A Rare Titanic Family:
The Caldwells' Story of Survival
(Montgomery, Ala.: NewSouth Books, 2012)
THE 2014 ELLA DICKEY LITERACY AWARD
for books that preserve history.
This award was shared with
former First Lady Laura Bush. Read more here.
Albert Caldwell was my great-uncle. He was 26 years old when he survived the Titanic on April 15, 1912, along with his wife, Sylvia, and infant son, Alden. I knew Albert well -- he lived to be 91 and told me the story of the Titanic dozens of times.
I had long heard how he and Sylvia were missionaries in Siam, how they toured Europe on their way home to the United States, and how they wound up on the Titanic. Over many tellings, I heard about Albert's tour of the beautiful ship, the Caldwells' harrowing rescue on Lifeboat 13, their agony at hearing the screams of the people who could not be saved, and the scary night on the Atlantic as they waited to be rescued.
It was a true story as he told it to me, an accurate story.
However, as I researched this book, I slowly came to realize that I had hardly known the story at all. I discovered the Caldwells were fleeing their jobs and were in a cat-and-mouse chase around the globe that continued even after the Titanic sank, with a great deal of money at stake.
Hear about the research and writing process, plus a lot about this book and my other books, on the excellent Birmingham Shines Podcast. It's also available here, via Facebook.
Albert always promised I could have the American gold pieces he and Sylvia left on the Titanic, should anyone ever find the ship on the bottom of the Atlantic. I doubt I will ever see a nickel of the gold. But I surely did have a treasure in my great-uncle's story. It's a story I've loved for many years, now made richer by so many long-held secrets coming into view. I hope you'll enjoy the story, too.
On these next few, too-brief pages, I'll give the outline of the Caldwells' harrowing trip home from Siam to the Midwest via the Titanic. I do hope you'll read the book for the full, rich story.
Meanwhile, enjoy the Birmingham News' excellent story on the book! Click the News logo for the story:
A Rare Titanic Family was one of the winners of the Ella Dickey Literacy Award for 2014, given at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield, Missouri.
The cover photo shows the Caldwells on the deck of the Titanic. The rare photo came to me when Albert died.
The cover and photo are copyrighted.