Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pelham Resident Harry Anderson Survived the Sinking of the RMS Titanic

One can only imagine the puzzling sound and the troublesome jolt as the British passenger liner RMS Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship's time on April 14, 1912.  The collision buckled the ship's hull plates inward along the starboard side and opened five of the ship's sixteen watertight compartments to the sea.  

By 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 2012, ship's time, the massive liner broke apart and sank with well over one thousand souls still aboard.  It was not for another two hours or so that the RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene of the sinking and brought aboard an estimated 705 survivors.

One can only imagine the fear and confusion of the RMS Titanic passengers for that horrifying three-hour period.  One Pelhamite never had to imagine.  He was a passenger on the fateful ship.  He survived the sinking, but had to relive its horrors in his mind for the rest of his life until his death at the age of 87 in 1951.  He was Harry Anderson.  

Harry Anderson was an active member of the New York Athletic Club which he joined in 1902.  He rose to become commodore emeritus of the yacht division of the New York Athletic Club.  He lived in Pelham Manor for about twenty years during the 1930s and 1940s and was a member of Christ Church.  He resided for a time at 950 Grant Avenue in Pelham Manor.  

Anderson was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England on October 20, 1864.  He emigrated to the United States in his youth.  He married Florence Makley, a daughter of John F. and Anna E. Makley.  

Harry Anderson was a Wall Street stockbroker at the time of his trip on the RMS Titanic.  He and his wife lived on the upper west side of Manhattan at 823 West End Avenue at the time and had no children.  In 1912 he took a business and pleasure trip to England and boarded the RMS Titanic in Southampton (ticket number 19952, cabin number E-12) for the return to New York.  After the collison with the iceberg and the scramble to evacuate the ship, Anderson was able to climb aboard Lifeboat Number 3, one of the first lifeboats lowered from the Titanic.  

Harry Anderson, a Survivor of the Sinking of the RMS Titanic,
Who Lived in Pelham Manor the Last 20 Years of His Life.
Photograph Taken in 1919.

News reports at the time shocked the world, reporting that RMS Titanic officers shot steerage passengers who tried to board lifeboats ahead of women and children.  If there is any truth to such allegations, how did Harry Anderson make it onto one of the earliest lifeboats to depart the sinking ship?  One survivor's account sheds some light on the matter.  The New York Sun published a story on April 27, 1912 quoting survivor Thomas Cardeza as saying:  "we went back to the forward part of the starboard side and found a boat that was being loaded and they were calling for women to get in.  My mother got in with her maid.  The officer called for other women, but there were none thereabout.  Then he called for men passengers.  There were only about six just there, of whom I was one, and we got in.'"  It turns out that the additional men who climbed into Lifeboat Number 3 with Thomas Cardeza were Thomas Cardeza's valet, Hammad Hassab, as well as Harry Anderson, Colonel Alfons Simonius, Max Stahelin, Adolf Saalfield, and Gustav Leseur (a valet to Henry Sleeper Harper).  

Harry Anderson may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when the RMS Titanic struck the iceberg, but he was in the right place at the right time as Lifeboat Number 3 was being filled and then lowered.  The lifeboat had a capacity to carry 65.  It only carried about 40 passengers when it was lowered from the Titanic.  Twenty-eight of the occupants of the boat that treacherous night have been identified, including Harry Anderson.  All twenty eight who have been identified were First Class Passengers.  None were Second Class or Third Class Passengers.

There are those who have studied the animals, including pets, that lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic.  Some pets (including four dogs) survived as they were carried by their owners onto lifeboats, incredibly.  Harry Anderson is known as a dog owner who had his Chow-Chow with him on the trip.  It would appear that his dog was not among the few pets that survived since Harry Anderson made an insurance claim for his lost Chow-Chow for the sum of $50.00.

In 2011, Julien's Auctions auctioned off a series of untransmitted telegrams created by Titanic survivors who were taken aboard the Carpathia.  Each is stamped "NOT TRANSMITTED."  It is believed that these telegrams were not transmitted due to the large volume of transmission requests and the large volume of communications transmitted via the Carpathia's telegram operator, Marconi International Marine Communication Company Ltd.  One of a pair of such untransmitted telegrams that sold for $1,152.00 was a telegram created by Harry Anderson for his wife.  It read "Safe aboard Carpathia do not worry."  An image of the telegram appears immediately below.

Untransmitted Telegram from Titanic Survivor Harry Anderson
to His Wife, Florence Makley Anderson Residing at 823 West
End Avenue, on Form Used by the RMS Carpathia that Rescued
Him.  Source:  Julien's Auctions.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge. 

The New York Times reported on April 16, 1912, that Harry Anderson was among a "partial list of survivors among the first-class passengers of the Titanic, received by the Marconi wireless station this morning from the Carpathia, via the steamship Olympic."

In about 1931, Harry Anderson and his wife moved to Pelham Manor.  His wife, Florence Makley Anderson, died on November 23, 1937.  At the time of Harry Anderson's death in New Rochelle Hospital on November 24, 1951, he lived at 950 Grant Avenue, Pelham Manor, New York.  

Home at 950 Grant Avenue in Which RMS Titanic
Survivor Harry Anderson Lived at Time of His Death
in 1951.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

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Below is the text of a brief obituary of Harry Anderson that appeared in the November 26, 1951 issue of The Daily Argus published in Mount Vernon.  It is followed by a citation and link to its source.

"Harry Anderson, 'Titanic' Survivor, Passes At 87

PELHAM MANOR -- Harry Anderson of 950 Grant Avenue, a survivor of the sinking of the White Star liner 'Titanic' in 1912, died Saturday at New Rochelle Hospital at the age of eighty-seven.

Born in England, Oct. 20, 1864, he was commodore emeritus of the yacht division of the New York Athletic Club, having been a member since 1902.  In later years he was a member of the Larchmont Yacht Club.  He was considered one of the oldest living commodores in the United States.

He retired several years ago from a Wall Street brokerage firm brokerage firm and lived for 20 years in Pelham Manor where he was a communicant of Christ Church.  

He leaves no surviving relatives in the United States."

Source:  Harry Anderson, 'Titanic' Survivor, Passes At 87, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 26, 1951, p. 2, col. 3

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