Charlotte Drake Martinez Cardeza

1854 to
1939

Life History for Charlotte Drake Martinez Cardeza

Resting at Franconia 12

Several survivors of the Titanic disaster are among those buried at West Laurel Hill Cemetery. The most interesting and flamboyant of those is Charlotte Drake Martinez Cardeza. She, along with her son Thomas, survived the Titanic, and both are entombed in a mausoleum in West Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Born in 1854, Charlotte was the daughter of a prominent industrialist, Thomas Drake, an organizer of the Fidelity Trust Company in 1866. Cardeza enjoyed her wealth, traveling the globe. She was the first woman to circumnavigate the world in her own yacht, the Eleanor. She was a big game hunter, and known as an excellent marksman, and enjoyed going on big game hunts in Africa. She was also known as an avid art collector.

When Charlotte Cardeza and her son boarded the Titanic in 1912, they brought with them the most luggage on the ship, 14 steamer trunks, four suitcases and three crates of baggage. Their suite was one of two “Millionaire Suites”, and featured an enclosed private promenade deck. This suite cost $4,350 ($90,799 in 2006). Their loss of property claim was the largest among any passenger, $177, 352.75 (in 2006 dollars, $3,701,963.15), which was mostly due to Charlotte Cardeza’s jewelry. Charlotte Cardeza died in 1939.

Her son, Thomas Drake Martinez Cardeza was thirty five when he traveled on the Titanic. He served on the board of directors of his grandfather’s Fidelity Trust Company until 1951. Like his mother, he too enjoyed art and travel and big game hunting.

Illness led to his most enduring endeavor, however. His wife, Mary Racine, would be treated by a Jefferson Hospital physician. This lead to a lasting relationship with Jefferson Hospital and the establishment of a research foundation named in memory of Charlotte Cardeza in 1952. Upon his death, Thomas Cardeza’s $5.5 million fortune went to establish the Charlotte Drake Cardeza Foundation for blood research, which continues its research today.

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