As you may recall, pregnant Madeline Astor was one of the survivors when the Titanic sank in April 1912. She was the new wife of John Jacob Astor IV, great-grandson of Astoria’s namesake.
Luckily for Mrs. Astor, she had both a life jacket and a seat on a lifeboat, so she survived. Her husband went down with the ship.
Among those rescued by the ship Carpathia, she was sent to the ship’s hospital, where she finally took off her life jacket, KnoxNews.com reports (bit.ly/MAlifejacket). Crew member Gottlieb Rencher took it, and and hung it in his New York office when he became a chiropractor. Later, his family donated it to the Titanic Historical Society (titanichistoricalsociety.org).
Of the original 3,000 life jackets, only 12 remain, and six are on display at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (titanicpigeonforge.com), including Madeline Astor’s, which is pictured, courtesy of the museum.
One of the visitors to see the artifact was Madeline’s distant relative, Victor Astor of Memphis, Tennessee. He is pictured in a screen shot from a KnoxNews.com video.
“It makes it all much more real than it has ever been, because I have known these stories all my life,” he told KnoxNews,com, visibly moved by the experience, “and more and more, as I got older, I always knew there was a relative on the Titanic … It just makes it very real.”