A new collection of materials relating to Lindon “Rox” Bates, Jr., a first-class passenger on the Lusitania’s final crossing in 1915, is now open to the public at the Hoover Archives.
A talented young man who, by the age of thirty-two, had already established himself in New York City as an engineer and a local politician, Bates in 1915 was bound for London on the Lusitania to serve with Herbert Hoover's Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). The cause was a family affair; Bates’s father (Lindon Sr.), mother (Josephine), and brother (Lindell) all worked directly with Hoover on the commission’s behalf.
When news of the Lusitania's sinking reached London, Hoover immediately began providing the Bates parents, via telegram, frequent updates of the search for their son, as did Lindon's brother once he arrived on the scene in Ireland. These telegrams, along with newspaper clippings about the Lusitania's demise and other materials relating to “dazzle ships,” were carefully collected and preserved by the Bates family and now comprise the Lindon Bates, Jr. collection at the Hoover Archives. The collection provides a touching look at the tragedy that unfolded as the Bates family, with Hoover's assistance, desperately sought to discover the fate of their beloved "Rox."
Although his story ended in tragedy, the telegrams document the final heroic moments of Lindon Bates Jr.’s life as he gave his life jacket to a frightened female passenger and delayed his own escape to look for the missing children of two fellow passengers. A selfless man in life and death, Lindon Bates Jr. will long be remembered as a hero of the Lusitania.
Donated by Jim Dodge, the Lindon Bates Jr. collection complements Hoover’s other holdings relating to the sinking of the Lusitania, which include the Thomas Andrew Bailey and Paul B. Ryan collection and the Frank E. Mason papers, as well as materials relating to the Commission for Relief on Belgium and World War I more broadly.