Mrs Maria Louisa Thorne Drew (née Christian)

Lulu

Mrs James Vivian Drew (Maria Louisa Thorne Christian) better known as Lulu, was born in Greenport, Suffolk, New York on 19 March 1878.

She was the daughter of Henry Paul Christian (1837-1927), a sailmaker, and Maria Louise Fisher (1849-1920), both native New Yorkers, and she had seven known siblings: Lillian (b. 1871), Jennie (b. 1873), Harry (b. 1876), Thomas (b. 1880), Fanny (b. 1885), Evelyn (b. 1890) and Irene Myrtis (b. 1893). Her father was a Civil War veteran and former member of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, also known as Duryée's Zouaves. One of her ancestors was a Captain in George Washington's artillery.

She first appears on the 1880 census as an infant living with her family in Greenport. The family would be living in Southold Township in Greenport by the time of the 1900 census and Lulu was still unmarried and without profession.

Lulu was later married to James Vivian Drew (b. 1869). James was born in Cornwall, England and emigrated to the USA around 1890 to be with his brother William John (b. 1864) who had emigrated a few years previously and they operated a marble monument business. Lulu and James would have no surviving children of their own; however, James' brother William had been married to Annie Eliza Brines and had a son named Marshall Brines on 30 March 1904. Annie Drew died within a fortnight of her son being born and Lulu and James Drew became surrogate parents to the child. The family, consisting of Lulu, her husband James, brother-in-law William and her nephew Marshall appeared on the 1910 census living in Southold Township.

James, his wife and Marshall travelled on the Olympic in the autumn of 1911 for a holiday to visit his relatives in Constantine, Cornwall. Their return journey to America was on board the Titanic which they boarded at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 28220 which cost £32, 10s). It is possible that they travelled with James Veal who was also a native of Constantine.

On the night of the sinking Lulu and her nephew had been in their cabin whilst her husband was up on deck. Following the impact with the iceberg James returned to the cabin, instructing them to dress and put on their lifebelts. He escorted Lulu and Marshall to lifeboat 10, bid them goodbye and stepped back into the crowd and she never saw him again.

Upon her arrival in New York Lulu vowed never to travel across the ocean again and she never did.

Lulu was remarried before the close of the decade to a native of Westerly, Washington County, Rhode Island, Richard Opie (b. 7 January 1885), a carpenter with his own business. The couple initially settled in Southold, appearing there on the 1920 census with Lulu's nephew Marshall before they relocated and settled in Westerly in 1925, living there for the rest of their lives, later living at Old Post Road in that town. She was a member of the Central Baptist Church and was also involved in various other clubs.

Lulu was widowed for a second time on 24 February 1970, following which her health deteriorated. She spent her last days in the Watch Hill Nursing Home in Westerly and passed away on 2 June 1970 aged 92. She was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Hopkinton, Rhode Island.
Her sister Fannie died in 1973 in the Bronx.


(Courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA)

 

Articles and Stories

New York Times (1986) 
Providence Journal (1970) 
Western Morning News (1912) 
Brooklyn Daily Times (1912) 
 

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Stephen Coombes, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
Brian Ticehurst, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK

References and Sources

The Westerly Sun, 3 June 1970: Mrs Opie, Survivor of Titanic, is dead at age of 92
Providence Journal, 4 June 1970, R.I. Woman, Survivor of Titanic, Dies at 92
Rhode Island Department of Health Certificate of Death

Link and cite this biography

(2017) Maria Louisa Thorne Drew Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #404, updated 26th August 2017 23:07:02 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/lulu-thorne-drew.html

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