Mrs Louis Albert Hippach (Ida Sophia Fischer) was born in Chicago, Illinois on 25 November 1866.1
She was the daughter of Edward Fischer (1823-1891), a painter, and Julia Boehm (1829-1907), both Prussian immigrants. She had two siblings: Edward (b. 1863) and Julia (1870-1923, later Mrs Albert A. Nachtway) and the family are shown on the 1870 and 1880 censuses living in Chicago.
She was married on 28 June 1888 to Louis Albert Hippach (b. 22 January 1863), a native of Fon du Lac, Wisconsin born to German parents and who was the co-owner and vice president of plate glass dealers Tyler & Hippach Co. The couple had four children: Robert Louis (b. 1889), Albert Archibald (b. 1891), Gertrude Isabelle "Jean" (b. 1894) and Howard Henry (b. 1896). The 1900 census shows the family living at Circle Avenue, Chicago.
Tragedy struck the family on 30 December 1903 when Ida's two elder sons had gone to a matinee performance of the musical Mr Bluebird at Chicago's Iroquois Theatre. During the show, sparks from an arc light ignited a curtain and a fire soon spread with all attempts to extinguish it futile. The 1500 capacity theatre had an estimated 2200 persons that day, and the scene soon diminished into chaos with people trying to flee, only to be trapped by blocked exits. Whilst various means of escape were found, the swell of people trying to leave caused many deaths as a result of crushes or trampling. An estimated 575 people died that day, Robert and Archibald Hippach among them. Their deaths were reported in the Chicago Daily Tribune on 3 January 1904.
HIPPACH--2028 Kenmore-av., Robert and Archie, aged respectively 14 and 12 years, beloved sons of Louis A. and Ida S. Hippach, nee Fischer, Dec. 30 1903. Funeral services Sunday, Jan. 3, 2 p. m., from Church of the Attonement, Kenmore and Ardmore-avs., Edgewater. New York Herald please copy.
The 1910 census shows Ida and her remaining family living at 7360 Sheridan Road in Chicago. She and her daughter were well-known in social circles and were also noted for being very fashionable and attractive women. Her 1912 passport describes her as standing at 5' 6", with fair complexion, blue eyes and black hair that was starting to grey.
A frequent traveller, Mrs Hippach had been abroad in Europe with her daughter Jean since January 1912. For their return to America they boarded Titanic at Cherbourg as first class passengers (ticket number 111361 which cost £57, 19s, 7d) and occupied cabin B18. They later claimed they had not wanted to board the ship, not trusting a maiden voyage, but White Star employees had told them that there was only one First Class cabin left, implying that everyone wanted to go on the ship. They felt lucky to get their ticket, only to discover that the ship was only partially full. "Everyone was saying Sunday evening that we were ahead of schedule and that we would break the records, " Mrs Hippach later recalled.
She and her daughter were asleep when the Titanic struck the iceberg. Ida thought the shock of the collision was mild and her daughter continued sleeping until the roar of the steam escaping through the funnels woke her. They put on their wraps and rushed out into the corridor and heard everybody asking, "What is that? Did you hear that?"
Ida heard someone say that they hit an iceberg, but no one was alarmed or thought there was any danger. She decided to go out onto deck because she wanted to see the iceberg as she had never seen one before. A passing officer told them to return to their room, "Ladies, go back to bed. You'll catch cold." They went back to their stateroom, but decided to dress and go back out into the corridor. They were told to return to their room and get a lifebelt.
Mrs Hippach and her daughter came onto deck as they were lowering a lifeboat. They thought they would be safer on the Titanic so didn't get into one of the earlier boats. They watched the officer try to get people into Boats 2 and 6, noting how few people were in each as they were lowered. Passengers talked to each other, at first saying the boat was in no danger. Then they were told the boat would stay afloat for at least 24 hours and that they were safer on deck than in the lifeboats. Later, they were told that the Olympic was near and some ship's lights were pointed out to her. Mrs Hippach had no clue that there were not enough lifeboats.
They were walking by lifeboat 4 as it was being loaded and Colonel Astor told them to get in, although he reassured them that there was no danger. Ida and her daughter clambered through the windows and entered the boat, finding that it had a couple of sailors. The boat had a small amount of water in it and a man that Mrs Hippach thought was a third class passenger jumped into the boat (although this was probably a crew member). The women had to help row away from the Titanic.
Ida Hippach now knew the Titanic was sinking because the upper portholes were so near to the water. She heard someone calling for the boat to return to pick up more passengers, but they did not dare. From their position, about 450 feet from the ship, they heard a "fearful explosion" and watched it split apart.
They rowed away, expecting the suction to pull at them. The lights all went out one by one then they all went out in a flash, except for a lantern on a mast. There was a fearful cry from the people in the water. They rowed back and were able to pick about eight men out.
In the morning they saw the Carpathia and they rowed about two miles to the ship. Mrs Hippach was taken aboard in a swinging seat. 'My, but it was good to be taken aboard and nursed.'
It was uncertain at first to family and friends back home whether they were saved; however by 17 April the Chicago papers announced their rescue. Her husband and son hastened to New York to meet them both. They arrived in Chicago on 21 April 1912 aboard the Twentieth Century Limited.
Tragedy was to again strike the family on 28 October 1914 when her younger son Howard was killed in a road accident when the automobile he was travelling in overturned into a pond in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. She and her daughter Jean were particularly close to each other, especially after so many personal tragedies, and the two remained seasoned travellers. Ships that Ida travelled on in later years included: Rotterdam, Albert Ballin, New York, and Aquitania. Countries she would visit included Belgium, Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom. At home she was a life member of the Audubon and Humane societies, animal welfare charities, and the German Altenheim organisation.
Ida and her husband later moved to 2808 Sheridan Place in Evanstown, Illinois and she would spend the rest of her life at this address. She was widowed on 30 May 1935 and for a time she and her daughter Jean again lived together.
Ida died in Evanstown on 22 September 1940 following a stroke. She is buried with her husband and children in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Her daughter Jean later died in 1974.