Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Titanic Connection

My mother, her mother, and her aunts periodically worked for the Ryerson/Salvatore family who spent their summers on Otsego Lake, just north of Cooperstown, NY. I remember going with them to open the big house called Swanswick in the Spring, letting the fresh air in and removing the sheets that covered the furniture. This was a relationship that lasted for four generations, as my great-grandmother received an invitation to the wedding of Ellen Ryerson in Chicago in 1917 and my great aunt cared for her children and grandchildren in Cooperstown, Scarsdale, and Washington DC over the years.

Ellen "Nell" Ryerson was the daughter of Arthur Ryerson and Emily Borie. While Nell and her brother Arthur jr. were in school in the Spring of 1912, their family was traveling in France. Arthur, a student at Yale, was the victim of a fatal car accident on April 8 in Bryn Mawr PA. Upon receiving the news, the Ryerson family booked passage on the next available ship - the Titanic sailing on its maiden voyage.

Arthur Ryerson, lawyer and steel baron, went down on the ship, after seeing his wife, daughters Emily and Suzette, and son John into the lifeboats with their governess and maid. The 1997 movie reportedly mentions that the fictional character of Jack Dawson (actor Leonardo DiCaprio) filched a coat belong to Arthur Ryerson.

As an aside, it was reported that Mr. Ryerson caught the attention of Juliette Gordon, future founder of the Girl Scouts at "an outing in Providence" in 1883, prior to his marriage. See this article.

(Photo from Encyclopedia Titanica)

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