The coat of one Titanic survivor is finally returning from exhibition to its rightful place, the Cottage Grove Museum located in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Marion Wright Woolcott wore her now infamous coat on the morning of April 10, 1912, when she walked up the ramp to board the RMS Titanic. Little did the Yeovil, England know that she was boarding a doomed ship that would sail into infamy, and another fact she was not aware of was that the brown coat around her frame would serve as a good luck charm that would keep her and her family safe in the decades to come. Now, the proud Oregon treasure will be on display once again, beginning August 10th, and for Titanic historians, this simple coat had a story almost as extraordinary as the ship that carried its owner across the ocean to the United States.
1. The Owner of the Coat – Marion Wright Woolcott
On May 26, 1885, Marion Wright was born to Thomas Wright and Jane Taylor. Having lost her mother Jane, at a young age, Marion’s father headed to Yeovil, where he remarried and had more children. Sometimes in the late 1900’s, Marion visited a friend in the West Park district of Yeovil, and there she first met a young man named Arthur Woolcott. Ambitious, and with dreams of living in America, Woolcott had come back to England to raise enough money to stake his claim in America, an 80 acre fruit farm located in Cottage Grove, Oregon. When the farm became Woolcott’s in 1910, he returned to America, but kept in touch with Marion by writing letters. The young couple wrote back and forth to each other for two years, then finally announced their engagement to marry in 1912. The plan was for Marion to come to America to meet up with Woolcott, the two would be married, and a new life in America would begin. Marion bought a Second Class ticket on the RMS Titanic, and set sail from England on April 10, 1912.
2. The Survivor of a Disaster at Sea
When asked about the voyage aboard the RMS Titanic, Marion described her journey as ordinary, until April 14th. Sharing her room with Bessie and Bertha Watt, Marion enjoyed herself, and also managed to make friends with another young woman, Kate Buss. On April 14th, Marion attended church services presided over by Reverend Ernest Carter. Having returned to her cabin, Marion described a noise she said was like a “huge crash of glass,” and then noticed right away that the engines had stopped. Having gone on deck to investigate, Marion was told to return to her cabin, there was no danger. However, watching the crowd on deck in their lifebelts, Marion decided to stay, and soon was ushered into lifeboat number 9. From the tiny lifeboat, Marion was a witness to the sinking of the Titanic, and the cries of the survivors that were crying for help in the freezing North Atlantic. Marion finally made it to New York on the Carpathia, was united with Arthur Woolcott, the two were married, and soon set off to create a life in Oregon.
3. The Tale of the Luckiest Coat on Earth
Marion Wright Woolcott wore her brown coat while she boarded Titanic, and was also wearing it when she climbed into lifeboat number 9. Having survived the disaster, Marion declared her coat to be lucky, and even wore it on the day she married Arthur Woolcott. Marion kept the coat for decades, and even cut material from it to create Bible covers for her three sons to take into World War II. The Woolcotts had three sons, Robert, John, and Russel, and thanks to the lucky coat used for their Bibles, they all returned safely from the wartime service. After Marion’s death in 1965, her surviving family members donated the lucky coat to the Cottage Grove Museum in honor of Marion’s surviving the biggest sea disaster of all time.
Marion Wright had dreams of going to America to start a life with a man named Arthur Wolcott. Born and raised in England, she met her future husband there, and the two agreed to meet up in New York City. On the night of April 14, 1912, Marion was in her cabin when the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. Fortunate enough to get up on deck, Marion was able to enter a lifeboat and survive the disaster. While wearing her brown coat, she made it to New York, and to her fiance, Arthur Woolcott. The coat she wore was now deemed her lucky charm, and she wore it for her wedding, then used pieces of it for her sons’ Bibles. After her death in 1965, Marion’s lucky coat was donated to the Cottage Grove Museum, and after being on the road for two years in other exhibits, the coat will make its return for public display on August 10th. Marion Wright Woolcott called her brown coat lucky, and it proved to be the truth, and now the people of Oregon can once again proudly display a local resident’s piece of world history.