Mr. Theodore Naish

Theodore Naish Second Cabin Passenger Lost
[No Picture Provided]
Born Theodore Naish 21 January 1856 Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Died 7 May 1915 (age 59) At sea
Age on Lusitania 59
Traveling with Belle Naish (wife)
Roommates Belle Naish
Body number Not recovered
Citizenship United States
Residence Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Other name(s) Ted Naish
Spouse(s) Belle Saunders (1911 - 1915, his death)
Theodore Naish (1856 - 1915), 59, nicknamed "Ted," was the husband of Belle Naish. They lived in Kansas City, Missouri, United States, and were traveling aboard Lusitania on a belated honeymoon.  Theodore was lost in the Lusitania sinking.  Belle survived.

A wholesome life

Naish was a native of Birmingham, England, where he was born on 21 January 1856 and educated. His residence growing up was 2 Avon Place, Sparkbrook, Birmingham. He moved to the United States, and as of 1886, Naish was as a draughtsman for D. O. Flaherty of Kansas City, Missouri. He was fond of taking long walks through the countryside around Kansas City, particularly the wooded hills overlooking the Kaw River near Edwardsville, Kansas. In 1889, Ted Naish was caught sleeping in the outdoor hammock Dr. Murphy of Edwardsville. This encounter led to Naish's involvement in Edwardsville Community and First Methodist Church. Naish made several acquaintances around Edwardsville, where he sometimes helped conduct services since the small church lacked a full-time pastor. On 24 September 1891, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1895, Naish, "a single man living in Jackson county" purchased 147.1 acres of land which is now part of a Boy Scout Camp known as Camp Naish. From 1909 to 1912, Ted enrolled in the University of Kansas to study engineering. In 1910, his cabin at Kaw Scar burned down. In 1911, Ted Naish bought 180 acres of land in what is now South Camp of Camp Naish. On 19 June 1911, he married Belle Saunders.  She was a schoolteacher in Detroit, Michigan, and they had met when Naish was visiting Detroit. At the time of their marriage, he was 55 and she was 45 years of age. With his education, Naish became a civil engineer and worked in the department of public works at Kansas City, Missouri, where he was long employed and was respected and esteemed by his colleagues.  He and his wife lived modestly but comfortably in Kansas City.  Naish had acquired some improved real estate around Edwardsville, which yielded him a small revenue.  He continued to work as a civil engineer at a salary of $1,500 per year. Naish was physically strong and mentally alert.  Theodore and Belle were known to be very congenial and modest and led an "unusually wholesome life" (Mixed Claims Commission).  They were accustomed to take together long walks into the country, and it is abundantly proven that after walking 10 or so miles neither showed fatigue. Ted and Belle built a summer home on their land in Edwardsville, near the present boundary between Camp Naish and Lake of the Forest. They spent the summer months of their married years there. Ted also became a Sunday School teacher in the Edwardsville Methodist Church and often took his classes to the woodlands behind his home for classes and picnics.


Ted and Belle were sailing aboard Lusitania in May 1915 as a belated honeymoon. On the day of the Lusitania‘s departure, Theodore read and ignored the German warning.  He believed that if the warning were official, then “each American passenger would have had warning sent and delivered before boarding the vessel.” On board, the couple’s cabin was on D Deck.  They also deposited $390 in gold with Purser James McCubbin.  Belle was delighted that the Atlantic was smooth, but even so, Theodore was seasick for most of the voyage and spent most of his time in the cabin. Belle and Theodore awoke to the sounds of the crew loosening the ship’s boats and swinging them outboard the morning of 6 May.  Belle jumped up and asked, “Oh what can it be?” Still seasick, Theodore answered, “Keep cool, don’t worry, just take a look.” On deck, Belle was far from reassured at the sight of the lifeboats being swung out.  She went back to the cabin and told Theodore that “our only hope lay in our life preservers, as the boats seemed very small and the passengers were by hundreds.” Theodore was well enough for Belle to take him to the ship’s concert that Thursday night.  There, the Naishes and others in the audience were reassured by Captain Turner that upon entering the war zone they would be in the care of the Royal Navy. Still seasick on Friday, 7 May, Belle Naish went down to the second cabin dining saloon and brought lunch back for Theodore.  While Belle was doting on him, Theodore asked, “Why don’t you go on deck and take a look at the Irish islands?  They’re very pretty.” Belle only enouraged him to eat and replied, “Your word is good enough for me, Theodore.  We’ll see them on our return trip.” Theodore persisted, and to please him Belle promised to do so once he had finished his lunch. The torpedo hit when Belle was still on deck.  She ran back to their stateroom, where Theodore was freeing the tapes of their lifebelts.  Belle helped him with her lifejacket and he with hers.  To save time they tied the tapes at the neck, chest, and waist.  They struggled up the companionway to the Boat Deck where an officer told them, “She’s all right.  She’ll float for an hour.” Belle saw that the angle between the horizon and the deck was widening all the while and turned to Theodore.  She said, “We’re sinking fast.  It can’t be long now.” The Naishes continued to help others as well.  They saw a woman who put her lifejacket outside of her fur coat and they had to persuade her to take off the coat.  Another woman needed her lifejacket tapes tied securely, but she refused to be parted with her blue-veiled hat.  A third woman had on a woolen coat with a large collar, strapped her two-year-old inside, and over everything was her lifejacket. “Madam,” Theodore told the woman, “if you wish to save your child take him out and hold him up; you will both go down that way, and you must take off that coat.”  He then advised the woman to tied the child to a chair, “which would float easily.” Having finished helping the woman with the lifejacket, “there seemed to be a great roar and a splintering sound, then the lifeboats or something swung over our heads.”  Belle threw up her left had in preparation “to ward off a blow, then the water was up to my waist; it was dreadfully cold on my back below my shoulders; something seemed to push my feet upwards, and I felt as though I were shot upwards and forward, but saw and heard nothing.” The ship sank from under them, separating Theodore and Belle.  Belle would survive the sinking.  Theodore would not.  His body was either never recovered or never identified. Belle donated their land in Edwardsville to the Boy Scouts and established Camp Theodore Naish as a memorial to him. A memorial to him stands in the Edwardsville Cemetery.

Related pages

Belle Naish at the Mixed Claims Commission  

Links of interest

Camp Naish
Contributors: Jim Kalafus Charles E. G. Pease References: "Naish History: Ted Naish, the man". Camp Theodore Naish Staff Archive. Web. Accessed 8 July 2011. <> Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981. Mixed Claims Commission, Docket No. 257, page 388. Pease, Charles E. G. "Descendants of John Capper." Online. Accessed 14 May 2013. <>. Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002. "Camp Naish - A History". Theodore Naish Scout Reservation. Web. Accessed 8 July 2011. <>

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