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3 from W.Va. were on ill-fated 'unsinkable' ship

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lucien Smith was playing bridge with three Frenchmen when they felt the impact. His young wife, Mary Eloise, was asleep in their cabin. She woke up when the Titanic struck an iceberg, but went back to sleep.

In the smoking room, Clarence Moore was entertaining his companions, telling them about the mountains and forests of West Virginia. He liked to tell how he helped a reporter get an interview with the outlaw Capt. Anse Hatfield.

The fate of the these West Virginians was closely followed by Charleston newspaper readers in the days after the luxury steamship sank on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic 100 years ago today -- April 15, 1912.

A Charleston Gazette headline blazed, "Nature's Mammoth of the Sea Jealous of Man-made Rival, Strikes First Blow in Fog -- Far From Aid From Any Other Ships." The final death toll was 1,523 people.

The romance, drama and bravery in the stories of the three West Virginians are what make legends and movie scripts. Here are their stories, based on Charleston Gazette articles and other historical sources, mainly the website encyclopedia-titanica.org.

Eloise and Lucien Smith

For her first 18 years, Mary Eloise Hughes led a charmed life. Old photographs show a dark-eyed, dark-haired beauty.

She was the daughter of James A. Hughes, who rose from being a railroad conductor to serving eight terms as a Republican congressman from Huntington.

When Congress was in session, the family lived in the Willard Hotel, across the street from the White House. At age 5, Eloise took her younger sister and they paid a call on President Theodore Roosevelt. Used to children, with several of his own, the president visited with the Hughes sisters for a bit before sending them back across the street.

She went to exclusive girls schools in the East, and made her debut into society in January 1912. Debuts were social rituals that basically announced the young woman was available for marriage, and parties were thrown for them to meet husbands.

"Her rare beauty and incisive mind rendered her instantly popular," noted the Huntington Herald-Dispatch decades later.

A month after her debut, she and 24-year-old Lucien Phillip Smith were married in Central Christian Church in Huntington in what the newspaper described as one of "the most brilliant wedding functions" ever held in the city. They left on a honeymoon that would take them to Egypt and Europe.

Several reports say that Lucien Phillip Smith was smitten with Eloise when he saw a photograph of her. He convinced a friend who knew her to introduce him.

In old newspaper articles, Lucien Smith is listed as being from Morgantown and Uniontown, Pa. His wealthy family had holdings in the Pennsylvania coalfields.

He lived in a house at 76 High St. in Morgantown. (That's now the site of the Café Bacchus restaurant, where last night, the restaurant offered "first class" five-course meals and "second class" three-course meals to note the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster.)

On their honeymoon, Smith bought his new bride a ring in Paris and "a flawless" diamond in Amsterdam.

Clarence Moore

At 47, Clarence Bloomington Moore was in the prime of his life.

He was born in Clarksburg in 1865, but was well known to many Charleston residents, according to the Gazette. His brother, Frank, was mayor of Clarksburg, and Moore had been deputy clerk in the circuit and federal district courts.

At some point, he became involved with U.S. Sens. Stephen Elkins and Henry Gassaway Davis in the development of West Virginia's natural resources: coal, oil and gas, and timber.

After his first wife died, Moore moved to Washington, D.C., and became a member of a stock brokerage firm with a salary of $25,000 a year, at a time when most government employees made $2,000.

In 1900, when he was 35, he married 22-year-old Mabelle Swift, an heiress of the family fortune made in the Chicago meat-packing business. Their mansion on Massachusetts Avenue is now the embassy of Uzbekistan.

The New York Times described Moore "as one of the best known sportsmen in America." In Washington circles, Moore was socially prominent as being master of the hounds at the Chevy Chase Hunt Club. One newspaper article gave him credit for the development of the Chevy Chase suburb in Maryland, because so many D.C. residents wanted to live near the flourishing club.

"Clarence Moore was the most daring horseman I have ever seen.  . . . He knew every phase of fox hunting, which was his greatest hobby," a friend told The Washington Herald.

Moore wasn't pleased with the hounds purchased in Virginia for the new Rock Creek Hunt Club, so he sailed to England, where he purchased 50 pair of fox hounds from the best packs in the north of England.

Some of his friends said Moore wouldn't have come back on the Titanic without the hounds. Other sources, however, say the hounds weren't aboard. His manservant, Charles Henry Harrington, was.

'Some indistinct premonition'

In a letter home from Europe, Eloise Smith wrote: "Lucien is getting so anxious to get home and drive the car and fool around on the farm.  . . . We leave here Sunday.  . . . By boat to Brindisi [Italy], by rail to Nice and Monte Carlo, then to Paris and via Cherbourg either on the Lusitania or the new Titanic . . .  ."

They booked passage on the Titanic from Monte Carlo, according to an April 18, 1912, article in a newspaper in Nice, France:

"Mrs. Smith felt some indistinct premonition when she bought their tickets in Monte-Carlo. Indeed, she told Mr. Nauth when he delivered the tickets:

'We were on the Olympic when she lost her propeller. We hope that this time we are not going to sink.'"

The RMS Titanic left Southampton, England, on April 10 and, 90 minutes later, boarded passengers in Cherbourg, France. The vessel picked up more passengers the next day in Queenstown, Ireland, and then headed into open sea, bound for New York City.

J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, was on board as he was with all maiden voyages of the firm's ships. Rather than make the Titanic as fast as the competing ocean liner Lusitania, Ismay and his partners concentrated on steerage capacity. The immigration trade was their largest source of income.

Still, the firm hoped to woo the wealthy and prosperous middle class with luxurious accommodations. Built at a cost of $10 million, the ship had a grand staircase that extended through five decks, a gymnasium, a swimming pool and a library.

'Ladies and children first'

By evening on April 14, the Titanic was about 500 miles east of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The ship collided with an iceberg at 11:40 p.m., as Lucien Smith played bridge with three Frenchmen in the Café Parisian. They were told not to worry, so they resumed their game.

In a written statement as part of an official inquiry into the disaster, Eloise Smith remembers her husband as very calm when he came to their room a short time later to wake her.

"I asked why the boat had stopped and in a leisurely manner, he said, 'We are in the north and have struck an iceberg. It does not amount to anything, but will probably delay us a day getting into New York. However, as a matter of form, the captain has ordered all ladies on deck.' That frightened me a little, but after being reassured there was no danger, I took plenty of time dressing - putting on all my heavy clothing, high shoes, and two coats as well as a warm knit hood."

She left, then returned to get two rings, although her husband told her not to bother with "such trifles."

On the upper deck, there was a delay in lowering the lifeboats, so the Smiths waited and chatted with others in the gymnasium. "There was no commotion, no panic, and no one seemed particularly frightened," she said.

Lucien Smith kept reassuring his wife that she could stay with him rather than go in a lifeboat. She noticed, however, that her husband kept talking to any officer he saw. "Still, I had not the least suspicion of the scarcity of lifeboats, or I never should have left my husband."

Eloise refused to get in the first lifeboat and balked on getting into the second. She pointed out to the ship's captain that there was room in the second boat and asked if her husband could go with her. Capt. Edward Smith ignored her, using a megaphone to shout "Ladies and children first!"

Smith then told his teenage wife, "I never expected to ask you to obey, but this is one time you must; it is only a matter of form to have women and children first. The boat is thoroughly equipped and everyone on her will be saved."

He kissed her, and helped her into the lifeboat.

"As the boat was being lowered down he yelled down from the deck, 'Keep your hands in your pockets. It is very cold weather,'" she remembered. "That was the last time I saw him . . .  ."

'It was all over in an instant'

Clarence Moore stood on deck with his friend, Archibald Butt, military aide to President William Howard Taft, helping women and children into lifeboats.

Knowing that Moore was an oarsman, Butt tried to persuade Moore to man the oars of one of the last lifeboats.

"No major, I'll stay and take my chances with you. Let the women go," Moore said to his companion, as recounted by Robert Williams Daniel, a Philadelphia banker who survived the disaster.

According to some reports, Moore and Butt apparently jumped when the boilers of the Titanic burst.

As for Daniel, he said he jumped from one of the top decks. "About me were others in the water. My bathrobe floated away, and it was icily cold. I struck out at once. I turned my head, and my first glance took in the people swarming on the Titanic's deck. Hundreds were standing there helpless to ward off approaching death.

"I saw Captain Smith on the bridge. My eyes seemingly clung to him. The deck from which I had leapt was immersed. The water had risen slowly, and was now to the floor of the bridge. Then it was to Captain Smith's waist. I saw him no more. He died a hero.

". . . It was all over in an instant. The Titanic's stern rose completely out of the water and went up 30, 40, 60 feet into the air. Then, with her body slanting at an angle of 45 degrees, slowly the Titanic slipped out of sight."

Daniel was one of only 13 people helped into lifeboats out of the ocean. Hundreds more died of cardiac arrest or hypothermia in the freezing water.

'Nearer My God To Thee'

On lifeboat No. 6, there were only 24 people in a boat that was supposed to hold 50. "During the night they looked for water and crackers and a compass, but they found none that night," Eloise Smith wrote.

"We were some distance away when the Titanic went down. We watched with sorrow, and heard the many cries for help and pitied the captain because we knew he would have to stay with the ship."

It was bitterly cold in the lifeboat, but Eloise didn't mind as she kept looking for her husband, believing he had made it into another lifeboat. Some of the icebergs on the horizon appeared as tall as mountains.

"The night was beautiful; everything seemed to be with us in that respect, and a very calm sea."

Another passenger in lifeboat No. 6 was Margaret Brown, who later was immortalized as "the unsinkable Molly Brown" in a Broadway musical and movie.

Eloise thought it was about 5 or 5:30 a.m. when they saw the steam liner Carpathia. A seaman in the lifeboat, whom Eloise described as lazy, uncouth and a thorough coward, suggested they drift and let the ship pick them up.

"However, the women refused, and rowed toward it."

Eloise also unleashed her contempt on White Star Line's Ismay in her statement in the U.S. Senate inquiry. Her remarks made headlines in May 1912.

"I know of many women who slept on the floor in the smoking room while Mr. Ismay occupied the best room on the Carpathia . . . with every attention and a sign on the door 'Please do not knock.'"

Aboard the Carpathia, Eloise tried on Monday morning, April 15, to send a "marconigram" -- an early form of telegram -- to her friends. It didn't go through.

Three days later, though, the Gazette reported that the congressman's daughter was on board the Carpathia in serious condition, and no hope was entertained for either Lucien Smith or Clarence Moore.

In Washington, the Times wrote that Clarence Moore's young wife, "who is prostrated," wanted to send out a steamer to help in the search, but friends convinced her otherwise. She was left with three young sons and two stepchildren.

Eloise Smith returned by train to her parents' home in Huntington. Later accounts said throngs gathered at the C&O station to look at her.

On May 12, in the same church where she was married, "Eloise led an overflow crowd in a tearful memorial service for Lucien Smith. Among the hymns played at the service was 'Nearer My God To Thee,' which scores of survivors, Eloise included, said was played by the Titanic's orchestra during the ship's final hours," the Huntington Quarterly wrote in a 1997 story.

Sometime in the next few months, she must have realized she was pregnant. Lucien P. Smith Jr. was born on Nov. 29, 1912, in Cincinnati.

"We used to say that Eloise was probably the only woman in the world who, in just a year's time, made her debut, got engaged, married, survived the Titanic, became a widow and then a mother," a relative was quoted in a Richmond newspaper story.

Eloise back in the news

In fall 1914, Eloise once again made The New York Times and other newspapers when her marriage was announced to a fellow Titanic survivor -- Robert Daniel, the Philadelphia banker who was pulled from the sea onto Lifeboat No. 3.

They met aboard the Carpathia. A Richmond newspaper account, no doubt romanticized, said "Daniel left the ship carrying in his arms Mrs. Smith, handing the nearly faint woman to her congressman father."

There was no woman in his arms when Daniel was interviewed by a Worchester Telegram reporter as the Carpathia docked in New York City on April 18. Daniel "was smooth shaven and looked in good shape" when he gave the reporter a brief recap of his survival "before a surge of the crowd swept him away from me."

Their marriage announcement came as a surprise, because it was made two months after the August wedding and few knew they were engaged. Shortly after their marriage, Daniel left for England on urgent business and apparently had difficulty getting home because of the start of World War I that same month.

The Huntington Quarterly article theorized that the engagement was kept secret because Congressman Hughes wasn't happy that Daniel "came a-courting" two months after the birth of his grandson. He wanted the engagement kept secret because Eloise had sued to get her son his share of his father's estate.

Lucien Smith didn't have an estate. His income was merely $500 a year allowance from his family. The lawsuit was dropped.

'She died of a broken heart'

If Eloise's life were a movie, it would have ended with her marriage to Daniel and credits would have begun to roll.

Her life wasn't that tidy. She and Daniel divorced in 1923. She married again, twice. One husband, Lewis Cort, died. She divorced her fourth husband, C.S. Wright, who was West Virginia's state auditor. She became active in Republican politics and talked about writing a book about the Titanic.

In 1940, she was 47 and living at 1140 Fifth Ave. in Huntington when she died unexpectedly in a Cincinnati hospital, where she was taken for a relatively minor complaint. She had taken back the name of Smith.

Robert Daniel also died in 1940, at 56. He had married three more times and was living on his historic estate Brandon-on-the James in Richmond when he died of cirrhosis of the liver.

As for Clarence Moore's wife, Mabelle, The New York Times described her as "the wealthiest widow in Washington" when she remarried in 1915.

When she died in 1933, recently divorced at age 55, the Times wrote that she entertained extensively in New York and in Scotland, where she had a long lease of Blair Castle.

"In 1925 she changed her English home to Crichel in Dorsetshire, the beautiful estate of Lord Alingon. One of the features of Crichel is its 'white farm,' on which all the animals are white, horses, cows, several zebus and a deer -- at least the farm was so populated a few years ago," noted the Times.

In 1997, the Richmond Times-Dispatch interviewed the granddaughter of Eloise and Lucien Smith. Cathy Gay said her father never talked about what happened on the Titanic.

"It's such a tragic love story when you think about the life they had ahead of them that was lost. It's so sad. Our grandmother loved and missed her beloved, heroic Lucien until the day she died.

"My sister Betsy and I think that she never completely recovered emotionally from Lucien's death or from witnessing the tragic deaths of the other 1,522 people on that ship. We believe she died at the age of 46 of a broken heart."

Reach Rosalie Earle at earle@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.


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