Mr. Albert Clay Bilicke

Albert Bilicke
Saloon Passenger
Lost
Albert Bilicke
Image:  Kansas City Star, May 1915. Michael Poirier collection
Born Albert Bilicke
c. 1861
United States
Died 7 May 1915 (age 54)
At sea
Age on Lusitania 54
Ticket number 19841
Cabin number B 48 regal suite and bath
Traveling with Gladys Bilicke (wife)
Lifeboat ?
Body number Not recovered
Occupation – Hotel manager
– Investor
Citizenship United States
Residence South Pasadena, California, United States
Other name(s) None
Spouse(s) Gladys Huff (c. 1900 – 1915, his death)

Albert Bilicke, 54, was a hotel manager who supplemented his fortune with real estate. He was traveling aboard Lusitania with his wife, Gladys Bilicke, for rest and relaxation, as he was recovering from abdominal surgery. When the ship was sinking, the Bilickes entered a lifeboat that upset while lowering. Albert was lost. Gladys was saved.

The Wild West


Albert Bilicke was originally from Tombstone, Arizona, United States.  Bilicke was the son of German immigrants and had a sister named Louisa. His father opened and operated the Hotel Cosmopolitan on Allen Street during Tombstone’s booming years as a mining town, and the Bilickes flourished. Albert managed the place from 1879 to 1882. Albert was also a Freemason.

Being in the Wild West, once a man threatened Albert’s father with a gun. Albert shot and killed the offender. Albert and his family also became friends with gambler, investor, and lawman Wyatt Earp, testifying on Earp’s behalf at trial following The Gunfight at the OK Corral. Albert testified that he saw Tom McLaury, one of the outlaw cowboys killed in the shootout, with what appeared to be a gun in his pocket.

California


The Hotel Cosmopolitan burned down and the Bilickes moved to California. Albert first ran a hotel in Santa Rosa in northern California and then moved south to Los Angeles where he ran the Hollenbeck Hotel.

Around 1900, Albert married Gladys Huff of Illinois. In 1904, he broke ground for his most ambitious project to date, the Alexandria Hotel. The doors opened in 1905 and the Alexandria Hotel became one of the leading hotels in Los Angeles. Starting with the Alexandria and Hollenbeck Hotels, Bilicke owned several four-star resorts and hotels in Los Angeles.

Around this time Albert co-founded the Bilicke-Rowan Fireproof Building Co. with R.A Rowan. They built the Rowan Building and bought many properties in downtown Los Angeles, becoming wealthy in the real estate market of Southern California. Albert also invested considerably in property in Kansas City, Missouri, where his holdings were valued to be over $1,500,000.

Albert and Gladys had two sons, Carl and Albert, and a daughter, Nancy.  As for 1915, the Bilickes lived at 699 Monterey Road, South Pasadena. Their house was situated in a valley with a view of the ocean in the distance.

Albert came down with a sudden illness and needed abdominal surgery. The doctors recommended that he and Gladys take a short trip to relax. This turned out to be a transcontinental trip that ended up in New York City. They visited friends and family along the way and stopped by their property in Kansas City. They planned to return to Los Angeles in time for the opening of the new Muehlenbach Hotel.

A fateful decision


When the Bilickes were New York, they decided to add a voyage aboard the Lusitania to their recuperative trip. Albert sent a telegram to his real estate agent, C. H. Barber, that he was sailing because it was “Too strenuous for me here.”

Barber tried to stop them, but the Bilickes had already bought their tickets and sailed anyway. The Bilickes were staying in cabin B-48, the regal suite and bath, their ticket number 19841. As Bilicke related to his friend Leonard Brown in a postcard, he had been aboard Lusitania twice before and the ship’s speed and officers were familiar to him. Albert was looking forward to much needed rest and relaxation.

When the torpedo hit the ship, Albert and Gladys were in their B deck cabin, resting after lunch.  They rushed onto the boat deck and entered a lifeboat with Reverend David Loynd and his wife Alice.  The boat went perpendicular, spilling out everyone aboard.

Gladys survived, having struggled to reach the surface of the water. Albert did not survive, nor was his body identified.  The following was the notice for description of Albert Bilicke:

Age about:  53.  Height:  about 5 feet 6 inches.  Eyes:  blue.  Hair:  sandy and thin.  On abdomen, 2 scars from operation.  Clothes: Suit, dark material.  In the pocket, wallet with gold mountings containing English money and papers.  Little notebooks in pockets.  Watch and chain, gold and platinum. On watch is mongram, A.C.B.  Ring, turquoise and two diamonds.  Underwear:  Linen mesh, short and drawers.  Abdominal belt, silk hose, caught up with gilt clasps.  Shirt marked on sleeve by monogram “A.C.B.” and back of shirt marked “Sulka & Co., Paris & New York.”  Cuff buttons set with light blue sapphires.  Collar, white turnover.  Neck tie, dark.  Stick pin, emeralds surrounded with diamonds.

Despite these descriptions, Albert’s body was never recovered. Gladys later erected a memorial for him in Los Angeles.

Related pages


The Bilickes at the Mixed Claims Commission

Prichard Letters: Letter from W. Wilson Burns for Gladys Bilicke dated 6 March 1916

Links of interest


Encyclopedia Titanica: Lest We Forget – Part 2


Contributors
Jim Kalafus, USA
Michael Poirier, USA

References
Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier (2005) Lest We Forget Part 2:  As the Lusitania Went Down ET Research. <http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lusitania-lest-we-forget-2.html>

Los Angeles Times.  8 and 9 May 1915.

“A.C. Bilicke,”  Tombstone, Arizona.  Online.  <http://www.tombstone.ws/history_details.asp?ID=31>.

Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956.

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