The Titanic disaster will forever be etched in the minds of people the world over. Intriguing stories about the ship and her passengers continue to fascinate people over 90 years after the ship's fateful demise.

Many people still wonder what actually happened to the doomed luxury liner that took roughly 1,500 souls to their eternity. This desire and curiosity, which has fueled several movies throughout the years, including the 1997 blockbuster "Titanic," is the same desire that fuels historians and researchers to study the ship and its passengers.

No research is as fascinating as the lives of the ocean liner's passengers. Whether 1st Class, 2nd Class or Steerage, known or unknown, their stories are what keeps the fires of romance kindled and keeps the dream alive all these many, many years.

It's important to keep these people real, not just names and dates forever connected with a disaster. Once you know their real stories, you'll find them to be much more important than any fictional Hollywood version could ever hope to be.

Read on and get to know the stories beyond the lifeboats ...


Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon

Lucy Duff Gordon was a well known dress designer with shops in London and New York. Rumor has it that she specialized in racy underwear that was very popular with the royal family.

Sir Cosmos Duff Gordon, was a Scotsman. His ancestor James Duff, was British consul in Cadiz during the Penisular War. Naturally, he was into every enterprise, the Sherry trade being big.

The Gordons both boarded a lifeboat early in the sinking, taking their personal servants with them. Their lifeboat departed the ship with just 12 or so people aboard, although it could have held 30 or so more.

After watching the ship dive beneath the water, amidst the screams of the 1,500 people calling for help that they were ignoring, the tactless Lucy commented to her secretary, "There is your beautiful nightdress gone." Two sailors commented "It's all right for you, you can get more clothes, but we have lost everything." Cosmo then gave the men a "fiver" each ($360.00 today) to help them out, a gesture that would cost him a lot more later when he was accused of bribing the crew to let him escape the liner and then row away without helping any of the victims in the water.

Upon their return to London society, the couple were shunned in some circles, and constantly gossiped about by London society.

Unable to have children, their marriage slowly disintegrated and they drifted apart until 1931, when Cosmo died. Soon after his death, Lucy's business went bankrupt, and she later died in 1935.


Edith Brown Haisman

Mrs. Edith Brown Haisman, the oldest survivor of the Titanic, died at the age of 100 on January 20, 1997. She was 15 years old when placed in Lifeboat #13 as the Titanic sank. Her father, Thomas Brown, a glass of brandy in hand, waved from the deck saying "I will see you in New York."

In 1993 she described her ordeal:

"I was in Lifeboat #13. I always remembered that. My father was waving to us and talking to a clergyman, the Rev. Carter."

"The Titanic went in the ice and I heard three bangs. Before we hit, there had been terrific vibrations from the engines during the night as the ship was really racing over the sea."

"As the lifeboat pulled away we heard cries from people left on the Titanic and in the water and explosions in the ship. There were lots of bodies floating ... We were in the lifeboat nine hours."

"I kept looking in the water for my father and when we reached New York we went to the hosptials to see if he had been picked up."

Edith married the late Frederick Haisman in South Africa. They had 10 children and more than 30 grandchildren.


Anna Turja

"I can never understand why God would have spared a poor Finnish girl when all those rich people drowned." ~~ Anna Turja Lundi, Titanic survivor.

Anna Sophia Turja was one of 21 children, born of two mothers and one father, in Oulainen, in northern Finland. John Lundi, the husband of her half-sister, Maria, invited her to come work for him at his store in Ashtabula, Ohio, and he got her a ticket on the Titanic.

She was 18 years old when she boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England, as a Third-Class (Steerage) passenger on her way to America. To her the ship was a floating city. The Main-Deck, with all its shops and attractions, was bigger than the main street in her home town. The atmosphere in Third-Class was quite lively with a lot of talking, singing, and fellowship. Anna shared a room with two other young ladies.

Late on that fateful night, she felt a shudder and a shake. Shortly thereafter, her roommate�s brother knocked on the door and told them that "something was wrong," that they should wear warm clothing and put on their life jackets. Their little group started heading for the upper decks. A crew member ordered them back, but they refused to obey, and he didn�t argue with them. She clearly remembers, however, that the doors were closed and chained shut behind them to prevent others from coming up.

The others of the group continued up to a higher deck, but she remained on what turned out to be the Boat-Deck. She thought it was too cold to go up further, and she was intrigued by the music being played by Titanic's Band. She also remembers seeing the lights of another ship (the "Mystery Ship") from the deck.

Anna didn�t fully understand what was going on because she did not know the language. Eventually a sailor physically threw her into a lifeboat. Lifeboat #15 was fully loaded when it was launched. They immediately rowed away from the ship, fearing that they would get sucked down with it when it went under. She heard loud explosions as the lights went out.

They were in the lifeboats for eight hours. They had to burn any scraps of paper or anything they had that would burn so that the lifeboats could see each other and stay together. Her most haunting memory was that of the screams and cries of dying people in the water.

Anna remembered the people aboard the Carpathia were wonderful. They gave up their blankets and coats, anything that could help. Anna kept looking for her roommates, but she never saw either of them again.

The survivors did not have to go through Ellis Island, as all other immigrants. They were taken straight to New York Hospital, and then sent on their way. Because of the language problem, Anna was tagged and put on a train to Ashtabula, Ohio.

She was greeted by a crowd in Ashtabula, as she was somewhat of a celebrity by this time. She soon met her future husband, Emil Lundi, John�s brother. They fell in love and got married. She never did go to work for her brother-in-law.

Anna's name turned up on the lost passengers list. Her family in Finland didn�t know that she was alive until 5 or 6 weeks later when they received a letter from her.

In May of 1953, she was a special guest when the movie "Titanic" came to the theater in Ashtabula. It was the first movie she had ever seen in her life. It was so realistic, all she could say was, "If they were close enough to film it, why didn�t they help?"

Over the years she was interviewed regularly by the local newspapers when the anniversary of the sinking came around, but she turned down appearances on "I�ve Got a Secret" and "The Ed Sullivan Show", partly because of her physical condition and the language problem. She also refused many times to join in any lawsuits over the loss. She had her life, and felt that was compensation enough.

Every year on the April anniversary she would sit her seven children down to tell them the story again. The phrase she would always close with, and repeated throughout her life was, "I can never understand why God would have spared a poor Finnish girl when all those rich people drowned."

Anna Sophia Turja Lundi died in Long Beach, California, in 1982 at the age of 89.


Margaret Devaney

At the age of 19, Margaret Devaney boarded that 'unsinkable' ship, the Titanic, to take her to the Promised land. Instead, she found Brooklyn and Jersey City. But as is often the case, extraordinary events make heroes out of peasants and unfortunately, tragedy makes for good story telling.

Margaret Devaney O'Neill fled her small village in County Sligo in 1912 to escape famine, poverty, and the English, just as thousands of others had done, to seek out a new life in the New World. She carried with her a suitcase, some odds and ends, and the clothes she had on at the time.

Margaret was below decks in Third-Class [Steerage] peeling potatoes on April 14th, 1912 when she decided that she needed some fresh air. With coat in hand she headed up the many flights of stairs to the Main-Deck (Boat-Deck). As she was nearing the top of the final flight she felt a tiny bump that interrupted the constant motion she had grown accustomed to over the last four days. It was, of course, the collision with the iceberg that would cause the Titanic to sink. Unfortunately 2,230 passengers and crew tried to fit into 20 lifeboats. Margaret was literally thrown into Collapsible Lifeboat #C when she was trying to go back to Steerage to find her three traveling companions who boarded with her. She didn't know they were already doomed: Sealed behind bulkheads that were closed to try to prevent the ship from sinking.

On the lifeboat with about 50 other terrified souls it appeared that she would at least survive the sinking, but the officer in charge could not detach the lifeboat from the quickly sinking Titanic. The story goes that Margaret gave him the little knife that she had been using earlier to peel potatoes and with it he was able to cut the boat loose.

After her lifeboat was picked up by the Carpathia the officer returned the knife to Margaret and gave her the ensign, which is the plaque that is attached to the side of each lifeboat bearing the White Star Line symbol. He gave her the ensign to thank her for the knife, but he also knew that people would begin tearing apart the lifeboats as souvenirs and he wanted to make sure that she had something to tell her grandchildren about.

Margaret Devaney died in 1975, but her story lives on.


The Becker Family

Ruth Becker Blanchard (1899-1990):

Ruth Becker was 12 years old in 1912 when she and her family travelled on the Titanic. After the sinking, she survived in Lifeboat #11. Ruth attended high school and college in Ohio, after which she taught high school in Kansas. She married a classmate, Daniel Blanchard, and after her divorce twenty years later, she resumed her teaching career. Like most survivors, she refused to talk about the sinking and her own children, when young, did not know that she had been on the Titanic. It was only after her retirement, when she was living in Santa Barbara, California, that she began speaking about it, granting interviews and attending conventions of the 'Titanic Histrorical Society'. In March of 1990, she made her first sea voyage since 1912 - a cruise to Mexico. She passed away later that year at the age of ninety.

Richard Becker:

Richard Becker was Ruth's younger brother and was two years old at the time of the disaster. Richard became a singer and in later life a social welfare worker. Widowed twice, he passed away in 1975.

Nellie Becker:

Nellie Becker was the children's mother. She was married to a missionary stationed in India and her three children were sailing to America for treatment of an illness Richard had contracted in India. Once in America, she and her three children settled in Benton Harbour, Michigan, until her husband's arrival from India the following year. It was apparent to him and the children that her personality had changed since the disaster. She was far more emotional and was given to emotional outbursts. Until her death in 1961, she was never able to discuss the Titanic disaster without dissolving into tears.

Marion Becker:

Marion contracted tuberculosis at a young age and died in Glendale, California in 1944.


Olaus Abelseth

Olaus survived in Collapsible Lifeboat #A. After his ordeal on the Titanic, he tried vacationing in Canada to calm his nerves, but found that simply going back to work was just what he needed.

Returning to the South Dakota farm he had first homesteaded in 1908, he raised cattle and sheep for the next 30 years before retiring in North Dakota where he died in 1980.





Colonel Archibald Gracie IV

Archibald Gracie IV, 54, was born January 17th, 1859, in Mobile, Alabama. In 1912 he was a resident of Washington, D.C. and New York City. Gracie was married with four daughters, two died very young (one was killed in an elevator accident), and the only one to reach maturity died shortly after marriage.

A member of the wealthy Gracie family of New York state, one of Gracie's ancestors had built Gracie Mansion which became the official residence of the mayor of New York City in 1942. Gracie was a graduate of St. Paul's Academy in Concord, New Hampshire and of West Point Miltary Academy. Later becoming a colonel in the Seventh Regiment, United States Army, Gracie was independently wealthy, active in the real estate business and an amatuer military historian.

His father served with the Confederate forces as militia captain of the Washington Light Infantry. In 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general and fought through the Battle of Chickamauga, one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. On December 2nd, 1864, General Gracie was killed while observing Union Army movements at the seige of Petersburg, Virginia.

Although Archibald Gracie IV was only about 5 years old when his father died, he had spent seven years writing a book, "The Truth About Chickamauga". In 1912, following the publication of his book, Colonel Gracie decided he needed to relax, and took a trip to Europe. Leaving his wife and daughter at home, he travelled to Europe on the 'Oceanic'. On this eastward voyage, he made friends with one of the ships officers, Herbert Pittman who was later the Third Officer on the Titanic.

Gracie took return passage on the Titanic, boarding at Cherbourg. He had spent much time with Mr. Isidor Straus who had regaled him with tales of his adventures during the Civil War. He loaned Mr Straus a copy of his new book, "The Truth About Chickamauga".

On Sunday morning following breakfast, Gracie attended Church service in the First-Class Dining Room, where the hymn was No. 418 of the Hymnal, "O God our help in ages past". He then spent some time with Mr. and Mrs. Isidor Straus and they returned the book he had loaned them.

Sunday night, after diner, Gracie and his table companions Clinch Smith and Edward Kent, adjourned to the Palm Court where they enjoyed coffee as they listened to the Titanic's band. After circulating and socializing for a while, Gracie retired early to his cabin, C-51. After about three hours sleep, he was awakened by a jolt. He noted the time as 11.45 p.m., then opened the cabin door and looked out. He saw no one and heard no commotion. He could hear steam escaping and there was no sound of machinery running. Realizing that something was wrong, Gracie removed his nightwear and got fully dressed. Wearing a Norfolk coat, he left his cabin and made his way the Boat-Deck.

It was a cold, starlit night with no moon. There was no sign of ice or other ships. He jumped over the barrier dividing First and Second-Class and roamed the entire Boat-Deck. He saw a middle aged couple strolling along arm-in-arm but there was no sign of any officers or any reason for concern. Returning to the A-Deck companionway he encountered Mr. Bruce Ismay - the Managing Director of the White Star Line - with a crew member, they seemed preoccupied and did not notice him.

At the foot of the stairs there were a number of men passengers who had also been disturbed by the jolt, and he learned that the ship had collided with an iceberg. They noticed a tilt in the deck realized that the situation was worsening. The men returned to their staterooms where Gracie hastily packed all his possesions into three large travelling bags ready to transfer to another ship. After putting on a long Newmarket overcoat and returning to the deck, Gracie found that everyone was putting on the life preservers.

Gracie spent most of the remaining time assiting women into the lifeboats. Mrs. Straus almost entered Lifeboat #8, but turned back and rejoined her husband. She had made up her mind: "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." Gracie tried to persuade her, but she refused. Mr. and Mrs. Straus went and sat together on a pair of deck chairs.

Gracie continued to assist in the loading of women and children into Lifeboat #4. One of the ladies Gracie lifted into the boat was the pregnant teenage wife of Colonel John Jacob Astor IV.

At around 2.00 a.m. all of the Titanic's rockets had been fired and all the lifeboats had been lowered except for the four collapsible Englhardt boats with cavas sides.

Collapsible Lifeboat D was lifted, righted and hooked to the tackles where Lifeboat #2 had been. The crew then formed a ring around the lifeboat and allowed only women to pass through. The boat could hold 47, but after 15 women had been loaded, no more women could be found. Men were now allowed to take the vacant seats. This was when Gracie found Mrs. Brown ("The Unsinkable Molly Brown") and Miss Evans were still on board, so he escorted them to the lifeboat. When Gracie arrived with the female passengers, all the men immediately stepped out and made way for them. Thinking there was only room for one more lady, Edith turned to Mrs. Brown and told her, "You go first. You have children waiting at home." Mrs. Brown was helped in and the boat left the Titanic at 2.05 a.m. under Quartermaster Bright. Edith Evans would never find a space in any of the lifeboats and died in the sinking.

As the collapsible was lowered to the ocean, two men were seen to jump into it from the rapidly flooding A-Deck. Ironically these two men were Gracie's friends, Woolner and Bjrnstrm-Steffansson, who had found themselves alone near the open forward end of A-deck. Just above them Collapsible Lifeboat D was slowly descending towards the sea, and as the water rushed up the deck towards them they got onto the railing and leapt into the boat, Bjrnstrm-Steffansson landing in a heap at the bow. Woolner's landing was similarly undignified but they were safe.

Gracie was still working on the Collapsibles when the Titanic's bridge dipped under at 2.15 a.m. As the Titanic foundered, Gracie stayed with the crowd. As the water rushed towards them, Gracie jumped with the wave, caught hold of the bottom rung of the ladder to the roof of the officers mess and pulled himself up. As the ship sank, the resulting undertow pulled Gracie deep into icy waters, he kicked himself free far below the surface and, with the aid of his life preserver, swam clear. Clinging to a floating wooden crate, Gracie was able to swim over to the overturned Collapsible Lifeboat B and, with a little help managed to climb onto it. When Gracie first got to the boat there were about a dozen people on it. All told some thirty men and women managed to climb on the partially submerged boat during the next few minutes.

Just after 3.30 a.m. the survivors heard the sound of a cannon being fired, and as dawn broke around 4 a.m. the Carpathia came into sight. The men on Collapsible Lifeboat B were now desperatly trying to stay afloat. The Carpathia was 4 miles away, picking up survivors from the other lifeboats. About 400 yards away, Lifeboats #4, #10, #12 and Collapsible D were strung together in a line. By 8.15 a.m. all Lifeboats were in but for Lifeboat #12. At 8.30 a.m., Lifeboat #12 made fast and Gracie was able step onto the Carpathia's gangway. >{? Colonel Gracie wrote an account of the tragedy that was published as "The Truth About The Titanic" in 1913. Gracie never finished proofing the manuscript as he died on December 4th, 1912 at his ancestral home in New York, N.Y., having never fully recovered from the trauma of that night. Many survivors were at the graveside for his burial, together with members of his regiment.

Archibald Gracie was the third survivor of Titanic to die, being preceded in death by Maria Nackid on July 30th, 1912 and Eugenie Baclini on August 30th, 1912. Colonel Gracie's final surviving child,

Edith Temple Gracie Adams, died childless in 1918, about a year after her marriage.

" ... there arose to the sky the most horrible sounds ever heard by mortal man except by those of us who survived this terrible tragedy. The agonising cries of death from over a thousand throats, the wails and groans of the suffering ... none of us will ever forget to our dying day." ~Quote by Colonel Archibald Gracie IV


The Countess of Rothes

The Countess of Rothes was burn Noel Lucy Martha Dyer-Edwards on March 21st, 1879. She boarded the Titanic at the age of thirty-three with her cousin Miss Gladys Cherry, and her maid, Miss Roberta Maioni.

Soon, when Miss Edwards was around her twenties, she met Norman Evelyn Leslie (nineteenth Earl of Rothes), and their relationship became a wedding on the twenty-first of June, 1900. As soon as Miss Edwards said, "I do", she became the Countess of Rothes. She had two sons with his lordship, who (at the time of the Titanic) were eleven and two-and-a-half.

Lady Rothes was heading to America on the Titanic, so that she could join her husband, who wished to settle down for the rest of his life as a fruit-farmer, and spend a summer vacation in Pasadena, California.

When the Titanic sank, her Ladyship boarded Lifeboat #8 with her cousin and her maid. There, she took the tiller, and Able Seaman Tom Jones said, "She had a lot to say, so I put her to steering the boat". He admired the Countess of Rothes greatly, and later represented her with a plaque from the lifeboat, representing the number.

On board the Carpathia, her Ladyship earned the title of "the plucky little Countess", by the crew, for she helped the sick in Steerage and helped make clothes for the babies. A stewardess said, "You have made yourself famous by rowing the boats", and her Ladyship replied, "I hope not; I have done nothing".

At the Ritz Carlton, her Ladyship joined her husband, Lord Rothes, and they left for California. The Countess's husband, Earl Rothes, died in 1927, and she soon met Colonel Claude MacFie that same year and became Mrs. Noel MacFie in December. She lived with the colonel in Sussex and died there on September 21st, 1956.


J. Bruce Ismay

Joseph Bruce Ismay was one of the survivors of the Titanic. He was forty-nine years old when he boarded the Titanic. He was only seven years old when his father acquired White Star. Bruce's professional life would be centered in on the company after that happened.

He was first an apprentice in Liverpool, then an agent in New York and in 1891, upon returning from America with his wife Florence, became a partner in the firm. Although at first resistant to IMM's (International Mercantile & Marine) bid to buy White Star, Ismay agreed to J.P. Morgan's attractive offer in December, 1902. A year later he accepted the position of IMM president.

His wife and four surviving children did not accompany him on the Titanic. Ismay made his escape from the wreck on lifeboat Collapsible C, for which he spent the rest of his life marked as a selfish coward, especially in America.

Bruce Ismay retired as planned from the International Mercantile Marine in June 1913, but the position of managing director of the White Star Line that he had hoped to retain was denied him.

Survivng the Titanic disaster had made him far too unpopular with the public. He spent his remaining years alternating between his homes in London and Ireland. Because Ismay had never had many close friends, and subsequently had few business conatcts, it was mistakenly easy to assume that he had become a recluse. He did enjoy being kept informed of shipping news but those around him were forbidden to speak of the Titanic.

Joseph Bruce Ismay died in 1937, at the age of seventy-three


Masabumi Hosono

The Titanic was sinking fast. Horrified passengers rushed onto lifeboats being lowered into the dark, icy sea. Desperate men were stopped at gunpoint so women and children could escape first.

Masabumi Hosono, the only Japanese passenger on the Titanic, stood on the Boat-Deck, torn between the fear of shame and the instinct for survival. Then the 42-year-old Japanese bureaucrat found himself in the right place at the right moment. There were two spots open in Lifeboat #10. Hosono hesitated, but when he saw a man next to him jump in, he swallowed his fear and followed.

Hosono's decision saved his life - yet it brought him decades of shame in Japan. He was branded a coward, fired from his job and spent the rest of his days embittered. He died in 1938, a broken man.


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