Farquharson & Wheelock Suffer a Titanic Tragedy
The Titanic moored off County Down coast, 1912.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, the design house of Farquharson & Wheelock was well-known to society ladies as creators of stylish and elegant gowns. Scottish sisters Jesse Davison (Carmichael) Farquharson and Margaret Graham (Carmichael) Wheelock had founded the house together in 1906. Their summer attire and wedding dresses were desired by the most fashionable of ladies.
In 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice (Roosevelt) Longworth had stolen from her two Farquharson & Wheelock gowns she’d purchased, and the company agreed to replace the stolen frocks.
By early 1912 the sisters had moved into a prestigious Fifth Avenue address and seemed to have the clearest of skies ahead. But then tragedy struck their family.
The entire world was shaken to its core on April 15th, 1912, upon hearing of the tragedy which had befallen the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic. When the RMS Carpathia finally pulled into New York Harbor on April 18th carrying the roughly 710 people who survived the disaster, over 40,000 were there to greet them. Thousands of families mourned their losses that day and in the months that followed during the public hearings and inquiries into the disaster.
Mary Graham Marvin
One of those survivors was Mary Graham Carmichael (Farquharson) Marvin, the young bride of Mr. Daniel Marvin. At the tender age of eighteen, Mary had only been married for a few months; the trip she and Daniel had booked upon the Titanic as First Class passengers was the last leg of their protracted European honeymoon. The two had planned to make their home together in New York City after their return.
But it was not to be.
The young couple were no strangers to the limelight. Daniel was the son of Harry Norton Marvin, a motion picture production house founder, and Mary was the daughter of Frank and Jessie Davison (Carmichael) Farquharson. The pair had already made headlines with the secrecy of their marriage in January 1912 (both were under eighteen and had married at City Hall without their parent’s knowledge).
Their marriage was reenacted in March in front of a film crew, reported to be the first cinematographed wedding. Mary wore an exquisitely elaborate Farquharson & Wheelock gown designed by her mother and aunt, with a flowing veil and long train.
A still from the Marvin wedding film.
The couple honeymooned all over Europe for five weeks and boarded the Titanic on its stop at Southampton, bound for New York. On the night of the sinking Daniel and Mary were strolling the decks of the Titanic arm-in-arm. They felt the concussion of the impact, then rushed to their stateroom to dress in warm clothing and back up to the decks, where lifeboats were being loaded. Mary said later that Daniel placed her in a boat against her protestations and convinced her to stay only by telling her to go, and that he would follow. But he didn’t; he was one of the many who died in the sinking.
Mary made it home to New York on the HMS Carpathia and went into isolation following her husband’s loss. But Daniel left her one last gift; she was pregnant. She gave birth to their daughter Mary Margaret “Peggy” Marvin late in October 1912.
Farquharson & Wheelock would go on to design another famous wedding gown - that of Cornelia Vanderbilt, who wore one of their designs upon her marriage to John Amherst Cecil in 1924. But that’s a story for another day.
If the rest of this story is of interest to you, the
American Mutoscope & Biograph Company
(the company Daniel Marvin’s father and uncle founded)
made a biography in 2012 entitled
RMS Titanic: The Story Biograph Told.
Check it out!