take Mrs Rothschild's dog. She protested that she would not leave the lifeboat until her dog was placed safely in her lap. She held the dog and was hoisted aboard the Carpathia. It was not highly publicized that Mrs Rothschild's dog had been rescued - largely due to the fact that her husband had gone down with the Titanic. The fate of the dog remains a mystery, descendants of Mrs Rothschild claim that it was killed in New York during a fight with another dog, while Argetsinger and Ellison (1995) record that the dog was killed under the wheels of a carriage amidst the confusion at the dock after arrival in New York.
Every summer she would return to Watkins Glen to stay in house she kept there (at the northeast corner of Porter and Eighth) and to visit relatives, she was always driven around town in a large, black Packard - complete with chauffeur. Residents of Watkins Glen remembered that while Mrs Rothschild lived comfortably, she never forgot those who less fortunate. She was extremely generous with her money and was especially fond of children. She frequently dressed in black (mourning her lost husband) but always wore a smile that was unmistakable. She was accompanied in later years by a female companion named Mary Walsh. Descendants recall their Aunt Lizzie coming for thanksgiving dinners with Ms Walsh and a small dog in tow.
Her brother Thomas Barrett became a Roman Catholic priest and was active at St. Mary's of the Lake Church, Watkins Glen, New York in the 1920s. When he came to live with Elizabeth in East Orange, New Jersey they maintained a private chapel. According to descendants this was the only such private chapel in the whole United States and was maintained with the permission of Pope Pius XI himself. An indication of how active Mrs. Rothschild was in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark and New York may be found in the fact that, in 1941, she was awarded the Papal Distinguished Merit Cross.
In 1921 Elizabeth helped to extend St. Mary's Cemetery in Watkins Glen with the purchase, for $1,000 of an acre plot of adjacent land. She also contributed to the paving of the cemetery road. When she died in East Orange, New Jersey on 29th October, 1943 she was buried at the impressive (and only) mausoleum in the tiny cemetery. The mausoleum also contains a memorial to her lost husband.
The beautiful mausoleum, of Gothic style enhanced by Grecian columns, is considered one of the finest in the region. The exterior is of Barre granite quarried in Barre, Vermont. Two large bronze topped urns flank the entrance. The interior is of Vermont marble from Proctor, Vt. Handsome bronze gates of lattice design permit a view of the crypts and the altar over which light comes in through a stained glass window. An antique oriental rug is on the floor and a kneeling bench, out of reach, stands ready for prayer.
The three foot bronze plaque before the altar tells the story. Martin Rothschild, born in 1865, died April 15, 1912 at sea in the "Titanic" disaster. Engraved on the bottom of the plaque: "Be thou faithful unto Death, I will Give You a Crown of Life." (Argetsinger & Ellison 1995)
Her requiem mass was conducted by Archbishop Walsh of Newark, a close personal friend of Mrs Rothschild's. It was Walsh who on 30th August, 1931 had consecrated the cemetery in which she would be laid to rest.