Saturday, 7 April 2012

Colonel Archibald Gracie


The 100th Anniversary of the Titanic sinking is coming up on the 15th April ...

When your name is mentioned in Wikipedia in connection with such an event  it's hard to ignore

So!  Take a swatch at the undernoted ......

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colonel Archibald Gracie IV (January 17, 1859 - December 4, 1912) was an American writer, amateur historianreal estate investor, and survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. He survived the sinking by climbing aboard an overturned collapsible lifeboat, and wrote a popular and valuable book about the disaster which is still in print today.

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[edit]Early life

Gracie was born in Mobile, Alabama, a member of the wealthy Scottish-American Gracie family of 
New York.He was a namesake and direct decendant of the Archibald Gracie who had built Gracie Mansion
official residence of the mayor of New York City, in 1799. His father,Archibald Gracie III, had been an officer
with the Washington Light Infantry of the Confederate army during the American Civil War, serving at the Battle 
of Chickamauga before dying atPetersburg, Virginia, in 1864. Young Archibald attended St. Paul's School in
Concord, New Hampshire and the United States Military Academy (though he did not graduate), eventually
becoming a colonel of the 7th New York Militia.
Colonel Gracie was a keen amateur historian and was especially fascinated by the Battle of Chickamauga at
which his father had served. He spent a number of years collecting facts about the battle and eventually wrote
a book calledThe Truth about Chickamauga. He found the experience rewarding but exhausting; in early
1912 he decided to visit Europe without his wife Constance (née Schack) and their daughter in order to
recharge his batteries. He traveled to Europe on RMS Oceanic and eventually decided to return to the United
States aboard RMS Titanic. He was a first class passager.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
The Sinking ...

It was a cold, starlit night with no moon. There was no sign of ice or other ships. He
jumped over the barrier dividing first and second class and roamed the entire Boat Deck. 
He saw a middle aged couple strolling along arm-in-arm but there was no sign of any officers 
or any reason for concern. Returning to the A deck companionway he encountered Bruce
Ismay with a crew member, theyseemed preoccupied and did not notice him.At the foot of the 
stairs there were a number of men passengers who had also been disturbed by the jolt. 
This was where he learned that the ship had collided with an iceberg, his friend Clinch Smith 
handed him a piece of ice, commenting that he might like it as a souvenir. He also learned 
that the mailroom was flooding and the postal clerks were busy moving two hundred bags of 
registered mail.

Gracie and Smith were now joined by some ladies, and at this time they noticed a tilt in the deck. 
Realizing that the situation was worsening, the men returned to their staterooms where Gracie 
hastily packed all his possessions into three large travelling bags ready to transfer to another 
ship. After putting on a long Newmarket overcoat and returning to the deck, Gracie found that 
everyone was putting on the life preservers. Steward Cullen insisted that Gracie return to his 
stateroom for his. Returning to A-Deck, Gracie located the unaccompanied ladies he had 
promised to escort.

When the order to load the lifeboats came, Gracie escorted the four ladies to the Boat Deck 
and since the crew did not allow any men to approach the lifeboats, he released the ladies to 
the custody of 6th Officer Moody. During the Titanic's final hours, Mrs Appleton and Mrs Cornell 
became separated from Mrs Brown and Miss Evans. Mrs Cornell and Mrs Appleton were
eventually helped into Lifeboat 2.

Shortly after midnight, while looking for his friends, Gracie met the racquet coach, Wright, in
the stairway of C-Deck and jokingly cancelled his 7:30 a.m. lesson for the next morning. 
Wright seemed concerned, probably because by that time he knew the racquet court to be 
filling with water.Together with Steward Charles Cullen, he obtained extra blankets for distribution
to the lifeboats. Gracie then rejoined Clinch Smith who informed him that fellow first class 
passengers Björnström-Steffansson and Woolner had put Mrs Candee into into Lifeboat 6, 
the third boat to leave. Mrs Straus almost entered Lifeboat 8, - then she turned back and 
rejoined her husband, she had made up her mind: "We have lived together for many years. 
Where you go, I go." Gracie, Woolner and other friends tried to persuade her, but she refused. 
Mr and Mrs Straus went and sat together on a pair of deck chairs.

Just then someone pointed out that a group of men were trying to take over Boat 2. Second 
Officer Lightoller jumped into the boat and threatened them with his empty gun driving them
all out. With the help of Gracie and Smith they were able to load 36 women and children into 
this boat, and it was lowered at 1:45 under the command of Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall. It 
was the fifteenth boat to leave the Titanic and contained 20 people although its maximum 
capacity was 40. The lifeboat needed to travel only 15 feet to reach the water. In normal 
circumstances it would have been 70 feet.

Gracie and Smith continued to assist Lightoller, now loading the women and children into
Lifeboat 4. One of the ladies Gracie lifted into the boat was was the pregnant teenage wife of 
John Jacob Astor.Lightoller tried to remove thirteen year old John Borie Ryerson from the boat, 
but was persuaded by the boys father to allow him to stay. Lifeboat 4 was under the command 
of Quartermaster Perkis, it left at 1:55 a.m.

At around 2:00 am all of the Titanic's rockets had been fired and all the lifeboats had been
lowered save for the four collapsible Engelhardt boats with canvas sides. Collapsibles A and B 
were still lashed upside down to the roof of the officers' quarters. The crew was having trouble 
removing the canvas covers and Gracie gave them his penknife.  Collapsible D was lifted, 
righted and hooked to the tackles where Boat 2 had been. The crew then formed a ring around 
the lifeboat and allowed only women to pass through. The boat could hold 47, but after 15 women 
had been loaded, no more women could be found. Lightoller now allowed to men to take the 
vacant seats. This was when Gracie found Mrs Brown and Miss Evans were still on board, so 
he escorted them to the lifeboat. 


When Gracie arrived with the female passengers, all the men immediately stepped out and 
made way for them. Thinking there was only room for one more lady, Edith turned to Mrs Brown
and told her, "You go first. You have children waiting at home." Mrs Brown was helped in and 
the boat left the Titanic at 2:05 a.m. under Quartermaster Bright. Edith Evans would never find 
a space in any of the lifeboats and died in the sinking. As the collapsible was lowered to the 
ocean, two men were seen to jump into it from the rapidly flooding A deck.

Ironically these two men were Gracie's friends, Woolner and Björnström-Steffansson, who had
found themselves alone near the open forward end of A-deck. Just above them Collapsible D
was slowly descending towards the sea, and as the water rushed up the deck towards them they 
got onto the railing and leapt into the boat, Björnström-Steffansson landing in a heap at the bow.
Woolner's landing was similarly undignified but they were safe.

Gracie and Smith were still working on the Collapsibles when the bridge dipped under at 2:15.
Gracie and Smith turned and headed for stern when met a crowd of men and women coming 
up from steerage."My friend Clinch Smith made the proposition that we should leave and go 
toward the stern. But there arose before us from the decks below a mass of humanity several 
lines deep converging on the Boat Deck facing us and completely blocking our passage to the 
stern. There were women in the crowd as well as men and these seemed to be steerage
passengers who had just come up from the decks below.Even among these people there was 
no hysterical cry, no evidence of panic. Oh the agony of it."

As the Titanic foundered, Gracie and Clinch Smith stayed with the crowd. As the water rushed
towards them, Gracie jumped with the wave, caught hold of the bottom rung of the ladder to the 
oof of theofficers mess and pulled himself up. Clinch Smith disappeared beneath the waves 
never to be seen again. As the ship sank, the resulting undertow pulled Gracie deep into icy 
waters, he kicked himself free far below the surface and, with the aid of his life preserver, swam 
clear. Clinging to a floating wooden crate, Gracie was able to swim over to the overturned 
Collapsible B and, with a little help managed to climb onto it.

When Gracie first got to the boat there were about a dozen people on it. All told some thirty
men and women managed to climb on the partially submerged boat during the next few minutes. 
Some of the men were quite dry, they had apparently been on the boat as it was swept off. Gracie, 
teeth chattering, hair frozen tried to borrow a cap to warm his head, the man refused. The boat 
was slowly sinking.

Lightoller now took took command. He ordered all the men to stand. He got them into a double
column,facing the bow. Then, as the boat lurched, he ordered then to lean to the left or right, 
whatever was necessary to counteract the swell. They found that Harold Bride, the junior wireless 
operator was on board. Lightoller questioned him about the positions reported by the rescue 
boats and determined the Carpathia should arrive about dawn.

Just after 3:30 am the survivors heard the sound of a cannon being fired, and as dawn broke
around 4 am the Carpathia came into sight. The men on B were now desperately trying to stay 
afloat. The Carpathia was 4 miles away, picking up survivors from the other lifeboats. About 400 
yards away, Boats 4, 10, 12 and D were strung together in a line. Lightoller used his officers 
whistle and got their attention. Boats 4 and 12 cast of at once and rowed over. Boat 4 arrived 
first and started transferring the survivors from the foundering collapsible. Gracie was unable 
to make the jump and crawled into Boat 12. Lightoller was the last to leave.

By 8:15 am all boats were in but for 12. Gracie worked in vain to revive a lifeless body lying
beside him. At 8:30, Boat 12 made fast and Gracie was able step onto the Carpathia 's gangway. 
Laying under a pile of blankets on a sofa in the ship dining room, while his clothes dried in the 
ships bake oven, Gracie discovered cuts on his legs and body and a wound to his head. He was 
to be black and blue and sore 
for days.

Colonel Gracie wrote an account of the tragedy that was published as "The Truth About The 
Titanic" in 1913. Gracie never finished proofing the manuscript as he died on 4 December 1912 
at his ancestral home in New York, N.Y., having never fully recovered from the trauma of that 
night. Many survivors were at the graveside for his burial at Woodlawn Cemetery,New York, 
together with members of his regiment.

COL. GRACIE DIES, HAUNTED BY TITANIC

PDF Print

New York Times

"We Must Get Them All in the Boats," Last Words of
the Man Who Helped to Save Many

Related Biographies:
John Jacob Astor
Madeleine Talmage Astor
Archibald Willingham Butt
Archibald Gracie
Charles Herbert Lightoller
Francis Davis Millet
Clarence Bloomfield Moore
Arthur Larned Ryerson
Isidor Straus
Rosalie Ida Straus

Well then ... How's about that folks ...  I wonder if Archibald Gracie
is part of 'our' Gracie family who went to America ...  what's the odds huh? 
It is a quite unusual name  - and is spelt the same (which contradicts 
the spelling rule which states ' i before e -  except after c ' )  I wonder ??   


We do know that there were Gracie family members who went to China 
as missionaries  and also that there were family who also went to the USA .    
I am trying to get hold of Archibald's book and intend to investigate further 
so we'll see.

In the meantime though ... WHAT A STORY !

Cheers Kate (Lyn Gracie)  xxx.

4 comments:

Amber Star said...

Hey Kate,

Happy Easter!

You might check the 1900 U.S. census to see if you can find him. Sometimes family members live with other family members. My grandfather's father lived with them in the 1930 census. I found him in Illinois in the 1920 and 1910 census.

I use Family Tree Maker from Ancestry.com
Hope you find the link you are looking for. :)

Lilly said...

Oh wow Kate, what if. I just read a story about relatives of those on board the Titanic who went on a voyage together to follow the route the Titanic took to where it finally ended up. that is fascinating and with a name like that I am sure you are related. Has nayone done any family tree on this?

Kate said...

Not that I know of yet Lilly - but my sister in law wants to do a family tree and is collecting info so hopefully we will find out more...

Kate said...

Amber as I mentioned to Lilly my sis in law has found some details in Ancestry.com and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.