Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters, The



THE ship's company was of a character befitting the greatest of all vessels and worthy of the occasion of her maiden voyage. Though the major part of her passengers were Americans returning from abroad, there were enrolled upon her cabin lists some of the most distinguished names of England, as well as of the younger nation. Many of these had purposely delayed sailing, or had hastened their departure, that they might be among the first passengers on the great vessel.

There were aboard six men whose fortunes ran into tens of millions, besides many other persons of international note. Among the men were leaders in the world of commerce, finance, literature, art and the learned professions. Many of the women were socially prominent in two hemispheres.

Wealth and fame, unfortunately, are not proof against fate, and most of these notable personages perished as pitiably as the more humble steerage passengers.

The list of notables included Colonel John Jacob Astor, head of the Astor family, whose fortune is estimated at $150,000,000; Isidor Straus, merchant and banker ($50,000,000); J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the International Mercantile Marine ($40,000,000); Benjamin Guggenheim, head of the Guggenheim family ($95,000,000): George D. Widener, son of P. A. B. Widener, traction magnate and financier ($5,000,000); Colonel Washington Roebling, builder of the great Brooklyn Bridge; Charles M. Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway; W. T. Stead. famous publicist; Jacques Futrelle, journalist; Henry S. Harper, of the firm of Harper & Bros.; Henry B. Harris, theatrical manager; Major Archibald Butt, military aide to President Taft; and Francis D. Millet, one of the best-known American painters.


Major Archibald Butt, whose bravery on the sinking vessel will not soon be forgotten, was military aide to President Taft and was known wherever the President traveled. His recent European mission was apparently to call on the Pope in behalf of President Taft; for on March 21st he was received at the Vatican, and presented to the Pope a letter from Mr. Taft thanking the Pontiff for the creation of three new American Cardinals.

Major Butt had a reputation as a horseman, and it is said he was able to keep up with President Roosevelt, be the ride ever so far or fast. He was promoted to the rank of major in 1911. He sailed for the Mediterranean on March 2d with his friend Francis D. Millet, the artist, who also perished on the Titanic.


John Jacob Astor was returning from a trip to Egypt with his nineteen-year-old bride, formerly Miss Madeline Force, to whom he was married in Providence, September 9, 1911. He was head of the family whose name he bore and one of the world's wealthiest men. He was not, however, one of the world's "idle rich," for his life of forty-seven years was a well-filled one. He had managed the family estates since 1891; built the Astor Hotel, New York; was colonel on the staff of Governor Levi P. Morton, and in May, 1898, was commissioned colonel of the United States volunteers. After assisting Major-General Breckinridge, inspector-general of the United States army, he was assigned to duty on the staff of Major-General Shafter and served in Cuba during the operations ending in the surrender of Santiago. He was also the inventor of a bicycle brake, a pneumatic road-improver, and an improved turbine engine.


Next to Colonel Astor in financial importance was Benjamin Guggenheim, whose father founded the famous house of M. Guggenheim and Sons. When the various Guggen-heim interests were consolidated into the American Smelting and Refining Company he retired from active business, although he later became interested in the Power and Mining Machinery Company of Milwaukee. In 1894 he married Miss Floretta Seligman, daughter of James Seligman, the New York banker.


Isidor Straus, whose wife elected to perish with him in the ship, was a brother of Nathan and Oscar Straus, a partner with Nathan Straus in R. H. Macy & Co. and L. Straus & Sons, a member of the firm of Abraham & Straus in Brooklyn, and has been well known in politics and charitable work. He was a member of the Fifty-third Congress from 1893 to 1895, and as a friend of William L. Wilson was in constant consultation in the matter of the former Wilson tariff bill.

Mr. Straus was conspicuous for his works of charity and was an ardent supporter of every enterprise to improve the condition of the Hebrew immigrants. He was president of the Educational Alliance, vice-president of the J. Hood Wright Memorial Hospital, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, on one of the visiting committees of Harvard University, and was besides a trustee of many financial and philanthropic institutions.

Mr. Straus never enjoyed a college education. He was, however, one of the best informed men of the day, his information having been derived from extensive reading. His library, said to be one of the finest and most extensive in New York, was his pride and his place of special recreation.


Lady Duff Gordon, a prominent English woman who was aboard the...}


Both men and women were loaded into the first boats, but soon the cry of "Women first" was raised. Then came the real note of tragedy. Husbands and wives clung to each other in farewell; some refused to be separated.}


The best known of Philadelphia passengers aboard the Titanic were Mr. and Mrs. George D. Widener. Mr. Widener was a son of Peter A. B. Widener and, like his father, was recognized as one of the foremost financiers of Philadelphia as well as a leader in society there. Mr. Widener married Miss Eleanor Elkins, a daughter of the late William L. Elkins. They made their home with his father at the latter's fine place at Eastbourne, ten miles from Philadelphia. Mr. Widener was keenly interested in horses and was a constant exhibitor at horse shows. In business he was recognized as his father's chief adviser in managing the latter's extensive traction interests. P. A. B. Widener is a director of the International Mercantile Marine.

Mrs. Widener is said to be the possessor of one of the finest collections of jewels in the world, the gift of her husband. One string of pearls in this collection was reported to be worth $250,000.

The Wideners went abroad two months previous to the disaster, Mr. Widener desiring to inspect some of his business interests on the other side. At the opening of the London Museum by King George on March 21st last it was announced that Mrs. Widener had presented to the museum thirty silver plates once the property of Nell Gwyn. Mr. Widener is survived by a daughter, Eleanor, and a son, George D. Widener, Jr. Harry Elkins Widener was with his parents and went down on the ship.


Colonel Washington Augustus Roebling was president of the John A. Roebling Sons' Company, manufacturers of iron and steel wire rope. He served in the Union Army from 1861 to 1865, resigning to assist his father in the construction of the Cincinnati and Covington suspension bridge. At the death of his father in 1869 he took entire charge of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and it is to his genius that the success of that great work may be said to be due.


One of the most notable of the foreign passengers was William T. Stead. Few names are more widely known to the world of contemporary literature and journalism than that of the brilliant editor of the Review of Reviews. Matthew Arnold called him "the inventor of the new journalism in England." He was on his way to America to take part in the Men and Religion Forward Movement and was to have delivered an address in Union Square on the Thursday after the disaster, with William Jennings Bryan as his chief associate.

Mr. Stead was an earnest advocate of peace and had written many books. His commentary "If Christ Came to Chicago" raised a storm twenty years ago. When he was in this country in 1907 he addressed a session of Methodist clergymen, and at one juncture of the meeting remarked that unless the Methodists did something about the peace movement besides shouting "amen" nobody "would care a damn about their amens!"


Other distinguished Englishmen on the Titanic were Norman C. Craig, M.P., Thomas Andrews, a representative of the firm of Harland & Wolff, of Belfast, the ship's builders, and J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line.


Mr. Ismay is president and one of the founders of the International Mercantile Marine. He has made it a custom to be a passenger on the maiden voyage of every new ship built by the White Star Line. It was Mr. Ismay who, with J. P. Morgan, consolidated the British steamship lines under the International Mercantile Marine's control; and it is largely due to his imagination that such gigantic ships as the Titanic and Olympic were made possible


Jacques Futrelle was an author of short stories, some of which have appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, and of many novels of the same general type as "The Thinking Machine," with which he first gained a wide popularity. Newspaper work, chiefly in Richmond, Va., engaged his attention from 1890 to 1909, in which year he entered the theatrical business as a manager. In 1904 he returned to his journalistic career.


Henry B. Harris, the theater manager, had been manager of May Irwin, Peter Dailey, Lily Langtry, Amelia Bingham, and launched Robert Edeson as star. He became the manager of the Hudson Theater in 1903 and the Hackett Theater in 1906. Among his best known productions are "The Lion and the Mouse," "The Traveling Salesman" and "The Third Degree." He was president of the Henry B. Harris Company controlling the Harris Theater.

Young Harris had a liking for the theatrical business from a boy. Twelve years ago Mr. Harris married Miss Rene Wallach of Washington. He was said to have a fortune of between $1,000,000 and $3,000,000. He owned outright the Hudson and the Harris theaters and had an interest in two other show houses in New York. He owned three theaters in Chicago, one in Syracuse and one in Philadelphia.


Henry Sleeper Harper, who was among the survivors, is a grandson of John Wesley Harper, one of the founders of the Harper publishing business. H. Sleeper Harper was himself an incorporator of Harper & Brothers when the firm became a corporation in 1896. He had a desk in the offices of the publishers, but his hand of late years in the management of the business has been very slight. He has been active in the work of keeping the Adirondack forests free from aggression. He was in the habit of spending about half of his time in foreign travel. His friends in New York recalled that he had a narrow escape about ten years ago when a ship in which he was traveling ran into an iceberg on the Grand Banks.


Millet was one of the best-known American painters and many of his canvasses are found in the leading galleries of the world. He served as a drummer boy with the Sixtieth Massachusetts volunteers in the Civil War, and from early manhood took a prominent part in public affairs. He was director of the decorations for the Chicago Exposition and was, at the time of the disaster, secretary of the American Academy in Rome. He was a wide traveler and the author of many books, besides translations of Tolstoi.


Another person of prominence was Charles Melville Hays, president of the Grand Trunk and the Grand Trunk Pacific railways. He was described by Sir Wilfrid Laurier at a dinner of the Canadian Club of New York, at the Hotel Astor last year, as "beyond question the greatest railroad genius in Canada, as an executive genius ranking second only to the late Edward H. Harriman." He was returning aboard the Titanic with his wife and son-in-law and daughter; Mr. and Mrs. Thornton Davidson, of Montreal.



SUNDAY night the magnificent ocean liner was plunging through a comparatively placid sea, on the surface of which there was much mushy ice and here and there a number of comparatively harmless-looking floes. The night was clear and stars visible. First Officer William T. Murdock was in charge of the bridge The first intimation of the presence of the iceberg that he received was from the lookout in the crow's nest.

Three warnings were transmitted from the crow's nest of the Titanic to the officer on the doomed steamship's bridge 15 minutes before she struck, according to Thomas Whiteley, a first saloon steward.

Whiteley, who was whipped overboard from the ship by a rope while helping to lower a life-boat, finally reported on the Carpathia aboard one of the boats that contained, he said, both the crow's nest lookouts. He heard a conversation between them, he asserted, in which they discussed the warnings given to the Titanic's bridge of the presence of the iceberg.

Whiteley did not know the names of either of the lookout men and believed that they returned to England with the majority of the surviving members of the crew.


"I heard one of them say that at 11.15 o'clock, 15 minutes before the Titanic struck, he had reported to First Officer Murdock, on the bridge, that he fancied he saw an iceberg!" said Whiteley. "Twice after that, the lookout said, he warned Murdock that a berg was ahead. They were very indignant that no attention was paid to their warnings."


Murdock's tardy answering of a telephone call from the crow's nest is assigned by Whiteley as the cause of the disaster.

When Murdock answered the call he received the information that the iceberg was due ahead. This information was imparted just a few seconds before the crash, and had the officer promptly answered the ring of the bell it is probable that the accident could have been avoided, or at least, been reduced by the lowered speed.

The lookout saw a towering "blue berg" looming up in the sea path of the Titanic, and called the bridge on the ship's telephone. When, after the passing of those two or three fateful minutes an officer on the bridge lifted the telephone receiver from its hook to answer the lookout, it was too late. The speeding liner, cleaving a calm sea under a star-studded sky, had reached the floating mountain of ice, which the theoretically "unsinkable" ship struck a crashing, if glancing, blow with her starboard bow.


Had Murdock, according to the account of the tragedy given by two of the Titanic's seamen, known how imperative was that call from the lookout man, the men at the wheel of the liner might have swerved the great ship sufficiently to avoid the berg altogether. At the worst the vessel would probably have struck the mass of ice with her stern.

Murdock, if the tale of the Titanic sailor be true, expiated his negligence by shooting himself within sight of all alleged victims huddled in life-boats or struggling in the icy seas.

When at last the danger was realized, the great ship was so close upon the berg that it was practically impossible to avoid collision with it


The first officer did what other startled and alert commanders would have done under similar circumstances, that is

{illust. caption = THE LOCATION OF THE DISASTER}

he made an effort by going full speed ahead on the starboard propeller and reversing his port propeller, simultaneously throwing his helm over, to make a rapid turn and clear the berg. The maneuver was not successful. He succeeded in saving his bows from crashing into the ice-cliff, but nearly the entire length of the underbody of the great ship on the starboard side was ripped. The speed of the Titanic, estimated to be at least twenty-one knots, was so terrific that the knife-like edge of the iceberg's spur protruding under the sea cut through her like a can-opener.

The Titanic was in 41.46 north latitude and 50.14 west longitude when she was struck, very near the spot on the wide Atlantic where the Carmania encountered a field of ice, studded with great bergs, on her voyage to New York which ended on April 14th. It was really an ice pack, due to an unusually severe winter in the north Atlantic. No less than twenty-five bergs, some of great height, were counted.

The shock was almost imperceptible. The first officer did not apparently realize that the great ship had received her death wound, and none of the passengers had the slightest suspicion that anything more than a usual minor sea accident had happened. Hundreds who had gone to their berths and were asleep were unawakened by the vibration.


To illustrate the placidity with which practically all the men regarded the accident it is related that Pierre Marechal, son of the vice-admiral of the French navy, Lucien Smith, Paul Chevre, a French sculptor, and A. F. Ormont, a cotton broker, were in the Cafe Parisien playing bridge.

The four calmly got up from the table and after walking on deck and looking over the rail returned to their game. One of them had left his cigar on the card table, and while the three others were gazing out on the sea he remarked that he couldn't afford to lose his smoke, returned for his cigar and came out again.

They remained only for a few moments on deck, and then resumed their game under the impression that the ship had stopped for reasons best known to the captain and not involving any danger to her. Later, in describing the scene that took place, M. Marechal, who was among the survivors, said: "When three-quarters of a mile away we stopped, the spectacle before our eyes was in its way magnificent. In a very calm sea, beneath a sky moonless but sown with millions of stars, the enormous Titanic lay on the water, illuminated from the water line to the boat deck. The bow was slowly sinking into the black water."

The tendency of the whole ship's company except the men in the engine department, who were made aware of the danger by the inrushing water, was to make light of and in some instances even to ridicule the thought of danger to so substantial a fabric.


When Captain Smith came from the chart room onto the bridge, his first words were, "Close the emergency doors."

"They're already closed, sir," Mr. Murdock replied.

"Send to the carpenter and tell him to sound the ship," was the next order. The message was sent to the carpenter, but the carpenter never came up to report. He was probably the first man on the ship to lose his life.

The captain then looked at the communicator, which shows in what direction the ship is listing. He saw that she carried five degrees list to starboard.

The ship was then rapidly settling forward. All the steam sirens were blowing. By the captain's orders, given in the next few minutes, the engines were put to work at pumping out the ship, distress signals were sent by the Marconi, and rockets were sent up from the bridge by Quartermaster Rowe. All hands were ordered on deck.


The blasting shriek of the sirens had not alarmed the great company of the Titanic, because such steam calls are an incident of travel in seas where fogs roll. Many had gone to bed, but the hour, 11.40 P. M., was not too late for the friendly contact of saloons and smoking rooms. It was Sunday night and the ship's concert had ended, but there were many hundreds up and moving among the gay lights, and many on deck with their eyes strained toward the mysterious west, where home lay. And in one jarring, breath-sweeping moment all of these, asleep or awake, were at the mercy of chance. Few among the more than 2000 aboard could have had a thought of danger. The man who had stood up in the smoking room to say that the Titanic was vulnerable or that in a few minutes two-thirds of her people would be face to face with death, would have been considered a fool or a lunatic. No ship ever sailed the seas that gave her passengers more confidence, more cool security.

Within a few minutes stewards and other members of the crew were sent round to arouse the people. Some utterly refused to get up. The stewards had almost to force the doors of the staterooms to make the somnolent appreciate their peril, and many of them, it is believed, were drowned like rats in a trap.


Colonel and Mrs. Astor were in their room and saw the ice vision flash by. They had not appreciably felt the gentle shock and supposed that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. They were both dressed and came on deck leisurely. William T. Stead, the London journalist, wandered on deck for a few minutes, stopping to talk to Frank Millet. "What do they say is the trouble?" he asked. "Icebergs," was the brief reply. "Well," said Stead, "I guess it is nothing serious. I'm going back to my cabin to read."

From end to end on the mighty boat officers were rushing about without much noise or confusion, but giving orders sharply. Captain Smith told the third officer to rush downstairs and see whether the water was coming in very fast. "And," he added, "take some armed guards along to see that the stokers and engineers stay at their posts."

In two minutes the officer returned. "It looks pretty bad, sir," he said. "The water is rushing in and filling the bottom. The locks of the water-tight compartments have been sprung by the shock."

"Give the command for all passengers to be on deck with life-belts on."

Through the length and breadth of the boat, upstairs and downstairs, on all decks, the cry rang out: "All passengers on deck with life-preservers."


For the first time, there was a feeling of panic. Husbands sought for wives and children. Families gathered together. Many who were asleep hastily caught up their clothing and rushed on deck. A moment before the men had been joking about the life-belts, according to the story told by Mrs. Vera Dick, of Calgary, Canada. "Try this one," one man said to her, "they are the very latest thing this season. Everybody's wearing them now."

Another man suggested to a woman friend, who had a fox terrier in her arms, that she should put a life-saver on the dog. "It won't fit," the woman replied, laughing. "Make him carry it in his mouth," said the friend.


Below, on the steerage deck, there was intense confusion. About the time the officers on the first deck gave the order that all men should stand to one side and all women should go below to deck B, taking the children with them, a similar order was given to the steerage passengers. The women were ordered to the front, the men to the rear. Half a dozen healthy, husky immigrants pushed their way forward and tried to crowd into the first boat.

"Stand back," shouted the officers who were manning the boat. "The women come first."

Shouting curses in various foreign languages, the immigrant men continued their pushing and tugging to climb into the boats. Shots rang out. One big fellow fell over the railing into the water. Another dropped to the deck, moaning. His jaw had been shot away. This was the story told by the bystanders afterwards on the pier. One husky Italian told the writer on the pier that the way in which the men were shot down was horrible. His sympathy was with the men who were shot.

"They were only trying to save their lives," he said.


On board the Titanic, the wireless operator, with a life-belt about his waist, was hitting the instrument that was sending out C. Q. D., messages, "Struck on iceberg, C. Q. D."

"Shall I tell captain to turn back and help?" flashed a reply from the Carpathia.

"Yes, old man," the Titanic wireless operator responded. "Guess we're sinking."

An hour later, when the second wireless man came into the boxlike room to tell his companion what the situation was, he found a negro stoker creeping up behind the operator and saw him raise a knife over his head. He said afterwards—he was among those rescued—that he realized at once that the negro intended to kill the operator in order to take his life-belt from him. The second operator pulled out his revolver and shot the negro dead.

"What was the trouble?" asked the operator.

"That negro was going to kill you and steal your life-belt," the second man replied.

"Thanks, old man," said the operator. The second man went on deck to get some more information. He was just in time to jump overboard before the Titanic went down. The wireless operator and the body of the negro who tried to steal his belt went down together.

On the deck where the first class passengers were quartered, known as deck A, there was none of the confusion that was taking place on the lower decks. The Titanic was standing without much rocking. The captain had given an order and the band was playing.

{illust. caption = WAITING FOR THE NEWS

A Bird's eye view of the great crowds...}


Where the first news of the Titanic disaster was received.}

1 of 2
2 of 2