There were many wealthy people on the notorious Titanic. Among them was John Jacob Astor IV, the great-grandson of one of the wealthiest men in the United States.
John Jacob was a successful businessman. He was able not only to preserve his inheritance, but also to increase the family fortune by dealing in real estate and hotels. Astor participated in the Spanish-American War, during which he provided the U.S. troops with his naval vessel and also partially equipped the fleet. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
John Jacob is also credited with several inventions including a bicycle brake, a "vibratory disintegrator" used to produce gas from peat moss, a pneumatic road-improver, and even a turbine engine. Astor was also a writer, who gave the world a work 'A Journey in Other Worlds' (1894), a science-fiction novel about the future life on other planets.
In 1909, Astor divorced his first wife, with whom he had a daughter, Ava Alice, and a son, Vincent. Two years later, John Jacob, 47, married an 18-year-old Madeleine, who was a year younger than his son.
The millionaire's new marriage was treated negatively by society, so the newlyweds decided to leave the United States for a long honeymoon to different countries, including France and Egypt. During the trip, Madeleine learned that she was pregnant and wanted the child to be born in the U.S.
On April 10, 1912, the Astors, along with their servants (a nurse, a valet, and a maid), boarded the enormous cruise ship, proudly named the Titanic. Four days after sailing, the ship hit an iceberg.
Astor left his cabin to find out what had happened, returned, and assured his anxious wife that everything was well. He was perfectly calm or pretended that nothing had happened. A little later, all the passengers traveling first class went up to the walk-in area.
At 1:45 the children and women were ordered to man the lifeboats. Astor asked if he could accompany his pregnant young wife. He was told that the men could leave only after the women and children were off.
Astor was last seen alive five minutes before 2 a.m.
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He stood and watched without a shadow of a doubt the remaining lifeboats being lowered into the water. The body of the millionaire, whose fortune totaled tens of millions of dollars, was found a week later. In August, Madeleine gave birth to a son named after his late father. She became the heiress of a $5 million fortune and luxury homes. And John Jacob went down in history as the man who retained his dignity through such terrible events.
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