Tag Archives: Titanic

The 1904 General Slocum Disaster Had Survivors That Lived Into The 21st Century

Catherine Connelly & Adella Wotherspoon, General Slocum Survivors, Lived To Ages 109 & 100

The Story of The General Slocum Steamship Disaster

General Slocum Disaster

June 15, 2014 marks the 110th anniversary of what had been New York’s biggest disaster and loss of life until the September 11 attacks occurred. We think it is worth remembering the ill-fated General Slocum steamship fire. Here is the story of the General Slocum and  a brief summary of the lives of the last two survivors of the disaster who amazingly lived into the 21st century.

A Beautiful Day For A Picnic

“Kleindeutchland,” as the area of Little Germany was called on the lower east side, was bounded approximately by the East River and Third Avenue and stretched from Houston Street to about 23rd Street. It was a working class, close-knit community of laborers and business owners. The German families that lived in this neighborhood made Tompkins Square Park their center for congregating and relaxation. But for special occasions they would embark on a trip to get out of the city.

Wednesday, June 15, 1904 was a sunny day and the members of the Sunday School of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 323 E. 6th Street were looking forward to a day filled with games, music and a large picnic for their 17th annual excursion to bucolic Locust Grove, Long Island.

To get there, the church had chartered a steamship built in 1891, the three decked white paddle-wheeler, General Slocum.

Sudden Disaster

New York Tribune  June 16, 1904 (click to enlarge)

New York Tribune June 16, 1904 (click to enlarge)

The General Slocum was filled with around 1,400 passengers, mostly women and children as the men generally had to work on a weekday. The Slocum headed out from its berth at 3rd Street on the East River at about 9:30 am with a band playing and the passengers joyously celebrating the smooth ride and beautiful weather.

Thirty minutes after setting out, the ship caught fire Continue reading

Was Only One Piece Of Baggage Saved From the Titanic?

The Baggage Mystery of The Titanic

We continue from last week to look at the lesser known stories surrounding the sinking of the Titanic. This time we examine the story of the one piece of baggage that seems to have made it off the Titanic.

When the Titanic’s passengers were being loaded into the lifeboats, they were told by the crew they could not bring any luggage with them. Some survivors did bring small bags containing personal effects, but most carried nothing with them.

So how did a canvas bag three feet high and two feet thick filled with personal belongings of a Titanic passenger get back to New York? Continue reading

The Forgotten Man Responsible for Titanic Mania

The Amazing Story of Titanic’s Last Surviving Crew Member

Titanic Survivors in Lifeboats © Philip Weiss

April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking. While the famous and infamous have had their Titanic stories told, one man’s remarkable story remains unexamined.

Walter Belford first came forward and identified himself as a member of the Titanic’s crew in 1955 to writer Walter Lord who was working on a book about the Titanic which would be called A Night To Remember.

When Belford had reached the age of 92 in 1962, he was believed to be the last surviving crew member of the Titanic.  On April 15 of that year he was interviewed by the the New York Times on the 50th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking.

Belford told his story of seeing Captain E.J. Smith standing calmly on the bridge as the great liner was going down. Belford was the chief night baker of the ship and described how he was preparing rolls for the next day when the Titanic struck the iceberg. In dramatic fashion he told how after the last life boat had left the ship, the Captain addressed the remaining crewmen by saying, “Well boys, I’ve done the best I can for you. Now it’s in your own hands. Do the best you can to save yourselves.”

Belford then went over to the side of the ship and jumped overboard Continue reading