Tolkien, artist

The Ides of April Eve

The Ides of March with Caesar's assassination has nothing on April 15th, but the events of the 15th were staged on the 14th. Within fifty years of each other, two major events happened that still reverberate now, a century or more later. One was the death of a single person, the other the deaths of more than 1500, but each still echo. So let's walk through history for a little while today.





Our first event that occurred on April 14th was the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln while he was sitting in a box at the Ford Theater watching a play with his wife. Although it is fairly universally supported that John Wilkes Booth actually pulled the trigger on the gun, the various conspiracy theories, bankroll theories, and other plausible points of view have made this a fascinating topic for writers for years. Lincoln died later, but the bullet happened today (many years ago, of course - LOL).



The second event that happened on the 14th of April was the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The iceberg hit the ship at 11:40 pm on the 14th of April, and less than three hours later the ship was beneath the waves with fewer than 800 people saved, less than the total number of the crew assigned to the ship. Why does Titanic hit the imaginations of people world-wide even now, 100 years later? Although there are many reasons, I think it was the combination of the fact that it was so highly touted as being unsinkable, the notable people who were on board, the fact that it was her maiden voyage and sank only four days into that voyage. So many reasons. But underlying all of them is the fact that more than 1500 people, many of them almost unknown and poor, lost their lives that night. Don't forget them when you think about that magnificent ship.

What will you do today that may echo through the years to come? It could be something as simple as helping a child or painting a picture that will be given or sold to someone and become an heirloom. It could just be one small act that will have ripples you could never imagine. Act kindly today, and remember the dead.
I am sure it must have been because of who was on board that we remember the Titanic and the huge loss of life. My maternal great, great granddad was on a ship that sunk in the Atlantic around that time - we do not know what ship it was, or even if it was the Titanic; my sister is still tracing his birth and death records. However, I am told that he died on the way to America where he was going to acquire a new company that would expand his piano building business. Some years later, his 16 year old son, who was in the Royal Navy, was killed when his ship sunk during WWI. My great, great nana died of a broken heart shortly after her son died.
It's hard to beat the names of the luminaries who were aboard that ship and those that died. I'm so sorry that your great-great-granddad never made it to build his piano building business.

More than half of the passengers of the Titanic were 3rd class Steerage passengers and very few of them survived. About half of the second class passengers survived and most of the first class passengers. Society, especially British society in those days was rigidly class conscious. Even when they recovered bodies, because there were so many of them, they only returned the bodies of those they reckoned were first class, the others they returned to the sea.

Yes, I am a Titanic geek :-)

- Erulisse (one L)
The family were wealthy but I do not know which class he would have traveled. There is also the matter of the family changing surnames around that time, which makes it difficult when tracing family trees.
Most likely Second Class, Binky. First class cost an arm and a leg, but Second class cabins on Titanic were nicer than First class on most other shops at the time.
I have no idea - until my sister manages to get all the tracing done we will not know. We have no idea what ship he was on either because we do not know the exact year he died - the death certificate is eluding my sister at the moment. I would imagine it would be second class.
Erm, well, actually, there were surprisingly few bodies recovered, considering the mass of people wearing life-belts who ended up in the water. The McKay-Bennet found several hundred at the coordinates of the sinking. It's speculated that the majority were carried off by the current into the ice field. Steamship reported sighting bodies and even hitting some for weeks afterward.

The choice to bring home bodies was not done according to class -- it was whether or not they had any chance of identification. The others were buried at sea. Many Third-class passengers are buried in Halifax.

If you haven't already guessed, I'm a huge Titanic buff myself.
According to the research I did, the first ship sent out to collect bodies and embalm them was overwhelmed and ended up making their decisions on who to embalm based on the attire that the person was wearing. They were finding and collecting bodies throughout May and even into June though, on a variety of ships, and many people are indeed buried in Halifax.

I have had the opportunity to see most of the exhibits that toured the country. My brother-in-law brought the major exhibit to St Paul several years ago (well, I think it was either 2002 or 2003 because he died in 2004). Then there was another exhibit in 2009. My friend Sharon from Denver flew up for both of them and we spent hours looking through things and enjoying them. Gosh I love that ship.

Did you happen to read the latest issue of National Geographic? They finally have a complete map of the debris field and a much clearer view of exactly the angle of inclination that the stern had when it entered the water after the two parts broke apart. It's a great article.

- Erulisse (one L)
I hope the records are traced, Binky. What a dreadful thing to happen to both father and son! How do you feel about the sea, and ships - do you tend to avoid them?
I love the sea. The whole of my family love it :D I would not avoid going on a cruise. My parents regularly go on cruises and my dad was on ships most of the time he was in the Navy.
No lingering fears passed through the blood, then! :)
That reminds me, I was going to post some of my favourite stories from the Fortean Times on LJ.
What fun, now I just have to break out some time to catch up and read, but it's a busy day at work, so I can't be at the computer as much as I would like.

- Erulisse (one L)