Miss Bridget Moran (known as Bertha) was born in Toomdeely North, Askeaton, Co Limerick, Ireland on 9 September 1883 1.
She was the daughter of Patrick Moran (b. 1851), a boatman and former lighthouse keeper, and Bridget Nestor. Her mother had died prior to 1901.
She was the sister of Nellie (b. 1875), John (b. 1877), Mary (b. 1879), Millie (b. 1882), Daniel (b. 1884), Patrick (b. 1885) and Thomas (b. 1889). Although absent from both the 1901 and 1911 censuses, Bertha's family are listed on the 1901 census living at house 8 in Toomdeely North and on the 1911 census at house 5 in the same locale.
Bertha, who worked in a shirt factory, had emigrated in 1905 and lived in Troy, Renssealaer, New York with four of her siblings, Nellie, Millie, Daniel and Thomas, appearing there on the 1905 census. Her father died in 1910 and she and her brother Daniel decided to return to Ireland in November 1911 to claim an inheritance estimated at between $12,000 and $15,000.
For their return to New York they boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 as third class passengers (joint ticket number 371110 which cost £24, 3s). Travelling on their ticket was a friend, Patrick Ryan and they were also acquainted with another passenger from Askeaton, Margaret Madigan.
On the night of the sinking Bertha had been awakened by a jolt and was further roused by commotion outside her cabin. Her brother Daniel soon arrived telling her that the ship had struck an iceberg and was in trouble and that she had no time to dress. Throwing a coat over her nightclothes, she made her way with the rest of her party to the communal areas but found difficulties getting near the lifeboats and she told how crewmen barred their access to higher decks. Upon reaching the outer decks she claimed to have encountered Father Thomas Byles who assisted she and Margaret Madigan into one of the lifeboats (boat 15). Whilst Bertha and her friend Margaret were saved, her brother Daniel and their friend Patrick were lost in the sinking.
Arriving in New York aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, Bertha later filed a claim for loss of property but received only a fraction of the amount. Her inheritance reportedly went down with her brother.
Bertha was married the following year to Richard Sinnott, a fellow countryman who worked as a machinist. They had three children: Daniel (1914-1994), Eileen (b. 1917, later Bernardelli) and Richard (1918-1975). The family moved to Detroit, Michigan around 1916 and in November of the following year Bertha was made a widow where her husband Richard died in an accident at work whilst she was still carrying their youngest child. To make ends meet she worked as a beautician but was soon remarried to an Englishman named George Cooper and had another child, Bertha (1923-1989) but by the time of the 1940 census Bertha was again a widow.
Bertha lived in Detroit for the rest of her life, latterly at 2236 23rd Street, and spent her elder years tending her garden and her nine grandchildren. In 1953 she was a special guest at a special screening of the Fox movie Titanic, an event she found very emotional.
Bertha Cooper, née Moran, late Sinnott, died as a result of cancer on 15 April 1961, the 49th anniversary of the sinking.
- Bertha gave various ages throughout her life, ranging birthdates in 1883 to 1890.
References and Sources
Detroit News, 16 April 1961: Death Notice
The Chronicle Herald, 6 May 1912: Went Down on Titanic, Money With Him
Gavin Bell, UK
Robert L. Bracken, USA
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Noel Ray, Ireland
Articles and Stories
Evening World (1912)
Chicago Tribune (1961)