John Bertram Brady
Courtesy of Lynn Soderberg
Mr John Bertram Brady was born in Satsop, Columbia, Washington on 3 December 1870.
He was the son of John Brady (b. 1829), a farmer, and Emma R. Campbell (b. 1842), natives of New York and Ohio, respectively. He was Irish through his father's side whilst on his mother's side he had Scottish ancestry.
He had two siblings: Elmer (1867-1941) and Ella (1877-1943, later Mrs Joseph Bond Tucker) and a half-sibling Myrtle (1861-1923, later Mrs Robert Rush) from his mother's first marriage to Civil War veteran Albert O. Wagstaff (d. 1863).
He appears with his family on the 1880 census when they were residing at an unspecified address in Pomeroy, Washington where he had moved to the previous July and where his father operated a store. He was educated in Pomeroy before studying at Bishop Scott's Academy in Portland, Oregon after which he returned home and managed the family store, succeeding his father.
Brady's parents and sister Ella relocated to San Jose, California with Brady continuing to practice as a merchant, appearing on the 1900 census at an unspecified address in West Pomeroy. In 1902 he went travelling for five months to Rome among other locations, and his passport at the time describes him as standing at 5' 10½" with dark brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. The following year he sold the family business to F. J. Elsonsohn in order to take on the vice presidency of the Pomeroy Savings Bank; he had held stock in the bank since its inception and had been a director since 1894, besides having a one-third interest in the Weller Livestock Company. He was unmarried and was a member of the Masonic lodges in Pomeroy and of the Commandery in Walla Walla and Elkatiff Temple in Spokane.
Left © Lynn Soderberg and Doris Ann Wolf
Right: The East Washingtonian, Pomeroy, WA (April 20, 1912)
In 1906 he left Pomeroy briefly to help his family in San Jose whose house was destroyed by shocks from the San Francisco earthquake. His mother reportedly had her hand smashed and his sister was 'thrown around a bit'. His father had died just the year previous on 11 November and his mother died on 12 October 1910.
Brady, known to his friends as Bert, had been holidaying with his sister throughout Europe when in early 1912, taking in Rome, Naples, London, Edinburgh and several locations in Ireland, including Cork, Dublin and Belfast. He booked passage on the Titanic (ticket number 113054, £30, 10s, cabin A-21) for his return to the USA but on 21 February 1912 he wrote to an acquaintance W.B. Morris, expressing some doubt over the forthcoming trip due to the coal strikes:
I am booked to sail April 10th on the new steamer Titanic, first trip across. But it's such a thing, she can't go on acount of the coal strike. May not get coal so I am going over to the German boats today and book passage in them for about the same date. They will [sure have ?surely] coal, so if I don't get off on the [?fine] Titanic I'll go on the other.
On February 25, 1912, while in Rome, he wrote to Peter Weller of the Weller Livestock Company:
Friend Peter I found your letter at naple [sic] and was glad to have it. I got in here last night at 11:30, making a night ride to be here today, so I could go to church at St. Peter's this morning, which I did, and it was very nice. It has improved very much since I was here 10 years ago, good streets and fine lights everywhere. It has gained very much in 10 years and is the making of a good country now. I took a three day trip on to Naples and it was grand. The weather has been just like spring all the time. I am afraid from now it now on [sic]. I would like to have it good in London. Will be glad to get back and go down [to the stock farm] and have a look.
On March 30, 1912 he wrote to Fred Matthies from the Grand Central Hotel, Belfast.
On the same day he wrote back to W.B.Morris:
I am away over here. Was down to Cork and took a look at Blarney Castle. I also stopped off at Dublin and looked around. I like it out here fine. It must be dandy in May and June. I go from here over to Scotland. I will spend some time there and then back to London and I'm going to try and sail April 10th. Ought to be in N.Y. about the 17th, as it is a fine boat.
Brady wrote many more letters that have survived, one that he wrote to his friends Lois, Florence and Willena Long mentioned that he was bringing them some Coral he had acquired while on holiday in Europe. Bert frequently went fishing with their father and the girls' brothers, often camping in the mountains.
The Titanic was not held up by the coal strike and Bert Brady boarded the vessel at Southampton as a first class passenger. The last letter he wrote, addressed to J.R. Stevenson was posted in Edinburgh, Scotland and said simply:
I am enjoying Scotland and have to think of my Scotch friends.
With best wishes to all,
Bert Brady lost his life in the disaster. With the slow trickle of information following the tragedy the press in Pomeroy held out hope that he might yet have survived however, on April 20, 1912 they reported that '[Brady's] brother-in-law, R.L. Rush received a telegram from M.H. Houser, then in New York, NY saying that "Bert is lost. Latest reports say very few men saved, account few lifeboats.' The following Friday Mr Rush learned that the Carpathia had docked and that Bert was not amongst the rescued.'
A memorial service was held in Pomeroy for Mr Brady on 28 April 1912.