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The stewards played a pivotal role soon after the collision; many were asleep, but they were soon pressed into service awakening their passengers. Most stewards were unaware of the damage to the ship and simply relayed their instructions for their charges to don lifebelts and then to come on deck. Even if they had known the extent of the injury to the Titanic, it seems likely that they would not have been alarmed - the ship was unsinkable after all!
How exactly did the stewards act during this period of confusion? And can their behaviour help to solve a mystery? Due to a paucity of data, only the first class stewards, mainly the bedroom stewards, will be considered in this discussion.
Each bedroom steward was allocated a certain number of rooms to tend to; in the event of an emergency, they would be responsible for waking the occupants of the cabins, ensuring that their lifebelts were tied, and then lock their rooms (excellent descriptions of their duties can be found in Henry Etches and Andrew Cunningham testimonies in the US. It may surprise readers to learn that it was commonplace for passengers to not have a key of their own; if they wanted their staterooms locked, a steward would lock your door for them. If the passengers had something valuable they would entrust it to the purser.
Since the locking of doors was performed by different stewards, there would seem to be no set time during which they would do this. Cunningham, as described in the link above, did so for his charges after turning off the lights in the cabins. Algernon Barkworth told the "Hull Daily Mail", that he found his room A-23 locked after he went down for a second time (the first was to fetch his lifejacket). George Rheims in nearby A-21 was able to enter his room just minutes before the end of the ship (although if the timing in his story is right, his cabin would be at least partially flooded!). Steward Fred Ray went below and on his way up, he noticed Martin Rothschild leaving his cabin in the vicinity of the 1st class purser's office; this was after Rothschild saw his wife depart in boat 6, but before Ray got on deck to see boat 9 being filled with women and children. Evidently, he had a key or his room had not yet been locked.
Reading the testimonies and newspaper interviews with the surviving stewards, it is abundantly clear that they were exemplary in waking their passengers expeditiously (at least, those passengers who hadn't woken up prematurely and gone investigating, finding out for themselves what had happened) - but cynics would rightly point out that the stewards were hardly likely to publicise any shortcomings in their duties.
In the event of an impending catastrophe, the imperative role of the stewards was not only the safety of their passengers, but also to prevent a panic. There is ample evidence that very few stewards were aware of the ship's hull being ruptured; some had been told, and some had even seen the Titanic flooding - but they did not necessarily impart this knowledge.
Mary Sloan (turkish bath stewardess) wrote a letter to her sister saying that she had heard from Dr.O'Loughlin that things were "very bad"; Andrew Cunningham (bedroom steward) saw water on F deck and thought it was "pretty bad." Etches was told of water in the mail area; Fred Ray had seen the water near his quarters on E deck and told Mr.Rothschild that things seemed serious - but Rothschild seemed unconvinced. James Johnson called his colleagues thinking it was serious, but did not think that the ship was dangerous.
This is what the stewards said - what did the passengers say?
1st class passenger Elizabeth Shute said she saw an officer pass by her stateroom who tried placating her but, being sceptical, she followed the crewman to a nearby cabin (perhaps the Doctor's section?) where she heard him say, "We can keep the water out for a while." After the collision, the Hoyts went on deck ("Amsterdam Evening Recorder and Daily Democrat", 23/4/12). Dr O'Loughlin whispered in Mr Hoyt's ear that it was serious and that the squash court was flooding. This was kept from Mrs Hoyt.
Henry Harper ("Harper's Weekly", 27/4/12) related how he had felt the collision and saw the iceberg drifting by his porthole. She told his wife to get dressed but she rushed off to the ubiquitous O'Loughlin who returned and told him to go back to bed as there was nothing serious. Harper replied, "Damn it, man, this ship has hit an iceberg! How can you say there's nothing serious?" O'Loughlin left to find out what was amiss and returned soon saying, "They tell me the trunks are floating around in the hold,You may as well go on deck." (When the Harpers did get on deck, another steward said they would be delayed for two hours which seemed to satisfy the crowds congregated there - until about a quarter of an hour later when word came that people were to don lifebelts).
Margarette Spedden ("Devon and Exeter Gazette", 14/5/12) related, "I met our stewardess ... who said the water was already in the baggage room, so we hurried to get all our warm clothes on." Despite this, they could not realise that anything serious was going to happen.
Emily Ryerson's affidavit said, "At the time of collision I was awake and heard the engines stop, but felt no jar. My husband was asleep, so I rang and asked the steward, Bishop, what was the matter. He said, 'There is talk of an iceberg, ma‘am, and they have stopped, not to run into it.' I told him to keep me informed if there were any orders." By about 12.10am, word had filtered through about lifebelts. If there were any orders dispensed by Bishop, Emily and her party were not there to hear them as they had left their rooms to meet their fellow passengers.
Based on this, we can say that the alert was issued fairly efficiently and where mention of water entering the ship was made, it did not elicit any sense of dread. The stewards seem to have acted correctly. And this is reflected in the actions of the 1st class passengers; very few were in "hysterics" (a word used to describe Laura Francatelli, who had seen water creeping along the corridor near her room). There was a sense of decorum - compare this to 2nd class passenger Nellie Becker who asked if she had time to dress and was told somewhat melodramatically, "No, Madame, you have time for nothing."
Which leads us to the raison d'être for this essay; what happened to Ann Isham? She was one of only five females in first class to perish and she is a real lady of mystery, for there is only one possible mention of her on the ship. This was unearthed by researcher Daniel Klistorner some years ago, and was written by survivor Antoinette Flegenheim in May 1912:
"The lady who sat at the next table to mine in the saloon complained she could never obtain room service because the electric button that had been placed to that effect on the panel near her bed didn't function properly. I'm sorry to say the lady never made it to a lifeboat and drowned in the sinking, for we all looked for her in vain on the Carpathia. She was a charming lady in her forties, and apparently she traveled alone."
And that is it. Everything else is silence and conjecture.
I am grateful to George Behe for providing the following, from The New York Times of Wednesday April 17, 1912:
Miss Anne Elizabeth Isham, a passenger on the Titanic and listed among the missing, was a former Chicago girl. She was a daughter of Edward S. Isham who died ten years ago. He was the senior member of the law firm of Isham, Lincoln & Beale.
Miss Isham for the last nine years has been living abroad. Most of the time she has resided in Paris with her sister Mrs. Harry Shelton, formerly of New York. While living in Chicago she was a leader in Chicago society circles. She was a member of the Friday club and the Scribblers club.
Edward S. Isham, a brother, is living in New York. Miss Isham was on her way to spend the summer with him.
It may be instructive to analyse the comments of those near her room, that is, located on C-Deck forward (some, like Hugh Woolner, much later returned to C-52 to fetch his lifejacket). Unfortunately, not every account of survivors in this area are available to this author; indeed, the stateroom allocations are not known with 100% certainty.
The plan below shows C-Deck, forward of the Grand Staircase. Ms.Isham's stateroom is highlighted in yellow.
|C-7 : Caroline Bonnell (Decatur Review 19/4/12) said that she lay in bed for ten minutes after collision. Finally she and her roommate Natalie Wick decided to go up but having looked around, they decided to go back to bed when an officer went up to them and another group of people and told them to get their lifebelts. They went below and told their aunt and uncle the news, but Mr Wick laughed and downplayed the danger. Ms.Bonnell went back to their stateroom and a minute or so later there was a knock on the door by an officer and told them to go up to A deck. He said there was no danger. C-22 to 26 : Alice Cleaver wrote in a letter to Walter Lord, "[Mr Allison, her employer] decided to go and find out the trouble. While he was away I was warned we would have to leave the ship, so prepared the children and Mrs.Allison - but she became hysterical and I had to calm her. About that time an officer came round to close the cabins and advised us to go on deck - here they met Mr.Allison outside the cabin but he seemed too dazed to speak." C-23, 25 and 27 : The newspaper accounts purportedly originating from the surviving Fortune family members were later repudiated. C-28 Emma Schabert : in a letter dated April 18th, 1912, she said "[After the collision she went on deck where] women were walking about in evening gowns, talking the matter over. We went forward quite alone in the dark, and watched the sailors working and to see the ice on the lower decks. Suddenly a tall dark figure loomed up and said: "Get on your life preservers right away." We were quite surprised and started downstairs, where pale looking silent stewards were putting life preservers on passengers. C-32 Ella White : see discussion below C-51 Archibald Gracie : see discussion below C-52 Gilbert Tucker (Times Union 19/4/1912) : he felt the collision, walked forward on the promenade and saw ice there. He started back to cabin and in the main companionway ran across Captain Smith with a group of his officers. As Tucker passed Smith was giving orders to call all hands, get lifebelts on them and prepare to lower away the boats. Tucker went to his own cabin for some more clothes, some more money and his watch. When he got to the deck everybody was there. Some time later the first boat was lowered.|
Ella White testified before the US Senate Inquiry and superificially, her account is damning for she says she wasn't roused
and heard no alarm. Marie Young (Washington Post 21/4/12) who was in the same cabin confirmed this, saying that White urged her to go with her immediately to A deck. She made the effort to leave the stateroom "immediately." If they had not done so, Young believes their lives might have been lost, "for it seems certain many passengers perished in their staterooms, as very few report being called."
But these statements are incorrect, for she says that following the sensation of the collision, "We went immediately on deck ourselves." It was at some point later that she heard from Captain Smith, coming down the staircase, to put on their life preservers, which they did and then waited around for another 20 minutes. It seems quite clear that Mrs.White never heard anything from the stewards because she had left her stateroom straight away - unless she expected the alarm to be roused immediately after the collision, which is nonsense. [Footnote] [Footnote]
Archibald Gracie's story is naturally important, as he occupied a stateroom next door to Isham. In his book, he said that after the collision, he went up on the boat deck to see if anything was amiss. Then he went to A deck, and in the companionway he saw Ismay and a member of the crew hurrying up the stairs. At the foot of stairs, Gracie met Clinch Smith who told him of the ice, and word of the collision spread. He went down to his stateroom and he packed. As he passed from the corridor into the companionway, he saw men and women slipping on life jackets, stewards assisting in adjusting them. steward Cullen insisted he returned to his stateroom for his. He did so and Cullen fastened one on Gracie while he brought another one for someone else to use.
There are minor differences between this and his testimony in the US and his newspaper accounts, mainly concerning when he saw Ismay.
Soon after the disaster, Isham's family wrote to Gracie and asked him if he had any information on their lost relative. Gracie wrote,
"Her relatives, learning that her stateroom. No. C, 49, adjoined mine, wrote me in the hope that I might be able to furnish some information to their sorrowing hearts about her last hours on the shipwrecked Titanic, It was with much regret that I replied that I had not seen my neighbor at any time, and, not having the pleasure of her acquaintance, identification was impossible. I was, however, glad to be able to assure her family of one point, viz., that she did not meet with the horrible fate which they feared, in being locked in her stateroom and drowned. I had revisited my stateroom twice after being aroused by the collision, and am sure that she was fully warned of what had happened, and after she left her stateroom it was locked behind her, as was mine."
Unfortunately, any correspondence that Isham's ancestors may have had with other survivors has not survived.We can dispense with the suggestion made by some that the faulty call button in Isham's room somehow caused her disappearance. A broken button would not hinder a steward in knocking on the door, and opening it; it would only affect the person in that room calling for assistance.
A discussion on Encyclopedia-Titanica speculates that Faulkner may have been Isham's steward and not Cullen; both stewards survived and more than likely gave depositions upon return to England. But these statements have long since vanished, and if they gave interviews to the newspapers, these have not surfaced either. There is a dearth of data concerning this area of the ship, but Ella White's spurious comments above, it would seem that the rooms were checked before being locked.
However, we cannot discount the faint possibility that she was locked in her room. If she was, it would not be unprecedented.
Lawrence Beesley wrote in his book:
"Below decks too was additional evidence that no one thought of immediate danger. Two ladies walking along one of the corridors came across a group of people gathered round a door which they were trying vainly to open, and on the other side of which a man was demanding in loud terms to be let out. Either his door was locked and the key not to be found, or the collision had jammed the lock and prevented the key from turning. The ladies thought he must be afflicted in some way to make such a noise, but one of the men was assuring him that in no circumstances should he be left, and that his (the bystander's) son would be along soon and would smash down his door if it was not opened in the mean time. "He has a stronger arm than I have," he added. The son arrived presently and proceeded to make short work of the door: it was smashed in and the inmate released, to his great satisfaction and with many expressions of gratitude to his rescuer. But one of the head stewards who came up at this juncture was so incensed at the damage done to the property of his company, and so little aware of the infinitely greater damage done the ship, that he warned the man who had released the prisoner that he would be arrested on arrival in New York."
The hero in this well-known anecdote is Norris Williams, but the identity of the trapped man is unknown. Williams would later reveal that his stateroom was on C-Deck but the number is not know. Walter Lord made notes of his meeting with Williams who had said that he went into the A Deck foyer, stood around, then heard the call to get lifebelts. He went back to his cabin with his father and got their belts. At his father's suggestion, he put it on under his fur coat. Out in the corridor again, he helped release a man locked in stateroom by breaking in door. The steward warned that he must report him for damaging company property.
This is before the rockets went up and before the first boats went away but there is nothing else to narrow the timeline.
There is nothing else to go on. Did the steward lock the door without checking whether there was anyone else in the room? Or was the steward detained nearby, and the incarcerated man who had returned to his room, slip inside unnoticed? Another possibility exists, one proposed by Captain David Brown in his book "Last Log of the Titanic", namely that the Titanic had suffered such bending forces as the hull sagged downwards that the door and/or doorframe had been forced out of shape, sealing it.
George Behe has provided invaluable new information about this incident. He writes, '[This] comes from the July 10, 1912 edition of the Indianapolis Star: "Before opening the estate in Marion County Mr. Taylor, as attorney for Mrs. Crafton, has conducted a thorough inquiry among the survivors of the disaster with whom he could get in communication. The stateroom occupied by Mr. Crafton was known to have been in a part of the Titanic which was crushed by the collision with the iceberg. A letter received from Fred Seward of New York, who occupied a stateroom adjoining that of Mr. Crafton, says that he heard Mr. Crafton calling for assistance. The door was jammed and could not be opened. Members of the crew refused to break it down until Mr. Crafton had guaranteed to stand the resulting damage. When he came out of his room he wore a life belt. That is the last any known survivor saw of him.'" It should be noted that there is a minor quibble with other evidence - namely that it was Crafton, and not Williams who the subject of a threat of financial renumeration for the damage.
George also notes that Mrs. Stephenson had written, "Before Elizabeth returned I decided to get dressed as I had seen a gentleman in one of the rooms opposite pull his shoes in from the passageway. When she came in she told of many people outside half-dressed, one woman having a thin white pigtail down her back and a feather hat; also that some man was fastened in his inside room unable to open his door. He was much worried, calling for help, and young Williams put his shoulder to the panels and broke it in. The steward was most indignant and threatened to have him arrested for defacing the beautiful ship."
It is not known how long Elizabeth Eustis was away from her stateroom. Stephenson and Eustis did not wait for their steward to tell them to go up to the boats; their account does mention that John Thayer did arrive and said that, "there was no danger, but we had struck ice and there was much on deck and he urged us to come up and see it, saying we would find him and Mrs. Thayer on the deck." Thayer had been on deck [OBRT] with his son where he had seen some ice in the well deck before returning to their room to dress fully. It is possible that Mr Thayer took an unrecorded quick detour to Eustis and Stephenson at this time, going down one further deck than his own cabin to tell them.
Other contradictions exist; Eustis/Stephenson put the door breaking incident well before the call was issued for lifebelts, but Williams put it afterwards (of course Williams's memory of this incident was from decades later). But amongst the confusion, we can possibly solve a minor Titanic mystery. If we assume that Eustis did not progress very far from her cabin in her quest for information, then we can perhaps put Seward and Crafton close to D-20; currently, their cabin allocations are unknown. If this is the case, and Williams was indeed on "C" deck, then somehow he had meandered to the next deck down. The anecdote from Mr.Taylor is fascinating for another reason, as he says that the incident with the door occurred in an area "crushed" by the collision. I am unaware of any areas above the boiler rooms that could be described thus.
The most interesting facet of this story is that, despite the nearby presence of a steward, we assume with a key, the door could not be opened. This implies that the lock had indeed become jammed or the fabric of the ship damaged in some fashion. This latter explanation seems unlikely, as no-one else reported a similar incident, and the possibility that only one door was so affected is ridiculous.
Emily Ryerson gave her account to the Senate Inquiry in America. She said that a little time after 12.10am, the word came through from the Captain to get lifebelts and head up to the boatdeck, which they all did; "My husband cautioned us all to keep together, and we went up to A deck, where we found quite a group of people we knew. Everyone had on a lifebelt, and they all were very quiet and self-possessed. We stood about there for quite a long time - fully half an hour, I should say. I know my maid ran down to the cabin and got some of my clothes. Then we were ordered to the boat deck." Her maid, Victorine Chaudanson rushed down and found herself locked into their stateroom. She screamed and the steward (perhaps Walter Bishop, the Ryerson's steward?) let her out. The same comments about Williams applies here - wouldn't the steward have checked the room before locking it?
Very few people returned to their staterooms after they had left with their lifebelts; perhaps if more had done so, more of these incidents might have been reported? however, as soon as the call was made to take to the boats, action shifted from the inside of the ship to the boat deck.
Could Ann have been relocated to another cabin, perhaps because of her faulty call button? If so, we are still left with the same questions; was she overlooked or locked in?
There are stories of passengers transferring to other staterooms. Could one of these have been Isham?
Mrs Bishop told the Dowagiac Daily News of 20/4/12, "The girl who occupied a stateroom across from us refused to get up and the stewards pulled her out of bed, she got back in and sank with the ship." Could this be Ms.Isham? There are problems with this account. First of all, Mrs.Bishop did not mention this in her testimony in the US, but lest it be thought that the interview was an invention by a journalist, there is reasonable agreement with her testimony. To be blunt, Isham has hardly a "girl".
Directly opposite the Bishops were the Snyders. Mr John Snyder said of his wife, "At any rate she made me get up and go out to the companionway to see what was going on. I went out three times before we decided to get up and get dressed." The mystery woman described Mrs.Bishop does not sound like Nelle Snyder. The two cabins nearby - one next to the Snyders and one next to the Bishops do not have any passengers listed in the surviving documentation.
What of any other phantom passengers? May Birkhead talked to many people while the Carpathia ferried survivors to New York. She later related something she had been told; 'A steward who was saved told me that when he went to one of the first cabin passengers - a woman - and told her to dress and put on a life preserver, she merely laughed. "If that little bump is all that has happened, I'll stay right here," she said. "Madam, my orders are from the captain to tell you to dress and put on a life preserver." "My orders to myself are to get back into bed and go to sleep again," said the woman. And she did. She paid for that with her life.'
And as is usual in this story, that is all we have. Was this Isham, or simply a woman who never related her tale to history, but saw sense and did indeed come on deck at some later point? Or was she "missed" on the Carpathia? As an example, Edith Rosenbaum refers to unnamed people in her 1913 recollections in Cassell's magazine who she says were lost. But these people - who have since been identified as Robert Daniels and Virginia Clark - did survive [footnote]. There are undoubtedly other instances.
Another possible method to analyse the efficacy of the 1st class stewards is not to look at those who survived, but those who perished. We know who died, and we know where some of them had cabins. Were they awakened and seen on deck? Were their bodies recovered (under the fairly safe assumption that people trapped below decks would be unlikely to surface)? This approach has limitations. People who travelled by themselves might be unlikely to leave an impression on people's minds. And not all bodies were recovered. And the cabin allocation list is far from complete, as noted.
Still, it does give a method to attempt. The results are below for specific people. I haven't concerned myself where the men of a family group perished as it is likely they were awake and acted with the remainder of their parties. But even so, the families can tell us how they were apprised of the impending doom of the ship.
In the following diagrams, a red dot indicates that at least one of the occupants' bodies were retrieved; yellow means that that at least one of the passengers in the cabin died. Sources to witnesses comments are given (where "OBRMST" denotes George Behe's excellent "On Board RMS Titanic".)
We can comment briefly on Stephen Blackwell, who occupied cabin "T" on the boat deck, behind the officer's quarters. Miss Bonnell said she last him in the smoking room talking with Captain Smith just shortly before the evacuation began.
There is only partial data for the people quartered here. Washington Roebling (A-24) escorted Elizabeth Shute to a lifeboat (OBRMST), so he was definitely awake. The body of William Dulles (A-18) was found on the surface of the ocean.
Regarding the steward's activity in this area, we have discussed Edith Rosenbaum in A-11 elsewhere. Algernon Barkworth was in the smoking room and when he went to investigate he found Captain Smith surrounded by crying ladies, whom he told to go back to the cabins and put on their lifebelts; Barkworth went below and did so. Paul Chevré was playing bridge with some others in the Cafe Parisien and they went up on deck where they heard Smith give a similar order to that heard by Barkworth. Edith Evans (A-29) was one of the few ladies who didn't survive and we know she was awake during preparations for the evacuation as Colonel Gracie recalled escorting them to 6th Officer Moody who was then assisting with the boats on A deck. The Duff-Gordons occupied A-16 and A-20; in fragments of a letter, Lady Duff Gordon talks of two stewards hooking lifebelts on them; her husband's testimony in London is confusing at times, but he did say that a steward came along and said, "The Captain's orders are that the ladies are to put on lifebelts" and to go up on the boat deck. Lady Duff Gordon's secretary, Laura Francatelli confirms this, saying that, in her employer's cabin, "The next minute a man came along & said "Captains orders," all to put life preservers on, and the next instant they were putting one on Madame, & I".
Dr Washington Dodge and his family were in A-34. He stated that he went to the forward companionway after the collision and inquired of an officer what had happened, and he replied that that he thought it was nothing serious - perhaps something wrong with the propeller. Dr Dodge returned to his wife to tell her the news and he when went on deck where a stoker informed him of the seriousness of the events. Returning to his stateroom to impart the news, he soon saw his steward in the corridor who told him that the order had just come to don lifebelts, which is family did before ascending to the boats.
It seems fairly clear that, on the port side at any rate, the word did spread about the orders for belts and boats, and the stewards did attend to people. Note that I have excluded Clinch Smith (who was awake after the collision as he was with Gracie most of the time), who is listed as having a cabin opposite Rosenbaum. There is some evidence that he was moved to a more palatial room.
|B Deck forward
Mr Emil Brandeis (B-10) was seen on deck towards the end; Edward Kent (B-37) was given a locket containing a portrait of Helen Candee's mother before she left the ship; Major Butt (B-38) was seen by quite a few people after the collision, including Gracie in the smoking room.
In B-18 were the Hippachs and their story is related elsewhere in this article, as is the Dick's and the Crosby's account. In B-36 was Helene Østby (Providence Daily Journal 20/4/12) said she felt the collision, then a minute or two of silence later, she heard doors open and heard a woman asking what had happened. A steward answered her saying that everything would be alright. Østby got out of bed and went out and passengers began to gather in corridors; her father came out of his stateroom across the corridor. They wandered the decks where they heard that the ship had hit an iceberg. It was a "good part of an hour" before the stewards came and told them to put on lifejackets and go to the boat deck. They they went with the Warrens to the boat deck and saw Smith coming down the stairs.
In B-5 were Elizabeth Allen and Georgette Madill; the former wrote to Gracie that her aunt's maid came to her room telling her that the baggage room was underwater - and she soon amended the report to say her room, 3 decks below was also underwater. She does not say when the order was given to go up on deck, or who told her. Hedwig Margaritha Frölicher said 50 years later that after a brief trip to A deck, they went back to their rooms and met a steward in the hall and Hedwig's father asked if there was any danger. He was told yes, that they should take their lifejackets and go on deck, but they shouldn't be afraid due to the watertight compartments. She told a broadly similar story to Walter Lord 7 years earlier. The Snyders were in B45; as recounted above, Mrs Snyder heard the collision and woke husband. He went on deck and he asked some of the crew what had happened. They told him the ship had scraped an iceberg and he returned to his stateroom. She asked him to go on deck and make sure of their safety. Three times he was told nothing serious had happened. He was preparing to return when a steward came running along the aisle telling everyone not to be alarmed but to dress hurriedly and go on deck.
A discussion of the Hippachs story is to be found earlier; but the thrust of Helene Øtby's account is that there was a large delay before they were told to put on lifejackets. However, estimates are time are subjective - and we do not know precisely where they heard the order for lifebelts as she admitted they had wandered the decks. Anna Warren told the press that she and her party arrived on the boat deck in time to see boat 7 being prepared for lowering; she escaped in the next boat, No.5. Given that boat 7 left an hour after the impact, Østby's estimate of "good part of an hour" may be a slight overestimate, perhaps it was really 45 minutes or so? Constance Willard also talked of ringing her call button for over half an hour before a steward (or stewardess) with a scared expression arrived and told her to dress saying the ship was in serious danger. Unfortunately, we do not know where Willard was located - researcher Bob Godfrey suggests E-9. If this determination of her cabin is right, the attendant's nervous demeanour is understandable, because just mere feet forward of this cabin, the water was rising in the mail area and spilling out into that very E deck corridor![footnote]
Mrs Snyder mentions a steward in the "aisle" (?) but this tells us nothing of where he was actually seen. On the other hand, the Hippachs and Hedwig Frölicher talk of stewards near to their own cabins.
Amidships on B deck, so slightly aft of the above graphic, was the parlour suite occupied by Bruce Ismay; close by was the cabin in which stewardesses Kate Gold and Annie Martin. The former gave an interview to "The Daily Mirror" which appeared on April 30th, 1912: "One of the stewards came to us a little before midnight and said: 'Are you awake, girls? Come on deck as quick as you can and get to the boats.' "I replied: 'Don't pull my leg at this time of night,' and he said: 'Really, it's quite right; you must come to the boats at once.' "We had heard or felt nothing of the collision, and were sleeping in the same cabin. We hastily put on some things over our nightclothes.
"On our way up to the boat deck we met an officer, who said, 'Hurry up, girls.' We replied, 'We have only just been called.' It was than a long time after the collision - there was hardly anybody in bed in our section of the saloon except Mr.Ismay. We heard him being called and met him afterwards in his pyjamas, with an overcoat over them.
The term "a long time after the collision" seems to be an exaggeration; this would seem to be about midnight. If Gold is right, there were hardly any people in her section; perhaps everyone was gathered on the A deck landing, as seen by Helen Bishop who gave evidence in America on this point? Steward Alfred Crawford testified at the US Senate Inquiry that he saw Ismay come out of his room with another steward named Clark, and they went on deck. He said that after this, "[he] went around to all the staterooms and told Mrs. Rogers [Elisabeth Robert] and Miss Rogers [Georgette Madill] to dress, and I helped tie lifebelts on them. After I saw all the passengers on the boat deck, I went on the boat deck myself, and I went to No. 5 lifeboat." Mrs Robert was in B3 and Miss Madill was in B5. It is not known from this account whether they were already awake or not at the time Crawford attended to them.
|B Deck aft
There are only a few accounts here; B-84 was the stateroom of Benjamin Guggenheim and his manservant Victor Giglio; we know that they were awake after the collision because their steward, Etches, talked of attending to them at the US Inquiry. Ismay's servant, William Harrison was in B-94. Etches also talks of meeting Harrison; "I was going along B deck, and [Thomas Andrews] asked had I waked all my passengers. Mr. Harrison came up then, and I said: "No; I am going to see if the Carter family are up." I went to open the door. Mr. Harrison said: "I can tell you they are up. I have just come out of my cabin." " Etches confirmed that some of the cabins in his area were empty and that everyone was roused.
|C Deck foreward
This area of C deck has been discussed in detail in the bulk of this essay, but there are a few passengers will fit our criteria for analysis. In C-6, we have Thomson Beattie, who spoke to Arthur Peuchen soon after the collision and Thomas McCaffrey, whose body was recovered. C-30 was the stateroom of Harry Molson, who was seen on deck waving others goodbye (OBRMST). On the face of it, we have two out of three people unsaved who were almost certainly on deck.
|C Deck amidships forward
The body of George Graham (C-42) was recovered as was Walter Porter's (C-110); the remains of his fellow occupant George Clifford were lost. John Macguire (C-108) and William Hipkins (C-39) were also not retrieved.
As for those in surrounding cabins, Arthur Peuchen was in C-104 gave testimony in the US. He said he had started to undress when he felt the collision, which he likened to a wave. He went up on deck where he saw the ice deposited by the 'berg and went indoors where after about 10 minutes he saw ladied and gentlemen coming in looking very serious, the order for lifebelts and boats having been given. Peuchen went to his cabin and when he emerged, he saw many people in the hallway with their belts on, the ladies crying. He then went back up to the boat deck. Adolphe Saalfeld was next door in C-106 and gave an account of his escape (OBRMST) in which he says that he was in the smoking room when the iceberg impacted; he does not seem to have gone back to his cabin but stayed on the upper decks.
The Thayers were in cabins C-68 and C-70. Martha Stephenson was on D deck and felt the impact and dressed, whereupon John Thayer arrived at her stateroom who said there was no danger and urged her and her roommate to come up on deck to see the ice. On the next deck the Thayer family had congregated and they all started to ascend the grand staircase when a steward called "All back to state-rooms for life preservers." There also seemed to have been an order given to go to the boats too.
|C Deck amidships astern
There is a cluster of unsaved people in this area between and near the 2nd and 3rd funnel uptakes. Benjamin Foreman (C-111) was seen after the collision as was Mrs White's manservant Sante Righini in C-120 (see here). In OBRMST, there is an account that Elmer Taylor knocked on his business partner's door (Fletcher Williams in C-128) but was told he didn't think it was worth getting out of bed for (!); he also mentions this here. Of the other unsaved ( Charles Natsch in C118 and Herman Klaber in C124 ) we have no data. Unfortunately, this author has no further data on the movements of stewards or the issuing of orders in this area.
|C Deck astern
W.T.Stead was in C-89 and we know from steward Andrew Cunningham that he was woken up, and that he was seen on deck. The other cabins on the starboard side in this area are all accounted for.
Carl Behr in C-148 on the port side, close to C-142 in which Austin Partner (whose body was recovered). In his account published in OBRMST, Behr said he was in his room when the iceberg struck, and he met Helen Newsom in the passage and they went on deck to investigate before going to the cabin of the Beckwiths. He then notes, "When we were proceeding along the passage someone told us orders were issued to don life belts, which we did very calmly." This implies that he was closer to the Beckwiths (on D deck) than his own room. Berthe Mayné was in C-90 and according to this page, her lover Quigg Baxter was told by Ismay to get his mother and sister in to the boats - he also alerted Berthe whom he had placed on board under a pseudonym. There is sadly no other data. Jane Hoyt was in C-93 and told her story to the "Amsterdam Evening Recorder" (23/4/12) - she saw the iceberg and she and her husband went on deck and met Dr.O'Loughlin who told them to go back and dress fully. The Dr. whispered in Mr Hoyt's that the squash court was filling. Jane noted people hurrying around. She heard the order to put on life preservers but they paid no attention until a man came up as they were leaving stateroom asking if they had a spare one. The Hoyts put on theirs. They got on deck just as they were getting ready to lower the first boat.
D-6 was the cabin of John B Thayer Jr.'s companion Milton Long; he was awoke soon after the collision but sadly perished, though his body was later recovered. Of the other victims whose remains were retrieved, Servando Rodriguez was in D-43; Frederick Sutton was in D-50.
Of passengers nearby, we have the following: Elizabeth Lines (D-28) and her claims are commented upon elsewhere; nearby occupants Elizabeth Eustis and Martha Stephenson (D-20) are also dealt with in the bulk of this essay. D-40 was the room allocated to Isaac Frauenthal. He had heard the sound of the collision, and got out of bed to call for a steward. He heard a pounding on a stateroom near his. He looked out and saw a man trying to waken his friends in that room, saying something about the ship hitting something. Frauenthal got dressed and went to his brother's room (C-88) telling him to get up but he was reluctant. Isaac went on deck and saw a few people. He heard Captain Smith tell Colonel Astor to get his wife up, and Isaac went back to his brother. They went to the Straus's and woke them, telling them to get on deck as soon as possible, and Isaac sent a steward to wake up Benjamin Guggenheim and other friends. Isaac went on deck again and found a few people up there. With regards to timing, the sighting of Astor and Smith ties in with a letter written by W.H.Dobbyn, an employee of the late colonel's who found out from his widow that Astor went to the Captain very soon afterwards after the impact - something confirmed by Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon in testimony in London who saw him on the boat deck.
In E-38, we have Francis Millet, who was seen by Graciein the smoking room and whose body was recovered; Timothy McCarthy in E-45 was also retrieved. As for the others, we have no information whether they made it on deck or were awakened.
Carrie Chaffee was in E-31 with her husband; she told the Evening Tribune that in a cabin across the hall were an English woman and her daughter. The daughter left and went on deck and returned, saying that passengers were to go up. She also says that they were instructed to put on lifebelts. (The two ladies opposite were probably Mrs Edith Chibnall and Miss Elsie Bowerman). Margarette Spedden in E-34 has already been discussed elsewhere, with the added point that she noted, "There was no panic [after the impact], for a number of people hadn‘t even gotten up, and some who had, had been reassured by some stewards and sent back to bed."
Mr and Mrs Harder were in E-50. The former testified in America, "I thought we would go up on deck to see what had happened; what damage had been done. So we dressed fully and went up on deck, and there we saw quite a number of people talking; and nobody seemed to think anything serious had happened. There were such remarks as "Oh, it will only be a few hours before we will be on the way again." I walked around the deck two or three times, when I noticed that the boat was listing quite a good deal on the starboard side; so Mrs. Harder and myself thought we would go inside and see if there was any news. We went in there and talked to a few people, and all of them seemed of the opinion that it was nothing serious." A little after midnight, an officer appeared at the foot of the stairs, and he announced that everybody should go to their staterooms and put on their lifebelts, which the Harders did. They arrived on the boat deck in time to see the boats being readied and swung out.
The Taussigs were in E-67 and 68. It is said that they were reportedly alerted to the danger by German steward Alfred Theissinger, he telling them "You better put on your lifebelts and rush out on deck." "Is it as serious as all that?" asked Mr Taussig. "Yes, hurry" - which if true means that he was one of the few who broke the decorum of not saying anything to alert the passengers. However, some of Theissinger's claims would seem to be untrue, such as him claiming to be in the water. He also seemed to be confused about the decks on which his passengers were located.
It is surprising just how many people were alerted by word of mouth rather than by stewards. Evidently news filtered faster when passengers congregated or told their neighbours rather than by the more formal method of going from room to room by the steward.
In conclusion, we simply do not have enough data to say definitely what happened to Ms.Isham. It is this author's opinion that she found her way on to deck, where she became another anonymous face in a sea of bewildered and frightened people as the water rolled on to the deck.
Another discussion on Isham on the Titanic can be found here
To go up to my Titanic pages click here.
1. A similar thing can be said for Daisy Minahan. At the US Inquiry she stated in an affidavt that, "the crying of a women in the passageway awakened me. I roused my brother and his wife, and we began at once to dress. No one came to give us warning (my emphasis). We spent five minutes in dressing and went on deck to the port side. The frightful slant of the deck toward the bow of the boat gave us our first thought of danger. An officer came and commanded all women to follow, and he led us to the boat deck on the starboard side." May Birkhead, a Carpathia passenger, related her encounters with Titanic survivors in the New York Herald, April 19, 1912 and she said that, "A woman from Wisconsin said that she was not called at all, and if she had not heard Mrs. Astor out in the passageway crying she would have remained in her stateroom." Minahan was from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and she had a cabin right next door to the Astors (though why she did not mention the crying woman at the Senate Inquiry is unknown). Furthermore, Major Arthur Peuchen testified, "There was no alarm sounded whatever. In fact, I talked with two young ladies who claimed to have had a very narrow escape. They said their stateroom was right near the Astor's, I think almost next to it, and they were not awakened ... They slept through this crash, and they were awakened by Mrs. Astor. She was in rather an excited state, and their door being open - and I think the Astor door was open - they think that was the means of their being saved." It is clear that Daisy went on deck well before the stewards had a chance to rouse their charges. The same can be said about Peuchen, for that matter.
There is one more point about Miss Minahan. She was in C-78 and steward Henry Etches talked of this room after he had seen to his passengers: "I then found No. 78 cabin door shut, and I banged with both hands on the door loudly, and a voice answered, "What is it"? Then a lady's voice said, "Tell me what the trouble is." I said, "It is necessary that you should open the door, and I will explain everything, but please put the lifebelts on or bring them in the corridor." They said, "I want to know what is the matter." I said, "Kindly open the door," and I still kept banging." He did't know who the couple were but said that, "It was a shortish name, and I fancy it began with S. They were a stiff-built gentleman and a rather short, thin lady. They were undoubtedly Americans." Very soon afterwards, Etches made his way to the boat deck, in time to see No.7 being loaded. This was about 12.40am - and it is highly likely that Minahan was already on deck. [The Astors were in the company of Mrs Bishop when Captain Smith came down the Grand Staircase and announced that lifebelts should be put on.]
2. There are hints that some passengers were overlooked when the stewards were supposed to be waking passengers and telling them to don lifejackets. Martha Stone, in B-28, related in an interview: "I spoke to a ship's officer standing near my door and asked him if we had not run into an iceberg. "Yes," he answered, "but there is no danger. Go back to bed and go to sleep." All this time the steam was blowing off with a terrible noise, and I asked him why they were doing it. "We have stopped to see what damage is done, but there is not the slightest danger," he reiterated. I was not quite convinced, but it was cold in the corridor, so after a little discussion the woman in the cabin opposite mine, who had also come into the corridor, decided to go back to bed, and we did so. If I had gone to sleep I should not be here. The blowing of steam went on interminably. It got on my nerves at last and I resolved to get up and investigate for myself. I called my maid and she dressed me completely, and then started to dress herself. She had only partially clothed herself when the daughter of the woman opposite came flying down the corridor, crying, "Get on your life-preservers quickly. They say we must get in the boats."" By the time Stone got on deck, the sailors were "getting down the boats".
3. Rosenbaum's account possibly suggests wayward behaviour of a steward - namely hers, Wareham. After going on deck to spot the iceberg, she ventured back indoors after some 45 minutes or more. She was about to get into bed when a neighbour saying that someone had said the order had come through for lifebelts to be put on. Then, as she said, "After dressing and then we went to the lounge on "A" deck, where I was met by my room steward, Wareham, who was fully dressed in his overcoat and Derby hat. He said, "Well, miss, I am very glad to see you up." I replied, "Wareham, do you think there is any danger, or is this just 'English rules' that one has to put on lifebelts?" He answered, "It is a rule of the Board of Trade that in time of danger lifebelts must be put on by passengers. Now I do not think this boat can sink; it is an unsinkable boat; but if it does sink, she can certainly hold out about forty-eight hours."
Harry Anderson (E-12) was awake soon after and went on deck, meeting Mrs.Cassebeer but her interview with the press adds nothing. She only says that, "It was not long after [seeing ice on deck], however, that the pursers started to go among the passengers ordering them to go below and put on warm clothing and be prepared to embark in the lifeboats." Further up the passageway, in E-17 was Peter Daly, but he only said that he heard about the lifebelts order when he was on deck.