The Artist Aboard Titanic

One of Titanic's many famous passengers was Francis Davis Millet. During the Civil War, Millet had served as a drummer boy and later as a surgical assistant. He entered Harvard, became a reporter, and enjoyed drawing portraits of friends in his spare time. He then turned seriously to art and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium, winning medals for his work. Millet continued to work as a journalist and translator during the Russian-Turkish War, and later published accounts of his travels as well as short stories and essays.



Frank Millet

Millet married, and the couple had four children. He became an accomplished painter and organized the American Federation of the Arts for the National Academy. His paintings can be seen in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery in London, Trinity Church in Boston, and several other public buildings throughout the United States. His many friends included President William Howard Taft, author Mark Twain, and impressionist artist John Singer Sargent.



Millet at work in his studio



A Cozy Corner



A Difficult Duet



Between Two Fires



Playing With Baby

In 1912, Millet persuaded another friend, Major Archibald Butt, 45, to join him on a six-week trip to Europe. Butt, whose health had recently deteriorated, was a close friend and military aide to President Taft. They visited Naples, Gibraltar, and Rome, where Butt met with Pope Pius X. The men booked first class tickets for their return voyage to the US on the Titanic.

While the ship was docked at Queenstown, Ireland, Millet wrote to a friend with his opinion of some of his fellow passengers: "Obnoxious, ostentatious American women are the scourge of any place they infest and worse on shipboard than anywhere. Many of them carry tiny dogs and lead husbands around like pet lambs. I tell you, when she starts out, the American woman is a buster. She should be put in a harem and kept there."

Following the collision and rescue, Colonel Archibald Gracie testified he had seen Millet and Butt playing bridge with two other male passengers before the ship hit the iceberg. He stated the card game had continued with barely an interruption, even as the lifeboats were loaded. Other survivors recalled seeing Millet and Butt helping women and children into lifeboats.

Frank Millet’s body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett and sent to Boston for burial. He was 65. The body of Archibald Butt was not recovered. A memorial fountain was dedicated to the two men in Washington D.C.



Butt-Millet Memorial Fountain

Photo credits:,,,

A Survivor's Heartache

At 20, Charlotte Tate left her home in Surrey, England and went to work as a cook and housekeeper for the Vicar in a nearby town. She is believed to have met Harvey Collyer there, who was the church sexton and verger, or clerk. Charlotte and Harvey were married, and soon had one daughter, named Marjorie. When the Vicar moved to another church in Hampshire, the Tates followed. Harvey continued as verger, served on the church council, and as bell ringer. He also ran the town grocery store.

collyer family

collyer family

The Collyer Family

Friends of the family had moved to Payette, Idaho, where they had started a successful fruit farm. They wrote of the beauty of the land and climate, urging Harvey and Charlotte to join them. They didn’t take their friends’ suggestion seriously, at first. But Charlotte had developed tuberculosis, and found it increasingly harder to breathe. Finally, for Charlotte's sake, they decided to move to Idaho, and booked passage on the Titanic.

“I had never been on an ocean voyage,” Charlotte later said, “and I was afraid of the sea. But I listened to the people who said, ‘Take the new Titanic. She cannot come to any harm. New inventions have made her safe; and then, the officers will be extra careful on her first trip.’”

titanic advertisement

titanic advertisement

Harvey sold the grocery store and most of the family’s possessions. He took $5,000 in cash, against the advice of a bank teller, who suggested he take a draft note. The church members gave a long surprise sendoff for the family by ringing all the bells for an hour. Charlotte later said, “It was almost too much of a farewell ceremony.”

Like so many others aboard Titanic after the ship struck the iceberg, the family didn’t realize the extent of the danger until well after the first lifeboats were loaded. Charlotte and Marjorie were put into Lifeboat 14. Harvey’s body, if recovered, was not identified. Charlotte wrote to her mother from New York, a few days after arrival on the Carpathia:

My dear Mother and all, I don't know how to write to you or what to say, I feel I shall go mad sometimes but dear as much as my heart aches it aches for you too for he is your son and the best that ever lived. I had not given up hope till today that he might be found but I'm told all boats are accounted for. Oh mother how can I live without him. I wish I'd gone with him if they had not wrenched Madge from me I should have stayed and gone with him. But they threw her into the boat and pulled me in too but he was so calm and I know he would rather I lived for her little sake otherwise she would have been an orphan. The agony of that night can never be told. Poor mite was frozen. I have been ill but have been taken care of by a rich New York doctor and feel better now. They are giving us every comfort and have collected quite a few pounds for us and loaded us with clothes and a gentleman on Monday is taking us to the White Star office and also to another office to get us some money from the funds that is being raised here. Oh mother there are some good hearts in New York, some want me to go back to England but I can't, I could never at least not yet go over the ground where my all is sleeping. Sometimes I feel we lived too much for each other that is why I've lost him. But mother we shall meet him in heaven. When that band played 'Nearer My God to Thee' I know he thought of you and me for we both loved that hymn and I feel that if I go to Payette I'm doing what he would wish me to, so I hope to do this at the end of next week where I shall have friends and work and I will work for his darling as long as she needs me. Oh she is a comfort but she don'trealise yet that her daddy is in heaven. There are some dear children here who have loaded her with lovely toys but it's when I'm alone with her she will miss him. Oh mother I haven't a thing in the world that was his only his rings. Everything we had went down. Will you, dear mother, sendme on a last photo of us, get it copied I will pay you later on. Mrs Hallets brother from Chicago is doing al he can for us in fact the night we landed in New York (in our nightgowns) he had engaged a room at a big hotel with food and every comfort waiting for us. He has been a father to us. I will send his address on a card… perhaps you might like to write to him some time. God Bless you dear mother and help and comfort you in this awful sorrow. Your loving child Lot.



Charlotte and Marjorie following the Titanic disaster

Charlotte and Marjorie were destitute, but with donations from the American Red Cross and other funds, they went on to Idaho as they planned. But Harvey’s loss was too much to bear. Charlotte sold her story to a newspaper for $300, and after friends in New York raised additional funds, she and Marjorie returned to England.

Charlotte remarried, but died of tuberculosis at age 35. Marjorie went to live with an uncle until she was married. The couple had one child who died in infancy. Her husband died at age 41, and she remained a widow, working as a doctor’s receptionist. She was moved to a nursing home in the 1960s due to ill health, and died of a stroke at the age of 61.

Photo credits: Encyclopedia Titanica,,

The First to See the Iceberg

Three watch groups of two men each took turns in Titanic’s crow’s nest during her maiden voyage. At 10:00 pm on the night of April 14, 1912, Frederick Fleet, 24 and Reginald Lee, 42, climbed 75 feet to their station. They’d each served several years aboard other ships in various capacities and were considered experienced lookouts. The air temperature hovered near 30 degrees, but with Titanic running at 22.5 knots, Fleet and Lee were bound to feel much colder in their perch high above the ship.

fleet on titanic

Frederick Fleet


Reginald Lee

A half hour before they came on duty, a message had been sent to the crow’s nest to watch for ice. But the warning was not passed on to Fleet and Lee. Perhaps if they’d been aware of the possibility of ice, they would have paid closer attention. Another mistake that caused much discussion after the disaster was that the binoculars normally available for the lookouts to use were missing. They may have aided the men as they scanned the horizon, although from the crow’s nest it was possible to see a distance of 11 miles, especially on such a calm, clear night.


Titanic's bridge (center) and crow's nest on mast (right)

For the first 1 ½ hours into their watch, the men saw nothing. Then around 11:30, Fleet noticed a slight haze along the horizon. It almost didn’t seem worth mentioning to Lee. But a few minutes later a black object suddenly appeared in their path. It could only be an iceberg. Fleet rang the bell three times, indicating something directly ahead. He picked up the telephone which rang in the wheelhouse.

Sixth Officer Moody answered. “What do you see?”

Fleet replied, “Iceberg right ahead!”

From the bridge outside the wheelhouse, First Officer William Murdoch saw the iceberg by then himself. He gave the order, “Hard a’ starboard,” which would cause the ship to turn to port. Fleet waited in the crow’s nest, watching the bow gradually swing to port. At first, it seemed Titanic would clear the 60-foot berg, but as it moved alongside the starboard bow, Fleet and Lee heard it scrape the hull as ice fell on the decks. The time between the sighting of the iceberg and the collision had been less than a minute.


Frederick Fleet

Both Fleet and Lee survived the sinking and later testified at the inquiries into the disaster. Reginald Lee died a year later of pneumonia while working aboard the Kenilworth Castle. Frederick Fleet returned to sea for the next 24 years, then worked for Harland and Wolff as a shipbuilder. His wife died in 1964, and his brother-in-law, with whom the couple lived, evicted him. He committed suicide two weeks later and was buried in a pauper’s grave. In 1993, donations for a proper headstone were made to the Titanic Historical Society.


Headstone for Frederick Fleet. Binoculars were left by a visitor.

Photo credits: Encyclopedia Titanica and

One Family's Story

Dozens of families with third class tickets boarded Titanic at Southampton, Cherbourg, and Queenstown, with the hope of making a new start in America. Instead, some went to their graves, with every family member being lost in the sinking. For those that survived, many lost family members. Only a handful of third class families reached New York Harbor intact.Frank Goldsmith, 33, worked as a machinist in Strood, England. He and his wife, Emily, had one son, nine-year-old Frankie. They’d lost a younger son, Bertie, to diphtheria in 1911, and Emily’s father encouraged the family to come to Detroit, where he had emigrated, for a new start. All the publicity about Titanic and her comfortable third class accommodations won Frank over, and the decision was made. Frank’s coworkers in Strood gave him a new set of tools as a parting gift, Emily packed her Singer sewing machine, and Frankie dropped his new cap pistol into their packing case.

Goldsmith family

Frank and Emily Goldsmith with Frankie and Bertie in 1907

In Detroit, an English neighbor of Emily’s father arranged for his younger brother, Alfred Rush, to travel with the Goldsmiths. Alfred would turn 16 during the voyage. Another friend from Strood, 34-year-old Thomas Theobald, also traveled with them.

Frankie couldn’t wait for his big adventure ahead. His mother bought a seasickness remedy called Gibson’s Fruit Tablets, and Frankie ate them like candy on board Titanic, even though he didn’t feel the least bit seasick. He was thrilled to learn they would stop in Cherbourg and Queenstown before heading to America.


Frankie with his mother

Frankie recalled, “Not only were we going to America, we were going to another land, France! Then bonus wise, we would also be going to Ireland next, two fairy-tale places that tripled the joy in the eyes of a nine-year-old boy.” As Titanic left Queenstown on their second day at sea, Frankie said, “Mummy! At last we’re on the ‘lantic!” He soon made friends with several other English-speaking boys in third class. They climbed the baggage cranes and sneaked into the lower decks to watch the stokers at work.

When the Titanic struck the iceberg, Frank Goldsmith managed to quickly usher his family, Alfred, and Thomas to the lifeboats. Emily and Frankie were put into Collapsible C. Frank told his son, “See you later, Frankie,” and stepped away to allow women and children to board. Alfred had celebrated his birthday and proudly wore his first pair of long pants. He was small for his age, according to Frankie, and may have passed for a child and been allowed to board. But Alfred declared, “I’m staying here with the men!” Thomas gave his wedding ring to Emily, asking her to send it to his wife back in England.

Frank Goldsmith, Alfred, and Thomas did not survive. Only Thomas’ body was recovered.

Emily Goldsmith and Frankie made their way to Detroit with the help of the Salvation Army. For a long time, Frankie hoped his father would somehow walk through their door, until he gradually accepted the fact that his father had perished in the disaster.

He and his mother moved to a home near Detroit's Navin Field, which later became Tiger Stadium. For years, whenever the Detroit Tigers scored a home run, the roar of the crowd reminded Frankie of the screams from the dying passengers in the water as the Titanic sank. He married and had three sons, but never took his children to baseball games for that reason. He later moved to Ohio and in 1981, wrote Echoes in the Night: Memories of a Titanic Survivor. It became the only book written by a third class passenger about the sinking.


Frank Goldsmith in 1980

Frankie Goldsmith died in 1982 at age 79. That April 15th, the 70th anniversary of the sinking, his ashes were scattered over the area where Titanic rests, and where he lost saw his father. Today, the Goldsmith family continues to share the story with Titanic enthusiasts around the US and the world.

Titanic's youngest officer, the faithful James Moody

James Paul Moody left his home in Scarborough, England to attend King Edward Nautical School in London. He graduated in 1911 at the age of 23, and was hired by the White Star Line to serve aboard the luxurious Oceanic. Less than one year later, he was transferred to the Titanic as her Sixth Officer and sent to Belfast, where Titanic would be fitted out and prepared for her maiden voyage. Excited to be sailing aboard the world’s largest vessel, Moody was well-liked and loved to joke with his fellow crewmen. moody1

Sixth Officer James P. Moody

The Titanic sailed from her home in Belfast to Southampton, where most of her crew was hired. Stewards, stokers, trimmers, cooks, errand boys, lift boys and other crewmembers boarded early on April 10th, prior to passenger arrivals. Six members of the crew, however, stayed too long at the local pub and had to run to catch the ship. When they reached the docks, James Moody had just ordered the gangplank to be pulled aboard. Not wanting to lose their new jobs, the men argued, but Moody refused to let them board. Six others had already been hired in their place.

Moody was responsible for the daily measuring of the air and water temperatures. He also took the 8:00-12:00 am and pm watches, plus the “dog watch” from 4:00-5:00 pm.

At 11:39 pm on the night of April 14th, he was on watch on the bridge with First Officer William Murdoch. Lookout Frederick Fleet phoned the bridge. Moody answered and said, “What do you see?”

Fleet replied, “Iceberg, right ahead!” Moody immediately told Murdoch, who sent an order to the engine room on the telegraph. “Stop! Full speed astern!” followed by orders to turn the ship and close the doors between the watertight compartments. Despite their efforts, the Titanic rammed into the iceberg along its starboard side.


The Titanic Officers, with James Moody seated on the far left

As soon as Captain Smith ordered the lifeboats to be filled and lowered, Moody was sent to help with loading passengers into boats on the port side. When told by Fifth Officer Lowe to go with Boat 14, he refused. Although it was traditional for lower ranking officers to be given the position of manning a lifeboat, Moody told Lowe to take his place. He then went to the starboard side to assist Officer Murdoch.

James Moody was last seen by a ship’s trimmer, working to launch one of the collapsible lifeboats. His body was not recovered. He was 24 years of age.

The memorial plaque below, near his childhood home in Scarborough, is in honor of James Moody. Note the inscription near the bottom, with the Biblical quote from his mother's tombstone: "Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends."  Additional memorials have been erected to remember the sacrifice of Titanic's youngest officer.

plaque for moody


Ten Myths About Titanic

1. Sixteen lifeboats plus four collapsible boats were all that were in the original plans. False. The original plans called for 64 lifeboats. The owners and builders reduced it to 32, then to 16 because that was the number required by law at the time, and in order to make room for more deck space. The four collapsible boats were then added, bringing the number to 20.


Passengers strolling on the deck near lifeboats

2. Each of the four funnels had a purpose.

False. The fourth funnel was a fake, added to make the ship look grander.


Titanic leaving Southampton

3. On launch day, the ship was christened Titanic and a bottle of champagne was broken over her bow.

False. The White Star Line did not have naming ceremonies for any of their ships.

4. All passengers were bound for New York.

False. Fifteen first class passengers and nine second class passengers disembarked at the first port call, Cherbourg, France. A canary made the short trip as well, costing its owner 25 cents for the voyage across the English Channel from Southampton. At the second port call in Queenstown, Ireland, seven passengers disembarked.


One of two tenders used to transport passengers to and from Titanic at Cherbourg

5. There was a grand ballroom for first class passengers.

False. There was no organized dancing onboard, although many steerage passengers danced to the lively music in the third class general room provided by passengers who had brought their instruments along.


Part of the third class general room

6. Only the RMS Carpathia responded to Titanic’s distress call after the collision with the iceberg.

False. Three ships responded—the Olympic, the Frankfurt, and the Carpathia. The Carpathia was the closest at 58 miles away. Captain Smith of the Titanic knew it would not reach Titanic in time before she sank.


RMS Carpathia

7. Third class passengers could not reach the Boat Deck because they were locked behind gates.

False. Some of the gates were not locked. A few that were locked were opened by stewards after the collision. They helped guide women and children to the upper decks, but some of the women refused to leave the men. For others, language barriers and the maze of passageways below decks made it very difficult for steerage passengers to find their way. By the time they reached the Boat Deck, most lifeboats had already gone.

8. The Titanic sank intact.

False. The ship broke in half just prior to sinking. Many eyewitnesses had stated this, and it was proven when the wreck was finally explored.


Artist rendering of Titanic breaking in half prior to sinking

9. The iceberg made a long gash in the ship’s hull.

False. The iceberg scraped and bumped the riveted plates, causing the rivets to pop open and water to rush in. Again, this was discovered during the wreck exploration.

10. Due in part to the Titanic tragedy, cruise ships today are required to have enough lifeboats for all passengers on board.

Partly false. Modern ships are required by law to carry enough lifeboats for every passenger and crew member on board, plus 25%.





First man to see the Titanic iceberg

“Iceberg, right ahead!” When Titanic lookout Frederick Fleet phoned the bridge and shouted those infamous words, the ship had less than a minute before impact. The officers on duty, seeing the iceberg at the same moment, turned the ship hard to the left in an effort to avoid collision, but it wasn’t enough. The iceberg sliced a 240-foot gash in her starboard side.


Frederick Fleet

Frederick Fleet began working aboard ships at the age of 16, after his father died and his mother left him. He worked for four years as lookout aboard the Oceanic, then joined the Titanic as lookout for her maiden voyage in April, 1912.

At 10:00 pm on April 14th, 24-year-old Fleet and Reginald Lee took their watch in Titanic’s crow’s nest. As the ship sped along at 22 knots, Fleet and Lee kept a careful eye on the seas for icebergs. No moon lit the sky, but many survivors, including Fleet, remembered an unusually large number of bright stars. Why didn’t they see the dark shape of the enormous iceberg sooner?

Some experts have claimed that their lack of binoculars was partly to blame. Binoculars for the crow’s nest were supposed to be available, but were rumored to be locked away with the whereabouts of the key unknown. No matter where the binoculars were, it’s unlikely they would have made a difference. According to new information, binoculars were useful during daylight on the ocean, but the naked eye was more reliable at night.

The sudden drop in water and air temperatures recorded by other ships in the area and survivor accounts describing a light gray haze hanging low over the water has led some to conclude there may have been a ‘night-time mirage’ affect taking place. This phenomenon, well-known to fishermen in the north Atlantic, causes the horizon to appear to blend with the water. It distorts objects and distances, making it difficult for the observer to be certain of what he is seeing. This may have contributed to the last-second iceberg sighting.

After the collision, Fleet and Lee remained at their post another 20 minutes before being sent to help load the lifeboats. Fleet was ordered to man Lifeboat 6, carrying Margaret Brown (see last week’s post). After rescue, he testified at the inquiries into the disaster. He returned to sea for several years, working for other White Star ocean liners, then for Harland and Wollf shipbuilders in Southampton England.

Following the death of his wife in 1964 and a bout of depression, Frederick Fleet hanged himself in 1965. He was 77.