Margaret Bechstein Hays

Margaret Bechstein Hays (December 6, 1887– August 21, 1956) was a passenger on the RMS Titanic. She and her dog survived the ship's sinking, escaping on lifeboat no. 7. Following the disaster, she cared for two small children known as the "Titanic Orphans" in her New York City home until their mother claimed them.

Margaret Bechstein Hays
Born(1887-12-06)December 6, 1887
DiedAugust 21, 1956(1956-08-21) (aged 68)

Rescue from the Titanic

Margaret Bechstein Hays was born on December 6, 1887[1] to Frank and Mary A. Hays.[2][3] She was 24 years old when she boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, France. She was accompanied by two friends, Olive Earnshaw and Lily Potter.[4] Earnshaw and Hays occupied first class cabin C-54. Gilbert Tucker, a young man Hays had met in Europe, cut his visit short to join her on the Titanic.[5] He occupied cabin C-53.[6]

When the ship hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912, Hays and Earnshaw were in their cabin. When the engines stopped they went to Potter's room, and then to inquire about the situation. When they returned to Potter's room they told her: "We have hit an iceberg but the steward told us we should not worry and should go back to bed."[6] Although Hays was not concerned, Potter was scared. They dressed and wrapped Hays' Pomeranian dog in blankets. They headed to C Deck, where Tucker helped them collect life jackets.[6]

The three women and the dog[7] boarded lifeboat no. 7, which was the first boat prepared. The occupants of boat 7 were rescued early on April 15 by the RMS Carpathia. Also on the Carpathia were two young boys who spoke only French. Margaret spoke French fluently and she was concerned that they would be separated from one another. She volunteered to take the children into her care until their family could be located.[1] The boys played with Hays' dog, Bebe,[8] while they were on the boat.[7]

The identities of the children were initially unknown,[7] but it was determined that they were Edmond and Michel Navratil.[3] Their father, Michel Sr., who died in the accident, had boarded the Titanic under an assumed name. He had taken the children from his estranged wife and was removing them to the United States.[9] Upon her return to New York, Margaret cared for the children, who became known as the "Titanic Orphans."[10] She had the help of the Children's Aid Society in caring for the boys[10] until their mother, Marcelle Navratil, came from Nice, France, to claim them.[11]

Hays married a Rhode Island physician, Charles Daniel Easton, in 1913[3] and they had two daughters. She was widowed on October 4, 1934.[12] She died on August 21, 1956, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of a heart attack[13] while on vacation with one of her daughters. She is buried at St. Mary's Churchyard, Portsmouth, Rhode Island.[6]

Margaret Bechstein Hays was not, as has sometimes been claimed,[14] related to victim Charles Melville Hays, an American railroad executive traveling first class on the Titanic with his wife Clara and their adult daughter Orian (both of whom survived) and son-in-law (who perished). Mr. Hays' party was in a different group of cabins on B Deck.[15]


  1. Geller, Judith B. (1998). Titanic: Women and Children First. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 91–94. ISBN 0393046664.
  2. "Frank Hays: Obituary". New York Times. Dec 1, 1935.
  3. "Miss Margaret Hays Weds". New York Times (as re-printed by Encyclopedia Titanica). Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  4. Welshman, John (2012). Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0191611735.
  5. Merideth, Lee W. (2003). 1912 Facts About Titanic. Sunnyvale, CA: Rocklin Press. p. 95. ISBN 0962623784.
  6. "Miss Margaret Bechstein Hays". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved March 21, 2012.
  7. "Two Boys made Orphans by Disaster". United Press, Gazette Times. April 20, 1912. p. 1. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  8. "Pets Who Sailed on the Titanic". Lost and Fond. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  9. "Mother is Coming to Claim Sea Waifs" (PDF). New York Times. April 24, 1912. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  10. "May learn identity of the Titanic Orphans" (PDF). New York Times. April 22, 1912. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  11. "For the Children". The Daily Banner (as re-printed on Encyclopedia Titanica). Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  12. "Dr. Charles Easton Dies After Operation". New York Times (as re-printed on Encyclopedia Titanica). Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  13. "Margaret Hays Easton Death Certificate". United States State Department (as shown on Retrieved March 22, 1912. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. Hacking, Norman R. (1995). Prince Ships of Northern British Columbia: Ships of the Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian National Railways. Heritage House Publishing. pp. 30–35. ISBN 1895811287.
  15. "Mr. Charles Melville Hays". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
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