Encyclopedia Titanica

Benjamin Laventall Foreman

Benjamin Laventall Foreman
Benjamin Laventall Foreman

Benjamin Laventall Foreman was born in Albany, New York on 7 November 1881.

Coming from a Jewish background, he was the son of Henry W. Foreman (1855-1925), wholesale hop dealer, and Rose Laventall (1860-1939). His father hailed from Illinois whilst mother was born in New York; they were married in 1881.

The eldest of six children, all sons, Benjamin’s siblings were: Elliott Schwartz (b. 8 July 1883; d. 1971), Robert Nathan (b. 12 April 1885; d. 1968), Edwin Henry (b. 9 June 1888; d. 1957), Jules (b. 26 January 1892; d. 1968) and Frank Lawrence (b. 6 April 1894; d. 1970).

On 16 February 1892, Benjamin, his parents and brothers, as well as a servant (Kate Quinn) were shown living in Albany, New York on that year’s census. His father worked as an agent at the time. In the summer of 1895 he graduated from Albany Grammar School.

According to the Knickerbocker Press (16 April 1912), Foreman first left Albany at age 18 and settled in New York City where he began working with a Manhattan-based banking firm. On 3 May 1900 he left New York City to live in St. Gallen (also called St. Gall), Switzerland for two years to work as a merchant. He applied for a passport at Berne on 13 February 1901 and he was described as standing at 6’ with a low forehead, brown eyes, medium nose and mouth, pointed chin, dark brown hair, fair complexion and with an oblong face. St. Gallen had a population of about 54,000 in 1900 and was 'the largest and most important export area for embroidery' (today it has a textile museum).

Despite being in Europe, Benjamin was listed on the census on 11 June 1900 as living with his parents and siblings, as well as two female servants, at 278 Hamilton Street in Albany. He was described as a lace buyer. The entirety of the family soon shifted to Manhattan and by the time of the 1905 census were residents of an unspecified address in that city. 

On 17 February 1903 Benjamin applied for a passport; he had left the United States on 10 January 1903 and planned on staying for another two years in St. Gallen, Switzerland. 

Benjamin sailed from Liverpool on 26 December 1908 aboard the Lusitania and arrived in New York on 2 January 1909. He was listed as a merchant on the passenger list.

On 19 April 1910, the time of that year’s census, Foreman was shown living with his parents and brothers (and a female servant Ida Slavick) in an apartment building at 306 West 99th Street in Manhattan, New York. His father continued to work as a hops dealer whilst Benjamin was then described as embroideries salesman, as was his brother Edwin.

Benjamin boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg (ticket number 113051 which cost £27, 15s) after having conducted business in Europe for his commission firm Kugleman, Frankland & Foreman. Whilst aboard he occupied cabin C-111

Edith Rosenbaum stated that on the night of 15 April 1912 she had seen Foreman near her in the ship's library about two hours before the ship struck the iceberg. Abraham L. Salomon said that after the collision he saw Foreman on deck with a life belt and a steamer rug and asked him to come to an upper deck to enter a lifeboat. Mr Foreman, remained on the lower deck.

Benjamin Foreman died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Mr Forman is a son of Henry Forman, a former Albany wholesale hop merchant. He was born in Albany and lived on Hamilton street. Lately he had been engaged as a traveling salesman for a New York brokerage house. - The Argus, 16 April 1912

Benjamin's younger brother Edwin filed letters of administration for his estate, valued at $10,000 (although it was later valued at $32,801). There apparently remained some doubt as to whether Benjamin was actually on board the Titanic and Edwin had to secure affidavits from survivors Edith Rosenbaum, Abraham Salomon and Samuel Goldenberg to prove his presence aboard the ship.

Benjamin L, Forman, one of the victims of the Titanic disaster, a member of the commission firm of Kugleman, Frankland & Foreman, left an estate of the total value of $73,457. The net value is $32,801. The father of the decedent is the sole beneficiary. - The Evening World, 14 January 1913

His parents remained in New York; father Henry died 12 January 1925 whilst his mother died on 23 December 1939. Both are buried in Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings, New York.

References and Sources

The Argus (19 June 1895) With Flying Colors 
The Argus (16 April 1912) Two Former Albanians were among Titanic’s Passengers
The Knickerbocker Press (16 April 1912) Capitol District Residents on the Titanic
The Knickerbocker Press (17 April 1912) Former Albany Man, Among Missing [Photo]
The Evening World (14 January 1913) Appraisal of Estates
The New York Times (13 January 1925) Death notice of Henry W. Foreman
New York Times (13 January 1925) Henry W. Foreman obituary
The Times-Union (24 December 1939) Death notice of Rose Foreman
New York Sun (24 December 1939) Rose Lavenstall Foreman obituary

Newspaper Articles

New York Times (21 April 1912) Death Notice of Ben Foreman
New York Times (15 May 1912) PROVING FOREMAN ON TITANIC

Documents and Certificates

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Comment and discuss

  1. James V. Bianco

    Some information on Benjamin Foreman: Benjamin L. Foreman born Nov 1881 Albany, NY. Parents: Henry W. Foreman , a prosperous Hapts Merchant (born Dec 1855 Chicago,IL died 1925 Manhatten, NY) and Rose Laventall (born 1859 Germany died 1939 NY) siblings: Benjamin Born Nov 1881 (he was the eldest) Elliot S. Born Jul 1883 Robert N. Born Apr 1886 Edwin Born Jun 1888 Jules L. Born Jun 1892 died May 1968 Md. Lucy Fox Frank L. Born Jun 1894 also.. Henry W. Foreman was the son of Benjamin Foreman and Rose Heymann who were German Immigrants married at Chicago, Feb 22,... Read full post

  2. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Benjamin Foreman was in the financial end of the fashion business in New York but had apparently worked as a buying agent at one point for a textile house. Aboard Titanic he made friends with Edith Rosenbaum (Russell) and is mentioned by her in some of her accounts. She referred to him in one 1912 interview as "B.L. Foreman." According to her, he was with a firm called Kugelman, Frankland and Foreman but had previously been connected with the lace manufacturer, Einstein, Wolff and Co. ("for many years," she said). In her words, Foreman "was coming home from Paris, having made the most... Read full post

  3. Randy Bryan Bigham

    In addition to this information, there is some clue to Foreman's activities on board Titanic in material that George Behe has. He has graciously loaned this to me for my story on Edith Russell but the bulk of that data will be in George's forthcoming book. Each little piece of the puzzle helps to flesh out the lives of these men and women and the work that's going into books like George's will be, in the end, such a moving tribute to the victims and survivors.

  4. Phillip Gowan

    Here's the text of an article I submitted to the White Star Journal a couple of years ago--note that Ben Foreman's mother's maiden name was LAVENTHAL instead of Laventall. THE LAST SIGHTINGS OF BENJAMIN FOREMAN Benjamin L. Foreman was a 30-year-old Jewish man traveling first-class on Titanic. A native of Albany, New York, he was one of 6 sons born to Henry W. and Rose (Laventhal) Foreman. After a brief trip to Europe he intended to return to his home in New York City. Mr. Foreman was single and after his death, his family obtained an affidavit from Samuel Goldenberg... Read full post

  5. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Phil, Great stuff. I knew you had the goods but didn't know you'd published that piece. Foreman was among several businessmen that Edith Russell recalled socializing with on Titanic. The others were George Rheims, Herman Klaber, Robert Daniel, among others. She also met a number of the other fashion buyers including one of the Gimbels Department Store buyers (she doesn't specify if it was Calderhead or McGough) and a number of buyers from Toronto (unnamed). After she got off Carpathia, she went with her parents to a cafe frequented by the rag trade to meet friends who asked her for... Read full post

  6. Charles Finn

    Thanks for all of this information. I am trying to find a picture of Benjamin Foreman at the request of his relatives. Does anyone have a suggestion where I might start looking? My first thought was here -I fear that if there's not a picture here, there may not be one to be had... Any help would be greatly appreciated. Charles Finn

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Benjamin Laventall Foreman
Age: 30 years 5 months and 8 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Religion: Jewish
Marital Status: Single
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 113051, £27 15s
Cabin No. C111
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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