TITANIC DISASTEROSCAR WOODY.
A Postal facing slip from a mail bag on board the R.M.S. Titanic, 1 p, 127 x 80 mm, slip printed "Sealed Ditributions Customs / Second Div. N.Y.P.O. (8) / From SEA POST Letters," and additionally stamped "Trans Atlantic Post Office / AP 10/12 - O.S. WOODY / TITANIC," recovered from the body of postal clerk Oscar Woody.
Provenance: recovered April 22, 1012 from the body of Oscar Scott Woody by the crew of the Mackay Bennett; Leelia B. Woody (widow); bequest to V.R. Gill in 1963; transferred in 1987 to the current owner.
Oscar Scott Woody (American, April 15th 1868-April 15th 1912) was one of five mail clerks (2 American and 3 British) on board the R.M.S. Titanic. Woody was celebrating his 44th birthday with his colleagues at the stern of the ship when the Titanic struck the iceberg. The postal clerks rushed to the mail sorting room to begin hauling the registered mail sacks to the upper decks in an attempt to save them from the flooding. As it became apparent that the ship was going to sink, Oscar Woody started collecting the facing slips off his mail bags so he could account for them later. Facing slips were used on board royal mail ships (RMS) to mark bundles of mail by their destination. They allowed the postal clerks to organize mail and account for any sorting errors. As required by the postal service, Woody stamped his name on his slips so that any errors in sorting could be charged to him. None of the five mail clerks on board the Titanic survived the disaster.
Mr. Woody's body was later recovered. An entry in the diary of F.H. Lardner, Captain of the Mackay Bennett describes the scene the day they recovered Mr. Woody's body: "Monday, April 22d. This day we picked up 27 bodies ... Everyone had on a lifebelt and (the) bodies floated very high in the water...." The crew of the Mackay Bennett, one of the four ships chartered by the White Star Line to recover as many bodies as possible, would recover 306 bodies, of which 116 were buried at sea, including that of Mr. Woody. As part of the recovery each body received a separate number: Postal Clerk Woody was assigned number 167, which was stenciled upon a canvas bag into which the personal effects of the individual were placed after they were recorded in a ledger. Leelia B. Woody [c.1880-1963?], Oscar S. Woody's widow, received bag 167 and retained it and its contents as the only memento of her husband. This bag contained all of the facing slips Oscar Woody recovered before he went into the water. Despite only having been married since October 5, 1910, she never remarried and kept her husband's photograph by her side until her death. Aware of her husband's Masonic membership, in 1963 she passed these items on to V.R. Gill [1901-1987], a member of Perseverance Lodge, No. 208 Indianhead, Maryland, to present to the museum in memory of her late husband.