Sunday, April 14, 2019

Edgar J. Meyer Died on the Titanic

I question whether I should include Edgar J. Meyer in this blog, since he was raised in San Francisco and I’ve seen conflicting information about his birthplace.

In any case, he was still the son of a prominent French Angeleno - Eugene Meyer. I already profiled his father, mentioning his brother Eugene Jr. and his niece Katherine, so to heck with it. Los Angeles tends not to have many connections to notorious events like this one.

Edgar J. Meyer studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University, where he discovered a method of measuring velocity of flame propagation in gas engines (I have no idea what that means, but this method was reportedly added to textbooks). Regardless, Edgar chose to join older brother Eugene Jr. in business on Wall Street. In 1909, he married Leila Saks, who was born in Baltimore to German parents. Their only child, Jane, was born in 1911.

The Meyers were never supposed to be on the Titanic. They had been traveling in Europe when they received the news of Leila's father's death, and quickly arranged passage home.

Edgar and Leila boarded the ship on April 10 in Cherbourg, holding first-class tickets. Late at night, four days later, disaster struck.

Leila Saks Meyer recalled:
I tried and tried to get Edgar to come into the lifeboat with me, and pleaded to be allowed to stay behind and wait until he could leave, he not caring to leave before all the women had been saved. Mr. Meyer finally persuaded me to leave, reminding me of our one-year-old child at home. I entered the lifeboat and watched until the Titanic sank, but only for a short time did I see my husband standing beside the rail and assisting other women into boats in which he might have been saved.
One year later, Harris Newmark wrote:
In common with the rest of the civilized world, Los Angeles, on April 15th, was electrified with the news of the collision between an iceberg and the great ocean steamer Titanic which so speedily foundered with her 1535 helpless souls. For a day or two, it was hoped that no one with Los Angeles connections would be numbered among the lost; but fate had decreed that my nephew, Edgar J. Meyer, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Meyer, should perish. He was one of those who heroically hastened to the aid of the women and children; nor did he rest until he saw his wife and child placed in one of the lifeboats. They were saved, but he went down...
(Newmark must not have realized the Meyers hadn't brought their baby daughter on the trip.)

Edgar J. Meyer's body was either never recovered or never identified. He was 28 years old.

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