TIP | Limitation of Liability Hearings | Deposition of Emily Borie Ryerson

Limitation of Liability Hearings

DEPOSITION OF EMILY BORIE RYERSON

 

Proceedings had and evidence taken, pursuant to notice, before Harold T. Basinger, Notary Public.

Proceeding called by the said Harold T. Basinger, at the Office of Arnold & Cooke, in the village of Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, June 4, 1913, at 1 o’clock, P. M.

Proceeding adjourned to June 5, 1913, at the same place and hour.

Further adjourned to June 6, 1913, at 1 o’clock, P. M., at the Office of Arnold & Cooke, Cooperstown, N.Y., and further adjourned to the residence of Miss Grace Scott Bowen, in the village of Cooperstown, N.Y., June 6, 1913 at 1:30 o’clock, P. M.

APPEARANCES:

George Whitefield Betts, Jr., for claimant Frederick (sic) Seward, et al.
Oscar R. Houston, for claimant Mary A. Holverson, et al.
Charles C. Burlingham, for the petitioner.

IT IS STIPULATED, that the depositions may be taken by Stenographer; signing and filing certification waived. Stenographer’s and Notary’s fees to be taxed as costs.

DEPOSITIONS of Emily Borie Ryerson and Grace Scott Bowen, taken pursuant to notice, before Harold T. Basinger, Notary Public, at Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, June 6, 1913, at 1:30 o’clock, P. M., at the residence of Miss Grace Scott Bowen.

MRS EMILY BORIE RYERSON, being duly sworn, testified as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. BETTS:

Q. Mrs. Ryerson, where are you living now?
- Springfield Center, now.

Q. That is about nine miles from Cooperstown?
- Yes, in the township of Springfield.

Q. In Otsego County?
- Yes.

Q. You were on board the Titanic, were you?
- Yes.

Q. When she left on her maiden voyage from Cherbourg, France?
- Yes.

Q. In April, 1912?
- Yes.

Q. You took ship, did you, at Cherbourg?
- Yes.

Q. And you had with you your family, consisting of your husband, and one or two children?
- Three children, and Miss Bowen, my friend, was with me, and my maid.

Q. Were you on deck much during the Sunday which preceded the accident?
- I used to go up at dinner time and walk up and down with my husband; I didn’t go on deck at all in the day time.

Q. What was the weather during the voyage, up to Sunday?
- Pretty good, I think, I don’t remember much about it; I didn’t go up during the day, I went up every evening.

Q. Did you notice any change in temperature on Sunday?
- Yes, it seemed to get very clear and cold on Sunday, and the voyage was very cold all the way, as I remember it.

Q. Your stateroom was on B Deck, aft?
- Yes, not very far up.

Q. On which side?
- On the right hand side - starboard side.

Q. Had you seen Mr. Joseph Bruce Ismay before that voyage?
- Yes, I think I had crossed with him some years before, and knew him by sight, think I had met him - he was a friend of a number of friends of mine.

Q. Had you seen him before Sunday, April 14, 1912?
- No.

Q. Where were you in the afternoon of that Sunday, April 14?
- I was down in my cabin until quite late, and then I went on deck; it was the first time I had been on deck in the daytime; I think it was between five and six; I went up and walked up and down with a friend, and then went and sat down by the companion-way - it was around six o’clock, and the sky was quite pink.

Q. Was it at sundown?
- Around sundown - I wouldn’t say absolutely.

Q. Who was the friend you were waling with?
- Mrs. John Thayer; she came down to my cabin and asked me to go out.

Q. What deck was it you were walking on at that time?
- I think it was the inclosed (sic) deck.

Q. Was it the deck below the boat deck?
- Yes.

Q. It was not the deck your state-room was on?
- No, we went up one flight.

Q. When you sat in your steamer-chair was it the same deck?
- Why, I hadn’t been in my own chairs, we sat down near the companion-way; I sat down with my friend Mrs. Thayer.

Q. Was the weather clear at that time?
- Perfectly beautiful.

Q. Was it still cold?
- Yes, very cold.

Q. Did you notice anything peculiar about the cold?
- No; but it was very clear - no wind, but was very cold.

Q. Had you seen any ice during that time, during the afternoon?
- No.

Q. Did anybody come and speak to you when you were seated that afternoon alongside the companion-way?
- My husband went to have a talk and walk with Mr. Thayer, and Mr. Ismay came up and spoke to me.

Q. How did you know Mr. Ismay, by sight?
- I saw Mr. Ismay - we had met before, and I knew him perfectly by sight. It was a previous acquaintance.

Q. How was he dressed at that time?
- He was in dark blue serve, and had no hat on? (transcript has question mark here)

Q. What was the first thing he said to you?

Mr. Burlingham:
I object to any conversation between Mrs. Ryerson and Mr. Ismay.

- I think he asked if our staterooms were comfortable, and if we had everything we wanted. My husband had told me when we came on at Cherbourg that Mr. Ismay had been very kind and had offered us an extra stateroom, which we had, and an extra steward who waited on us, and Mr. Ismay stopped and said “I hope you are comfortable, and are all right.”

Q. What else was said after that?

Mr. Burlingham:
This is all taken subject to objection.

- He produced from his pocket a telegram blank on which some words were written in type-writing, and he said that we were in among the icebergs - he said as he handed the telegram to me, “We are in among the icebergs.”

Q. Did you look at the telegram and see what it said?
- I don’t remember what it said. It had the word “Deutchland” (sic) and something was said about speed, whether I said it I don’t know; but he said “We are not going very fast, 20 or 21 knots, but we are going to start up some extra boilers this evening” how many there were I don’t know, it was two or three, but I wouldn’t swear to that - I know the fact of the extra boilers because I didn’t know what it meant except going faster.

Q. Anything said about getting in, or not being able to stop?
- Yes, I said “What is the rest of the telegram?” He said “It is the Deutchland (sic) wanting a tow, not under control” or something of that sort, and they wanted a tow, and I remember saying, “What are you going to
do about that?” and he said they weren’t going to do anything about it.
Can’t remember his exact words; I am only giving the impression left on my mind, that “we are going to get in and surprise everybody” I don’t know whether he used the word “record” but that was left on my mind, that we had no time to delay aiding other steamers.

Q. Did he say anything about expecting to get in any particular time in New York?
- There was some discussion about it, and my impression was it would be very late Tuesday night, or early Wednesday morning, because I discussed it with my husband after I went down stairs and the question was what we would do if we got in so very late. But as I say, at the time the conversation had no importance to me; I was very much over-burdened with other things that were on my mind - I carried on the conversation merely to keep the ball going, and the words have faded from my mind; but the strong impression left on my mind I can remember perfectly, but not the words.

Q. You can remember the substance can you not?
- Yes.

Q. I showed you, this morning, what purports to be a copy of the cable from the steamship Baltic, April 14, 1912, to Captain Smith of the Titanic, and I ask you if your recognized in that cable the item about the steamship Deutchland (sic) not being under control and out of coal?
- Yes.

Q. I show you the copy of the telegram, which is on page 1061 of the hearing before the Senate Sub-Committee at Washington, in the United States?
- That would be about the length of the telegram he showed me - I don’t remember the exact wording of it.

Q. Do you remember it contained the words “passing icebergs”?
- No, I don’t remember that - he held it out like this, (indicating) and I remember the word “Deutchland” (sic) and a number of words in it - I remember the word “Deutchland.” (sic)

Q. Do you remember the question of not being under control and short of coal?
- Yes.

Q. Do you remember Mr. Ismay stating you were among the icebergs at that time when he handed you this message?
- Yes.

Q. How long did he stay talking to you at that time?
- Oh, it wasn’t very long, he sat down beside us, and he talked about one or two other things I don’t remember, he was not a friend of mine, and I didn’t want to talk to him, and he was talking to Mrs. Thayer and me, and presently Mr. Ryerson and Mr. Thayer came up, and he stood up and went down stairs, and as we went down he was at the foot of that first flight, near the restaurant - he wasn’t talking to us over ten minutes, I couldn’t positively tell.

Q. Did he hand you the telegram, or show it to you?
- He held it out in front of me - he didn’t give it to me.

Q. Do you recollect hearing anything - his saying whether you were going ahead at full speed that night?
- No, he merely said as I said before.

Q. Repeat your answer?
- He said “We are going to start some extra boilers to-night,” or “this evening,” I don’t remember which time.

Q. Did you observe Mr. Ismay at any time after that, before the collision?
- I saw him at the foot of the stairs as I went to my cabin after this conversation.

Q. Did you see him after that?
- No.

Q. What was the first thing you knew of the accident, Mrs. Ryerson?
- I felt the ship stop - the engines stop.

Q. What did you do then?
- I got up and looked out, down the corridor, there was no sound, I opened the window in our room, and there was still no sound, and I put on an extra wrapper because it was bitterly cold, much colder than it had been. When we went to bed it was bitterly cold, I couldn’t get to sleep I was so cold. I looked out a second time and saw some people going on deck, and wondered why that was, and a man passenger ran up and said “Put on your life-belt and come up on the boat deck.” I said, “Where did you get those orders?” and he said, “From the Captain.”

Q. When you looked out of the window, was the weather clear then?
- It seemed to me so, perfectly clear.

Q. Could you see the stars?
- Stars were shining, and everything perfectly quiet.

Q. You finally did go on the boat deck, Mrs. Ryerson?
- Yes, I waked up all the children and my husband, and Miss Bowen and my daughter next door were awake, and we went up on A deck, inclosed (sic) deck, and later we were ordered to go up to the boat deck by Stout (sic), second steward in the dining-room, whom I knew. He was the only one I saw that night I knew of the ship’s officers and company.

Q. Were you able to see anything of any icebergs when you were on deck after the accident?
- Nothing.

Q. You finally embarked from the A deck?
- Yes, we were ordered down the stairs again.

Q. You remember the life-boat you went in?
- Yes, perfectly.

Q. What was its number?
- Number 4.

Q. In command of whom?
- A man named Perkis - he seemed to be just a sailor, he wasn’t an officer.

Q. Did you have any difficulty in getting the boat lowered to the water?
- It seemed to stick, and somebody said we were going to upset, and I thought we had a tremendous drop, but we were so near the water, and finally the davits got loose and we dropped a short distance.

Q. Where did your boat go after your got her in the water?
- It didn’t go anywhere particularly.

Q. It remained near by?
- It remained near by. But nobody had any orders, and didn’t know what to do.

Q. Did you find any gangway beyond?
- We didn’t go, for people said “don’t go there” and “the ship is going down,” and nobody seemed to know what was to be done, so we floated by a little, up from the ship, as I remember.

Q. When you went down into the water, from the boat, did you notice anything about the portholes in the side of the ship?
- Yes, a great many were open.

Q. Did you notice anything in particular about the portholes on the water?
- Yes, the water was washing in the portholes, and later I think some of the square windows seemed to be open, and you could see in the cabin and see the water washing in and the gold furniture and decorations, and I remember noticing you could look far in, it was brilliantly lighted - which deck I couldn’t tell.

Q. Did you notice any of the lines of portholes disappear after you got in the boat?
- Yes, she was sinking very rapidly then, we saw two lines and then we saw only one; it was very brilliantly lighted and you could see very distinctly.

Q. Did you have any lights or compass in your boat, so far as you could see?
- No. Someone said afterwards they were there; but people piled in so quickly we couldn’t find them.

Q. Did the weather continue cold while you were in the boat?
- Yes, very cold.

Q. Did you see anything of any ice or icebergs after you were in the boat?
- Not until dawn we saw a great field of ice and icebergs pink in the dawn, and ice very near, it was in close around us.

Q. Were they in one direction, or around you?
- They seemed to be around us, so far as I can remember.

Q. When did you see the Carpathia?
- Just about the same time, at dawn. Several lights we had seen, people kept saying it was a ship, and then we saw her.

Q. Was a lookout being kept during the night to see if anything was at hand?
- No, I think the orders were - Perkis said - I was up in the bow close beside him - and he said “Our orders are to keep together if we can, to tie up.” We rested on our oars, didn’t row, practically.

Q. Were you looking around to see what you could see during the night?
- Oh, yes. Everybody was.

Q. Was there any swell of waves during the night?
- No, it was still.

Q. Was there any at the time your boat went down into the water?
- Not that I remember.

Q. Did you see any rockets being set up from the ship?
- Yes, when we were on the boat deck they were sending up rockets then; there was a very great list on the ship.

Q. When did you first notice there was a list on the ship?
- That was the first time, when they began to send up rockets, when we were up on the boat deck.

Q. When was that after the ship stopped?
- I couldn’t tell you - must have been after one o’clock, because I said to my husband “They wouldn’t send those rockets - unless it was the last.”

Q. You rescued some men?
- Yes.

Q. Did you also take on some men from the over-turned collapsible boat?
- Yes.

Q. You reached New York afterwards, on the Carpathia, did you?
- Yes.

Q. With all your family, except your husband?
- Yes.

Q. Was the reason you were not going on deck during the first part of the voyage, was because you had suffered a loss of a member of your family?
- Yes.

EXAMINED BY MR. HOUSTON, Counsel for Mary A. Holverson, et. Al.

Q. In telling of your conversation with Mr. Ismay have you given the substance of what he said and what you said?
- Yes, so far as I can now recall it. About my attitude in the matter, I was under great mental distress, and the conversation didn’t make any impression on me, and I didn’t care anything about it, and it wasn’t until afterwards that certain things came back to me, and it wasn’t important at any time; only if it is any value in bringing out the facts I am glad to give it.

Q. Did you speak of this conversation to any of the other passengers on the Carpathia?
- Yes.

Mr. Burlingham:
Objected to as immaterial.

Q. And the conversation you have given, it is your best recollection, is it not?
- Yes.

Mr. Burlingham:
I object to any question in regard to this conversation; it is understood that the testimony in this regard has been taken subject to my objection.

Q. Did you notice that the Marconigram mentioned icebergs?
- No, it was what Mr. Ismay said about the icebergs.

Q. Do you recollect whether Mr. Ismay said anything about the effect of the additional boilers on the speak of the boat?
- No.

Q. And the portholes you say were open, do you recollect what deck they were on?
- I should say they were on the B and C decks and the C ones were gradually covered - there were a great many open, I don’t know how many.

Q. Do you recall seeing any below the C deck?
- No, our boat was down on that level when we were lowered, practically even with the C deck; the ship had sunk so much on that side.

Q. At the time your boat was lowered the water was washing in the portholes of the C deck?
- Yes.

Q. On that side?
- On the side she sank - that is the port side.

CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. BURLINGHAM.

Q. Do you know how long after the boat stopped that you went up on deck?
- No. I should think it was fully half an hour.

Q. Had you your life belts on before you went up?
- Yes.

Q. Were there a good many passengers on the boat deck when you got up there?
- No, not many, mostly people I knew, and they stood in a group.

Q. Did most of the passengers you saw have life belts on?
- Almost everyone.

Q. Was there any confusion then?
- None whatever.

Q. Was this the second boat off on the port side?
- I don’t know; we were on the boat deck, and we were ordered away from that - we were right in the middle of the ship, and then we were told to go on the A deck, which was the inclosed (sic) one.

Q. Then upon the inclosed (sic) ones, on the A deck, the women and children were handed out by their arms?
- Yes, there was a sailor inside and one outside and they threw you out - as I went down I fell on top of some one.

Q. That was really necessary?
- Oh, yes, it was the only way to get out - there was some sort of platform a steamer chair, I think, to step up on.

Q. When you got on deck were the rockets going off?
- When we got on the upper boat deck, yes; we stayed on the A deck for a while, and then were ordered on the boat deck.

Continued >