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Posts Tagged ‘Macy’s founder dies on the Titanic’

The first class passengers on the Titanic were living in the lap of luxury. Some of the richest people in the world were traveling on the Titanic for her maiden voyage. This included prominent members of the upper-class that included politicians, businessmen, bankers, professional athletes, industrialists and high-ranking military personnel. Most of those on in first class were traveling with an entourage which might include one or all of the following: a nurse for the children, a maid, valet, cook, and chauffer. A first class ticket ranged anywhere from thirty pounds to 870 pounds. In today’s money you could expect to pay an average of $70,000 per first class ticket. The more expensive rooms were a parlor suite and usually had a private promenade deck.

Everyone is familiar with the breathtaking Grand Staircase with the glass dome over it, but the Titanic had many other amenities, including electricity and the wireless Marconi system. Other amenities found on the First Class deck included a Parisian Café, A La Carte Restaurant, tea gardens, reception room, verandah café, heated swimming pool, gymnasium, library, squash court, barbershop, kennel, elevators, smoking room, Turkish bath, dining saloon, reading and writing rooms, and enclosed promenade decks to walk and sit on. Many first class passengers had their pets with them on the voyage {two dogs were saved}.

The Titanic sailed during the Edwardian Age where the food and wine flowed freely and people still dressed for dinner. On deck a bugler will signal the dinner hour had arrived. A meal was an experience and not something to be rushed through. All first class meals provided numerous options to choose from. Lunch seemed to be more laid back with either a buffet or a special request from the grill. In the book “Last Dinner on the Titanic” the author provides menus for meals that consist of ten to fourteen courses. A first class menu was found after the sinking for Sunday, April 14, 1912 {the night of the disaster}. The menu for that evening consisted of the following: the first course consisted of an hors d’oeuvres; second course had a selection of soups; third course was a poached salmon; fourth course consisted of filet mignon with vegetables; fifth course gave you a choice of lamb, duck or beef with more vegetables; sixth course was a punch to clean the palate; seventh course was a roast squab, ninth course was a pate and the tenth course consisted of deserts such as pudding, fruit, ice cream, etc. Different wines were served with each course and following the last course fresh fruit and cheeses were available. The men would then excuse themselves to retire to the smoking room for coffee, cigars and their desired spirits.

People of this era knew nothing but a life of opulence and grandeur. There were those few that had planned to be on the Titanic but had to cancel at the last minute for various reasons. A few of these were J.P Morgan and Milton Hershey. Ironically Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I cancelled his trip on the Titanic at the last minute, but died in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 {the ship Titanic was built to rival}.

Listed below is a small sampling of some of the First Class Passengers traveling on the Titanic for her maiden voyage:

John Jacob Astor IV was the richest man on the ship. He inherited millions and made millions more in real estate, but also had other business interest. One of these other interest was a novel he published in 1894. He built the Astoria Hotel, labeled “the world’s most luxurious hotel.” He divorced his first wife in 1909 and at the age of 47 married 18 year old, Madeleine Force, in 1911. His new wife was a year younger than his son, Vincent. Their marriage caused a scandal and the couple decided to honeymoon Europe and Egypt. Margaret Brown also accompanied the couple on their travels abroad. The couple decided to return home to New York when they discovered Madeleine was expecting. John Jacob put Madeleine in a lifeboat on the Titanic. His body was recovered and there are conflicting reports on the condition of the body. {Most I read say he was badly mangled, but I have seen a few that say his body was in perfect condition.} The belief is that one of the funnels fell on him. Madeline gave birth to John Jacob Astor VI on August 14, 1912. Madeline married two more times and died in 1940.


Margaret Brown was coined The Unsinkable Molly Brown by Hollywood. She was never called Molly in real life, though. Her friends would have called her Maggie. She was born in Missouri to Irish immigrants. In 1886 she married James Joseph {JJ} Brown and had two children. JJ Brown eventually became one of the most successful mining men in the United States and the family became very rich. Margaret became very involved with politics and women’s suffrage. She was spending time with John Jacob Astor and his wife in Egypt, when word reached her that her grandson was ill. Titanic was the next ship to reach New York, so she booked passage. Due to the haste of these decisions few knew she was even on the Titanic. Upon the Carpathia, Margaret worked nonstop to help the other survivors. She was the last Titanic survivor to disembarked from the Carpathia at 3am. While aboard the Carpathia she’d helped establish the Survivor’s Committee. She continued to travel and help the less fortunate before her death in 1932.


Isidor Strauss was co-owner of Macy’s department store. He’d also served in the US House of Representatives. In 1871 he married Rosalie Ida Blun and the couple had seven children. After the Titanic hit the iceberg, Ida refused to leave her husband, reportedly saying “I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together.” They were last seen sitting on the deck holding hands. His body was recovered, but hers was never found.


Dorothy Gibson was born in 1889 and a silent film actress. She was also a singer and dancer, appearing on Broadway. She was artist Harrison Fisher’s favorite model. After being rescued from the Titanic, she went on to make a film about the ordeal a month later. Saved from the Titanic is her best known performance, although the film no longer survives. In the film she played herself and wore the same clothes she had on the night of the disaster. It is reported that she was playing bridge at the time of the disaster. She died in France in 1946.


Archibald Butt was an influential military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He was returning home from a six week vacation. When the ship hit the iceberg, he was playing cards in the first class smoking lounge. He went down with the ship and his body was never recovered. It is reported that both President Roosevelt and President Taft took the loss very hard.


Bruce Ismay conceived of the Titanic at a dinner with Lord Pirrie {Harland and Wolff Shipyard} in 1907. The duo decided to build three ships {Olympic, Titanic, Britannic} to rival Cunard Line’s Lusitania and Mauretania. He entered a lifeboat and was saved. Reports differ as to when in the evacuation he entered the lifeboat. He was shunned and heralded a coward by many because he allowed himself to be rescued. He testified in the hearings that he turned away in the final moments and could not watch the Titanic make its final plunge. He stayed out of the public eye until his death in 1937.


Thomas Andrews was the designer and oversaw the building of RMS Titanic and her sister ship, RMS Olympic. He was familiar with every detail of these two vessels. After the collision, Captain Smith summoned him to survey the damage. He had the overwhelming job of informing the Captain of the ship’s imminent sinking. As the evacuation began, Andrews searched for passengers and encouraged them to put their lifebelts on. He went down with the ship he helped create and his body was never found.


The story of the Allison Family is a very sad story. Hudson was born a farmer’s son in 1881. He made his wealth as an insurance agent. “Hud” married Bessie Waldo Daniels in 1907 after meeting on a train. The couple were devout Methodist and had two children, Lorraine and Trevor. Trevor was baptized at the church John Wesley preached at in Lincolnshire, England. In December 1911 the family went to Europe on a pleasure/business trip. They rearranged their plans to return home with friends aboard the Titanic. At the last minute the couple hired, Alice Cleaver, to care for their son Trevor. After the ship collided with the iceberg, Alice took Trevor and boarded a lifeboat. Bess and Hud had no idea what happened to their son and searched everywhere. At one point it seems Alison and Bess had a chance to get in a lifeboat, but not knowing where her husband was Bess took her daughter and went in search of her missing husband. What is known is that Trevor was the only survivor from this family. Hud’s body was the only one in the family recovered. Two-year-old Loraine was the only child in first or second class to perish.


Benjamin Guggenheim inherited his riches. He was traveling on the Titanic with his mistress, a French singer. Also in his party were his valet, chauffeur and a maid for his mistress. He slept right through the collision with the iceberg and had to be awakened and forced to put on a lifebelt. Realizing there was no hope for survival after putting his mistress in a lifeboat, he and his valet dressed in evening wear and was seen heading down the Grand staircase. It is reported he said “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” He also sent a message for his wife. Guggenheim, his valet and his chauffeur all went down with the Titanic.


Edith Louise Rosenbaum Russell was born in Ohio in 1879. She worked as a fashion writer, consultant, importer, buyer and stylist. By 1912 she was running her own service in Paris. She spent Easter reporting on the Paris races and decided to return to the states. After the impact she could see the berg glide by her window. She boarded the Titanic as a first class passenger. She had a musical toy pig, named Maxxie, her mother gave her. The night of the sinking she wrapped the pig in a blanket and the officers believed the bundle was a baby and placed the bundle in a lifeboat. Having refused to enter a boat previously, Edith jumped in after Maxxie. Throughout the long night she would wind his tail and allow him to sing the maxixe {a French dance} to entertain and calm the children. At least for a short time it helped everyone forget the cold, fear of the unknown and cheer up the occupants in the boat during that long, uncertain evening. She died in 1975. Her story is now a children’s book, Pig on the Titanic: A True Story.


John Thayer was Vice President of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He is also well known as a first class cricketer. He was married to Marian Longstreth Morris and they had four children. His son Jack III was on board the ship with him. He safely put his wife and her maid into a lifeboat. John Thayer went down with the ship shortly before his 50th birthday and his body was never identified. His son, Jack, was able to swim to an overturned collapsible boat “B” where he was later rescued. He died in 1945. Robert Ballard used information from his 1940 memoir to find the Titanic’s final resting place.

Archibald Gracie IV was a writer, historian and real estate investor. He spent much of his time aboard ship reading in the library and serving as a dining companion for the ship’s unaccompanied women. He spent much time recounting his research and interest in the Civil War and Chickamauga Campaign. As the ship went down, Gracie jumped and was able to make it to the overturned Collapsible “B” boat. He and many others hung on to this boat throughout the night. He immediately started on his book about the sinking when he reached New York. His health was severely affected by the ordeal and he died eight months later on December 4.


Lady Lucy Gordon was a leading fashion designer of the early 20th Century. She held the precursor to the modern day fashion show and was one of the first designers to use a mannequin. She was famous for designing lingerie. She was known as Lucile and travelling with her husband, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon. The couple was traveling under the names Mr. and Mrs. Morgan. They were two of only twelve people in their lifeboat. Accusations were later thrown at them of bribing the crew not to return to pick up people in the water for fear of being swamped. Lucile became a fashion columnists and critic later in life. She was scheduled to be aboard the final voyage of the RMS Lusitania but cancelled due to illness. The couple died four years to the day apart. He in 1931 and she in 1935.

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