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Ties to the Titanic: Methodists aboard the famous ship

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912 on its maiden voyage. Among the many intriguing stories of survivors, historian Phil Gowan says a Methodist man married a woman he met on a lifeboat.



There were probably at least a dozen Methodists on board, probably more than that. We know of at least that many.

There was a lady named Marjorie Newell Robb who was also from a Methodist family on board. She and her father and her sister were all travelling first class on the Titanic. Her father was lost. Her sister and she survived and she ended up living to be 103 years old and was the last survivor of all the first class passengers.

There were a number of other Methodists on board. Maude Simcock is one. There were several of the crewmen. There was a Mr. Gibbons. There were a number of others from England that had been staunch members of the Methodist church.

Another Methodist on the Titanic was Robert Williams Daniel. Mr. Daniel was from a very wealthy family in Virginia. He had been raised on a plantation called Brandon on the James River. The family had been there for several generations and at the time he was a fairly wealthy banker.

He was travelling first class and he had his prized French bulldog, Gammon de Piquon, with him and the dog was in the kennel the night of the sinking. When the boat sank, somehow Mr. Daniel managed to get into a lifeboat. And also it's known that somebody let the dogs out of the kennel. Nobody is for sure who but it is rumored that he let the dogs out of the kennel just so the dogs would have a chance. His bulldog didn't survive but another man who was swimming in the water after the boat sank later told the story of coming face-to-face with a prize French bulldog. So the dog did make it into the water.

In the lifeboat, Mr. Daniel met another survivor who was an actual teenager named Eloise Smith. Mrs. Smith had just married and she and her husband were on their honeymoon and returning to the United States on the Titanic and she was pregnant. Her husband died leaving her a widow, a pregnant widow at 19. Mr. Daniel befriended her on the lifeboat and afterwards, they became a romantic item and they married, the only marriage of two survivors as a result of the Titanic sinking.

Mr. Daniel later became a state senator in the state of Virginia, a very prominent man there. His son also became a state senator in his state. I might also mention that he and Eloise Smith, when they married, did marry in the local Methodist church in the Richmond area. He remained a Methodist, a staunch Methodist through the rest of his life.

Also, see: Ties to the Titanic: Methodist Band Members

Reflections on the Titanic: Historian Phil Gowan

Posted: April 15, 2011

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