Mr William Hull Botsford

William Hull Botsford

Mr William Hull Botsford was born in Binghamton, New Yorkon 23 November 1886 the son of cabinetmaker2 William B. Botsford.

Botsford grew up in Millport NY. A picture from 1897 shows young William Hull standing on the porch of his childhood home.

As a boy he was educated at Horseheads High School one of only two boys in a class of eight3.

After leaving school at the age of sixteen Botsford worked for two years in the architectural office of Pierce and Bickford in Elmira4 as well as a firm based in Rochester, NY.

After his work experience Botsford went to study at Cornell University College of Architecture. He demonstated great drawing ability, indeed one of his works was hung in the library there. His skills also led to a commission for the cover of The Cornellian, the University yearbook in 1910. While at college William developed an interest in wrestling. A lightweight, he gained national and state honours in YMCA tournaments after leaving college. He was also a keen singer.

After graduating Botsford become chief designer for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. He designed many stations in the New York and New Jersey area including those at Elmira, Bath, New Village, Hopatcong, Basking Ridge, Watessing, Bloomfield, Syracuse, Utica, Hoboken and Ithaca. The last station Botsford would design was at Montclair. After his death a memorial stone and window was erected there.

During his time with the DL&W Botsford lived in Orange, New Jersey. He taught night classes sponsored by the YMCA and occasionally contributed to architectural magazines.

Botsford's last and most substantial work was the Tunkhannock Viaduct (aka Nicholson Bridge) near Nicholson, PA. Half a mile long and 100 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge the viaduct was designed to carry the Lackawanna railroad. The design was only accepted by the railroad board just as Botsford was leaving for home. His ship was the Titanic.

Tunkhannock Viaduct

William had taken leave to travel in Egypt, and Turkey and throughout Europe to study architectural design and techniques. For the return journey he boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger. He held ticket number 237670, price: £13.

According to his sister Talitha 6 who was 10 years old at the time:

We were eating supper when the neighbor across the street came over and asked if we had seen the Star-Gazette. That was the first we knew of it.
We watched the papers and as soon as they printed the list of the missing, we knew.

Mr Botsford died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, never was identified 5. He is, however, remembered on a family grave at Millport Cemetery, New York.

A memorial service was held at the Orange, NJ YMCA. A. G. Hallock a friend from Cornell made the following address:

He left a record of modesty and unselfishness which led his friends at the very first to give up hope that he might have been rescued. He would have thought first of the women and children and then of those having greater responsibilities than he.


  1. Eva Taylor (Undated) William Hull Botsford - Ill Fated Genius. Chemung Historical Journal. pp. 1728-1730
  2. Unidentified Newspaper (1980s) Titanic: Elmiran remembers her brother who died on ill-fated cruise ship.
    At one time Botsford senior took leave from his employer and during his sabatical crafted six violins one of which his daughter Talitha played throughout her tenure at Ithaca College Conservatory of Music. Four of the violins were given to Cornell University and another to J. Emory Botsford (later of Brandon, Florida), Talitha and William's brother.
  3. Eva Taylor op. cit.  The other boy was Chester Moore who would later become the manager of the Elmira Bank & Trust Co.
  4. Eva Taylor op. cit.
    Pierce and Bickford were responsible for many public buildings in Elmira including the Steele Memorial Libray and the City Hall. They were pioneers in the use of reinforced concrete which Botsford would later use in his greatest constuction works.
  5. One list suggests that body #194 was that of William Botsford, the reasoning is unclear. The body, which was buried at sea, was tentatively identified as a fireman.
  6. Talitha Botsford, who grew up to become a poet, was still living, aged 99 in April 2000.

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Articles and Stories

Newark Evening News (1912) 
Newark Evening News (1912) 

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Comment and discuss

  1. John Pulos said:

    I spent two hours yesterday with the 99 year old sister of 2nd Class passenger . Her mind is very sound - but her body has failed her. She was 11 when "Hull" went down with the Titanic. He was a brilliant young architect and his last design was the largest concrete bridge in the world in PA. He also designed many railroad stations in New Jersey and Upstate New York. One of his designs still hangs at the Olin Library at Cornell where he graduated in 1910. Many of his drawings... Read full post

  2. Mark Bray said:

    John, that must have been a great experience for you. Have you met any other relatives of Titanic's vicitms and

  3. Phillip Gowan said:

    Sorry to report that William Hull Botsford's well-known sister, Miss Talitha Botsford, died in late January at the age of 100. As she was unmarried, she erected a double monument at the cemetery for herself and to memorialize her brother who died on Titanic. Phil

  4. Daniel Klistorner said:

    Phil, I'm very sad to hear it. I've talked to John various times via e-mail and he often told me about Talitha and some stories she related about her brother. I've also got a copy of the claim filed against the White Star Line by William's father, where she is mentioned. John did I send you a copy of that? If not I'll try to send one soon. Daniel.

  5. Daniel Klistorner said:

    Phil, I wanted to ask you a question in private, but you don't have any contact details on ET. If you're able to drop me a line I'd really apprecaite it. DK

  6. Arne Mjåland said:

    I read here about John Pulos who had met the sister of W. Hull Botsford, Taliah. There was an interview with Taliah in Elmira Star Gazette sunday April 12 1987. She told about the gravestone for William, and later for her, in the Millport Cemetery. At that time there was complete inscriptions for William, but only Talitha s birth year was there. She may still be alive? It is only three yeaers since John Pulos met her. I have also a four pages article about William H. Botsford from the Chemnung Historical Journal No 4 June 1968, Elmira N.Y.The article was written by Eva Taylor who had... Read full post

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Gavin Bell, UK
Talitha Botsford, USA
Sidney Boardman
Phillip Gowan, USA
John Pulos, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany

References and Sources

Passport Application (January 1912)
Newark Evening News, 17 April 1912, W. Hull Botsford, of Orange, may be Lost
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Star-Gazette, 17 April 1912
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2019) William Hull Botsford Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #348, updated 26th April 2019 16:14:05 PM)