The Mayo family's connection to the Titanic: 'It's a story of life'

There's a fascinating Downton Abbey exhibit opening at the Kahler Grand Hotel and the historic Chateau Theatre. While Downton Abbey's ties to the ill-fated Titanic are fictional, the ties linking Rochester to the cruise liner are real.

Posted: Feb 13, 2020 11:22 PM
Updated: Feb 14, 2020 1:43 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Dr. Will Mayo was aboard another ship - the Amerika - near the Titanic in the North Atlantic when the Titanic sank. He documented that cold night in the North Atlantic.

"He left New York and it was 2 p.m. on April 11," Renee Ziemer, a coordinator with the Mayo Clinic Archives, said. "It documents he passed the SS Baltic which was one of the ships that radio-ed the Titanic and warned of the icebergs."

Dr. Mayo was meticulous in his journaling.

"There's a mark that indicates the Titanic and that it sunk," Ziemer said. "But it was a question mark because they were getting mixed news about what happened."

His conscientious choice to take notes of everything allow us to better understand both a brilliant doctor and a moment in history.

"I think the documentation was part of the physician in him," Ziemer said. "He was very Type A as we would call it today, he wanted to make sure he had record of the voyage."

The exhibit features some of the clothing and luggage Dr. Mayo had. His bags are monogrammed.

Mabel Kahler's diary is also featured. She was a friend of Dr. Mayo's and also aboard the Amerika.

"She did express her opinion, the sadness and that everyone was very somber on the ship, it obviously had an impact on all that were traveling," Kahler said.

The links between the long-ago Titanic tragedy and Rochester are at once revealing and fascinating.

"It's a story of life, you go from happy to sad, and that's kind of the journey of life," Ziemer said.

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