Encyclopedia Titanica

Margaret Bechstein Hays

Margaret Bechstein Hays
Margaret Bechstein Hays

Miss Margaret Bechstein Hays was born in New York city on 6 December 1887.

A resident of 304 West 83rd Street, New York City she boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg. She travelled with Lily Potter and Olive Earnshaw. Olive and Margaret had been school friends at Briarcliff School in New York.

Olive and Margaret shared cabin C-54. Their self-appointed "escort" Gilbert Tucker took cabin C-53. Mr Tucker had met the three ladies during their travels and fell immediately for Margaret. A handsome man, Cornell University graduate, and a 31-year-old bachelor, he had travelled with his parents and sister to Europe but left them to head home earlier than planned to spend more time with Margaret.

On the evening of April 14 the three ladies were in bed when the Titanic collided with the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. Soon after, the engines stopped and Olive and Margaret went to Lily Potter's room. Lily ordered them to go out and see what the trouble was. About ten minutes later, they reported: "We have hit an iceberg but the steward told us we should not worry and should go back to bed." Miss Hays apparently thought little of the incident but Lily was more frightened.

After dressing they wrapped Margaret's little Pomeranian dog in blankets and headed topside, they met Gilbert Tucker along the way. Waiting for orders at the landing on C deck, Gilbert Tucker helped the three ladies into lifejackets before placing one on himself.

The group then went to the Boat Deck. As Margaret stood waiting and holding her Pomeranian, James Clinch Smith passed by and jokingly commented, "Oh, I suppose we ought to put a life preserve on the little doggie, too."

Lifeboat 7 was the first boat prepared and, after a call for women was made Lily stepped into the boat, closely followed by Olive and Margaret (still holding her Pomeranian dog).

Those aboard boat 7 were picked up by the Carpathia in the early hours of 15 April.

Aboard the rescue ship, Miss Hays, fluent in French, volunteered to care for two young French boys who spoke no English and had been unclaimed by an adult relative. The boys were Michel and Edmond Navratil, whose late father Michel Sr. had been trying to take them to America after kidnapping them from their mother. They stayed in Miss Hays home, under the supervision of the Children's Aid Society, until the children's mother was located and brought to America to claim them.

Margaret Hays kept in regular contact with Gilbert Tucker after their rescue but chose to marry Charles Daniel Easton, a Rhode Island physician in 1913 and the couple lived in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island. They were the parents of two daughters.

Margaret Hays Easton in 1918 holding her daughter, Margaret (later Mrs. John W. Starbuck).
(Courtesy of Mrs. John W. Starbuck Jr. & Michael A.Findlay, USA)

Dr. Easton died on 4 October 1934 and Margaret died in Buenos Aires, Argentina while vacationing with her daughter and grandaughter 21 August 1956. She was buried at St. Mary's Churchyard, Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Miss Margaret Bechstein Hays
Age: 24 years 4 months and 9 days (Female)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Single
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 11767, £83 3s 2d
Cabin No. C54
Rescued (boat 7)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 21st August 1956 aged 68 years
Cause of Death:

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References and Sources

Evening World, 22 April 1912, No Light on the Mystery Hiding the Identity Of Two Waifs of the Sea
New York Times, 5 October 1934, Obituary [Dr Charles Daniel Easton]
New York Times, 6 October 1934, Death Notice [Dr Charles Daniel Easton]
Newport Daily News, 28 August 1956, Obituary
American Foreign Service Report of the Death of an American Citizen
Passport Application, Bureau of Citizenship, Dec 6 1911

Research Articles

Senan Molony Titanica! (2005) A Tale of Hoffman

Newspaper Articles

Evening Bulletin (17 April 1912) Had Premonition of Disaster
Nurse in Home of Mrs. J. B. Earnshaw Distrusted Early Despatches of Safety of Passengers
Chicago Examiner (19 April 1912) WIDOW AND DAUGHTERS OF HAYS SPEED HOME
Worcester Evening Gazette (20 April 1912) Pres. Hays Widow Leaves For Home
Worcester Evening Gazette (20 April 1912) Saves Dogs While Passengers Perish
Refused to give up the dog
The Daily Banner (9 May 1912) FOR THE CHILDREN
The Salt Lake Tribune (27 February 1913) TITANIC SURVIVOR COMES TO SALT LAKE
The Salt Lake Tribune (28 February 1913) TITANIC SURVIVOR IN SALT LAKE
The Washington Times (10 April 1913) Miss Hayes' Wards Living in Poverty
New York Times (24 April 1913) MISS MARGARET HAYS WEDS
New York Times (27 June 1934) RECTORS FOR ASTOR RITES
New York Times (6 October 1934) Charles Daniel Easton [Death Notice]
Husband of Margaret Hays Easton
Newport Daily News (28 August 1956) MRS. CHARLES EASTON, WIDOW OF PHYSICIAN


Margaret Hays and daughter Mary Easton
(1914) Margaret hays

Documents and Certificates

(1956) Margaret Bechstein Hays (Death Certificate)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Mauro Zungri

    Mauro Zungri said:

    Hello! I am of Argentina and I ask if somebody save something but on the death of Margaret Hays in 1956 in Buenos Aires. Thanks! and they excuse by my ingles. MAURO

  2. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    She was then Margaret Easton (the widow of Dr Charles Easton) and was on a holiday cruise with a daughter and granddaughter. She suffered a heart attack on board the ship and died on August 21. Margaret's body was taken back to be buried in Newport, Rhode Island in the US.

  3. Mauro Zungri

    Mauro Zungri said:

    Bob thanks for the information and sorry the annoyances. It will try to ask in the registries of port of my country. Thanks again MAURO

  4. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    No annoyance at all, Mauro, I am pleased to help. If you have any questions which are difficult for you to ask in English, there are other members who can read Spanish so you may want to ask in both languages.

  5. Brandy Heuts

    Brandy Heuts said:

    Can anyone tell me more about Margaret Hays please? I've read the biography page, and know some more things such as her dogs name and recently read in a book that she was the first person put on a lifeboat with her dog. But as I volunteer at a Titanic exhibit and I portray Margaret, I'd like to know a bit more about her to properly portray her. Any help is appreciated.

  6. Martin Williams

    Martin Williams said:

    Hello Brandy I'm by no means an expert on Margaret's story, never having studied her in any depth, but I'll be pleased to share what little I know (if only in the most general way) if that helps you to get to grips with the character. Margaret Hays would, I imagine, have been loosely described in contemporary gossip columns as a 'Society girl'. This doesn't really tell us very much, other than that she came from a wealthy background and was well-connected, but we can at least infer that she was entirely comfortable moving among the American upper classes. It is worth noting that she... Read full post

  7. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    Just a few extra points. The ticket price (a little over £83) covered the fares for all three ladies, so their cabin accommodations would have been fairly basic but it was of course the public facilities that contributed most to the experience of 1st Class travel. Margaret's friend Olive was a married woman, but had filed for divorce. The trip to Europe had been organised by her mother mainly for Olive's benefit, as a distraction from her troubled home life. As I mentioned in an earlier posting above, Margaret was indeed on a holiday cruise when she died in Argentina. ... Read full post

  8. Martin Williams

    Martin Williams said:

    Thank you Bob. I typed my previous post in considerable haste and overlooked the fact that Olive Earnshaw had a husband of her own in 1912. As a matter of interest - could Olive have acted as Margaret's chaperone herself, despite the fact that they were exact contemporaries? I rather think she could, her status as a wife (albeit an unhappy one) being of more importance than her age. Do we know the itinerary of Lily, Olive and Margaret during their trip to Europe? And did any of the women file itemised insurance claims after the sinking?

  9. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    Martin, I imagine you're right that her married friend could have chaperoned Margaret, but I'm no expert on Edwardian etiquette. Craig Stringer mentions that the ladies travelled down through Italy to the Holy Land and on to Turkey, meeting Gilbert Tucker somewhere along the way. They certainly filed insurance claims, Margaret's being the highest at a very precise $2640.65, but I've no idea what items were included. .

  10. Brandy Heuts

    Brandy Heuts said:

    I've read several different accounts on Margaret boarding the lifeboat. In one book it states she was the first to board lifeboat #7. In the ET Biography it states she was after Mrs. Potter and Olive..??

  11. Martin Williams

    Martin Williams said:

    I think it doubtful that we will ever know for sure who was the first lady into the boat. In his classic account of the sinking, 'A Night to Remember', Walter Lord has the intrepid movie star and model Dorothy Gibson at the front of the queue. One thing is certain - at that early stage, any passenger who was prepared to leave the warm, brightly-lit and seemingly secure 'Titanic' for the dubious safety of an open rowing boat on the dark and freezing Atlantic displayed considerable courage. Remember that the drop to the water was nearly seventy feet and the distance alone would have acted as a... Read full post

  12. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>any passenger who was prepared to leave the warm, brightly-lit and seemingly secure 'Titanic' for the dubious safety of an open rowing boat on the dark and freezing Atlantic displayed considerable courage.

  13. Daniel Klistorner

    Daniel Klistorner said:

    Martin, The drop from Boat Deck down to the water was some 60 feet at the best of times and would have been a little less when you consider that Titanic had settled somewhat in the water by the time the first boats began to leave. However, some passengers remarked that it was so dark, you couldn't see where the water was anyway. If this really was the case, it wouldn't matter whether the drop was 50 or 100 feet, the passengers were brave enough going into the unknown! Daniel.

  14. Martin Williams

    Martin Williams said:

    60 feet...70 feet...or 100 feet...as you say, it was still a considerable drop and I certainly wouldn't have relished making what was quite literally a leap in the dark! Certainly not before it became clear that the 'Titanic' was in serious difficulty, anyway. The link supplied by Michael was most interesting and provided me with food for thought. Securing a seat in a lifeboat was obviously preferable to being left behind and Margaret Hays and her party were fortunate to be given the opportunity in the first place. Nevertheless, the very act of abandoning ship came complete with its own... Read full post

  15. Mike Poirier

    Mike Poirier said:

    I have an article somewhere that states that a maid for Margaret's grandmother predicted some sort of accident to Margaret. I think the article continued on that Mrs. Bechstein scoffed at such an idea. Kind of amusing that the paper would take the time to report all that. Must have been grasping.

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Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
Marta Santiago, Spain
Emma Santiago, Spain