News of Titanic: Six Faces Behind A Historic Event

One of the things that Ms. Jeannie appreciates most about antique items is there ability to hold up.

Maybe it’s because we live in such a throwaway society now, where things are made flimsier and not meant to withstand decades upon decades of use. But antique items were built to last. Generally she finds them to be more sturdy, more durable or perhaps it could be that they were just better taken care of.

Just this week, Ms. Jeannie added two paper items to her shop, which are both around the 100 year age mark…

Early 1900’s Lowney’s Chocolate and Bonbons Paper Box
Original May 3rd, 1912 Virginian Pilot Newspaper

These two are  just amazing to Ms. Jeannie… century old paper that is still usable in one form or fashion today!

Let’s take a closer look at the newspaper. Fascinating on many different levels but possibly most enjoyably relevant  now that we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic on April 14th, 2012. This newspaper edition came out just 3 weeks following the epic diseaster. Having never learned about the Titanic in school,  Ms. Jeannie gained knowledge of the event, primarily from two cultural arts experiences.

The first was a play, called the Unsinkable Molly Brown…

The Unsinkable Molly Brown Broadway play poster

And the second was, of course, the movie starring Leo & Kate. Somewhat sheepishly, Ms. Jeannie admits to seeing this movie five times in the theater.

One of Ms. Jeannie’s favorite scenes from the movie.

Each time, she enjoyed it for something different… the costumes, the acting, the history, the romance, the weight of the drama. But let’s face it, Ms. Jeannie is a loyal romantic and when something moves her… she’s committed.

Years following the movie, Ms. Jeannie attended a lecture at her local library presented by one of the divers who helped unearth Titanic artifacts from the ocean floor. The artifacts went on tour as part of the  traveling Titanic exhibit.

In the lecture, the diver talked about the physical aspects of the job…the long hours…the tedious technical process… the beaurocratic red tape that had to be sorted through just in order to be able to dive)… the excitement of meeting and working with James Cameron…and the vast amount of state of the art equipment they were able to use to explore the site.

He also discussed the emotional impact the dive had on him. The most surprising aspect for him was the amount of shoes that he saw down there in the sand.  Hundreds upon hundreds. Mens, womens, childrens. Party shoes, work books, slippers. These turned out to be taboo items. It was agreed by all parties involved, that the shoes should remain at the bottom of the ocean. Somehow they seemed too personal, too human, to bring to light again.

After the lecture, Ms. Jeannie dove  into lots of research regarding Titanic, learning the whole story from construction to destruction. Having been on one luxury cruise liner as a teenager, herself (The Queen Elizabeth 2, which also sailed from New York to Southampton, England) Ms. Jeannie could really understand the excitement behind the whole cruise experience. The QE2 was  not quite as opulent as Titanic, but it was a pretty luxurious experience all the same.

The Queen Elizabeth 2, considered to be one of the last great transatlantic ocean liners.

It was one thing to read about the Titanic as an event that happened in the past, with the ability afforded of 100 years of condensed research. But it is something entirely different to read about the events surrounding Titanic as they were occuring.

The articles from Ms. Jeannie’s original Virginian Pilot newspaper add a personal glimpse of the aftermath as events were unfolding.  In this edition, light is shed on the lives of six people involved with Titanic that rarely get mentioned, with the exception of one,  in regular news features.

There are primarily five articles that reference the Titanic in this edition, which was published, May 3rd, 1912,  just three weeks after the sinking.

Two articles appear on the front page. The first one is in relation to a memorial service for Major Archibald Butt that was attended by President Taft.

President William Taft

Archibald Butt (1865-1912) was a military aide to both President Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.

Major Archibald Butt

He also held a career in journalism and was in the Spanish American War. He died on the Titanic at the age of 46, along with his partner, painter Frances Davis Millet.

Francis Davis Millet

Francis’ body was recovered from the wreck site but Archibald’s never was.  In 1913, a memorial fountain was constructed for both Francis and Archibald in President’s Park, the gardens that surround the White House.

The article in the newspaper…

THERE WERE TEARS IN TAFT’S EYES AS HE PAID TRIBUTE TO MAJ. BUTT                                                                      Guest of Honor at Augusta on Occasion of City’s Memorial Service to Memory of Victim of the Titanic Disaster 

Self Sacrifice A Part of His Nature

Augusta, Ga., May 2 – Coming as a friend to pay tribute to the memory of a friend President Taft spent today in Augusta as the guest of honor for the occassion of the city’s memorial service to the memory of Major Archibald Butt, one of the victims of the Titanic diseaster of April 14.

The memorial services were followed by an informal reception at the commercial club, where Taft met many of his old friends and afterward the President was entertained at the home of Landon Thomas. He left on his return to Washington at 3:50 p.m.

Tears in His Eyes

The President was  visibly affected by the tributes paid to Major Butt. There were tears in his eyes as he called upon memories of the man who was his aide ever since he entered the White House and who had traveled thousands of miles with him.

Mr. Taft made only a short speech but he came near breaking down twice. ‘Never did I know how much he was to me until he was dead,” said the President. “Lacking nothing of self – respect and giving up nothing he owed to himself, he conducted himself with a singleness of purpose and to the happiness and comfort of the President who was his chief. To many fine qualities he added loyalty and when he became one of my famoily (typo) he was as a son or brother.”

Why He Never Married

Mr. Taft told how he met Major Butt, first in the Phillipines and later as aide to President Roosevelt. He dwelt on Maj. Butt’s devotion to Mr. (frayed edges along the fold marks make this part of the article difficult to read)…

…President “that Archie never married because he loved his mother so. The greatest sorrow of his life was when she left him.”

Mr. Taft concluded with a word more as to Mr. Butt’s spirit of  self-sacrifice. “Self sacrifice,” he said “had become part of his nature. If Archie could have selected his time to die he would have selected the one God gave him.”

The second mention of Titanic…  a photo, clip and article about Guglielmo Marconi,  the inventor of the of the wireless telegraph used to transmit messages from the Carpathia regarding the details of the Titanic sinking.

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) was an Italian born inventor and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1897, he founded the Wireless Telephone and Signal Company, (later renamed Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company) which set off a string of events that led to his pivotal connection with Titanic.  It was his wireless telegraph system that allowed for outbound ship communication to land-based wireless stations. Also, it was his Marconi employees that operated the radio equipment aboard Titanic and his equipment that sent the distress signals.

Underneath his picture in the newspaper, begins the following caption:

“G. Marconi, the noted wireless telegraphy inventor. He posed for the above photograph just before sailing for Europe  on the Kaiser Wilhelm III., after having testified before the Senatorial Committee regarding the conduct of the Marconi wireless stations during the attempts that were made to secure definite information from the rescue ship Carpathia regarding the details of the Titanic tragedy…” This caption is followed by an in-depth article of speculation surrounding Marconi’s involvement in the distress messages sent from the ship.

To read Marconi’s full testimony before the United States Senate, along with other key characters, visit the fascinating Titanic Inquiry Project here

A third article on the front page (tied into the senate hearing details surrounding Marconi) titled “The Search for Bodies Abandoned at Present”  details how the  Western Union Cable ship, Minia,  would be returning to Halifax with 15 bodies after searching the waters around Titanic.

Western Union Cable Steamer, Minia. photo courtesy of

Here is the article in full:

THE SEARCH FOR BODIES ABANDONED FOR PRESENT                     Minia En Route to Halifax with Fifteen of Dead — New York Investigation Yesterday Failed to Reveal New Facts

New York, May 2 – The Western Union cable steamer Minia which has been searching the scene of the Titanic wreck for bodies is returning to Halifax with 15 bodies and will dock Monday, according to a wireless message received here this afternoon by the White Star Line. This means, officials of the line state, that the search for bodies has been abandoned for the present and may be postponed indefinietly.

The message states that the Minia found the bodies widely scattered over a great area, so that search became daily more difficult.

Most of the bodies now on the Minia it is believed are those of members of the Titanic’s crew.

Seven dead bodies buoyed up by life belts together with parts of the wreckage of the Titanic were passed on April 26 in latitude 41.13 and longitude 49.34 by the steamer Gibraltar, which arrived today from Middlesboro.  When the bodies were sighted the Gibraltor was stopped but no signs of a living person could be seen and the steamer proceeded.

May Abandon Search

Halifax, N.S.,  – May 2 – White Star Line officials here had a lengthy conference today with Captain Lardner of the Mackey-Bennett, discussing the utility of a proposal  to send out a third steamer, the Seal, to search for further bodies of  Titanic victims.  Captain Lardner expressed the conviction that it would not be possible to find any more. The idea, it is likely, will be abandoned.

The bodies of the fifty-nine unidentified victims, seven of them women will be buried tomorrow. Fifty-six will be placed in one common grave in Fair View cemetery and three, who were Catholics, will be interred in Mount Olivet.  Twenty-seven have been shipped to friends. Eleven more will go tomorrow.  This will leave ninety-three bodies still at the morgue, claims for which a majority of which have been sent in.  Some of these will likely be buried in Halifax.

At the funeral services tomorrow 100 seamen from the Niobe will assist in the services.

Here is a photo of Captain Lardner and his crew…

Captain Lardner is in the second row, third from the left. Photo courtesy of

According to an interior article in the newspaper, funeral arrangements were also being made for John Jacob Astor who was the wealthiest person on the Titanic to perish. His body was recovered on April 22nd,  by the Mackey-Bennettt crew.  His pregnant wife, Madeleine survived.

John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912)
Madeleine Astor (1893-1940)

From the newspaper…


Rhinebeck, N.Y. , May 2 – The body of Colonel John Jacob Astor arrived at Ferncliffe, the Astor estate near this village, this afternoon and funeral services will be held here from the Church of the Messiah of which Colonel Astor was a warden, at 12′ o’clock Saturday.

Every f lag in the village was at half mast, when the body arrived, accompanied by Vincent Astor. The services will be conducted by the Rev. Ernest Saunders, pastor of the Church. A special train will bring a large funeral party from New York.

Ferncliffe, later renamed Astor Courts. Photo courtesy of

On a side note, Astor Courts, was the venue for Chelsea Clinton’s recent wedding.

Underneath Astor’s funeral notice is a photo of Natalie Harris Hammond, wife of John Jays Hammond, who was a prominent mining engineer, diplomat and philanthropist. Natalie was appointed secretary of the  committee of prominent capital women organized to raise funds for a Titanic memorial.

Natalie Harris Hammond, wife of John Jay Hammond

Not much is written about Natalie Harris Hammond, except what Ms. Jeannie found in the newspaper above. There was a monument erected in 1931 in honor of the men who gave their lives so that women and children could escape in lifeboats, but there is no specific mention of Natalie Harris Hammond’s name in association with the sculpture or memorial. Most likely this is the cause that Natalie was appointed to. The memorial was made possible through donations given by women across the country, usually in small denominations, $1.00 or $2.00 at a time.

Here’s a photo of the memorial, which was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and sculpted by John Harrigan.

Women’s Titanic Memorial in Washington DC made possible by the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association

It is lovely to see how just a little bits of contribution can turn into something remarkable.

The last mention of Titanic in this newspaper edition is that of Mrs. Louise Robins, wife of Victor Robins who was manservant to John Jacob Astor aboard Titanic.

From the paper:


New York, May 2 – Papers in the first suit for damages brough (typo) by a relative of a Titanic victim were filed in the Federal District Court here today. The suit, in admiralty, is brought by Mrs. Louise Robins, a widow of Victor Robins, Col. John Jacob Astor’s valet, and is the suit in which the testimony of J. Bruce Ismay and officers of the sunken steamer is desired. It charges negligence on the part of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company and asks for $50,000 damages and costs.

Ms. Jeannie couldn’t find any follow-up info on this lawsuit, but she is still searching. .. if anyone has any info they would like to provide, please send it along!

If you would like to purchase Ms. Jeannie’s original May 3rd, 1912 Virginian Pilot newspaper, and read all these above mentioned articles in person, you can do so by clicking on the picture below…

Original May 3rd, 1912 Virginian Pilot Newspaper