Benjamin Guggenheim was the fifth of seven sons born to Meyer and Barbara Guggenheim (nee Myers)
Benjamin' s parents had met on a ship which was taking them from Switzerland to America. They married five years later and throughout a long and happy marriage, they had eight sons and three daughters. (Benjamin's siblings were Isaac, Daniel, Murrey, Soloman, Janette, Simon, Robert, William, Cora and Rosa.)
Barbara Guggenheim, Benjamin's mother, was a deeply religious woman who took a great pleasure in helping those in need. His father had started life as a peddler and had gone on to become one of the wealthiest men in America. He had started business as an itinerant vender, handling various lines of goods. His commercial instinct was highly developed, It was also said that he had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. On one occasion, Meyer had been selling stove polish. He managed to find out from a friend, what the polish was made of. Once he had this knowledge he began making his own for far less than he had previously been buying it, and so made a greater profit. He did the same with glue. He eventually made a fortune.
The elder Guggenheim children finished school before their father had made a great fortune, and so their education was finished in the form of active business. The younger ones had every educational advantage that money could buy. The elder sons followed their father into the embroidery business. Daniel was sent to Switzerland to learn everything about the trade there. At the time, the firm was known as Guggenheim & Pulaski, it dissolved in 1881 and became M. Guggenheim's Sons.
The firm moved from philadelphia to New York and soon became one of the largest importers of swiss embrioderies in the country. They then drifted into the smelting business and mining. The Guggenheims made their millions by hard work and clear thinking. In his obituary, it was said that Meyer Guggenheim was the tree and his seven sons the fruit.
Barbara died in 1901, after her death, her children gave large amounts of money to charity in memory of their mother.
Meyer Guggenheim died four years later in 1905 from pneumonia. He was 78 years old.
Benjamin Guggenheim married Florette Selgiman in 1895. On 10th December 1895, Benjamin and Florette became the parents of a daughter, Benita Rosalind Guggenheim. They had two other daughters, Marguerite born on 26 August 1898 and Barabra born in 1903.
Benjamin Guggenheim boarded the Titanic with his mistess, Madame Aubart, his valet, and Madame Aubart's maid.
When he realised that he was not going to survive, Benjamin told steward Etches "If anything should happen to me, tell my wife in New York that I've done my best in doing my duty." He and his valet, Victor Giglio donned evening clothes and prepared to die as gentlemen.
The message was not given to Mrs. Guggenheim until 20 April.
Mrs. Guggenheim was one of the first people to arrive at the White Star Line offices in New York. When informed that no word had been recieved of her husband, she became hysterical
"Isn't there something that can be done?" she pleaded. "Can't you send steamships out to search for lifeboats which may be left?"
She was told that every steamship within the zone of the wireless had been requested to give assistance. Mrs. Guggenheim returned to her hotel after being reasurred that she would be notified as soon as anything was found about her husband.
The following is a newspaper report which covered the story
".."We were together almost to the end," said the stweard, "I was saved. He went down with the ship, But that is not what I want to tell Mrs. Guggenheim."
The story later says:
"They wanted to go out on deck with only a few clothes on, but I pulled a heavy sweater over Mr. Guggenheim's life belt and then they both went out. They stayed together, going from one lifeboat to the other helping the women and children. Mr Guggenheim would shout 'Women first.' and he was of great assistance to officers."
"When I saw Mr. Guggenheim about three-quarters of an hour after the crash both he and his secretary were dressed in their evening clothes. They had deliberately taken off their sweaters, and as nearly as I can remember they wore no lifebelts, which they had on earlier.
"'What's that for?' I asked
"'We've dressed up in our best,' replied Mr. Guggenheim. 'and are prepared to go down as gentlemen.' Ot was then he told me about the message to his wife and that is what I have come for."
In 1928, Benjamins two little grandsons were killed in a terrible accident. Four year old Terrence, his thirteen year old brother Benjamin, and their mother, who was the youngest daughter of the late Mr. Guggenheim had been waiting on a roof garden for the woman's cousin. The mother was holding Benjamin in her arms, Terrence who was apparently jealous of the attention given to his brother, tried to jump into his mothers lap. The baby was knocked from his mother's arms and Terrence, losing balance fell too. Both children were killed.
Florette Guggenheim died in 1937
Obitury for Florette Guggenheim (The Charleston Daily Mail 16 November 1937 page 5)
Mrs. Guggenheim Dies
New York. Nov 16 - Mrs. Florette Guggenheim, widow of Benjamin Guggenheim, a son of the founder of the vast family fortune in mining and smelting, died today. She was a daughter of James Seligman, New York Banker. Her husband perished in the Titanic disaster.
various census records for Benjamin Guggenheim
1880 United States Census Pennsylvania
|GUGGENHEIM, M|| 52
| GUGGENHEIM Berbra
|GUGGENHEIM, Nettie,||16||Female||daughter||at school|
|GUGGENHEIM, Benj,||14||Male||Son||at school|
|GUGGENHEIM, Symine?||12||Male||Son||at school|
|GUGGENHEIM, Willie||11||Male||Son||at school|
|GUGGENHEIM, Rosa||9||Female||daughter||at school|
|GUGGENHEIM, Cora||7||Female||daughter||at school|
1900 United States Census Manhatten, new York
|GUGGENHEIM, Florette S,||wife||feb 1870||30||New York|
|GUGGENHEIM,Benita R,||daughter||dec 1895||5||New York|
|GUGGENHEIM, Margerite S,||daughter||aug 1898||1||New York|
|SELIGMAN, James,||F in Law||april 1824||76||Germany|
|DEDEILL, Clemence,||nurse||nov 1865||34||France|
|BROWN, William,||Butler||april 1873||27||Ireland|
|COLL, Mary||Servant||Nov 1855||44||Ireland|
|BINFOLD, Bulius||Cook||June 1872||27||Austria|
|CARBERRY, Theresa,||servant||dec 1870||29||Ireland|
|MORGAN, Nellie||Servant||aug 1878||21|
1910 United States Census
|GUGGENHEIM Florette S||wife||40||New York||none|
|GUGGENHEIM Benita R,||daughter||14||New york||none|
|GUGGENHEIM, Marguerite S||daughter||11||New York||none|
|GUGGENHEIM, Barbara H||daughter||7||New York||none|
|MALHOLLAND(?), Anna,||servant||44||New Jersey||Cook|
|O'HYD, Marcelle,||servant||23||Ireland||Kitchen maid|
|RODIN, Margaret||servant||23||France||Lady's maid|
1 b: 1828 d: 15 MAR 1905
+ b: 1834 d: 20 MAR 1900
2 b: 1854 d: 1922
+ b: 1859
3 b: 1877 d: 1960
3 b: 1880 d: 1960
3 b: 1886 d: 1962
2 b: 1856 d: 28 SEP 1930
+ b: 1863
3 b: 1885 d: 1959
3 b: 1890 d: 1971
3 b: 1895 d: 1980
+ b: 1891
2 b: 1858 d: 1939
+ b: 1865 d: 1959
3 b: 1888 d: 1972
+ b: 1888
3 b: 1894 d: 1972
2 b: 1861 d: 1949
+ b: 1868
3 b: 1896
3 b: 1898 d: 1966
3 b: 1904
2 b: 1863 d: 1889
3 b: 1889
2 b: October 1865 d: 15 APR 1912
+ b: 1870
3 b: 1895 d: 1927
3 Margeurite S b: 26 AUG 1898 d: 23 DEC 1979
3 b: 1903
2 b: 1867 d: 1876
2 b: 1867 d: 1941
+ b: 1877
3 b: 1905
3 b: 1907
2 b: 1868 d: 1941
2 b: 1871 d: 1945
3 b: 1891
3 b: 1894
3 b: 1896
2 b: 1873 d: 1956
+ b: 1869
3 b: 1900 d: 1902
3 b: 1903
3 b: 1906
New York City Births, 1891-1902
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette 17 March 1905 (Meyer Guggenheim obituary)
Nevada State Journa, 17 April 1912
Reno Evening Gazette 20 October 1928
The Charleston Daily Mail 16 November 1937
1870 United States Census
1880 United States Census
1900 United States Census
1910 United States Census
top Picture = Benjamin Guggenheim. Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress LC-DIG-ggbain-08258
Picture of Florette Guggenheim, Fort Wayne News April 1912