We were both asleep when the boat hit

On April 24th of 1912, 24-year-old John Snyder wrote the following letter to his father, Frank, and recalled the night of April 14th; an altogether tragic night that saw him and his wife, Nelle, escape the RMS Titanic following its collision with an iceberg, only to then witness the ship sink to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. This particular young couple had been returning from their honeymoon. Luckily for them, they reacted fast enough to escape death; 1517 other passengers were less fortunate.

Transcript follows. Images courtesy of Philip Weiss Auctions.


April 24th

Dear Father

Here we are again both safe and sound — thankful and glad to be home. You perhaps have not heard of the way we reached safety. I can’t tell you all about it — but no doubt you have seen or read my account in some paper — because that would take a very long time and would fill a book.

I can only tell you that I have a mighty fine wife and she is the one you must thank — besides our Lord — for my being able to write this letter. If it hadn’t been for Nelle — I am sure that I never would be here now. She is the one that urged me to get up when I wanted to go back to bed.

We were both asleep when the boat hit. I don’t know whether the bump woke me up or I woke when Nelle spoke to me., At any rate she made me get up and go out to the companionway to see what was going on — I went out three times before we decided to get up and get dressed.

When we reached the top deck only a few people were about and we all were told to go down & put on our life belts — we did it at once thinking it was only a precaution. When we got back on the top deck again we saw they were getting the life boats ready — as soon as they were ready they told the people to get into them. Nearly every body stepped back from in front of us and as a result we were almost the very first people placed in the life boat. Only a very few people were on deck at that time and they thought it much safer to stay on the big boat than to try the life boat. When we had rowed some distance away from the Titanic we realized — by looking at the bow seeing (only the port holes) the different rows of port holes getting less and less from these rows — then two rows & then finally the bow went under — that the finest boat in the world was doomed — we hit between 11.40 & 11.50 and the Titanic sunk at 2.22 in the morning.

We spent some anxious hours in the life boat and finally sighted the Carpathia between 4 o’clock & 4.30. We rowed to meet her and at 5.30 we felt better. You can’t imagine how we felt and I am sure the Lord had his guiding hand on Nelle’s and my hand — We were both entirely dressed. Nelle had on every stitch of clothing of her winter suit – a sweater, her long steamer coat, mink furs, winter hat, high shoes etc — I had on my suit, a sweater, winter overcoat, shoes — in fact we both were as completely dressed as possible.

Uncle Ed — Mabel & Charlie Williams Aunt Ethel Uncle Victor all met us in N.Y. Many of my old Hotchkiss class mates were also there.

Nelle got weighed yesterday and showed a gain of 20 pounds since we got married. Pretty good hey?

I hope you get this letter and I sure will be glad to see you home. Home looks mighty good to me.

With heaps of love to all

From Nelle & John