Encyclopedia Titanica

Helen Monypeny Newsom

Helen Monypeny Newsom
Helen Monypeny Newsom

Miss Helen Monypeny Newsom was born in Columbus, Ohio on 30 December 1892.

She was the daughter of Logan Conway Newsom (1851-1901), a realtor, and Sarah Maybell Monypeny (1865-1955), both natives of Ohio who were married on 2 December 1885. She had one sibling, her brother William Monpeny (b. 1887).

Helen first appears on the 1900 census living with her parents in Columbus at the home of her maternal grandmother Maria Monypeny (1834-1920) but her father would pass away the following year on 28 June 1901. Her mother was remarried in 1903 to Richard Leonard Beckwith (b. 1874), also a realtor from Connecticut. The family soon settled in Manhattan and Helen was a graduate of Briarcliff Manor School there.

In early 1912 Helen, her mother and stepfather had been touring Europe. Helen had become romantically involved with a young tennis player, Karl Behr, and part of the reason for this trip was her mother's intention to deflect Helen's interests and discourage the match. For their return to the USA the party boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers (Helen travelling on ticket number 11752 which cost £26, 5s, 8d) and she occupied cabin D47. At Cherbourg they were surprised to be joined by Karl Behr, who had travelled to Europe to pursue his courtship with Helen.

On the night of the sinking the Beckwith party assembled on the starboard boat deck following orders to abandon ship. Here they waited with Mr and Mrs Edwin Nelson Kimball and were soon joined by Karl Behr. When Mrs Kimball asked Bruce Ismay who was then assisting the boarding of lifeboat 3 if they could all go, Ismay replied "Of course madam, every one of you." The Beckwiths, Kimballs and Behr therefore entered lifeboat 5 and were saved.

Helen was married on 1 March 1913 in the Church of the Transfiguration, Manhattan to Karl Behr. The couple resided in New York where Karl worked as an investment banker before managing other ventures. They had four children: Karl Howell (1913-2002), Peter Howell (1915-1997), James Howell (1920-1976) and Sally Howell (1928-1995, later Mrs Samuel Leonard Pettit).

Following Karl Behr's death in 1949 Helen was remarried to Dean Mathey (b. 23 November 1890) who was chairman of the board of the Empire Trust Company in New York and charter trustee emeritus of Princeton University. Mathey was also a close friend of Karl Behr and his previous tennis partner who had reached the US National Championships in 1910 and the final of the doubles in 1914.

Helen continued to travel frequently and made her home at Pretty Brook Farm on Great Road in Princeton, New Jersey in later years. She was a member of various organisations, including Stetney Champ Committee, the Colony Club New York, Present Day Club and Princeton Garden Club.

Helen died in hospital on 7 September 1965 aged 72 and she was buried in Princeton Cemetery in a private family plot. Her widower Dean Mathey later died on 16 April 1972 and her last surviving child, Karl Behr Jr, died in East Hampton, New York in 2002 aged 88.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Miss Helen Monypeny Newsom
Age: 19 years 3 months and 16 days (Female)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Single
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 11752, £26 5s 8d
Cabin No. D47
Rescued (boat 5)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 7th September 1965 aged 72 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Family Plot, Princeton, New Jersey, United States

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References and Sources

New Castle News, 28 February 1913
The Princeton Packet, 8 September 1965, 10 September 1965, Obituary
State Department of Health of New Jersey Certificate of Death

Newspaper Articles

New York Times (2 March 1913) TITANIC SURVIVORS MARRY
Boston Sunday Post (8 November 1914) Helen Newsom on her wedding day
New York Times (16 October 1949) KARL H. BEHR DIES; DILLON, READ AIDE
New York Times (8 September 1965) MRS. DEAN MATHEY, TITANIC SURVIVOR, 72
(8 September 1965) MRS. HELEN N. MATHEY


Helen Monypeny Newsom


Randy Bryan Bigham Titanic Review (2011) Starboard at Midnight, the story of survivors Karl Behr and Helen Newsom
Love at the helm: New Titanic title blends romance and history.

Documents and Certificates

(1965) Helen Monypeny Newsom (Death Certificate)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Mike Poirier

    Mike Poirier said:

    Is there any particular reason Sallie Beckwith tried to discourage Helen's romance with Karl Behr?

  2. Iain Stuart Yardley

    Iain Stuart Yardley said:

    Apologies in advance if this has already been mentioned on the board but I couldn't find anything. I was idly doing an archive research on Titanic for the New York Times and came up with this: August 13, 2002, Tuesday Paid Notice: Deaths BEHR, KARL HOWELL BEHR - Karl Howell, 88, died peacefully at home in East Hampton, NY, on August 10 from pneumonia. He was the son of Karl H. Behr and Helen Newsom, miraculous survivors of the Titanic. Born and raised in NYC, Karl graduated from Lawrenceville School in 1933 and Yale University in 1937. In World War II he served in the Navy as a... Read full post

  3. Colleen Collier

    Colleen Collier said:

    I hadn't caught this one. Thank you for passing it along, though sad news indeed.

  4. Darren Honeycutt

    Darren Honeycutt said:

    I hate to hear this, I had just received a letter from him several months ago but wasn't aware of his age. Thanks for posting this. Its another link to the Titanic that has left us.

  5. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Not another one! This is very sad news. Thanks for posting it Iain. Best regards, Jason

  6. Andrew Maheux

    Andrew Maheux said:

    I'm very sorry to here this Condolences to his family. Cordially, Andrew Maheux

  7. Magda Natalia Piotrowska

    Magda Natalia Piotrowska said:

    Does anyone know where can I find Helen Monypeny Newsom's photo (is her photo in net?)?

  8. Andrew Maheux

    Andrew Maheux said:

    There is a small photo of her in the book, Titanic: An Illustrated History. Andrew

  9. Heidi Salinger

    Heidi Salinger said:

    Greetings! How wonderful to find a place to be able to share information on such an intriguing subject! I am currently an actor with the TITANIC Exhibit in Tampa and my primary character is Miss Helen Monypenny Newsom. I have read that her son, Karl Behr Jr. resides in Lake Wales and I have been doing research to get in contact with him - I hear he is 90 years old. Anyone know any information on him? I'm wondering if he might have passed away. Or anyone know any interesting facts on the family? I'm very curious! Any help would be fantastic! I thank you all so much!... Read full post

  10. Darren Honeycutt

    Darren Honeycutt said:

    Karl Behr Jr. is no longer living.

  11. Heidi Salinger

    Heidi Salinger said:

    Oh Well, does anyone know if he has any children or descendants? Heidi

  12. Heidi Salinger

    Heidi Salinger said:

    > Might anyone know as well about a Carrie, Elaine, or Herman Behr whom all apparently live in or did reside in Lake Wales, FL? I found them while doing a search.. I know that Herman was Karl Behr's father... perhaps Karl Behr Jr. named his son after his grandfather

  13. Iain Stuart Yardley

    Iain Stuart Yardley said:

    Morning Heidi, If you go to his death notice lists his surviving children. Hope this helps, Boz

  14. Heidi Salinger

    Heidi Salinger said:

    Thank you, Boz. I'm very sorry to hear of this... has anyone ever been in contact with his surviving daughters? Heidi

  15. Tad G. Fitch

    Tad G. Fitch said:

    Re: I found in my collection of post cards a White Star Line boarding pass, 1 st Class for Miss Helen Monypeny Newsom. A picture of the Titanic or Olympic ship is on the front along with the company name ISMAY, IMIRE & Co. London and also White Star Line New York Boston. I do not know when or where I got this card from , it is not a post card. I would like to know more about this pass if I could.

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Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Alan Y. Schaevitz (Husband of James Behr''s daughter)