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Isador Straus

Also Known As: "Isidor"
Birthplace: Otterberg, Rhenish Bavaria, Germany
Death: April 15, 1912 (67)
Titanic, in North Atlantic Ocean (drowned in the sinking of RMS Titanic)
Place of Burial: New York, Bronx County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Lazarus Straus and Sara Straus
Husband of Rosalie Ida Straus
Father of Jesse Isidor Straus; Clarence Elias Straus; Percy Selden Straus; Sara Hess; Minnie Weil and 3 others
Brother of Hermine Kohns; Nathan Straus; Jakob Otto Straus and Oscar Straus, U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor
Half brother of NN Straus(s) and Karoline Straus

Occupation: Co-owner of R.H. Macy's, buisniness man, co-founder Macy's Department Store, businessman, politician and co-owner of Macy's department store
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Isador Straus

Isidor Straus (February 6, 1845 – April 15, 1912)—a German Jewish American—was co-owner of the Macy's department store with his brother Nathan. He also served briefly as a member of the United States House of Representatives.. He died with his wife, Ida, as a result of the sinking of the passenger ship RMS Titanic.

Early life

Isidor Straus was born in Otterberg county of Kaiserslautern, Germany. He was the first of five children of Lazarus Straus (1809–1898) and his second wife Sara (1823–1876). His siblings were Hermine (1846–1922), Nathan (1848–1931), Jakob Otto (1849–1851) and Oscar Solomon Straus (1850–1926). In 1854, he and his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Talbotton, Georgia where they opened a general store.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War Isidor volunteered for the Confederate States Army but his solicitude was refused as he was only 16 years old at the time.. He spent the rest of the war working as a clerk in the store in substitution of an employee that had joined the army, and later served as representative of the family business in England.

Following the end of the war the Straus family moved to New York City, where Isidor and his brother Nathan set up their family crockery and glassware business in the R. H. Macy and Company department store.

Later life

In 1871, Isidor Straus married Rosalie Ida Blun (1849–1912). They were parents to seven children (one of whom died in infancy):

Jesse Isidor Straus (1872–1936) who married Irma Nathan (1877–1970)

Clarence Elias Straus (1874–1876) who died in infancy

Percy Selden Straus (1876–1944) who married Edith Abraham (1882–1957)

Sara Straus (1878–1960) who married Dr. Alfred Fabian Hess (1875–1933)

Minnie Straus (1880–1940) who married Richard Weil (1876–1918)

Herbert Nathan Straus (1881–1933) who married Therese Kuhn (1884–1977)

Vivian Straus (1886–1974) first married Herbert Adolph Scheftel (1875–1914) and second, in 1917, married George A. Dixon, Jr. (1891–1956)

The couple were inseparable, writing to each other every day when they were apart. He served as a U.S. Congressman from January 30, 1894, to March 3, 1895, as a Democrat. By 1896, the Straus brothers had gained full ownership of R. H. Macy & Co.

Death on the Titanic

The gravesite of Isidor Straus in Woodlawn Cemetery

Traveling from Germany back to the United States, Isidor and his wife were passengers of the RMS Titanic when, on April 14, 1912, it hit an iceberg. Ida reportedly would not leave Isidor and refused to get in a lifeboat. The officer filling up the boat told Isidor that he could get into the boat with his wife, but he refused to before other men and instead sent his wife's maid, Ellen Bird, into the boat. Ida refused to board the half-full boat, saying "I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die together". Isidor and Ida both died on April 15 when the ship sank. Isidor Straus's body was recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett, brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia where it was identified before being shipped to New York. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Ida's body was not recovered.

The couple are portrayed in the 1958 film A Night to Remember, in scenes that are faithful to the accounts just cited. In the 1997 film Titanic, the Strauses are briefly depicted comforting each other as their stateroom floods with water, along with a deleted scene showing Isidor (played by Lew Palter) attempting to persuade Ida (Elsa Raven) to enter the lifeboat.


Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial, Upper West Side, Manhattan

The remains of Isidor Straus were recovered by the Mackay-Bennett and interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. His gravestone also serves as a cenotaph for his wife. There are four memorials to Isidor and Ida Straus in their adopted home of New York City:

A memorial plaque can be seen on the main floor of Macy's Department Store in Manhattan.

The Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial is located in Straus Park, at the intersection of Broadway and West End Avenue at W. 106th Street (Duke Ellington Boulevard) in Manhattan. The park is one block from 105th St. and West End Avenue, where they resided (now the site of the Cleburne Building). An inscription reads, "Lovely and pleasant they were in their lives, and in death they were not divided." (2 Samuel 1:23)

New York City Public School P.S. 198, built in Manhattan in 1959, is named in memory of Isidor and Ida Straus. The building shares space with another school, P.S. 77.

Straus Hall, one of Harvard's freshman residence halls in Harvard Yard, was given in honor of the Strauses by their three sons.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Isidor's privately published autobiography gives us a glimpse into their lives in Talbotton and later in Columbus GA where they moved in 1863. The Strauses became successful merchants. At the close of the Civil War, Columbus was burned and Lazarus decided to move his family north. They settled in New York, opening L. Straus & Sons, importers of china, porcelain, glassware and crockery. In 1873 Nathan convinced Rowland H. Macy to allow them to open a concession in the basement of Macy's store on 14th Street. By 1884 the Strauses were part owners and by 1896 they were sole owners of R. H. Macy's & Co.

Isidor continued to run Macy's until his death, along with that of his wife Ida, on the "Titanic" in 1912. He served in the House of Representatives in 1894-5 and was a founder of The Educational Alliance in New York City. He belonged to many philanthropic organizations and was active in city politics.

  • Immigration: to Talbotton, Georgia - 1854
  • Residence: Talbotton, Talbot, Georgia - July 7 1860
  • Residence: C.S.A.= Confederate States of America, Columbus, Georgia, CSA - 1863
  • Residence: New York (Manhattan), New York City-Greater, New York, United States - June 2 1880
  • Residence: New York, New York - Jan 5 1907
  • Residence: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York - 1910

"New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1938", database, FamilySearch ( : 17 August 2022), Sarah in entry for Isidor Straus and Ida Blun, 1871.

See Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Isidor Straus (ref: #288, last updated: 7th September 2017, accessed 19th September 2023 10:09:32 AM)

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Isidor Straus
Titanic Victim
Born: Thursday 6th February 1845 in
Age: 67 years 2 months and 8 days (Male)
Nationality: German American
Marital Status: Married to Rosalie Ida Blun
Last Residence: in New York City, New York, United States
Occupation: Businessman
1st Class Passengers
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17483, £221 15s 7d
Cabin No. C55
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 96)
Buried: Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York, United States

view all 12

Isador Straus's Timeline

February 6, 1845
Otterberg, Rhenish Bavaria, Germany
June 25, 1872
Gutenberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
August 27, 1874
New York, New York
June 24, 1876
New York, New York
May 16, 1878
New York, New York
February 19, 1880
Manhattan, New York, New York, USA
November 2, 1881
New York, New York
August 29, 1886
New York, New York
April 15, 1912
Age 67
Titanic, in North Atlantic Ocean