Maj. Archibald ButtMajor Archibald Willingham Butt was one of the Kentuckians aboard the RMS Titanic
Major Archibald Willingham Butt, a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal from 1888 to 1891, was one of two Kentuckians to go down with the Titanic in April 1912.
A military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, Butt reportedly had traveled to Europe to calm his frayed nerves, caused by an ongoing feud between his past and current bosses.
Roosevelt called him “an exceptionally tactful and diplomatic aide-de-camp” and an “exceptionally able and efficient officer.”
Butt, who had been a Washington correspondent before becoming an aide, was recruited to The Courier-Journal by founder Henry Watterson, namesake of the Watterson Expressway, on a recommendation from Gen. John Breckinridge Castleman, who is memorialized in a statue in Old Louisville.
Butt’s departure on March 3, 1912, grabbed the attention of The New York Times, which wrote in detail about his clothing in the article “Major Butt’s Suit a Wonder: Sails Away in it for Rome, the Envy of the Ship.”
And to think how we joke today about what passes for news.
Major Archibald Butt, military aid [sic] to the President of the United States, sailed yesterday for Europe on the North German Lloyd liner Berlin for a rest in a suit of clothes that won the admiration of every passenger on the deck of the liner, including a deaf and dumb Greek sponge merchant from Patras. His cambric handkerchief was tucked up his left sleeve like Kipling’s pukka Indian soldier man.
He wore a bright copper-colored Norfolk jacket fastened by big ball-shaped buttons of red porcelain, a lavender tie, tall bay-wing collar, trousers of the same material as the coat, a derby hat with broad, flat brim, and patent leather shoes with white tops. The Major had a bunch of lilies in his buttonhole, and appeared to be delighted at the prospect of going away. He said that he had lost twenty pounds in weight following the President (Roosevelt) in his strenuous tour through the West.
When asked if it were true that he was engaged to Miss Dorothy Williams of Washington, Major Butt replied sadly: “I wish it were. This bachelorhood is a miserable existence. I have distress signals flying at the fore, and will refuse no reasonable offer to enter the matrimonial field. I’ll do the best I can, and if this leap year gets away before I get a wife I shall feel very much discouraged.”
The gallant Major did not wear an overcoat, and he winced once or twice when he was posing on the windswept deck for the photographers.
"Major Butt is bound for Rome, accompanied by his friend Francis D. Millet, the painter …"
Francis Millet also died on the Titanic. There is a memorial fountain dedicated to Butt and Millet just south of the White House grounds.
Did Butt have a premonition about his fate or a sense of humor? Howard Teichmann’s book, Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, claims that Butt wrote his sister-in-law before boarding: “Don’t forget that all my papers are in the storage warehouse, and if the old ship goes down, you will find my affairs in ship-shape condition.”
Also killed in the sinking was Dr. Ernest Moraweck, a Frankfort ophthalmologist and widower who, as a sideline, operated a rest home for wealthy older women in Brandenburg. He was remembered by English passenger Kate Buss, 36, with whom he shared a second-class dining saloon table, as being “very agreeable” and for removing some soot from her eye.
Moraweck offered to show Buss around New York once they arrived, but she declined, as she was en route to America to be married. After the 11:40 p.m. collision, which Buss described sounding like “a skate on ice,” Morawick met her and offered to investigate the reason for the engines stopping. He was not seen again and his body was not recovered. Only 8 percent of the second-class male passengers survived.
Many of the men who survived became social outcasts for leaving the Titanic. Among the survivors was first-class passenger Charles Hallace Romaine, 45, a native of Georgetown, who was listed as a banker in New York and London, but was considered by many to be a confidence man and gambler. Was his career tainted by his luck? It’s hard to say.
Boarding the Titanic at Southampton, Romaine is remembered as one of several passengers engaged in gambling. He used several aliases, including Harry Romine, but chose C.H. Romacue for this trip.
Quoted in the Chicago Daily Journal as Romacue, he told the tale of leaving the deck for the smoking room at the time of the crash. “We had been crunching through ice all day,” said Mr. Romacue, “and I had been standing on the deck. I had become chilled and went inside for a warming drink before going to bed. Suddenly there came the shock, and my first thought was that we had struck a larger cake of ice than usual.
“The boat suddenly tilted, so sharply that my highball slid from the table. Then came a cry: ‘We’re sinking,’ and the lights grew dimmer and dimmer and finally went out.
“Even then there was no panic of any kind, although there was a rush to the boats when they were first lowered. The officers in charge commanded, ‘women and children first,’ and the men stood back. Few of us, even then, thought there was any real danger.”
Romaine survived, reportedly in lifeboat No. 9, but was killed when struck by a New York taxicab less than a decade later. He and his wife, “Doll,” are buried in Anderson, Ind.