Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thinking About Disasters That Impact Families - Titanic

J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

After spending the morning with my brother and sister-in-law, I came home and turned on the television thinking I would watch some college football.  However, being a genealogist, I noticed the program that first came on had folks in period costume.  Okay, they attracted my attention and I realized it was James Cameron's presentation of the Titanic story.

With recent flooding, wildfires, and massive snow blizzards, I began to realize how these disasters impact the lives of families.  Remember in 1912, we did not have instant news service.  Families often had to wait days for news.  Here are the first newspaper stories reported in Nashville, Tennessee. 

“At 10:25 tonight the steamship Titanic called “C Q D” and reported having struck an iceberg. The steamer said that immediate assistance was required.
Half an hour afterwards another message came reporting that they were sinking by the head and that women were being put off in the lifeboats.
The weather is calm and clear, the Titanic’s wireless operator reported and give the position as 41:46 north latitude and 5:14 west longitude… [Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville American, 15 April 1912, p 1.]

Steamer Hits Iceberg: Montreal
The White Star liner Titanic, the largest vessel afloat, left Southampton April 10 on her maiden voyage for New York. She is a vessel of 46,328 tons, is 882 feet six inches long and displaces 66,000 tons.
The Titanic carried about 1,300 passengers of whom 250 in the first cabin. Among those are F.D. Millet, the Artist and President of the Consolidated American Academy at Rome; Major Archibald Butt, military aid of President Taft; C.M. Hays, President of the Grand Trunk Railway; J. Bruce Ismay, Chairman, and Managing Director of the White Star Line; Henry B. Harris, the American theatrical manager; W.T. Stead, Mrs. Isador Straus; Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor; Mr. and Mrs. G.D. Widener; Benj. Guggenheim and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Widener.
Captain K.J. Smith is in command of the Titanic.
… On leaving Southampton last Wednesday the steamer had a rather exciting moment. While passing the White Star liner Oceanic and the American liner New York which were berthed alongside one another the action of the Titanic’s triple screws dragged the New York from her moorings.  Her stern swung into midstream and narrowly escaped striking the Titanic.
The Titanic is a luxuriously fitted out vessel, and her accommodations for cabin passengers are elegant…” [reported from Cape Race, N.F.
[Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville American, 15 April 1912, p 1.]

Prominent Men Who Sank With Titanic  Captain E.J. Smith, who followed the unwritten law of the sea and went down with his wounded ship, Titanic, began his sea life as a boy in 1869, when he joined the Senator Weber, an American clipper, purchased by A. Gibson & Co. of Liverpool. After serving as an apprentice he went to the square-rigger Lizzie Fennell as fourth officer. In 1880 he was appointed fourth officer of the White Star steamship Celtic – the old Celtic, which subsequently was sold to the Thingvalin company and renamed the America.
Capt. Smith never met with an accident until last September, when his newest command, the Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic, was in collision with the British cruiser, Hawke, while going through the Solent.
Capt. Smith maintained that shipbuilding was such a perfect art nowadays that absolute disaster, involving the passengers, was inconceivable. Whatever happened, he contended, there would be time enough before the vessel sank to save the lives of every person on board.
“I will go a bit farther,” he added. “I will saw that I cannot imagine any condition that would cause the ship to founder, I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”
[Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville American, 21 Apr 1912, p 5.]

Perhaps you are thinking about checking the Passenger Lists for family.  Read this article by Kimberly Powell ( who discusses the original list and final list of passengers.

Neal McEwen discusses C.Q.D and history:

Here's a current article from Ottawa about the cemetery in Halifax where Titanic victim are buried. 

This is always more to every story, and I will share more from the local perspective of this horrible tragedy. 

Remember to Keep Your Stories Alive. 
J. Mark Lowe
J. Mark Lowe Reviews
Springfield, Tennessee Speakers
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