Editor's note: In 1910, Joseph Exley, a wool sorter, emigrated with his family to New England, USA. In May, 1915, Ida, his daughter, was on the RMS Lusitania, bound from New York to London. She was making her way back to Bradford to be married. The cruiser was torpedoed by a German submarine. No trace of Ida or of her trousseau was ever found. This information came to light when Sylvia Brooks contacted the website to share information about her family. Sylvia - many thanks.
From: Sylvia brooks
Sent: 06 May 2015 21:11
Subject: Ida Exley
Tomorrow, the 7 May 2015 at 14:15 hours, it is proposed that a diver will descend to the wreck of the SS Lusitania, off the coast of Ireland, in order to lay a white rose alongside a plaque bearing the names of every one of the 1201 passengers who lost their lives on the tragic day.
Ida Exley of Saltaire was one of those passengers. She was just 18 years of age. She was travelling alone from Massachusetts to be married in Bradford. No trace of her or of her trousseau were ever found.
Ida Exley is not forgotten. She was my second cousin, and I told her story on the History Channel some years ago.
Sylvia Brooks writes: William Exley,was born in 1831 in Calverley. William worked as Manager of the dining room which still stands near Saltaire bridge. [This building now belongs to Shipley College.] William's son, Joseph, was also born in 1864, also in Calverley. In 1881 the family were living at 52 George Street, Saltaire.
Joseph married Hannah Ambler (Sylvia Booth's great aunt) in 1886, when Joseph was living at 3 Constance Street and Hannah at 3 Daisy Place. In 1901 Joseph, Hannah and their three children, John Willie, Walter and Ida were living at 3 Higher School Street, Saltaire.
The Exley family emigrate to the USA
In 1910, Joseph, a wool sorter, and his family emigrated to New England, USA. It proved to be a good move and five years later they had his own farm on Barry Plains, Massachusetts. In January 1915, Joseph's son, Walter, married an American girl. Walter died in Mississippi at a good age. He had two sons who served in WW2. [Sylvia Booth, who supplied this information corresponds with Walter's granddaughter, Ruth who never married and lives in Idaho.]
On February 4, 1915, Germany declared the seas around Britain a war zone. Joseph's daughter, Ida, boarded the RMS Lusitania bound for Liverpool, in New York on 1 May 1915. She was making her way back to Bradford to marry her fiance, Harry Taylor, a painter and decorator (in business with his father, Mr. Henry Taylor at 425, Tong Street, Dudley Hill, Bradford). On 7 May, the liner was rounding the south coast of Ireland. It was torpedoed by a U-20 German submarine causing catastrophic damage. Twenty minutes after the strike, the Lusitania vanished beneath the waves with the loss of 1,195 passengers and crew.
That morning, Harry Taylor, set off to Liverpool to meet Ida. They were to be married by special licence on Monday, May 10, 1915. Harry discovered the terrible news that the Lusitania had been attacked and that Ida had not made it to safety. No trace of Ida or of her trousseau were ever found.
Ida's father, Joseph took out naturalisation papers in Massachusetts, November, 1915. In 1920 the US census shows Joseph and Hannah at Oakham, Massachusetts. Their son, John Willie was visiting them alone. Their other son, Walter and his wife had their own home.
Joseph died in Springfield, Massachusetts on 26 October 1949.
John Willie returned to Bradford. He married a Catholic girl. He died suffering from a mental disorder.
The Exley family never recovered from the tragedy of losing Ida.