Miss Victorine Chaudanson was born in Mayres, Ardèche, France on 28 September 1875.
She was the daughter of Pierre André Chaudanson and Rose Ciellier and apparently spent much of her formative years in Paris with a sister where she was educated before finding employment as a maid to a host of wealthy families.
She emigrated to the USA in 1908, arriving in New York aboard Oceanic on 24 June, stating her last permanent residence as Paris. Reportedly working for a period for the Thayer family, by the time of the 1910 census she had already began working for the Arthur Larned Ryerson family, appearing on the census that year residing at Cooperstown, Springfield, Ostego, New York, the family residence. It was during this time that she met her future husband, Henry Perkins, the Ryerson's English chauffeur.
Henry Perkins (b. 1883) had come to the USA around 1906/1907 with several brothers where he became employed as a mechanic with Rolls-Royce in their new plant on Long Island, New York, making his home in Manhattan on Lexington Avenue; he became chauffeur to the Ryersons around mid-1910 when the family purchased a car and Perkins was hired from the Rolls-Royce staff.
In early 1912 Miss Chaudanson was in Europe with her employers the Ryersons. Mr and Mrs Ryerson had been notified of the death of their son back in America and the decision to return there was hasty. The group boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as first class passengers (joint ticket number 17608 which cost £262, 7s, 6d) and whilst aboard Victorine occupied cabin B61.
On the night of the sinking Miss Chaudanson went with the Ryersons to the boat deck and was shuffled between there and A-deck during the night whilst lifeboat 4 was being prepared. She was sent by her employers to their stateroom to retrieve valuables; whilst in their cabin searching for them she heard the door being locked behind her by a steward who was securing all the cabins. She immediately began to scream which alerted the steward who in turn unlocked the door. Victorine returned to the safety of the upper decks and Mr Ryerson later surrendered his lifebelt to her as she had none of her own.
Miss Chaudanson survived the sinking, escaping in lifeboat 4 with Mrs Ryerson and her children.
Victorine was married to Henry Perkins on 3 June 1912 and their son George Henry was born in Boston the following year on 12 March. The family later moved to Manhattan; they appear on the 1920 and 1930 censuses as residents of 350 East 67th Street; by the time of the 1940 census they are residents of 218 East 66th Street. Henry Perkins continued to work as a chauffeur to wealthy families before running a taxi firm (as shown in the 1930 census), later being forced to close when yellow cabs made an appearance and with him returning to chauffeuring; he died in 1948.
During the 1950s Victorine opened up about her experiences to Walter Lord when he was writing A Night to Remember and she garnered a mention in that book, published in 1956.
Victorine Perkins, née Chaudanson died aged 86 following a stroke on 13 August 1962 in Springfield, Delaware, Pennsylvania; she was buried with her husband at St Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Broomall, Pennsylvania.
Her son George later became a marine engineer; he married and raised a family before retiring to Clearwater, Florida. He died there on 3 September 2002.
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