Editor's note: This week-long series looks at the state's connection to the Titanic which sunk 100 years ago on April 14.
Margaret Kelly, the eldest daughter of James Kelly of Kildare County in Ireland, had been working in a corset factory in New Haven for two years when, in early 1912, she bought her father a third-class ticket to come across the Atlantic on the maiden voyage of the Titanic and visit her.
The plan was that James would work for a while and save enough money to send for his wife, Kate, and his five other children to join them. But the reunion never happened, cut short by one of the worst maritime disasters in history.
Kelly's body was found by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett and buried at sea. The heartbreak for the Kelly family didn't end there — his son, Thomas, was killed in action four years later during World War I.
Eventually, Kate and the rest of the Kelly children did emigrate to New Haven, where Margaret wept when she saw them at Union Station.
Of the 1,296 passengers aboard the Titanic, 33 of them had tickets that had a town or city in Connecticut listed as their destination. New London, New Haven, and Waterbury were the top three destinations, with five passengers headed for each of those cities. Stamford was the next-most-popular destination with four, followed by Hartford, Greenwich, and New Britain with three each.Windsor Locks, Stratford, Meriden, and Middletown each had one passenger bound for them.
Many those bound for the state never made it. Of the 33 passengers on the Titanic headed to Connecticut, 18 died. Here's a synopsis, by class:
There were 6 Connecticut-bound passengers in first class, four women and two men. All survived, and all were U.S. citizens.
The only Connecticut-bound couple in first class was Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Maxfield Hoyt. Born in 1873, Hoyt was a renowned architect. He had boarded Titanic in Southampton with his wife, Jane. Mrs. Hoyt was placed onboard Collapsible Boat D before the ship sank. Frederick Hoyt ended up in the water after the sinking. He survived his dip into the 28-degree water and was pulled aboard Collapsible Boat D, which was later rescued by the Carpathia, the first ship to come to Titanic's aid.
Mrs. William Thompson Graham, her 19 year-old daughter, Margaret, and Margaret’s governess, Miss Elizabeth Weed Shutes, 40, were bound for Greenwich. Mrs. Graham’s husband was the founder of the Dixie Cup Company. She, Margaret, and Liz Shutes were escorted to Lifeboat 3 by Washington Roebling and Howard B. Case. Mrs. Graham had this to say about their rescuers:
"They shouted goodbye to us, and then what do you think Mr Case did then? He just calmly lighted a cigarette and waved us goodbye with his hand. Mr Roebling stood there too — I can see him now. I am sure he knew that the ship would go to the bottom. He just stood there."
Born in 1883, William T. Sloper of New Britain was a stockbroker and an estate manager who was returning home after having spent three months in Europe. Sloper was playing bridge when the Titanic struck the iceberg. Persuaded by actress Dorothy Gibson to join her in Lifeboat 7, Sloper was among the first to leave the Titanic — on a boat that was barely half full and later picked up by the Carpathia.
There were five passengers bound for Connecticut who held second-class tickets — three women and two men. One woman was from Sweden, the other four from Great Britain. Both of the men perished in the disaster, but all 3 women survived.
Mr. Samuel James Metcalf Hocking, 36, was a painter and decorator from England. Jim Hocking was headed to Middletown to join his brother, Thomas, who lived at 98 Liberty St. Hocking had 13 siblings. His wife, Ada, and their two children were to join him in America at a later date. Hocking wrote a letter to his wife, which was mailed from Queenstown, Ireland — the Titanic’s last port of call. He closed the letter with this tragically ironic line: “Everybody tells me I shall not regret the step I have taken, so buck up and we shan't be long.”
Born in 1889 in Sweden, Olga Elida Lundin was headed to Meriden to see her sister, Jenny. Olga was traveling with four friends and her fiancé, Nils Johansson. Her fiancé and a friend picked her up and loaded her in Lifeboat 10. Her fiancé was lost in the sinking. Olga survived and later became a cook during World War II for the exiled Norwegian crown prince. She died in Sweden on March 1, 1973, at 84.
Mr. and Mrs. John James Ware were headed from England to New Britain, where John was going to be a carpenter. John’s brother, Charles, lived at 186 South Main St. in New Britain. The fate of the Wares is particularly bittersweet, as the couple was not supposed to have been on the Titanic. A coal strike in England had forced them to alter their travel plans. Florence Ware, 31, survived on Lifeboat 10, but John, 45, did not. His body was never found.
Miss Susan “Susie” Webber, 37, was traveling to Hartford onboard the Titanic. She survived the sinking on Lifeboat 12 and was picked up by the Carpathia. Eventually, she reached her nephew’s home in Hartford. She became a maid for her nephew, Charles E. Webber, living most of her life at 3 Forest St. in Rocky Hill. Susie died of heart failure in 1952 at 78.
Of the 22 Connecticut-bound passengers in third class, an astounding 16 of them died. Among the survivors was a Lebanese family, the Nackids, headed for Waterbury. Sahid Nackid, his wife, Waika (“Mary”), and their infant daughter, Maria, joined 42 others, including several Lebanese and Chinese passengers, on Lifeboat 3. Maria, just 1 at the time of the sinking, was the first Titanic survivor to die. She was only 2 when she died of meningitis on July 30, 1912 — just three-and-a-half months after the disaster. The Nackids later had five more children and lived out their lives in Waterbury at 184 Meriden Road.
Another Lebanese passenger in third class, Tannous Betros, died. He was a 20- year-old shoemaker. Sarkis Lahoud Mowad, 30, a general laborer of Lebanese descent headed for Waterbury, also died. His body was never found. Betros and Mowad were two of 154 Lebanese aboard the ship. They shared the same hall on Titanic with more than 100 passengers of Irish descent. Only 29 people of the Lebanese contingent survived.
The fate of the eight third-class passengers of Swedish descent headed for Connecticut was particularly sad, as six of them perished. Oskar Leander Johansson Palmquist survived in Lifeboat 15. The other Swedish survivor was Anna Elisabeth Dyker, 22, a music teacher. She was traveling to New Haven where her husband, Adolph Fredrik Dyker, 23, was a trolley operator. Mr. Dyker’s father had recently died in Sweden. After settling his estate, the couple was headed back to 468 Washington St. in New Haven. She survived, remarried, and lived until 1961. Fred Dyker, who was born on a ship traveling from New York to Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1889, died onboard a ship too. His body was never found.
Another American of Swedish descent, August Viktor Larsson, who lived at 25 Division St. in Stamford, died. He was 29 and described as a “general laborer.” Another Swede described as a general laborer was named Bengt Edvin Larsson. Born in 1882 in Sweden, Bengt was no relation to August Larsson. He was the only son of his parents. He was 29 years old, and his body was never found.
Miss Augusta Charlotta Lindblom, 45, of Stockholm, was headed for her sister’s home on Nicholls Ave. in Stratford. Described by a friend as being “afraid of everything,” Augusta retreated to her cabin after the collision with the iceberg, locked the door, and went to bed. She apparently went down with the ship while still in her cabin.
A young Swedish couple, Edvard and Elin Lindell, tragically died in the sinking. Both were headed to the home of an A. Petersson of 10 Smith St. in Hartford. Both struggled to stay alive on a sloping deck as the Titanic sank. They slid into the water near Collapsible Lifeboat A. Weakened by the frigid water, Elin could not get into the boat and froze. Edvard made it into the boat and froze to death while there, clasping Elin’s wedding ring. His body was placed overboard to lighten the load. Elin’s ring was found in the boat and eventually returned to her family.
Among the four immigrants from Greece aboard the Titanic was Panagiotis K. Lymperopoulus, who was headed for Stamford. A 30 year-old general laborer, Lymperopoulus died in the water; however, his body was one of 306 recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennet, which was dispatched by the White Star Line from Halifax to aid in the recovery of bodies. His body was brought back to Halifax and buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery there — one of 19 bodies recovered from the Titanic buried in that cemetery.
There were six passengers from England onboard who were headed for Connecticut — only one survived. Five of the English passengers were headed to New London, including the Johnston family from Thornton Heath. Andrew and Eliza Johnston and their two children — William, 8, and Catherine, 7 — all perished. Eliza’s sister, Margaret Ann, and Margaret’s daughter, Frances, were working as servants in the New London area and had urged the family to emigrate. A good friend of Frances, Alicia Phoebe Harknett, 21, also died with the Johnston family.
Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley was the lone survivor of the English contingent in third class headed for Connecticut. Amy’s destination was New Haven. Her friend Grace French lived there on Prospect Street. She was to be a nanny. In fact, had it not been for a coal strike, Amy would have not been on the Titanic. She survived on Collapsible Lifeboat C and was picked up by the Carpathia. She later lived at 189 Center St. in West Haven. In a letter to her mother, Amy wrote about her terrifying experience:
"I have had a terrible experience, one that I shall never forget as long as I live. I seemed to have a presentiment that something would happen to the boat …. The sight on board was awful, with raving women — barely six women were saved who could say they had not lost a relative. Oh! The widows the Titanic has made! The last three days have been terrible. I attended to a woman [Mrs. R. Abbott] who was picked up on a raft with four men. The latter died, but she lived. She has lost two sons on the Titanic. Their cabin was next to mine. She was the last woman I spoke to on the ship's deck. I am staying in a Woman's League Hotel, but I am quite well, and these people are fitting me up with clothes …. I will not write again until I am safe in Newhaven [sic]. Don't you think I have been lucky throughout?"
There were two passengers from Ireland bound for Connecticut in third class:
James Kelly and Miss Jane Carr. Jane had first emigrated to the Windsor Locks-Springfield area in 1887 at age 20. She had returned to Ireland to attend to family matters sometime in 1909. A close friend from Windsor Locks, Cathryn O’Leary, had telegraphed her in 1912, urging her to come back to protect her savings, as the Windsor Locks Savings Bank was folding due to a large embezzlement. She booked passage on the Titanic to tend to her financial affairs. A niece, Margaret, was supposed to accompany her but failed to have her papers signed in time. Jane perished, and her body was never found. The town of Windsor Locks is commemorating her life this weekend.
In all, there was a total of 2,214 passengers and crew aboard the Titanic when it sank. Only 705 survived — an overall survival rate of 31 percent. There were 306 Americans aboard, with 177 surviving, a survival rate of 58 percent — the largest survival rate of any nationality. Of the 33 Connecticut-bound passengers, 18 died — none from first class and only two from second class, but an astonishing 16 of the 22 Connecticut-bound passengers from third class perished — a fatality rate of 73 percent.
Notes, Sources, and Links
2. Titanic Eyewitness: My Story, by Frank J.W. Goldsmith
3. The Shanachie, Vol. 24 No. 1
4. Zgharta.com — a good source for information regarding Lebanese passengers
5. geni.com — a great source for photos and newsclippings of the disaster
6. The New York Times, April 27, 1976
7. Demographics for Titanic Passengers: Best source compiled by J. Henderson at www.ithaca.edu
8. The New York Times, April 20, 1912
9. Springfield Union, April 20, 1912