One hundred years ago today, the family of Arthur and Emily Ryerson set out from France to return to their Cooperstown home. They and three of their younger children boarded a ship said to be the fastest available, the R.M.S. Titanic. Sarah Blazonis has more on the fate of the family.
OTSEGO COUNTY, N.Y. -- Arthur Landen Ryerson was a lawyer and businessman with ties to cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, yet it was the peace and familiarity of sites like Otsego County's Hyde Hall he and his family headed toward after learning of the death of his son, Arthur Jr.
"This was always a time when the family was together. The kids were out of school, it's a wonderful place to be. I think they really identified with a happy family life in Cooperstown," said Dr. Gilbert Vincent, a historian with Hyde Hall.
But historians say just a few days after boarding a ship called the Titanic in France, his wife received a rude awakening.
"She heard some people walking along and she called out to them and they said that they should get out and go to the life boats," said Vincent.
Ryerson's daughters and wife were able to easily get to the safety of life boats. However, his wife's deposition of that night suggests Ryerson may have been responsible for saving the life of his 13-year-old son.
"The sailor said, 'No boys. This boy can't go on,'" said Vincent. "And Mr. Ryerson, who was there ushering them on, said, 'Of course he's going to go with his mother.' And the sailor said, 'Okay, but no boys after this.'"
After waiting in New York to learn whether or not Arthur Sr. had survived, it was to Cooperstown the family returned to lay father and son to rest.
The family maintained a close connection to Cooperstown following the sinking. Ryerson's daughter, Emily, married into the Clarke family, whose ancestors built Hyde Hall, and became part of the mansion's history. It's there officials plan to feature an exhibit dedicated to the family and their Titanic connection later this spring.
As for Arthur Ryerson, his body was never recovered, but a monument in a Cooperstown cemetery keeps his memory alive with a few simple words: "Lost on the S.S. Titanic...giving his life for others."