The Lusitania Resource > People > Saloon (First Class) Passenger List > Mrs. Elbridge Blish Thompson (Maude Robinson)

Mrs. Elbridge Blish Thompson (Maude Robinson)

Maude Thompson Saloon Passenger Saved
Maude Thompson image: Chicago Tribune, 9 May 1915, pg 3.
Born Maude Robinson 25 October 1882 Long Branch, New Jersey, United States
Died 17 May 1951 (age 68) Queens, New York, United States
Age on Lusitania 32
Ticket number 46157
Cabin number B 68 and bath
Traveling with Elbridge Blish Thompson (husband)
Rescued by Westborough (Katrina)
Citizenship United States
Residence Seymour, Indiana, United States
Other name(s) Countess de Gennes
Spouse(s) - Elbridge Blish Thompson (1904 - 1915, his death) - Count Jean de Gennes (1917 - 1929, his death)
Maude Thompson, 32, was the wife of Elbridge Blish Thompson of Seymour, Indiana, United States.  They were traveling together on Lusitania in May 1915 as Blish was on business about selling flour for a Dutch company.  Blish was lost in the sinking, Maude was saved.

Youth and marriage

Maude Robinson was born on 25 October 1882 to Franklin A. Robinson and Ella West of Long Branch, New Jersey.  She was also a descendant of Martin Kalbfleish, a twice-elector Mayor of Brooklyn.  Maude was an assertive woman who considered the prevailing feminine sensitivities of her times a handicap. On 31 March 1904, Maude married Elbridge Blish Thompson of Seymour, Indiana, who was also graduating from Yale that same year.  The ceremony took place in New York City. Blish's work as a mining metallurgist took him to Breckenridge, Colorado, and Maude followed.  At the insistence of Blish's uncles, the Thompsons moved to Seymour, Indiana, where Blish entered the family flour business of the Blish Milling Company in 1905.  The Thompson were active members of the Seymour community, and took part in  affairs such as ‘The Festival,’ where Blish drove his roadster, which was decorated as a battleship, with Maude by his side.


Blish and Maude booked passage on Lusitania in May 1915 to see about selling flour for a Dutch company.  They also decided to make a holiday of the trip as well, and they would tour England, Scotland, and Ireland for three months.  Their cabin was originally A-21, but then they upgraded to B-68, a suite with a private bath, the other half of which was booked by Elbert and Alice Hubbard. On board Lusitania, the Thompsons befriended Harry and Mary Keser, the Hodges family, and the Luck family.  On 7 May, the Thompsons had decided to wake up early, about 4:30 or 5 a.m., to watch the sun rise.  They were standing on A deck when they saw a battleship off on the port side, traveling eastwards.  The battleship was close enough for the Thompsons to see the battleship’s features clearly.  Soon after their early morning stroll, Lusitania entered fog. The Thompsons were in the first class dining saloon when the ship was torpedoed.  To them, the impact did not feel like an explosion, but more of a “jamming noise.”   The torpedo impact had also thrown water into the dining saloon, and both Blish and Maude jumped up from their table, with Blish exclaiming, “We are torpedoed.” As everyone in the dining saloon poured towards the staircase, an officer told all the people to take their time and keep calm.  Maude would recall later that this was the only time during the sinking that she ever saw the ship’s stewards or officers.  The Thompsons also assisted the Hodges in getting the Hodge boys up the stairs through the human traffic jam.  The Thompsons parted with the Hodges upon reaching B deck and Blish went back to B 68 to get lifebelts.  He came back to Maude with two lifebelts and sweaters, which they put on.  Blish then went back to the cabin to gather his passports and money, and then he and Maude went up to A deck.  Maude recalled that the starboard list of the ship made climbing the stairs difficult. Out on the boat deck, the Thompsons saw the Kesers and the Lucks.  As Charlotte Luck did not have a lifebelt, Blish gave his lifebelt to her.  A crewman told people on deck that the ship was safe and everything was going to be all right.  Maude also heard the order from the bridge to “lower no more boats.”  They waited for ten minutes and were surprised that no officers and crew were to be seen on deck. Lusitania plunged suddenly and Blish tried to reassure Maud, saying, “Let us take what offers, and take it without a fuss.” The ship turned “almost perpendicular,” Maude recalled, sweeping everyone hundreds of feet down the length of the ship and into the water.  Blish and Maude were holding hands and the suction of the sinking liner forced them apart, even ripping off part of Maude’s lifebelt. Maude came back to the surface and reached a small raft that was already holding 50 others.  Guy Cockburn of second cabin pulled her onto the raft.  A crewman on board identified Maude as a saloon passenger by the kind of lifebelt she had.  One of Lusitania's engineers was also on the raft and directed everyone on the raft, picking people out of the water and keeping the raft stable.  The band of survivors on the raft drifted for three hours before they were picked up by the Westborough, disguised as the Greek Katrina.


Westborough landed at Queenstown that evening and Maude was brought to the Admiralty House with Amy Pearl and Rita Jolivet.  According to Rita's account, Rita took Amy and Maude to the Queens Hotel to care for them and Marguerite, Lady Allan.  Maude had not been able to find Blish, and so sent back a telegram saying, "Maudie safe."  It was mistakenly transcribed as “Maude safe I also,” giving false hopes to the Blish family in Indiana.  The Blish family realized this mistake when Maude sent home another telegram, saying, “I am safe awaiting news from Blish,” questioned the telegraph operator in Mays, Indiana about the discrepancy. Maude continued to search for Blish but did not find him.  She asked her family, via telegram, what to do.  Maude went on to London to her friend Mr. Raike to wait for more news and to recover.  She waited in England for over a month and Maude did not hear anything more about Blish, so she decided to return to the United States on the St. Paul, which arrived in New York on 13 June 1915.  Maude was met by her sister and some of Blish's relatives. Blish's memorial service was held on 18 June at the First Presbyterian Church in Seymour.  Reverend Lewis Brown conducted the ceremony and delivered a short address on “Immortality.”  People including workers from Blish Milling to Blish’s Yale classmates attended the service.  Maude endowed Yale with a scholarship of $600 annually in the Sheffield Scientific School and was to be awarded to graduates of Shields High School in Seymour, Indiana.

Second marriage

Maude donated Blish’s two cars that were in the garage of the Thompson home.  The National roadster would become a scout car; the National touring car would be donated to the Red Cross in France.  Maude took the car to France herself and stayed to work with the Red Cross throughout the First World War.  It was in France that she met French fighter pilot, Count Jean de Gennes.  He was twelve years younger than she, but they fell in love and were married in Paris on 17 November 1917.  A son, Jean, was born to them in Seymour, Indiana, on 20 December 1919, when Maude was 37.  Maude brought the child and husband to the United States to visit with Blish's family when the child was one.  Maude was still a part of the Blish Milling Company and occasionally returned for board meetings, but France was her home now. Tragedy befell Maude once more when her husband Jean was killed in a plane crash in 1929.  He had been a pilot for Compagnie Aeropostale.  Although Maude had the option of returning to the United States, Maude and her son remained in France.  War broke out once more in 1939. She lived out the war in Paris, but by 1946 Maude had moved back to the United States permanently, as her son Jean was working and living in New York for Air France.  She lived out her later years in Sunnyside, Queens, New York City, and passed away on 17 May 1951. Her final wish was to be buried in France.

Related pages

Maude Thompson at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of Interest

Lest We Forget:  Part 1
Contributors: Christine Connolly, Yale University Archives Beatrice Fernet (granddaughter of Maude Thompson) Jim Kalafus Michael Poirier Judith Tavares References: Kalafus, Jim and Michael Poirier.  ET Research:  Lest We Forget:  Part 1.  <> Class Book 1904 S. of Yale University. Obituary record of Graduates of Yale University deceased during the year ending July 1, 1915.

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