Life was a
roller coaster for the Hippach family. Two sons were
lost at the Iroquois in 1903. In 1912 mother and
daughter were persuaded to travel home from Europe
on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Thanks to John
Jacob Astor, they survived. Their company was very
prosperous but in 1914 the third son was killed in
an auto accident, in 1922 the Hippach’s business was
on a hit list for a mobster bombing, in 1924 six
bandits robbed the company’s $10,000 payroll and in
the 1930s the family fortune was lost in the
Depression. The only surviving child married and had
three children but the marriage ended in divorce.
Fourteen-year-old Robert L. Hippach (b.1889), a student at
the Gowdy School, and his
brother, eleven-year-old Archibald A. Hippach (b.1892),
were the children of Louis A. Hippach (1868-1935)
and Ida S. Fischer Hippach (1866-1940). The family
lived at 2928 Kenmore Ave. in Chicago. The boys’
funeral was held at the Church of the Atonement at
Kenmore and Ardmore avenues in Edgewater, Illinois.
For decades after newspapers would erroneously say
the Hippach family lost two girls at the Iroquois.
Louis was co-owner of Tyler & Hippach, a prosperous
manufacturer of plate glass. He was from Wisconsin
and Ida was from Illinois. There were two younger
children left at home, Jean Gertrude Hippach
(b.1894) and Howard H. Hippach (b.1896).
In 1912 Ida and nineteen-year-old Jean traveled to Berlin
and France to further Jean’s music studies. They
booked passage on the Titanic for the trip home,
occupying cabin B-18 as first class passengers.
John Jacob Astor had helped his beautiful young wife
board lifeboat #4, assuring her that he would follow
in another lifeboat. The crew had started lowering
the lifeboat when Aster saw Ida and Gertrude.
He commanded the crew to
stop lowering the boat while he rushed Ida and Jean
to a lower deck and helped them climb through a
porthole into the half lowered lifeboat.
The forty-seven-year-old Astor’s
second wife, Madeleine Talmage Force, was eighteen years
old. Even though he was the richest man in the world
at the time, the marriage so scandalized society
that he and his wife were shunned. As so wonderfully
depicted by Kathy Bates in the 1997 movie, Titanic,
“Unsinkable Molly” Margaret Brown was happy to thumb
her nose at society and traveled with the Astors to
Egypt and France.
In 1914 the third Hippach son, Howard, died in an
automobile crash in Michigan. Howard worked for an
engineering firm in North Carolina. In 1912 he had
traveled with his father to New York on the
Twentieth Century Limited to meet his mother and
sister arriving on the Carpathia. The Hippach family
donated a new athletic field to the Abbot School in
Farmington, Maine in honor of Howard, who graduated
from the school that same year, the year of his
fateful auto crash. He played on the school baseball,
football and basketball teams. The family of one of
Howard’s friends, John Giles Mohler of Columbus,
Ohio, donated a new field house in Howard’s name,
including a portrait of Hippach.
In 1922 police foiled a series of bombing targets
among Chicago companies, including the Tyler &
Hippach Plate Glass Company. The plotters were labor
leaders turned mobsters.
Ida Hippach left an estate of $85,000 to Jean in
1940 (comparable today to $1.5 million), who by that
time had married Hjalmar Unander-Scharin of Sweden.
They later divorced and Jean lived in Osterville,
Massachusetts at the time of her death in 1996. She
had three children.