Titanic Survivors

Ames Residents among Titanic Passengers
Ames Times, April 18, 1912

AMES RELATIVES WERE IN THE TITANIC TRAGEDY - The terrible ocean tragedy which shocked the whole world this week, brings its quota of sorrow to Ames friends. A nephew of Mr. W. O. Boyd of Ames, Walter Douglas, his wife and maid, were on the ill-fated vessel. Mrs. Douglas name is given among the list of rescued but it is not yet known whether Mr. Douglas was saved or not. There were three Douglases on the boat and there are two among the saved, so that his fate is still uncertain. Mr. Walter Douglas is now a resident of Minneapolis, but formerly lived in Cedar Rapids where his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Douglas still reside. Mr. George Douglas was at one time a resident of Ames and owned considerable property here among which was an interest in the Story County Bank building and the property on Douglass avenue now occupied by Bert Allen in which the Sheldon family lived for many years. Douglass avenue, then Douglas street was named for George Douglas. Mrs. George Douglas is a sister of Mr. Boyd and the Boyd family are much concerned to learn the fate of their relatives.

Ames Daily Intelligencer, April 23, 1912

TITANIC STORY BY MRS. W. DOUGLAS - Mrs. Walter D. Douglas was the first of the Titanic survivors to reach Chicago. Her husband who went down with the ship was a nephew of Mrs. W. O. Boyd of Ames. The Douglases at one time lived here. The Chicago Tribune has the following:

Mrs. Douglas is the widow of Walter D. Douglas, of Minneapolis, who was one of the men who stayed behind when the Titanic's lifeboats were launched, and a cousin of James H, Douglass, 4830 Woodlawn avenue. Her husband was a director of the Quaker Oats company, and with her was prominent in Minneapolis society.

Mrs. Douglas told her brother-in-law George O. Douglas, of Cedar Rapids, and St. Paul, and her Chicago relatives, that she was physically well, but still unable to stop thinking of the horrors of the disaster.

Mrs. Douglas was in the same lifeboat with Mrs. Arthur Ryerson, of Philadelphia, formerly of Chicago, who also lost her husband. Mrs. Douglas expects to be called to testify before the senate investigating committee as to her knowledge of conditions on board the Titanic.  She thought J. Bruce Ismay was, in part, responsible for the disaster to the Titanic. She told her brother-in-law that Mr. Ismay had ordered the speed of the vessel increased when he learned it was in the neighborhood of ice bergs. Mrs. Douglas' brother-in-law related her story.

"Everybody knew we were near ice bergs because it grew so cold," she said. "The second officer told me later that we had struck what he called a 'growler,' a berg lying under the surface, but so close to the top that in perfectly clear weather it could be seen ahead.

"On Sunday before the wreck Mrs. Ryerson and I were walking on the upper deck. She told me she had met Mr. Ismay and that he had handed her a Marconigram which she had not read.

˜What does it show?" Mrs. Ryerson asked him.

"I have just had word that we are in the ice bergs," he answered.

"Of course you are going to slow down?" Mrs. Ryerson said.

"O, no," Mr. Ismay said, "we are going to put on two more boilers and get out of it."

"The day before the wreck," Mrs. Douglas continued, "I was walking on the upper deck with Mr. Douglas. We saw one of the ship's crew letting down a bucket over the side and we stopped to watch him. We saw he was trying to get a bucketful of the ocean water in order to test the temperature. I leaned over to watch the little bucket at the end of the long line.

"The bucket never reached the ocean. The man pulled it up empty. The he took the bucket to the water pipe on deck, turned on the water there, and filled it with the ships water. He put the thermometer in the bucket of ship's water to get the temperature. He never got the temperature of the ocean water.

"I asked Mr. Douglas if he had seen it and if we ought not to tell, but he said it didn't matter so nothing was said about it."

George Douglas, Mrs. Douglas' brother-in-law, said that she had told her story to Senators Smith and Newlands of the senate investigating committee. They told her that what she reported was important and she agreed to return and testify before the committee whenever she might be wanted.

Mrs. Douglas was unable to discuss he details of the rescue or her parting with her husband. She said it was too terrible to talk about now.

Ames Times, April 25, 1912

TITANIC STORY BY MRS. W. DOUGLAS - Mrs. Walter Douglas, formerly of Cedar Rapids, now of Minneapolis, who with her maid was saved from the wreck of the Titanic but whose husband was lost in the terrible ocean disaster, (Mr. Douglas being a nephew of Mr. W. O. Boyd of this city) is quoted in the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, April 22nd, 1912:

Mr. and Mrs. Geo. B. Douglas who went to New York last Tuesday to meet the Carpathia with the survivors from the Titanic, reached home Saturday night.

Mr. Douglas said:

"We arrived in New York Thursday morning. Later in the day we were joined by my nephews, George C. and Edward B. Douglas, the latter with his wife. Mrs. Goodell, sister of Mrs. Walter Douglas was also in the city. It was announced at the Cunard offices that the Carpathia would dock at 11 o'clock that evening but that no permits would be given to anyone to meet the ship excepting those who were expecting relatives or connections. The giving out of permits was in the hands of the custom house officers and the rule mentioned was rigidly enforced with the result that the dock was not overcrowded and a horde of morbid curiosity visitors was properly excluded.

"Late in the afternoon it was bulletined that the Carpathia would dock at 9 o'clock and before that hour our party was waiting in the dock under the letter 'D.' We had been advised that all survivors would be instructed to go to the location indicated by the first letter of their last name.

"I left my party and secured a place in the double line reaching out from the foot of the gang plank. The Carpathia was slowly working into place and within thirty minutes after our arrival was discharging passengers. I knew that Mrs. Douglas was on board but had no knowledge regarding my brother but we all had clung to the hope that he might be with her and it was with anxious eyes I saw the procession as it began passing through the avenue of watchers. They walked bravely but many with grief in their faces betokening their individual losses. Soon Mrs. Douglas appeared. I joined her and she briefly said 'Walter did not come with me.' We found the rest of the party and left immediately for the hotel.

"Later in the evening we were told her story of the shipwreck. It has already been published but there were many things of a personal nature which we listened to with keen and sorrowful interest. My brother and his wife separated in the most casual way and it is plain that neither of them had at that time any expectation of the impending calamity. They both expected that the Titanic would hold up and that Mrs. Douglas would soon be on the ship again.

"As the situation grew more serious and the chances of saving the vessel became less and less, it appears, from the stories told, that my brother with characteristic composure and generosity did what he could to help others save themselves until his own opportunity for safety was gone.

"Mrs. Douglas' French maid was put in the last boat off containing women and children. Since landing in New York she has stated that when her boat was leaving the Titanic she saw another one -the last of all- into which men were crowding, all of a rough class, and in that boat she declares she saw my brother, recognizing him by a brown soft hat that he wore. They were going in the opposite direction from her boat. It was overloaded and many men in the water were trying to get in. It is probable that this boat was capsized because after the wreck a boat bottom side up was found on the scene of the disaster and there, it is not unlikely is where my brother lost his life.

"Reverting again to Mrs. Douglas published story. What she said was such an indictment of the Titanic officials, showing inefficiency, neglect and absence of discipline, not to speak of the unworthiness of Managing Director Ismay, that I thought it proper to bring her statement to the attention of the senate committee which was holding its investigations in the Waldorf, a few doors away from our rooms. Senator Smith met Mrs. Douglas and was so impressed with her story that he left the room and returned a few moments later with Senator Newland to hear it also. Mrs. Douglas' carefully prepared statement given without emotion or hysteria impressed the senators with its evident accuracy and truthfulness and she was requested to be prepared to come to Washington within a few days to give her testimony before the full investigating committee.

"There is no desire on Mrs. Douglas part to be conspicuous or sensational in this matter - that would be poor satisfaction at such a time as this when she is so grievously stricken - but it is her idea that if her testimony regarding the culpability of the Titanic officials will help to bring about revised and improved maritime laws insuring greater safety to ocean travelers and lessening the chance to others of loss such as she has sustained then the death of Walter Douglas will not have been in vain."

Ames Times, August 28, 1914

NEW PRINCIPAL OF HIGH SCHOOL TITANIC SURVIVOR - Saved from death on the Titanic, A. F. Caldwell new principal of the high school, owes his life to his baby boy Alden. Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell and son were passengers on the ill-fated Titanic which went to the bottom of the Atlantic in April, 1912. Feeling as did many hundreds of the passengers who lost their lives, that the Titanic could not sink, Mr. Caldwell placed his wife in a lifeboat and was about to hand her the baby, when she begged permission of the man in charge of the boat to permit her husband to accompany her and assist in the care of the baby. The boat was not full and consent was given. Had it not been for the baby, Mr. Caldwell would have remained on board the ship and found a watery grave with hundreds of others.

Mr. Caldwell had passed through experiences as a teacher in the Orient, which had hardened him to many dangers, but his experiences on the Titanic were burned into his mind in an indelible manner that time can not erase.



Hear Albert Caldwell's story in his own voice.

Mr. Caldwell graduated from Park college in 1909. On September 1st of that year he was married to one of his classmates and left on that day for Bangkok, Siam where he had a position as teacher in the Bangkok Christian college. Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell sailed from San Francisco on September 8th going by way of Honolulu, Yokohoma, Kobe, Nagasaski and Shang Hai. They took a small coast steamer from Hong Kong and arrived in Bangkok on October 16th.

Mr. Caldwell taught in Bangkok college for three years and while there became acquainted with S. E. Conybeare of the journalism department of the college, who was engaged in Y. M. C. A. work. He was forced to give up his work there on account of Mrs. Caldwell's health and on February 22 they sailed for Singapore on their homeward journey which was to include their experiences on the Titanic.

From Singapore they sailed on a German-Lloyd steamer stopping at Penang, Colombo, Alden, Suez through the Suez canal, Port Said and left the boat at Naples for a few weeks tour of Europe visiting Rome, Venice, Milan, Lucerne, Paris and London. On April 10th they sailed from England on the Titanic.

When the Titanic struck the iceberg they were asleep. Mrs. Caldwell was awakened by the shock and called to Mr. Caldwell who went on deck to find out what had happened. He was told that the ship had struck an iceberg but it was not serious and to go back and go to sleep which he did. A little later they were aroused by members of the ships crew and told to dress and get on deck. When they reached the deck they found hundreds of passengers there but no one exhibiting any signs of alarm. Upon orders from the captain the women and children were placed in the life boats. Mrs. Caldwell entered the thirteenth boat and as there was plenty of room and no one else waiting to get in the boat Mr. Caldwell was permitted to accompany her.

The boat in which Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell were seated came very near being wrecked when the block and tackle which lowered it failed to work and another boat came down almost on top of them.

After the boat had been launched it was pulled away from the Titanic and had gone about a half a mile when they saw the Titanic go down. This was about 1:30 in the morning. They remained afloat until daylight when they were picked up by the Carpathia in a mail sack which was lowered from the deck.

Mr. Caldwell says that there was no idea in the minds of those on board the Titanic that she could sink, and many remained on board who might have been saved, thinking it was safer there than in open boats on the sea. He says that the stories of wild confusion and spectacular feats of bravery were all over drawn.

After returning to America Mr. Caldwell spent one season on the Chautauqua and lecture platform giving his experiences on the Titanic. During the past two years he has been principal of the high school at Aledo, Illinois. This summer he has been taking post graduate work at Iowa city in preparation for his work here.

(back to Ames Facts)