It is often assumed that it was mainly the poorer passengers that died on the Titanic, but this assumption is only true to an extend. In fact the richest man on board, an it can be argued the richest man on the planet, also perished in the cold Atlantic waters on April 15 1912. Financier John Jacob Astor IV was the great-grandson of John Jacob Astor. He helped build the Waldorf-Astoria hotel and died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
On 1 May 1891 Astor was married to Ava, daughter of Edward Shippen Willing of Philadelphia . Together they had a son and one daughter. However, in 1909 Astor divorced Ava and, two years later, married eighteen-year-old Madeleine Force (who was a year younger than his son Vincent). Public opinion was divided concerning the respectability of Astor’s actions, and the newlyweds decided to winter abroad in order to let the gossip die down at home. Mr and Mrs Astor travelled to Egypt and Paris and, in the spring of 1912, decided to return to America as First Class passengers on board the brand new Titanic.
They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg with Colonel Astor’s manservant Mr Victor Robbins , Mrs Astor’s maid Miss Rosalie Bidois , Miss Caroline Louise Endres Mrs Astor’s private nurse and their pet Airedale Kitty. Their ticket was PC 17757 which cost £224 10s 6d. They occupied cabins C-62-64.
After the accident Astor left his suite to investigate, he quickly returned and reported to his wife that the ship had struck ice. He reassured her that the damage did not appear serious.
Later, when the first class passengers had begun to congregate on the boat deck , the Astors sat on the mechanical horses in the gymnasium. They wore their lifebelts but Colonel Astor had found another and cut the lining with a pen knife to show his wife what it was made of.
Even as the boats were loaded Astor appeared unperturbed, he ridiculed the idea of trading the solid decks of the Titanic for a small lifeboat ‘we are safer here than in that little boat’ . He had changed his mind by 1:45 when Second Officer Charles Lightoller arrived on A deck to finish loading Lifeboat 4 . Astor helped his wife to climb through the windows of the enclosed promenade and then asked if he might join her, being as she was in ‘a delicate condition’. Lightoller told him that no men could enter until all the women had been loaded. Astor stood back and just asked Lightoller which boat it was. After boat 4 was lowered at 1:55 Astor stood alone while others tried to free the remaining collapsible boats.
Astor’s body was recovered on Monday April 22 by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett (#124):
–NO. 124 – MALE – ESTIMATED AGE 50 – LIGHT HAIR & MOUSTACHE
CLOTHING – Blue serge suit; blue handkerchief with “A.V.”; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; “J.J.A.” on back of collar.
EFFECTS – Gold watch; cuff links, gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; 7s. in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.
FIRST CLASS NAME-J.J.ASTOR—
The body was delivered to Mr N. Biddle and forwarded to New York City on May 1, 1912. He was buried at Trinity Cemetery, New York.
The iceberg did not discriminate, to it it didn’t matter who was on board, young,old.poor, rich on that day it didn’t matter.
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