Friday, April 21, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: April 21

April 21, 1912 – Mrs. Mahala Dutton Douglas, widow of Walter D. Douglas, the Minneapolis millionaire who met a heroic death on the Titanic, and Mr. and Mrs. John Pillsbury Snyder, Minneapolis residents who were rescued from the doomed ship, arrived home early today. With Mrs. Douglas, was her maid, Bertha Lavery, who was assisted to safety by Mr. Douglas just before the liner sank on April 15. Each of the Minneapolis survivors said that years will never dim the vivid memories of the terrible night spent among the icebergs off the banks of Newfoundland, when 1,500 persons lost their lives and 700 were saved from graves in the Atlantic.

The Titanic1

Mrs. Douglas, who had made a wonderful show of courage throughout the ordeal, was near the point of physical collapse when her train reached Minneapolis. The strain was proving to be more than she could stand. None of her friends were allowed to see her at the station and she was hurried into a waiting automobile.

Accompanied by her stepson, George C. Douglas, her sister, Mrs. G. A. Goodell and her maid, Mrs. Douglas was taken to Waldon, the summer home of the Douglases on Lake Minnetonka, where a physician was called.

The last time she saw her husband, he told her she should get into a lifeboat, where it would be safer for her. According to Mrs. Douglas, she pleaded with him to come with her, but he replied,” I can’t do it. I would not be a man or a gentleman if I left the Titanic while there was a woman or child on board.”

Mrs. Douglas said she spoke with everyone on the Carpathia, the ship that picked up the Titanic survivors, to find out if they had seen Mr. Douglas after she left the Titanic. Each one said they had seen the Minneapolitan working with other male passengers as they assisted the crew in lowering the boatloads of women and children.

Mr. and Mrs. Douglas2

Mr. and Mrs. John Pillsbury Snyder’s arrival today in Minneapolis marked the end of their honeymoon trip. They were married Jan. 22, and had been traveling since that time.

Mr. and Mrs. John Pillsbury Snyder3

Mr. Snyder denied many of the quotes attributed to him by East Coast reporters, and was particularly emphatic in denying a story that three men in their lifeboat were shot by an officer and their bodies thrown overboard.

“I have no idea where this absolutely false story could have originated,” said Mr. Snyder. “The spreading of such tales does injustice to the seamen who manned our lifeboat. In the first place, there was no officer in the boat. One claimed to be a ‘crow’s-nest’ man off duty and the other two appeared to be common sailors. The three knew how to handle a lifeboat perfectly and we did not have the least trouble. All the men but one took turns at rowing. This one was a German whom we came to know on the Carpathia as ‘the baron.’ He thought rowing would be ‘beneath him.’”

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Titanic Passengers Reach Minneapolis. Mrs. Douglas in Physician’s Care at Lake Minnetonka Home. Mr. and Mrs. Snyder Arrive Weary, but Otherwise Unharmed. Thrilling Story of Rescue From Doomed Ship is Detailed.”; April 22, 1912; pp. 1&2.




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