Elisabeth Walton Allen was born 1 October 1882 in St. Louis, Missouri. She was the daughter of George Washington Allen and Lydia Jeanette McMillan. She was sister to Thomas, Clare, George and Whitelaw.
Her grand father wasThomas Allen, who built and was president of the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad before it was merged with the Missouri Pacific System.
On 10 April 1912, Elisabeth boarded the Titanic with her aunt, Elisabeth Robert and her cousin, Georgette Madill. The trio had spent the winter in England and were returning home to St. Louis. They planned to return to England in June. Elisabeth gave an account of the disaster, which her brother gave to the press:
STORY OF DISASTER BY CAZENOVIA GIRL
MIss Elizabeth Allen, Lowered in First Boat, Tells Convincingly of Titanic's Final hour
SAYS ISMAY SAW TO THE LIFEBOATS
Only Took His Place in One After All the Women on Deck Were Provided for - Colonel Astor Might Have Been Saved, But Went Below to Seek More Women - One Man Used Revolver to Win Safety.
The dark silhouette of a giant ship settling inch by inch into the quiet sea, the passengers filing across her lighted decks in perfect order,and the boats dropping down her sides to steal away into the night until the ship had vanished in the black water - this is what Miss Elizabeth W. Allen of Cazenovia saw as the lifeboat in which she had been placed lay a hundred yards away from the wrecked Titanic.
Miss Allen with her aunt, Mrs. Edward S Robert, and cousin, Miss Georgette A. Madill, of St. Louis, were first cabin passengers and they were lowered away in the first boat to become spectators of the greatest maritime disaster in history. Miss Allen's account has just been brought to syracuse by her brother, George W. H Allen of Cazenovia, who returned with Miss Allen from New York yesterday afternoon. Miss Allen herself is going directly to St. Louis.
Miss Allen's story as she told it to her brother and he repeated it to a Herald man appears to be an entirely accurate recital of the events of the dreadful night in mid-ocean as they were witnessed by survivors in the lifeboats. Miss Allen was better qualified for cool observation than most of her fellow refugees. A;; the members of her party were in the small boat with her and during the ghastly moments before the ship went under.
Miss Allen has no especial distraction in the impending fate of a member of her family. She has crossed the ocean several times and is familiar with ships and the sea and much more competent than the average landsman to describe a marine situation. She said: "It had been a quiet sunday evening and we had gone to our rooms early. My aunt had gone to bed but my cousin and I were still sitting up talking. At 11 o'clock there came a slight jar, and the engines stopped. We looked out of the porthole but could see nothing and we concluded it was some small accident and we would be moving on in a few minutes. But my aunt put her dress on over her night clothes and we sat down again to wait.
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and Mrs. Robert's maid rushed in to tell us that there was water in the baggage room which was on the same tier with her berth down below. She was more or less hysterical but she is inclined to be that way, and we thought nothing of it. We told her to go back to bed, She had hardly gone when she came running back to tell us that the water was now running into her room. We concluded then that something must be wrong.
I stepped outside the door to find out, and i met Captain Smith. He told us to dress and go on deck. We believed this was only for precaution, but with the idea that we might have to stay on deck for a while, we dressed warmly in sweaters, steamer caps and heavy coats. We slipped what trinkets we had into our coats but most of our valuables were in the pursers safe. We had only a few trunks because we were merely on our way home from winter in London, and expecting to go back in June.
We found other people were moving out and up on the sun-deck. A good many women were already there. That was about half past eleven. In a few minutes orders were given to take out the boats, and the crew began to get the rigging ready/ Captain SMith gave orders for the orchestra to come on deck, and they rushed out past us, down forward near the bridge. The first boat was ready and the officers asked us to get in. There were not many women who wanted to go, for we hated to think of getting in that small boat when we could stay on the big one and wait. No one dreamed that there was any immediate danger. Besides, it was a drop of eighty feet at least down the side of the ship, and we would have to go down that in the small boat.
But finally we decided to get in, the three of us and my aunt's maid. The boat was filled and they swung us out over the side and down slowly. We had just four seamen and an officer. When we reached the water, the ropes were cast off and the men rowed is off about a hundred yards, They said that if the Titanic did go down they wanted to keep us out of the suction, but none os us thought of any such danger.
They had let us down from the steamers side, amidships and when we got out on the ocean we looked for the iceberg they said had struck us on that side. There was not a berg to be seen, nothing but cakes of ice floating. The berg must have been under the surface altogether, but even then we could not see any ripple such as a great object underneath the surface would cause. The berg by this time was considerably astern no doubt.
From our small boats we could see that the Titanic was sinking slowly. She had begun to list to port, and her bow was down. The decks were lit up so that we could see everything plainly. As the other boats were filled and lowered away the band struck up "Nearer, My God, to Thee," and we heard that hymn out across the waters until the very last.
Everything seemed to move smoothly. The passengers moved about quietly, and the women took their places in the boats without the slightest confusion. We could see them kissing their husbands good-bye, just as those as those in out boats had done, but everyone expected that it would be just for a short time. We could see Ismay and Colonel Astor. With Mr. Ismay in charge of the starboard side. He filled one boat after another until all the women were gone. There were just two women in the last boat and Ismay called for more. When none answered, he ordered the men near him to jump in, and he took his place last of all. Colonel Astor could have come in the same boat but he went below to look for more women.
As the ship sank lower we could see that there was more confusion on the lower decks, but nothing was riotous. The only revolver we saw at any time was when a man - we were told afterwards he was a German baron - jumped into a lifeboat and pulled a revolver, threatening to shoot any man who followed him. The boat was filled with women and he stayed in as the boat was let down.
All this time the great steamer was sinking lower and lower. and her stern stuck up in the air at a sharp slant. She listed so much to port that it was impossible to lower any more boats, for the could not swing clear. We could see the water on the decks now, and the men wading around. There was a rush when some stokers seized two collapsible lifeboats and tried to float them, but they never got away. The big ship slid down under the surface and the two small boats followed her down. The last light had been extinguished. All we could make out on the great level sea were cakes of ice with here and there a small boat.
The air was filled with shrieks that sent thrills of horror up and down our backs. But we could do nothing. and for the sale of the wives on board the crew began to row us away as fast as they could, which was slow at best with only four men in the big boat. The other boats gathered around us. Our boat was the only one that had any rockets or other means of signalling. These brought the other boats to us, but there was no sign of any help.
Even to the last the wives in our boat hoped that their husbands might have been picked up by other boats or rafts or something that would keep them afloat. That kept their hope up, but those of us who had only ourselves to think of wondered whether we should ever be picked up. We had no means of knowing whether any wireless messages had reached other steamships, and our small rockets could not be seen at any great distance.
We began to feel the intense cold and there was considerable suffering on board. Some of the women had run up on deck with only light clothes on. The other had difficulty in keeping them warm. Then along towards morning the lights of the Carpathia showed over the horizon, growing larger and larger and larger until we saw that she was coming to pick us up.
After that all suspense was over for us. The carpathia picked up the other boats one after another, quartering the survivors on different parts of the deck. Many of the men were put in the smoking room, where the "German baron" tried to get hold of all the blankets. We were given space on the floor od the main saloon and we slept there, never changing our clothes until we arrived in New York.
The most pathetic of all was on the dock where relatives were waiting. Our own folks did not know after the various reports whether we were alive or dead."
Mr. Allen said yesterday afternoon that he had talked with several survivors, all of whom had the highest praise for the crew. His sister he said, would probably visit her home in Cazenovia during May or June before she returned to Europe.
Elisabeth returned to England onboard the "Baltic". In July she married James Beaver Mennell in a double wedding, her sister Clare married Charles Homer Haskins from Pennsylvania.
Elisabeth and James had three sons, James Beaver Mennell, John McMillan Mennell and Peter Mennell.
The Mennell family made several trips back to America to visit Elisabeth's family. They spent the summer of 1919 with family in Cazenovia, New York. In 1922 they paid a visit to Elisabeth's aunt, and fellow Titanic survivor Elisabeth Robert.
on 23 August 1947. Elisabeth and James Mennell arrived in Cazenovia to visit her brothers. George W.H Allen and Thomas Allen. Her husband was a well known physician, having pioneered in the field. He was the leading Physiotherapist at St. Thomas' hospital in London. While in America, they attended the 24th annual conference of the American Physiotherapy association in Asilomar, California. They also went to Minneapolis to attend the convention of the American Congress of Physical medicine.
Elisabeth Walton Mennell died on 15 December 1967 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. She was 85 years old.
1 Thomas ALLEN b: 1813 d: 1882
Illustration - The Washington Post. 1912
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