A 1916 Shipboard Romance

[Back to the other half of my daughters’ heritage……] Alice Henriette Pauline, born in Amsterdam in 1898 to Jacobus Berlage and Alice Anslyn Berlage, was only seven years old when her father died in 1905. (1) She was the oldest of three; brothe…

[Back to the other half of my daughters’ heritage……]

Alice Henriette Pauline, born in Amsterdam in 1898 to Jacobus Berlage and Alice Anslyn Berlage, was only seven years old when her father died in 1905. (1)   She was the oldest of three;  brother Thomas was six and sister Cecile was five.  Within a year, their mother married a second time – to Robert J. Fellner, a Boston-born member of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.  Alice Berlage Fellner gave birth to their son, James, in 1907.
 
Fellner subsequently assumed financial positions in London and later in New York. (2)  In 1910, they were residing in Manhattan on West 86th Street, where a butler, a maid, and a nurse rounded out the household. (3)   It was definitely an upscale neighborhood.  Listed immediately above them was the Bonwit family, headed by Paul, a merchant; the Bonwits had four live-in servants. (4)  After a two-year stay, the family returned to England, where the Berlage siblings all attended school. These years were dotted by trans-atlantic crossings.

When young Alice finished school at the age of 17, she was sent to Holland for six weeks “to catch a wealthy husband.”  Upon her return to London from the failed mission, she accompanied her mother and stepfather back to New York where they took up residence at the Kenilworth Apartments on Central Park West.

On her 18th birthday, January 30, 1916, Alice “came out” at a dinner party at Delmonico’s.  She recalled that it was attended by 50 to 75 people.  The New York Times, however, reported twice as many guests, and referred to Alice as the daughter of Fellner.  (5)  

Smaller_coming_out_clipping

No suitors on the horizon, she travelled to England to spend the summer with friends, and it was on the return voyage that she met Lawrence G. Odell, a native of Boston then resident of Akron, Ohio. The S.S. Finland departed from Liverpool on November 16, 1916, and arrived in New York on December 4, 1916; their names both appear on the passenger list, she as an alien, and he as an American citizen.  (6)

Just_lawrence_on_the_boatJust_alice

And here’s the S. S. Finland  – backdrop for their 18 day voyage (7):

Finland_ship_where_lawrence_and_alice_met

[For a brief history of the vessel subsequent to its role in the family romance, take a look at a USS Finland (ID # 4543) in 1918-1919 provided by the U.S. Naval Historical Center.]

After disembarking, the couple’s courtship was primarily long-distance, as Lawrence continued to travel widely for his employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.  Less than two months after their meeting, he departed on a six-month trip that included stops in Japan, China, Sumatra, Federated Malay States, and Ceylon. (8)  He left pre-addressed postcards in the United States to be mailed to Alice weekly until he could write from the Far East.  During his absence, Alice travelled to Massachusetts and spent a month with her future mother-in-law.

According to Alice, her stepfather thought her suitor did not have enough money and that she “could do better” but her mother’s attitude was more in the nature of “good riddance.”  

So Alice and Lawrence were married at historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on 5th Avenue in New York City, on her twentieth birthday –  January 31, 1918, two years to the day after her coming-out party.   [Some of you may notice a family resemblance; I find it pretty striking!] (9)

Lawrence_gleason_and_alice_berlage_31_january_1918_small

And, once again, the happy event was reported by the New York Times. (10)

Wedding_announcement_smaller

Lawrence and Alice were married for over 50 years and raised a family of five daughters and four sons. (11)  

Odell_siblings_1940s_small

Grandpa’s standing on the far right. And that’s a room full of stories right there!

————————————————————————————–

(1) Alice Berlage Odell, New York  City, interview by Yvonne Odell McLravy, her daughter, circa 1970s; handwritten notes transcribed by Malissa Ruffner, reviewed by McLravy, privatedly held by Ruffner, [address for private use], Baltimore, Maryland, 2010.  Most of the detail in this post, unless otherwise footnoted, was supplied by Alice aka Granny, during this interview that she dubbed “The Grand Inquisition.”  Thanks to Yvonne for sharing the material.

(2)  “Robert Fellner, 74, Banker, Financier,” New York Times, 16 October 1950, p. 27; digital image, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2006) (www.proquest.com : accessed 3 July 2010).

(3) 1910 U. S. Census, New York, New York, pop. sched., Manhattan Ward 22, enumeration district (ED) 1393, p. 5B, line 59, dwelling 336, family 26, Robert J. Fellner; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1048. Line number is included because dwelling and family numbers are difficult to decipher.

(4)  1910 U. S. Census, New York, New York, pop. sched., Manhattan Ward 22, enumeration district (ED) 1393, p. 5B, line 51, dwelling 334, family 25, Robert J. Fellner; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1048.  Line number is included because dwelling and family numbers are difficult to decipher.

(5)  “Miss Alice Fellner Introduced,” New York Times, 1 February 1916, p. 11; digital image, The New York Times Archives (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F06EED81E38E633A25752C0A9649C… : accessed 5 July 2010).

(6) “Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2010), manifest, S. S. Finland, Liverpool, England, to New York arriving November 4, 1916, p. 3, Lawrence G. Odell, p. 5, Alice Henriette Berlage; citing National Archives Microfilm Publication T715, roll 2499.

(7)  “Passenger Ships and Images,” digital images,  Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 July 2010), entry for Finland of the Red Star shipping line; citing various maritime reference sources.

(8) “Passport Applications, January 2, 1906-March 31, 1925,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 July 2010), Certificate 44225 for Lawrence G. Odell issued 11 January 1917; citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M1490, roll 342.

(9) Lawrence Odell and Alice Berlage photograph, 31 January 1918, privately held by Malissa Ruffner, [address for private use], Baltimore, Maryland.

(10) “Marry in St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” New York Times, 1 February 1918, p. 9; digital image, The New York Times Archives (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=980DE2DC103FE433A25752C0A9649C… : accessed 5 July 2010).

(11) Odell Siblings photograph, circa 1940s, privately held by Malissa Ruffner, [address for private use], Baltimore, Maryland.

13 thoughts on “A 1916 Shipboard Romance”

  1. The ship posted here to be the SS Finland is in fact its sister ship Kroonland;http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_KroonlandThough on e-bay are 3 pics for sale from the SS Finland (I’m not the seller or connected to), 1 is very very nice even. Framed as well.I thought to inform you about this, because it could maybe add a nice addition to your genealogical research.

    1. Check the 1910 census US. 1911 census England and the England/Wales registry
      Alice Ester Benjamina Anslyn Berlage Fellner is her whole name. 1876 Holland. She had an address of 7 Cornwall Mansions, Cornwall Gardens South Kensington SW UK. They came over 1906 with a butter maid lol, a housekeeper, and a butler lol.

      1. that is really cool is’nt
        This is Elizabeth Robin Baldwin, I am Robin’s grandoughter. Alice and Lawrence ODell,are my great,great,great grandparents

      1. His mother was married to Jacobus Gerardus Berlage he died 1905 ( brother to Hendrik Petrus Berlage the Dutch Architect) she married Robert Fullner soon after that,
        Alices spoke fluent French, was born in Belgum, her father was from Holland spoke Dutch, and her mother was freom England she was born 1871 or 1875. I think that’s right.

  2. Um!!! Alice Odell is my Great Grandmother, by her daughter Mary, and her daughter Eleanor Mary Beach. I would like to read the rest of this story, as her Great, Great, Great Grandchildren would love to hear it too. My sister and I remember going every Christmas time to visit the whole family. I remember the elevator operator and the “horse” statue near the river. PopPop always had candies in a can and his hospital type bed. We used to have tea parties with the tea set in the closet. I saw the picture and we look alike for sure.

    1. Hi Robin, I met your mom years ago at the North Carolina beach when she was visiting with Aunt Phyllis, Uncle Ray, and Uncle Larry. Years ago! I was just going through some things that Aunt Yvonne gave me and I have something you might be interested in. Please email me at mruffner@gmail.com. This was meant to be!

      1. Hi Malissa,
        I am the sister (Rain) that Robin speaks of in the prior post, further confirming that Alice Odell was indeed, our Great Grandmother, via her daughter Mary (our Grandmother) of whom I immediately recognized in the sibling photo (circa 1940), she being seated bottom row, 3rd (from left going right) dressed in the black shirt. Her daughter, Eleanor Mary Beach was our mother, now deceased.
        As I recall, “Granny” Alice Odell resided in a building on the corner of 106th and Riverside, Manhattan, NY.
        The building’s elevator operator had to turn a manual crank to raise us up to the 15th floor where she lived, and us kids would barrrel down the hall to ring her door, and greeted by the butler!
        I recall her apartment being spectacular, decorated with nothing but the finest; kinda French Provençial, all the way down to a child’s sized silver tea set she had, just for us!
        Pop-Pop was mostly ill during our visits, but his room always smelled of cherry pipe smoke, and he always kept a brown leather Half & Half tobacco canister full of chocolate bars in his room and he’d always give us some!
        I am the youngest of Eleanor’s 3 children from her first marriage- we have a brother Robert (Bob) who resides in Maine, and Robin and I both reside in southern NJ.
        Robin has been working on our family’s geneology research for some time now, and how cool this information was to read. I am so thankful for her work, this information and photos, and
        I hope there’s more to be discovered.

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