Postcards from the Collection of Titanic Survivor Lillian Bentham

This past October I went to a postcard show near my area. On the way home, I stopped by a consignment shop to see if I could continue my shopping streak and find anything else. I asked the owner if she had postcards and there were some in a bowl. Nothing special. Then a man who was friends with her told me he had just gotten a stack of cards at an estate sale that were all sent to Lillian Bentham, a survivor of the Titanic. Since the Titanic is one of my favorite things in history, of course I was interested!

I bought them for the amazing price of: $25!!! There were a total of 34 cards, mostly New York views. There was three of the same exact card of the Plattsburg NY D’Youville Academy, so I sold two of them. The two I sold together totaled $40. So I covered my costs, made a profit, and get to enjoy all the cards by only selling 2 duplicates.

Encyclopedia Titanica has information about Lillian along with a picture of her. Here is what it says: “Miss Lillian W. Bentham, 19, was born in Holley, N. Y. Her mother was Mary J. Bentham, her father had died prior to 1912.

Lillian had been one of a party of 11 visting Europe. The group included her godfather William J. Downton, Peter David McKane, Peter Renouf, Lillian Renouf, Clifford Jefferys, Ernest Jefferys, Herbert Denbury and Emily Rugg.

Whilst she was away her family moved to Rochester, N. Y.

Lillian boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger. She held ticket number 28404, price: £13.

After the collision on 14 April 1912 Lillian did not think the Titanic would sink even though she knew that the passengers were being taken off in lifeboats. Only when one of her party, Herbert Denbury, rushed to her stateroom and told her to hurry on deck did she accept the seriousness of the situation.

Miss Bentham was rescued in lifeboat 12. She recalled seeing the ship break in two as it sank.

Her mother could not come to meet her off the Carpathia as her brother had contracted Typhoid fever, but eight friends did come, among them the widow of William Downton.

Lillian married Mr John Black in 1918. They lived at 11 Kay Terrace, Rochester, N. Y.”

The cards are all from 1908/1909, so they are pre-sinking. But, I still love the fact that they were from a survivor of the Titanic.

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25 Responses to Postcards from the Collection of Titanic Survivor Lillian Bentham

  1. Pete Ames says:

    I am researching the HYDE family, and the widow of William J. Downton married Charles B. Hyde, and they are both buried here in Niagara Falls, NY in the mausoleum. I see that Emily S. DOWNTON met Lillian as the Carpathia docked. This is a great story to have for visitors to Oakwood Cemetery where they reside. We are gathering info on the 360 residents of the mausoleum, and stories like this really bring their history alive. Would it be possible to get a picture of those great postcards? Thanks, Pete Ames

    • Frazer says:

      I can only help you with the fact that my grandmother’s cousin Peter Mckane was a friend of William J.Downton (he was recorded as Doughton on the passenger list, mistakes happened as my relative has the innocorrect place of birth on some documents) and that the were travelling on the Titanic together. I believe he had a sister buts thats all I know, however I know you aren’t researching his family. Are you related to the Hydes?

      • moore5145 says:

        I did not know Lillian was the last one off the ship, how interesting! I am not related to her or the Hydes, I just got her postcards from someone that got them at her estate sale.

      • Marsha says:

        I have info on the Holley three who went down on the Titanic. I need help on Peter mcKane’s family. I am trying also to find a photo of him, as I have one of an unidentified man who might be him. Then I would have a photo of all three. Please contact me.

  2. diane moore says:

    Marylou and I were looking at your blog and she loves it!!! You are special just like your cards!!

  3. Frazer says:

    How interesting!!! My Grandmother’s cousin was Peter.D.Mckane one of the group travelling with Lillian. Sadly though he lost his life.

    • moore5145 says:

      I’m sorry to hear that. The Titanic is something I enjoy learning about, I would love to know more about Peter.

      • Frazer says:

        Well, I don’t know if you know but Lillian was actually the last lady to be loaded into the very last life boat that left the Titanic, Peter was travelling with her and her Godfather, William Doughton. They were all in the second class lounge until very late on in the sinking as they believed there was no cause for alarm (if Lillian didn’t survive we wouldn’t have known this) one member of the group eventually went up on deck and saw that all the boats had gone except for the last boat which was beginning to load (minus the two collapsables on the upper deck) it was life boat number 12 I believe. So he rushed down stairs to tell Lillian to get her coat and dash for the life boat, the 19 year old girl did as she was told. All members of her group perished, she didn’t believe the ship would sink and thought they would be reunited later. It only dawned on her in the very last moments that Titanic would go under. Peter clearly didn’t think there was a problem and made no attempt to save his life until the ship was making its final plundge. May his soul rest in peace.

  4. Jon Price says:

    Lillian Bentham was my great aunt. She had been to England to visit her elder sister Annie, my great grandmother, who had not emigrated to the States with the rest of the family. We’ve never been able to work out why Annie remained in England with an aunt rather than emigrating.

    • Carol Bentham Foresta says:

      Jon, what a coincidence, Lillian Bentham was also my great aunt! I am the granddaughter of Walter Bentham. I have heard that the reason Annie did not come over to the US when the rest of the family did was because she was too young to travel at the time. Apparently, they were planning to send for her later, but that never happened.

      • sissy says:

        Hi carol Lillian is my great great grandmother I have been looking for someone else who I related to her that can give me more info about her me and my kids are doing a family tree see I never knew of her until I stated digging into my grandmother’s family history Lillian is my grandma’s grandmother if u have any information about her can u plz contact me thank u

  5. Diane Morrell says:

    I took Care of a woman that went to school with Lillian W. Bentham Black in Holley Ny, she said she remembered having a moment of silence for the passengers on the ship as they did not know if she or others had survived at the time… Is what she told me. Lillian Bentham Black is from my home Town in Holley, NY

  6. Lindsay says:

    As to William Joseph Douton – (the correct spelling of his surname). His wife’s birth name was Emily S Le Monnier. She remarried in 1917 to Charles Benjamin Hyde, and in 1923 to A F Biondi. She died 30 Jun 1923 at Hilton, NY and as per above info, is buried next to Charles B Hyde at Oakwood Cemetery, Niagara Falls. I can commend an article at the Oakland Cemetery website on further family history. I have put some details and sources onto Ancestry if anyone is interested further in the William & Emily Douton story. If you search for William Joseph Douton, born 1856, Portsea Island, Hampshire, England – you should find the tree – it is public. The Niagara Falls postcards in the hands of Lillian Bentham may well have come to her from the Doutons who had moved from Holley to Niagara Falls by 1910 – as Lillian Bentham was the god-daughter of William Douton. You can see the Douton & Bentham families as neighbours in Holley, NY, in the 1892 NY State census. In April 2012, a memorial plaque was unveiled at St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands, with the names of the 14 people with Guernsey connections, who did not survive the Titanic sinking.

  7. Janet says:

    I did not know the Benthams or the Doutons…I live in East Tenneessee…but was raised in Holley, NY ,& born in Rochester, NY…thus my strange story of interest on Lillian Bentham. In 2011, I visited the beautiful Titanic Museum here in Pigeon, TN…anyways, when purchasing a ticket, you are given a replica of a boarding pass of an actual receive men passes & women receive women passes. I received a pass with the name of Lillian Bentham that included a brief bio in which I was shocked to read she had resided in Rochester. We continued our wonderful journey into the museum not knowing if my ‘passenger’ survived or not,,,,well, at the end of the tour as we turn a corner is a huge wall of names..those who survived & those who did not…fortunately, I found that Lillian had survived…….absorbing all that I saw that day, we returned home. Now this gets interesting….I make a return trip to the exact same museum..March of 2013. Believe it or not, I was handed my boarding pass and yes! It is once again that of Lillian Bentham! Very shocked this time around, I continue my tour…seeing things I had missed seeing almost 2 years ago. I then turn to her name on the survivor wall and much to my amazement is another wall recently added…there it was..Lillian’s picture, her birth date (same as my daughter’s)…and the town she was born in and was buried ..yep..Holley,NY!!…this second discovery really floored me. I went home and started googling her. Needless to say, that same evening when i reurned home, the movie Titanic was on t.v. I googled & saw her cemetery stones..the cemetery across from where I have family buried, These events have really peaked my interest, so when I return to Holley to visit family, I will be sure to visit Lillian, her sister Daisy & her parents.

    • moore5145 says:

      Wow! What are the that you would get her name both times??

      • Janet says:

        Oh thanks for accepting my comment…and yes, what are the chances of getting her name twice??..I’d say slim to none…I enjoyed the story of the postcards and the pictures of them. Like I said before, I plan to visit her gravesite next time I head back to Holley.

  8. alan beards stourport worcs england says:

    hallo i have a complete letter and envelope that was posted in 1912 from lillians best friend

      • alan beards stourport worcs england says:

        thanx what value would you place on this item regards alan

      • Janet Steidle says:

         Hello Alan and Moore5145: I am very interested in finding any artifacts or information on Lillian Bentham Black.  She came from my hometown in Holley, NY and is buried in the cemetery across from my parents.Can you tell me the name of her best friend?? I may know the family.  Also, any other information would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you so much.  Janet Steidle

        Janet SteidleBlue Springs MarinaTen Mile, Tennessee …”When the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.”…Lennon and McCartney

      • alan beards stourport worcs england says:

        hallo janet ii recently placed the item for sale with a store in worcester the paint box phone 01905 619944 a very reluctant sale at that we are returning to live in america but are english so weare downsizing it really is alovely item complete with original envelope good luck regards alan ps i also have an actual piece of a table from ist class dining room

      • Janet Steidle says:

        Thank you Alan for your reply. I am in the United States, and not sure how to contact the store. I am really just interested in Lillians’ items…any more information or contact information would be helpful. Safe travels back to America. Janet

  9. sissy says:

    Hi I have just found out that Lillian is my great great grandmother and I have been looking for someone that is related to her somehow that can give me more info about me and my kids r doing a family tree thanjk u

    • moore5145 says:

      Hi, that’s very cool that you’re related to her! The only information I have about her is posted here or in the link in the post, as I am not a relative. Good luck in your search!

    • Hello Sissy! Your post is very very interesting … Since my passion to find out more about Lillian Bentham, I have done a lot more research .. And now with the help of the Clarendon historian Melissa, Lillian now has an official headstone and there was a ceremony just this past Saturday, October 3 commemorating her … Her grandnieces attended also who came from Rochester. I have left to the website of the Holley, NY news paper with the article of Lillian’s headstone .. I have also left my email if you have any other questions I can help with . Your story would still be so interesting to hear. Look forward to hearing from you. JANET

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