Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Wordle

Tonight's Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings is to create a Wordle cloud using something you've written.

My usual plays with Wordle and word clouds use extracts from my genealogy management software, so this was a different sort of an exercise.  Since I've been spending the last week on a series of posts regarding the Titanic, and specifically the fate of Washington A. Roebling II, I decided to use those posts as the basis for tonight's word cloud.

I've been using Evernote to draft the series before pasting in Blogger.  I have all of the posts in a single Evernote document, along with other assorted notes as I've done my research.  I copied the text of the Titanic series posts from Sunday, April 15, 2012 - Friday, April 20, 2012.

My first pass at this was using the entire text of each post, including citations.  But since I've been depending fairly heavily on the Trenton Evening Times via GenealogyBank, thought the first Wordle cloud generated reflected the source citations too much.

What I wanted was something that more accurately reflected the content of the stories so I could see which names and words stood out.  I went back for a second pass, this time removing the citations and leaving only the text of the posts.  I'm fairly please with the results (below):
Most of the names of people mentioned in the series are easily visible (at least to me), and I think the general content of the series overall is captured decently.  I selected the "Mostly Horizontal" option to lay out the words, removed common words and numbers, and used the "Kenyan Coffee" font with "Blue meets Orange" color scheme.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roebling Waves Off Graham Party, and a Look at the Lifeboat Loading Sequence

Trenton Evening News, April 20, 1912-

"Calm Heroism of Roebling, About to Die, Related by Women He Helped to Save: Mother and Daughter Tell How Young Trentonian and London Friend Excelled in Gallantry and Cheerfulness in the TIme That Tried the Souls of All Aboard the Sinking Liner" [1]

Yesterday's post related an interview by Caroline Bonnell regarding what are some of the last known moments of Washington Roebling aboard Titanic.  A similar story is recounted in the April 20, 1912, Trenton Evening News by Mrs. William T. (Edith) Graham.  Graham states that shortly after the collision with the iceberg, Roebling knocked on their stateroom door, advising the party to be prepared for an emergency.  She relates that once on deck, her party (including daughter Margaret Graham and governess Elizabeth Shutes) was undecided as to whether the safer choice was to remain on Titanic or join the lifeboats leaving the ship.  Another passenger, Howard Case, advised the Graham party to get into a boat.  Shortly after, Roebling arrived on scene and assisted getting the three into lifeboat number three.  Edith Graham remembers,

"The boat was fairly crowded when we three were pushed into it.  A few men jumped in at the last moment, but Mr, Roebling and Mr. Case made no attempt to get into the boat.
'They shouted good-bye to us, and what do you think Mr. Case did then? He just calmly lighted a cigarette and waved us good-bye with his hand.  Mr. Roebling stood there too-- I can see him now.  I am sure that he knew the ship would go to the bottom. But both just stood there."  [2]

As noted, the Graham party descended in lifeboat 3 which launched from the starboard side of Titanic about 1:00am (according to the British Inquiry Launch Times [3]).  Caroline Bonnell and her party were aboard lifeboat 8, launched from the port side about 10 minutes after number 3.  According to the timeline set forth in from the British Inquiry and the analysis by Wormstedt, Fitch and Behe, the launching of lifeboat 3 left the controversial lifeboat 1 and collapsible C on the forward starboard side.  [4]

I'm trying to figure out what might have motivated Roebling to go to the port side of Titanic at this point, which we know he did given Bonnell's statement that he waved their party off as well.  While the forward port side had not yet launched boats 2, 4, 8, or collapsible D, I'm not sure Roebling had any way of knowing that given the position of lifeboat 3 where he waved off the Grahams, judging from Wormstedt et al's lifeboat/boat deck diagram

Wormstedt's analysis also calls into question whether lifeboat 6 or 8 was the first launched from the forward port side .  If, in fact, as Wormstedt asserts, lifeboat 8 was the first launched on the forward port side, that only shortens the time between when Roebling would have been waving off the Grahams in 3 on the starboard side, and Bonnell in 8 on the port side.  Though the anaylsis does state that the timeline is not exact, given conflicting evidence.  And I suppose it is quite possible Roebling did not actually wait until boat three was lowered before heading to the other side of the ship.  Butler asserts, perhaps quite simply, that gentlemen like Roebling and Case were offering their services to "unprotected ladies" - those travelling without men in their party such as the Grahams. [5]  And perhaps after he saw the Grahams safely to boat 8, he went in search of acquaintance Caroline Bonnell, whom he found on the port side.

[1] [2]  "Calm Heroism of Roebling, About to Die, Related by Women He Helped to Save: Mother and Daughter Tell How Young Trentonian and London Friend Excelled in Gallantry and Cheerfulness in the Time That Tried the Souls of All Aboard the Sinking Liner," Trenton Evening Times, 20 Apr 1912.  Online.  GenealogyBank :  Accessed 20 Apr 2012.

[3] [4]  Wormstedt, Bill, Tad Fitch and George Behe.  Titanic: The Lifeboat Launching Sequence Re-Examined.  2012.  Online. Accessed 20 Apr 2012.

[5]  Butler, Daniel Allen.  Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic.  Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998.  p. 101.  Online.  Google Books : Accessed 20 Apr 2012.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Final Moments of Roebling and Blackwell Aboard Titanic

Trenton Evening Times, April 19, 1912-

"Trentonians Among Dead; Survivors Retell Horrors of the Awful Disaster: Roebling Said Goodbye to Friends and then Perished with Blackwell, His Companion" [1]

" 'You will be back with us on the ship soon again,' were the last words of Washington A. Roebling, II, so far as Trenton relatives know. In an interview this morning at the Waldorf-Astoria between Miss Caroline Bonnell and Ferdinand W. Roebling, Jr. of this city, Miss Bonnell spoke of Mr. Roebling's cheerful farewell to the women of her party as they were placed in the life boats to leave the ill-fated Titanic." [2]

There is, in the article, debate as to whether Roebling thought the ship would not sink, or whether he attempted to conceal the danger of the situation. Reports of Caroline Bonnell's conversation with Ferdinand Roebling state, "the general impression was that the damage was slight to the Titanic and that the women, placed in the life boats, would soon be picked up again and the Titanic proceed on her way to New York." [3]

Bonnell reported to H.C. Blackwell, brother of Stephen W. Blackwell, that she last saw him in the smoking room as she went to her cabin for a life preserver. Her last sight of Roebling was "smiling as he waved farewell to her and her party." [4]

Caroline Bonnell is listed among survivors aboard the Carpathia along with cousins Mary and Natalie Wick, and aunt Elizabeth 'Lily' Bonnell. The fifth member of their party, George Wick, is listed among those who died at sea. [5]


Caroline Bonnell was 30 years old in April 1912. Bonnell's daughter, Mary Jones Chilcote, now 85, recalled her mother in an article and video clip by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. [7]

[1] [2] [3] [4] "Trentonians Among Dead; Survivors Retell Horrors of the Awful Disaster," Trenton Evening Times, 19 April 1912. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

[5] "UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912," Online. Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

[6] "Titanic Survivors, Carpathia Passenger List, 1912," Online. Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

[7] Whitley, Mary Ann. "Titanic 100th Anniversary: Mary Jones Chilcote recalls the tragedy through her mother' scrapbook." Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8 April 2012. Online. Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Give Up Hope for Roebling and Blackwell

Trenton Evening Times, April 18, 1912-
"Give Up Hope for Roebling and Blackwell" [1]
By April 18th, the Trenton Evening Times reports in a short, two paragraph article that the lack of communication from either Washington Roebling or Stephen Blackwell coupled with the arrival of the Carpathia with Titanic's survivors "seems to confirm what has been generally believed from the first, that these two young Trentonians went down with the giant liner--" [2]
The lead article in that evening's Times reports stories by Titanic's survivors that are today well-known:
"They tell of aged Isador Straus, a self-made millionaire, and his wife standing arm in arm, awaiting death together, the wife resisting the best efforts of the sailors to drag her from her husband and to a place of safety.
They tell how Colonel John Jacob Astor, almost the last of his race of money kings, kissed his delicate child wife goodbye and then stood at attention as lifeboats bore her away leaving him to drown." [3]
That same article states that no stories have been told of Washington Roebling or Stephen Blackwell, but that "in absence of news from these men it is believed that they were among the heroes who died bravely that others might live." [4]

[1] [2] "Give Up Hope for Roebling and Blackwell," Trenton Evening Times, 18 April 1912. pg. 1, col. 8. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 April 2012.

[3] [4] "Survivors Tell How 1500 Men Jumped from Sinking Titanic to Death in Sea; Ismay Forced His Way into the Boats," Trenton Evening Times, 18 April 1912. pg. 1, col. 1. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 Apr 2012.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roebling Chauffeur, Frank Stanley, Not on Titanic

Trenton Evening Times, April 17, 1912-
"Stanley and Harris Not on the Titanic: Roebling Chauffeur Took Earlier Boat-and Other Local News from the Wreck" [1]

"Word was received by Charles G. Roebling yesterday afternoon that Frank Stanley, the chauffeur who motored Mr. Roebling's son, Washington A.Roebling II, and Stephen W. Blackwell through Europe, that he was not a passenger on the doomed Titanic but was safe in New York. Stanley saw his name on the list of those thought to have perished and immediately wired the Roeblings to the contrary." [2]

The article relates that Stanley had fallen ill while in Europe and received permission to depart early. The Times article specifically states, "Stanley arrived in New York from Rotterdam the later part of last week." [3]

A search of's database, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, reveals a Frank Stanley, age 35, sailing from Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, on the S.S. Rotterdam, arriving in New York 16 April 1912.


[1] [2] [3] "Stanley and Harris Not on the Titanic," Trenton Evening Times, 17 April 1912. pg. 3. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 13 April 2012.

[4] "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Online. Accessed 13 April 2012.

Monday, April 16, 2012

866 Saved From the Sinking Titanic... Roebling May Be Among the Rescued

Trenton Evening Times, April 16, 1912-
"866 Saved From the Sinking Titanic; Officials Concealed Disaster Hours; Roebling May Be Among the Rescued" [1]

By April 16th, the Trenton Evening Times reported the rescue of 866 passengers, presuming that the remaining 1492 were lost. The Times continues to report efforts to determine the fate of the three Trentonians reported aboard Titanic: Washington Roebling, Stephen Blackwell, and Frank Stanley. The article presumes that both Blackwell and Stanley were lost, but of Roebling there was a question. Among the list of survivors was reported a "Mr. Washington," but as no passenger had the last name of Washington, speculation arose as to whether the rescued man was Roebling or a Washington Dodge. Later reports determined that Dodge had survived the sinking.

Indeed, Washington Dodge is listed, along with his wife and son, among the survivors of Titanic aboard the Carpathia.

[1] [2] "Public Long Kept in Ignorance of Greatest Marine Disaster of Recent Years: Partial List of Survivors Issued," Trenton Evening Times, 16 April 1912, pg. 1, col. 8. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 12 April 2012.

[3] "Titanic Survivors, Carpathia Passenger List, 1912," Online. Accessed 12 Apr 2012.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trenton Men Aboard Titanic... Washington A. Roebling II Among Hundreds of Passengers

Trenton Evening Times, April 15, 1912-

"Trenton Men Aboard Giant Titanic Which Meets Disaster in Ice: Washington A. Roebling II, and Stephen W. Blackwell Among Hundreds of Passengers Who Are Taken Off in Lifeboats When Maiden Voyage Seemed Likely to End in Sinking of World's Biggest Vessel" [1]

"Returning to their homes in Trenton after a two month pleasure trip abroad, Washington A. Roebling II and Stephen W. Blackwell were abroad the ocean liner Titanic, which encountered icebergs last night and is said to be so badly damaged that her passengers had to be put to sea in lifeboats, being later taken on other vessels which responded to wireless calls for help.

Frank Stanley, Mr. Roebling's chauffeur, was also a passenger on the ship, the Trenton men having taken automobiles with them.

While no word has been received direct from either Roebling or Blackwell, it is anticipated that they are safe, as no casualties have been reported." [2]

The article continues by stating that the Titanic is being held afloat by her water tight compartments and moving slowly toward Nova Scotia. Titanic's automatic bulk heads are also mentioned as preventing the sinking of the ship.

I'm so accustomed to today's age of instant information and communication, that I forget how long details and truths of events took to become known. Two years ago I posted on the sinking of the S.S. Arctic in 1854 and the amount of time it took (2 weeks) after the sinking for the news to reach New York.

Today, one hundred years later, we know what happened on this date. But on April 15, 1912, news of Washington Roebling's fate remained uncertain, though it was presumed he was safe, having left Titanic in a lifeboat.

First in a series on Washington A. Roebling II and his voyage aboard Titanic based on articles that appeared in the Trenton Evening Times in 1912.

Disclaimer: I am not a descendant of the Roebling family. I first discovered Washington A. Roebling II's story over a year ago while researching his older sister, Emily Margaretta Roebling Cadwalader (1879-1941), wife of my great-great uncle, Richard McCall Cadwalader (1877-1960). I've intended to post his story for some time, and as April 15, 2012 approached, felt that it was an appropriate time.

[1] [2] "Trenton Men Aboard Giant Titanic Which Meets Disaster in Ice," Trenton Evening Times, 15 April 1912, pg. 1. Online. GenealogyBank : Accessed 12 April 2012.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Alexander Cadwalader

I feel like I'm probably the only genealogist not chasing down the newly released 1940 census today. This post is a little more morbid than my usual, and apologies for this being the first thing up after a longer absence than I'd like, but I stumbled across this accidentally last night and need to get it out of my head somehow.

I've heard in the family lore that my great-great uncle, Alexander Cadwalader, died by suicide, but until last night never found anything substantiating that. Then again, I don't think I've looked terribly hard, either. I think I just sort of assumed any death notice for him would be non-existent or might vaguely reference an unexpected passing. In no way did I expect to find a headline stating he killed himself, and that the hypothesis was his fear of commitment in a sanitarium.


The article explains the cause of death and briefly recounts the incident from the perspective of a member of the household staff. The article mentions the county coroner, but states that a formal inquest into Alexander's death was not necessary.

Alexander was 20 years old at the time of his death on August 6, 1918, and was the youngest of the seven sons of Richard McCall Cadwalder (1839-1918) and Christine Williams Biddle Cadwalader (1847-1900) [see This is the Face of Genealogy]

Rest in Peace.

Alexander Cadwalader at Find a Grave

[1] "Alex. Cadwalader Died by Own Hand," Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 Aug. 1918. Online. Accessed 1 Apr 2012.