The Dream in Their Hearts - Titanic Honeymoons Part XIII

This post concludes our look at each of Titanic’s 13 honeymoon couples. They came from different countries, different walks of life, and had various reasons for sailing on Titanic. Some survived the sinking and were able to carry on with their lives. In some cases, the husband or wife lived but were forever separated from their spouse. Others went to their deaths together. They each had their own love story.

Sir Thomas Lipton grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and started the first Lipton’s grocery store there in 1870. By 1888, one store grew to 300. He then created the Lipton’s tea brand and established it across Europe and North America.

To young Neal McNamee, a new Lipton employee in Derry, Ireland, Sir Thomas was a hero. Neal planned to start his own business one day and became a dedicated, hard-working employee, soon earning a promotion to the London store in 1910. Then, when Eileen O’Leary applied for a cashier’s job at the store in nearby Salisbury, he was so taken with her charm and beauty that he soon began courting her. It wasn’t long before the two fell in love.


Eileen and Neal McNamee

Neal had been offered a position at Lipton’s new store in New York City, so when he proposed to Eileen, she knew she would need to leave her family behind. Also, Neal was Catholic and she was a committed Baptist. With interfaith marriage not being acceptable at the time, Eileen would need to convert to Catholicism. But she loved Neal, and the two had great dreams for the future. She accepted Neal's proposal, and the two were married in January, 1912. For their transportation to their new life in New York, Neal booked a small third class cabin on the new ship everyone was talking about, the RMS Titanic.

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One of Titanic's third class public rooms

Sir Thomas Lipton gave Neal a glowing letter of recommendation to present to the manager of his New York store. Eileen received her own letter from the mayor of Salisbury, thanking her for serving as a Sunday School teacher at her church and praising her fine character.

On April 10, the couple checked into their cabin and enjoyed the comfortable third class dining room and other public areas during the voyage. But no surviving witnesses recalled seeing them after the Titanic collided with the iceberg. Some stewards directed third class passengers toward the boat deck, others found it themselves, and many others waited in their cabins for instructions, due in part to language barriers. 


Third class menu from the last day aboard Titanic

Eileen’s body was found by the recovery ship Mackay-Bennett. She had apparently taken some time to dress in several layers of warm clothing and she still clung to her purse. It’s assumed she and Neal had reached the outer decks and were not stuck somewhere inside the ship. Neal’s body, however, was not found.

Today in a Salisbury park, a memorial plaque and bench pay tribute to these two young lives full of hope and dreams for their future together.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Titanic Honeymoons series of posts. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we’ll continue with another aspect of the great RMS Titanic.


Unpleasant Crossings - Titanic Honeymoons Part IX

John Pillsbury Snyder was the grandson of Minnesota's governor, nephew of the founder of the Pillsbury flour company, and son of a well-known Minneapolis lawyer. After college, John opened his own car dealership, right when the automobile was becoming more affordable and not merely a toy for the wealthy.


John Pillsbury Snyder

He married Nelle Stevenson a month later, and they set off on a European honeymoon. The captain of the ship they sailed on gave the "full steam ahead" order while it was still tied to the New York pier, which ripped a good part of the dock away. Then it ran aground on a sandbar near Gibraltar, preventing anyone from going ashore.


Nelle Snyder

For their return voyage from London to New York, the ship they were booked on was cancelled due to the coal strike. But Nelle was thrilled to learn they were being re-booked on the brand new Titanic. That is, until she learned the name of Titanic's captain. The ship's captain on their voyage out of New York was also named Smith. "I don't think this man is careful enough," she told her husband. But John insisted everything would be fine, the Titanic was unsinkable, and she need not worry.

John and Nelle made friends with the Bishops, then the Astors and the Harders. The four honeymoon couples talked of their extensive travels across Europe and their plans for when they returned to the United States. They played cards, read, wrote postcards in the first class lounge, or strolled along the decks.

When Titanic hit the iceberg on the night of April 14, the Snyders were already in bed. A steward told John they should dress and come to the boat deck, where they waited with the Bishops until John Jacob Astor returned from meeting with Captain Smith. All passengers were to don their lifebelts and women and children would be loaded onto the lifeboats. Most passengers thought this was only a precautionary measure; it seemed safer to remain on the ship than get in a small boat dangling high over the dark ocean. At Lifeboat 7, both Nelle and John were allowed to board. Unsure if the boat could take more weight and with no one else willing to board yet, crewmembers lowered it to the water. With a capacity of 65, Lifeboat 7 held just 28 people, including two young crewmen who told the passengers they had never been in a lifeboat.

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Letter from John to his father following the sinking. "...I have a mighty fine wife and she is the one you must thank - besides our Lord - for my being able to write this letter."

After the Titanic sank, Helen Bishop comforted Nelle by telling her of the Cairo fortune teller's prediction that Helen would survive a shipwreck. The Snyders managed to recover well from their ordeal and returned to Minneapolis, where they built a large lake home, John's dealership was successful, and they raised three children. John served in World War I. He and Nelle went to Europe again in 1939, but their trip was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. They came home rather than risk being stranded, and never left the USA again.