The story of the bride-to-be brought to St. Vincent’s Hospital after surviving the Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912 brought deep grief to New York City, the great ship’s intended destination. This incredible story of one third-class survivor made it into the city tabloids a week later, and it was something of a bright spot amid a terrible tragedy.

Sarah Roth (left) and Daniel Iles on their wedding day, April 1912

The passenger’s name was Sarah Roth. She was born in the 1880s in what is now Poland, but her family moved to London when she was young, and she worked as a seamstress. There she met Daniel Iles, and the two became sweethearts, then got engaged.

Wanting a better life for himself and his intended bride, Iles immigrated to New York City in 1911. He found work as a clerk at Greenhut, Siegel & Cooper, the colossal department store on Sixth Avenue and 18th Street (where Bed, Bath & Beyond is today) and rented a room at 321 West 24th Street.

A crowd at Pier 59 awaits the RMS Carpathia

The next year, he sent Roth passage money to come join him in Manhattan, and she bought a steerage ticket on the ill-fated Titanic. “Sarah managed to secure one of the last third-class tickets on the maiden voyage of White Star Line’s new flagship,” wrote The Guardian in a 2000 article.

On April 10, 1912, Roth boarded the liner with a wedding dress she made herself. Four days later, asleep in her cabin, she woke with the realization that the ship wasn’t moving, according to encyclopedia-titanica. She got out of bed and soon found herself among a glut of people in steerage, prevented by an officer from going to the deck.

St. Vincent’s Hospital’s Elizabeth Seton Building, where Titanic survivors were taken

Another officer who was smitten by her, according to a 2010 Daily News article, helped her get to one of the last lifeboats to leave the ship. Picked up by the RMS Carpathia after the Titanic went down, Roth arrived with fellow survivors at Pier 59 in Chelsea. Iles was waiting, hoping his fiancee would be among the survivors.

She was brought to St. Vincent’s Hospital along with more than 100 others in various states of health. Roth was suffering from “shock and exposure,” according to an Evening World article.

Titanic survivors recuperating at St. Vincent’s

“At St. Vincent’s, Roth and the others were welcomed by doctors and nurses who were the passionate opposite of the attitude manifested by those deadly class-dividing gates aboard ship,” wrote Michael Daly in the Daily News.

Roth told hospital staff about her engagement. “The hospital now saw an opportunity to bring some cheer amid tragedy,” stated Daly. “Iles was contacted at his room on W. 24th St. and declared himself ready. Father Grogan of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary was willing to officiate. A fellow Titanic survivor named Emily Radman agreed to be maid of honor. The Women’s Relief Committee provided a new trousseau and a bouquet.”

The headline in a front page Sun article, April 23, 1912

A week later in the hospital meeting hall, Roth and Iles tied the knot. Fellow Titanic survivors and other patients came to watch the ceremony. “Some of the sick who were able to leave their wards were put in wheel chairs and moved down the corridor so that they could enjoy the wedding. Perhaps 200 were in the crowd, and among those were black gowned Sisters of Charity, young physicians in white, and priests,” wrote The Sun.

Roth and Iles went on to have a son, and like other Titanic survivors, she disappeared into obscurity. She died in 1947, but a legacy of her trip—a Third Class menu card she kept in her purse the night the Titanic met its fate—went up for auction in 2000. The winning bid: $44,650, per Bonhams, which has reproduced the menu card here.

[Top image: NY Tribune via Encyclopedia-Titanica; second, third, and fourth images: LOC; fifth image: The Sun]

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13 Responses to “The story of the bride-to-be brought to St. Vincent’s Hospital after surviving the Titanic”

  1. beth Says:

    this is amazing

  2. countrypaul Says:

    This is the kind of history in depth that always leads me to read yuour posts first of many. Thank you for this genuine heartwarmer.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks countrypaul—I only just found out about Sarah Roth recently, and it felt appropriate for the anniversary of the Titanic sinking.

  3. Renaplays Says:

    Great story!

  4. VirginiaLB Says:

    What a great story! And great illustrations, which add so much. Thanks for sharing.

  5. AEB Says:

    Just a great story. Thank you!

  6. velovixen Says:

    If this isn’t a love story, I don’t know what is.

  7. Kevin Says:

    On a side note, seeing the pic of the original brick St Vincents Hospital brings back memories of when that building was key to the health of so many people in the Village and Chelsea. This was before it was replaced with the tower, and then again replaced with the current luxury condos…..a scandal for the ages.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Yes, I’m with you on St. Vincent’s—it was such a vital link in the neighborhood. And I have a special connection to it because I was born there, along with 3 of my siblings.

  8. Gina Petriello Says:

    Amazing story . As a St Vincents graduate the hospital had such intense history . I never realized Titanic survivors came here and what a truest of
    Love stories amazing • God bless St Vincent’s hospital NY City forever the best hospital and staff ever .

  9. alewifecove Says:

    Your histories of houses and buildings inspire me in my own writing and keep me reading. This one was extra special.

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