Encyclopedia Titanica

Herbert Fuller Chaffee

Herbert Fuller Chaffee
Herbert Fuller Chaffee

Mr Herbert Fuller Chaffee, 46, was born on November 20, 1865 at Sharon, Litchfield County, Connecticut, the son of Eben Whitney Chaffee and his wife Amanda Fuller Chaffee. Members of the Chaffee family had lived in Sharon since the Revolutionary War.

Herbert was educated in the common schools in Sharon, a seminary in New York, and the Williston Seminary, a scientific school in Easthampton, Massachusetts. He graduated from the latter school in 1885. In 1887 he was living in Ellsworth, CT and in that year he entered Oberlin College in Oberlin OH where he studied at the Conservatory of Music. He enrolled for 2 years but probably moved to North Dakota to help run the family firm as he did not graduate.

While at Oberlin he met his future wife Carrie Constance Toogood of Manchester, Iowa. They were married on December 21, 1887 and a son was born on 28 September 1888 in Amenia, ND.

Herbert's father came from Litchfield Co., CT and came to Dakota in 1875 where he founded the bonanza-farming business "Amenia" -- Amenia-Sharon Land Co (organized with bondholders of the Union Pacific Rail Road) which had its headquarters in Amenia ND. Herbert Chaffee eventually became the chief executive officer of the family business which, at its greatest extent, controlled 42,000 acres of prime farmland, 34 grain elevators, a grain-trading firm, and three company towns with dozens of smaller company-owned businesses. Its holdings were worth perhaps $150 million in today's dollars. H. F. Chaffee, who routinely worked a 72-hour week, felt that this was only the beginning. He had developed sophisticated management systems and was constantly expanding the operation.

He continued in business in North Dakota, purchasing the interests of the remaining investors of the Amenia & Sharon Land Company in 1893.

"Through his sound scientific and business judgment he established a farm business that is unique and stands today as a memorial of his faith in the future of his adopted state and his unswerving fidelity to high ideals." (Lonsberry 1917).

Chaffee was a Republican and a member of the Congregational Church.

Chaffee and his wife had been on a European trip and boarded the Titanic at Southampton, travelling in first class (cabin E-31). They were returning to their home in Amenia, Cass County, North Dakota.

Herbert died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

After Chaffee's death, remaining family members ran the firm jointly but continually disagreed on business strategy. In 1922 the company was dissolved and its assets distributed. Very little of its holdings remain in family hands today.

References and Sources

Clement A. Lonsberry (1917) North Dakota History and People. Vol. II, p. 877-878. Chicago, S.J.Clarke Publications.
Hiram Drache The Day of the Bonanza: A History of Bonanza Farming in the Red River Valley of the North.
Oberlin College Records

Newspaper Articles

Evening Tribune (23 April 1912) Mrs Chaffee's Account
Search archive online


John Chaffee, USA
Homer Thiel, USA
Tammy L. Martin, USA (Oberlin College Archivist)

Comment and discuss

  1. Charles Provost

    Did Carrie Constance Toogood, wife of Herbert Fuller Chaffee, remarried after the death of her husband on the Titanic? Thanks. Charles

  2. Homer Thiel

    Carrie Constance Toogood Chaffee remained unmarried until her death on 4 July 1931 in Amenia, North Dakota. The Cassleton Reporter (Cassleton, North Dakota) reported on its front page "Mrs. H. F. CHAFFEE DIES AT AMENIA." Mrs. Chaffee had been sick for a number of months.

  3. Robert Chaffee

    It seems I am late realizing that the family stories from my Great-Grandmother, Carrie Toogood Chaffee, might be of interest to the Titanic community. Carrie, a first class passenger travelling with her husband, Herbert Fuller Chaffee, made away from the Titanic on Lifeboat 4. As the last full-size lifeboat to pull away, the boat had quite an adventure, following along with lifeboat 14 searching for survivors. I have been working on an "historical fiction" account of her journey, based on the formal testimonies and family stories, and finding the research just goes on and on, deeper and... Read full post

  4. Robert Chaffee

    Forward of Lightoller on the officer’s promenade, Quartermaster Arthur John Bright and Able Seaman William A. Lucas were setting the falls from the empty Lifeboat No. 2 davits to Collapsible Lifeboat ‘D’. A crowd of steerage passengers were making their way up from the forward well deck by way of the officer’s deck stairs, coming on to the officer’s promenade deck next to the collapsible lifeboat’s bow. Perkis stepped back from the gunwale holding the falls tail not quite hand taut as angry shouting broke out on the officer’s promenade deck about twenty feet behind... Read full post

  5. Robert Chaffee

    As she looked forward up Titanic’s side, she noticed Titanic’s bow had settled further into the ocean and that the water was over the forward well deck and just below the bridge. From behind her, out of the corner of her eye she noticed a light breaking across the water not thirty feet aft on the ship’s port side. The forward gangway door leading into the first class dining area on ‘D’ deck had been opened. The door opened from the aftward side and swung out so that the door blocked her view of anyone who might be standing there or looking out. Carrie blinked several times and... Read full post

  6. Robert Chaffee

    Perkis rubbed his hands together, made loose the aft falls tail, and got it under his right foot. He got to the aft davit winch and brought the davit up so that the falls came in to about four feet of the deck, letting the tail slip out under his foot. He made the tail fast again, got up on the edge of the deck, took hold of the davit with his left hand, and leaned out over the empty space to fetch the lifeline with his right hand. He called down to the boat. “Mind the lifeline below!” “Aye,” Foley called back. The lifeline was reeved to the davit span with a small eye, and the... Read full post

  7. Robert Chaffee

    Still standing at the aft falls, Perkis’ shoulders slowly sagged just briefly. He looked down, took a deep breath, and straightened himself up. Still holding the ropes with his left hand, he rubbed his chin with his right. He looked up and looked at all the women, who were listening now with their full attention. He looked down again, took another deep breath, and looked up again. He let go the ropes, rubbed his hands together, and squared his shoulders as best he could. “Titanic is taking on water,” he said, “and she’ll not be going much further. “Murdoch, First Officer Murdock... Read full post

  8. Robert Chaffee

    Having upload issues, more to come . . . I will add later. I attempted an attachment also, see if that works.

  9. Mike Poirier

    Hi Robert, Great article. There is a bit on Carrie in the new Titanic book, On a Sea of Glass from an interview she did. Best Mike

  10. mona3ms

    I would like to read more of your story,it is very interesting thank you for the download link.

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Herbert Fuller Chaffee
Age: 46 years 4 months and 25 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 5734, £61 3s 6d
Cabin No. E31
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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