Nellie Elizabeth Baumgardner was born to John and Clara Baumgardner on June 19, 1876 in Lexington, Ohio. She had three surviving siblings.
On September 20, 1898, she married Allen Oliver Becker, who was a Lutheran pastor from Michigan. They soon became missionaries to Guntur, Andhra Pradesh in eastern India. In 1899, they had their firstborn daughter, Ruth. In a brief visit to Ohio, they had a son, whom they named Luther. Unfortunately, he died nearly two years later. Once back in India, they had two more children: Marian and Richard.
Due to Richard's illness, the Indian physicians recommended that she take the boy back to the United States, where he would have a better chance of survival. On April 10, 1912, Nellie and her three children boarded the Titanic at Southampton on ticket number 230136. Her daughter, Ruth, later conducted interviews in which she stated that her mother had fears about traveling on the ship, which were dismissed by the purser.
On the night of the sinking, Nellie went up on deck with her three children, then asked Ruth to go back for blankets. When Ruth returned, her mother and siblings were being lowered onto lifeboat 11. Nellie screamed for Ruth to board another boat (she did - lifeboat 13). They were reunited the next day on the Carpathia. Later, Nellie claimed $2184.20 against the White Star Line for loss of property.
After arriving in New York, the Beckers continued to Benton Harbour, Michigan, where her husband joined them in 1913. Later, they would live in Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio and Princeton, Illinois.
Nellie's personality became erratic after the tragedy and could never speak about the Titanic without becoming emotional. Her relationships with her daughters became strained and her relationship with her daughter Marion ended before their deaths.
Nellie died of a heart attack on February 15, 1961 in Berrien, Michigan, though she was buried in Illinois. She left her entire estate to her son, but made Ruth the executer of the will.
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