The sinking of the RMS Titanic was an awful tragedy that resulted in the death of more than 1,500 people on April 15, 1912. When we think of this event we often think of the tragedy as a whole, rather than the lesser-known, but just as equally devastating, stories resulting from the sinking. Here, we examine some of the most tragic stories that came from the sinking of the Titanic.
1. The Rice Family
In June 1898, Irishwoman Margaret Norton married William Rice from Surrey. In 1903, the family moved to Canada and eventually relocated to America in 1909. Sadly, on January 24, 1910, William was crushed by an engine and died from his injuries, leaving Margaret with five young children.
After her husband’s death, Margaret returned to Ireland but soon made plans to return to Spokane, Washington, and bought tickets for her and her family to return to the States on board the Titanic.
On the night of the sinking, Titanic survivor Bridget Mulvihill reported that she saw Margaret standing on either the boat deck or A-deck. She was clutching her youngest son to her breast while the other boys were holding onto her skirts. Tragically, Margaret Rice and her five young sons would all perish in the sinking. Only Margaret’s body was recovered and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
2. The Sage Family
The Sage Family boarded the Titanic as third-class passengers. They were headed to Florida to try their luck as pecan farmers in Jacksonville. The family of 11 initially lived in Hackney, England, where they owned a bakery shop. The Sage family originally were set to travel to America aboard the Philadelphia, but the coal strike forced them to take passage on Titanic, as fate would have it.
In Southampton, John Sage, Annie Sage, and their nine children boarded the Titanic on April 10, 1912. Their movements on the night of April 15, 1912, are largely unknown, but it is likely that the entire family reached the deck shortly before the Titanic went down. There are reports that one daughter named Stella was offered a spot in a lifeboat, but when the rest of her family couldn’t join her, she refused.
All 11 members of the Sage family were lost in the disaster, making this the biggest single recorded loss of life for one family on the Titanic. One week after the sinking of the Titanic, the body of Anthony William Sage was recovered, and he was subsequently buried at sea.
3. The Goodwin Family
On April 17, 1912, sailors on board the cable ship Mackay-Bennett were shocked to recover the body of a 19-month old toddler. They were so moved by this unknown child that they paid for a monument, and when he was buried on May 1, 1912, there was a copper pendant placed on his coffin by the recovery sailors that read “Our Babe.”
The identity of this child was unknown until 2007 when DNA testing identified the toddler as Sidney Leslie Goodwin. Sidney was born in Edmonton, England, to Fredrick and Augusta Goodwin, and he had five other siblings. The Goodwin family were third-class passengers on the Titanic traveling to Niagara Falls, New York. The entire family died on the Titanic, and only Sidney’s body was ever recovered.
4. The Collyer Family
When Harvey Collyer, Charlotte Collyer, and their daughter Marjorie boarded the Titanic as second-class passengers, they had literally all their possessions on the ship. The family was headed to start a new life in Idaho.
After the ship struck the iceberg, Harvey left their cabin to investigate what was going on. When he returned, he discussed what the family should do. He stated, “what do you think… we have struck an iceberg, a big one, but there is no danger, an officer just told me so.” Charlotte then asked Harvey if anyone had seemed frightened, and when he said no, she lay back again in her bed.
The family inevitably made it up to the deck, where their daughter Marjorie was thrown into a lifeboat. Charlotte had to be physically torn from Harvey and put into lifeboat 14. Harvey tried to reassure Charlotte, telling her: “Go Lotty, for God’s sake, be brave and go! I’ll get a seat in another boat.”
One week later, Charlotte wrote to her mother to inform her of the events that transpired, telling her mother that “the agency of that night can never be told.” Charlotte only had Harvey’s rings to remind her of her husband, as “everything we had went down.” Charlotte died in 1916 from tuberculosis.
5. Rhoda Abbott and her sons
Rhoda Abbott was the only woman to survive the sinking of the Titanic who was actually in the cold water of the Atlantic. All other female survivors of the Titanic lived because they had a spot in Titanic’s lifeboats.
In 1911, Rhoda divorced her husband, Stanton Abbott, a former American middleweight boxing champion. After the divorce, Rhoda and her sons, Rossmore and Eugene Abbott, moved back to England to live with her mother. However, Rhoda soon realized her sons were unhappy in England and made plans to move back to America with her sons.
In the early morning of April 15, 1912, Rhoda and her sons reached the boat deck by climbing a steel ladder onto the stern and walking on the slanting deck. They managed to make it to Collapsible lifeboat C, which was the last boat being lowered into the water on the starboard side. However, Rhoda’s sons were 16 and 13 at the time and would have been too old to get a spot in the lifeboat, so Rhoda gave up her spot to stay with her sons. As Collapsible C was being lowered, J. Bruce Ismay jumped in.
In the last moments before the ship went down, Rhoda and her sons jumped from the deck. Rhoda managed to swim to Collapsible boat A, but her two sons were lost and died. Collapsible lifeboat A had been swamped as it was launched and its occupants had to balance in knee-deep water until they were eventually picked up by Collapsible lifeboat D. Despite surviving the sinking of the Titanic, Rhoda Abbott was mentally and physically plagued for the rest of her life.
6. Ramon Artagaveytia
Perhaps the most unlucky man onboard the Titanic, Ramon Artagaveytia, survived one maritime disaster just to die in another. On December 24, 1871, Ramon was one of the 65 passengers to survive the fire and sinking of a ship off the coast of Uruguay. This event gave Ramon a lifelong fear of boats. Nightmares from this tragedy haunted Ramon for his entire life.
In 1912, Ramon traveled from Argentina to Europe to visit a nephew who was living in Berlin. After his visit to Berlin, he was headed back to America for a visit before returning to Argentina. On the night of the sinking, Ramon was observed on deck by fellow Uruguayan passengers, Francisco M. Carrau, his nephew Jose Pedro Carrau, and Julian Pedro y Manent. Julian Padro y Manent later recalled that the three men were laughing at Ramon for taking the situation so seriously. When Ramon wanted to enter a lifeboat, the men told him that that was foolish and that he would only catch a cold.
Ramon ultimately would die in the sinking of the Titanic. His body was found one week following the disaster and was eventually shipped to Uruguay.
7. Ida and Isidor Straus
If you have ever seen James Cameron’s Titanic (1997), you will probably remember the scene of an elderly couple in bed while water rushes underneath them. This couple is based on a real-life husband and wife named Ida and Isidor Straus. Isidor Straus was a co-owner of the Macy’s department store, and the couple were first-class passengers aboard the Titanic.
Ida had an opportunity to save herself when she was offered a place in a lifeboat with other women and children. She initially accepted a spot in the lifeboat, thinking her husband would follow her. The officer in charge of lowering the lifeboat told Isidor, “Well, Mr. Straus, you’re an elderly man… and we all know who you are… Of course you can enter the lifeboat with your wife.”
However, Isidor told the officer that he would not enter into a lifeboat “until I see that every woman and child on board this ship is in a lifeboat.” Ida gave up her spot on the boat when she realized that Isidor would not accept a seat, telling her husband that “where you go, I go.”
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Ida ensured her maid Ellen was put into a lifeboat and even gave Ellen her fur coat, saying that “she had no further use for it.” Isidor and Ida were last seen together before a wave swept them both into the sea. Isidor’s body was later recovered, but Ida’s was never found.