All Things Victorian

All Things Victorian
Victoriana Lady Lisa

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Woman's Mother Was A Survivor On The Titanic

Woman's Mother Thelma Thomas Was A Survivor On The Titanic

Victoriana Lady Lisa Lewis and Mae Thomas
(Photo by John Thomas Grant)

Today John and I had the unique privilege of meeting and interviewing a darling lady named Mae Thomas whose mother, Thelma, was on the Titanic. Thelma was with her brother Charles, and her 3 month old son Assad, when the ship went down.  Mae tells the story from her mother's experience as she remembers it, The family was traveling from Harden, Lebanon where Charles was to join the family business in America. Thelma & the baby were sent to accompany Charles back since the men in the states could not leave the business for such a length of time.

Thelma was on the Titanic with her brother Charles & son Assad.

The night of the sinking Charles, who heard the thud when they hit the iceberg, quickly went to Thelma's room and told her to get warm clothes on and to wrap the baby up warmly. "Something is wrong and we are needed on deck," he told her. When they got to the deck, people were everywhere and life boats were being filled. One of the men in charge tried to put Thelma on a life boat but she was hysterical and did not want to leave her brother. It was very confusing & frightening since she did not speak English. Charles translated that she must go without him. She still refused. In the chaos someone put her in the life boat and lowered it before she could get baby Assad from her brother! She was nearly out of her mind crying for him and her brother, what a terrifying ordeal it must have been for her.

Luckily Charles entrusted the baby to a lady in another life boat who promised to take care of the baby until he could be reunited with his mother. Sadly, Charles Thomas did not survive and his body was never found.

Thelma's brother Charles Thomas perished on the ill fated Titanic

There was a man in Thelma's life boat dressed as a woman. At first the women in the boat were appalled. They were all in a state of shock and could not row away from the sinking ship fast enough, however, the man rowed them to safety and saved them from being pulled under when the ship went completely under the water. After that they were thankful that he had been in their lifeboat. Thelma was in a state of severe shock and spent several weeks in the hospital in NY.

Once she was stable she was reunited with Assad, he was still wrapped in the same blanket from that fateful night. Thelma was also reunited with her husband Alexander, who had stayed behind to mind the business. They went on to have a total of 10 children, three are still alive today. Mae, one of the three, loves to talk about her mother's experience. She said her mother never went near another body of water in her life, not even a lake.

Victoriana Lady Lisa at the Titanic Exhibition, Times Square NYC in antique 1912 fashions.

 This and other fascinating stories will be told at upcoming Titanic events at the Stegmaier Mansion B&B.
The first three Titanic events are booked solid so more dates have been added by the Passion Projects-

Sunday June 19, 2011 from 2-4 pm The Last Luncheon On The Titanic will be held. Hosted by Victoriana Lady Lisa Lewis and featuring the exact menu from the ship, prepared on site by gold medal award winning chef Jody Klocko, formerly of Godiva Chocolates.

The Last Dinner On The Titanic last weekend was a sell out and a smashing success!! By popular demand we will be adding more dinner dates as well. Events are by reservation only and sell out fast.

Please call Lisa Lewis at 570-290-2679 or 570-655-8392 for more information. Reservations are on a first come first serve basis. You can also send an e-mail at

Some of Victoriana Lady's artifacts include two books printed in 1912 with actual survivor's stories, plus-

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Honor Of The Royal Wedding: A Victorian Bridal Tea At Sweet Remembrances Tea Room

Victoriana Lady Lisa Lewis will take her antique traveling museum to the delightful Sweet Remembrances tea room for a Victorian Bridal program, in honor of Kate & William's Royal Wedding.

Sunday April 17th from 2-4pm is booked solid. Seats are still available for Monday evening from 6-8pm.
Contact Sweet Remembrances at 118 South Market Street Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6329
(717) 697-5785      

Examples of Victoriana Lady's Antique Bridal Collection at previous engagements.

Circa 1900 silk bridal dress & veil.

Victoriana Lady's Grandparent's wedding photo.

1906 silk wedding dress Provenance Anne Ricke.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Busy Working On My Book!! Genealogy Photos...

The first piece of Victoriana from my collection, gloves that I purchased when I was just 15 years old.

I am very busy working on my book!! We have begun photo shoots and I am collecting photos of models from around the world for the neo-Victorian & Steampunk chapters. This is a dream come true for me.
 I went to my first estate sale at age 15, bought a pair of crochet gloves and a beaded hand bag and I was hooked! I have never stopped collecting Victorian & Edwardian fashions and accessories.

The book, title yet to be determined, is being published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. It will be a coffee table size hard cover, with full color photos and 350 pages, available world wide. I have this year to finish the photos and manuscript, then it goes to Schiffer's design team this November 2011. It is going to get extremely busy so please bear with me, I will do my best to keep my blog updated as I go along.

I have detailed some of the other aspects of the book in previous blogs so I don't want to be redundant.
Here are some family photos on my maternal side that inspired my love of the era. I like to think that these hard working people would be proud of their granddaughter. :)

My Civil War grandfather Samuel J. Martin who is buried in Dayton National Cemetery in Ohio.

Samuel & Hannah's daughter young Ella Mae Martin, circa 1860. She was about 12 years old here.

Samuel & Hannah Martin's daughters Ella Mae & Lucy Martin (seated) circa 1890. Ella Mae had a child and named her Lucy, after her beloved sister, who died at age 24. Lucy's photo is below. We have 5 generations of first born daughters on my maternal side of the family.

The Granddaughter of Sameul J. Martin, daughter of Ella Mae Martin, Lucy Riley on her wedding day in 1917. She lived to the ripe old age of 92, she was my sweetheart, I miss her to this day.

My Grandfather Anselm J. Riley, who married Lucy, on his wedding day in 1917. He was a coal miner, as was his father. He died of Black Lung, as it was referred to, a type of Emphysema. He adored me. :)

Anselm's sister Margaret Riley, age 16 years. I own her antique bedroom set from her marriage in 1913.
I used to sleep over when I was in grade school and play dress up with her things. I guess I never grew up!

Anselm & Lucy's only child Marguerite Riley on her first birthday, September 1, 1919. She is my mother's mother, she lived to be 90 years old. We spent a lot of time together, I miss her terribly.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Victorian Things I Love...Collecting Old Medicines Bottles

It's a wonder anyone survived in the Victorian era when many of the medicines & elixirs of that era contained Turpentine, Arsenic, Lead and other hazardous and combustible chemicals! Just pass the Tums please!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cemetery Photography In A New Light

Often when you mention a cemetery or graveyard many people shudder, mention taking pictures there and they are horrified. But wait...the cemetery is not just for the dead but the living as well. Those laid to rest lived and breathed like you and I. They had hopes, dreams, tears, they were all important in some way. They need to be remembered, with honor, lovingly, not to be forgotten. That is exactly what John Thomas Grant seeks to achieve in his intimate cemetery photos. He was recently asked by Funeral Director's Chat to do an interview with director Nancy Burban. To hear the entire Podcast with photographer/author John Thomas Grant-

The infamous Mourning Angel photo "Twas hard to give thee up..."

People are asked to leave their comments at the page, this was mine-

Almost four years ago I came across the photo of John Grant's Mourning Angel on the "Epitaphs" magazine cover at their web site and I was awestruck!  An avid cemetery fan and amateur photographer myself, I had never seen anything so breathtaking and beautiful. I recall gazing at this flawless photo for some time, marveling at the emotional composition and brilliant colors. Whoever shot this photo I thought must be a person who has great depth and feeling, a true artist with the camera.

Fast forward three years later... a mutual cemetery friend Joe Dallmann from Facebook suggested that I check out John Grant's photo page. At his insistence I did and low and behold John's profile picture was him sitting at the base of the Mourning Angel...I was speechless!!! It was like Deja-Vu!

To make a long story short, John asked me to help him on his cemetery book "Final Thoughts" and as we worked together and got to know each other we realized that we couldn't live without each other. :)

I am writing this, first as a fan, and now as a partner with John. I was absolutely right, he has great depth, incredible emotion, dedication to cemetery preservation  and a sincere eye for photos that is pure art. It was his photography that helped win me over, the photos touched me, deep within my heart.

The husband is leaning toward the wife...

John Grant's pictures, no two which are alike, speak to you. They evoke memories and experiences that we have all had in our lives. They make us reflect on the preciousness of life. Not only do they bring visual pleasure but they reach deep into the soul.

 I really enjoyed hearing John share in this Podcast, I have so much admiration & respect for him and what he brings to others with his art. What a gift!

I am honored beyond words to know this man, to watch him work and create and I'm fortunate beyond belief to have the joy of loving him. He told me that I inspire him, how precious...the best is yet to come... I love you sweetheart. :)

John Thomas Grant & Victoriana Lady Lisa Lewis of The Passion Projects Entertainment Company

The eagerly anticipated cemetery book Final Thoughts will be released in October 2011
For more information-

To see more photos-!/pages/The-Passion-Projects/133921303297945

Thursday, March 24, 2011

High Tea Commemorates Titanic Anniversary

                                             High Tea Commemorates Titanic Anniversary

Victoriana Lady Lisa Griffiths Lewis will host an event on Saturday March 26, 2011from 6-8 pm that pays tribute to the elegance and tragic history of the Titanic.
The "Last Dinner on the Titanic" high tea seeks to recreate what it might have been like the night before the doomed ocean liner hit an iceberg. The icy ocean water claimed the ship and more than 1,500 lives.
The magnitude of the tragedy shocked the world in the early 20th century and still intrigues people today, Lewis said.
"It just holds our fascination, because it's so incredible, the story and the reality of it."

The tea will be held Saturday at the Stegmaier Mansion in Wilkes-Barre. It is the first of several events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking on April 14, 1912.
A Titanic-themed high tea and low tea were planned for April, but sold out so quickly that the March date was added. While a high tea includes a full meal, a low tea is a typical afternoon tea, with scones, pastries and other treats to nibble on.
"We're definitely going to be repeating the Titanic-themed teas, because it's very popular," she said.
Lewis will tell the story of the Titanic while dressed in authentic Victorian fashion.

Guests will be treated to dishes straight from the Titanic's menu for first class passengers. Jody Klocko, executive chef at the Stegmaier Mansion, will prepare canape a la admiral - a shrimp salad canape on toasted Parisian bread - vegetable barley soup and chicken lyonnaise.
Klocko is the former head chef chocolatier for Godiva and a gold medal winner of the Coupe de Monde World Pastry Cup in Lyon, France.
"He's preparing everything as only he can do," Lewis said. "It will be suited to the modern taste."
Dessert includes homemade eclairs and peaches and chartreuse jelly - "and that I can't wait to see for myself," Lewis said.

She will also discuss the history of the ship. Her display includes an original newspaper documenting the sinking, along with several books written immediately after the sinking that document survivors' stories. Telling the tale amid the ambiance of the Stegmaier Mansion will truly give attendees the feel of that period in history.
"It's really a time capsule," she said of the mansion.

Dinner dress should be worn. Patrons are welcome to wear Victorian or Edwardian attire, but it is not required.
"It's a very elegant affair," she said. "The mansion is the caliber of those who would have sailed on first class, so the folks attending this event will feel as if they are first class.", 570-821-2118

Read more:

Dvd Haven On The Hill To Be Re-Released

Dvd Haven On The Hill with Victoriana Lady Lisa Lewis portraying Nurse Esther Tinsley c. 1910

Great News! The sold out Dvd "The Haven On The Hill" is being re-released this year. The response for it has been tremendous. I portray Esther Tinsley, the first woman hospital administrator in the country in 1910, before women could vote. This remarkable woman was ahead of her time, starting the Pittston Hospital & School of Nursing. For more photos and story-

Part of the filming was done at the former Pittston Hospital and Steamtown National Historic Site & Train Museum in Scranton, PA. Victoriana Lady is wearing a c.1910 Edwardian traveling ensemble and carrying her great grandmother Lucy's suitcase from the early 1900's.

Esther Tinsley in a pensive moment as she is on her way to take her position at the Pittston Hospital.

Esther Tinsley was a devout Catholic and never missed Mass, especially important to her was midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at St.John's Church in Pittston. No matter what their religious beliefs were Esther insisted that all of her nursing students attend midnight Mass.

Miss Tinsley is credited with helping injured passengers at the Laurel Line streetcar accident. Here we recreate the scene at the Trolley Museum in Scranton, PA.
For a strange story about the Laurel Line-

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Time For Dessert!

The executive chef who prepares the food and pastries at my Victorian tea events is award winning chef Jody Klocko. He has held the position of chef chocolatier at Godiva, has been featured on The Food Network and is the only American chef to win the gold medal in the Coupe De Monde in France. Here is a small sample of his delicacies. Guests will be amazed at our upcoming Titanic teas where he re-creates the Last Dinner On The Titanic. For information call Victoriana Lady Lisa at 570-290-2679 or 570-655-8392.

His chocolate truffles are incredible, the flavors mingle and melt in your mouth.
The creme Brulee is to die's all so mouth watering!
Chocolates can be purchased at the Stegmaier Mansion at each tea event.

The master himself, award winning chef Klocko

Jody also makes incredible cakes for any occasion. Call the Stegmaier Mansion for more details at
570-823-9372 to inquire.

Our next delicious event is Sunday June 19th from 2-4 pm. All gentlemen & their wives, in honor of Father's Day, are invited to attend the Last Luncheon On The Titanic. It's also my sweetie John Grant's birthday so come out and help us celebrate! Call 570-290-2679 by reservation only, children age 10 and up only.