Miss Bertha Lehmann, 17, was born on 31 March 1895 at Lotzwil, Kanton Bern, Switzerland. She worked as a waitress.
Miss Lehmann received a second class ticket from her brother and her sister (Friedrich Lehmann and Marie Zembrunnen-Lehmann). It was planned that she would come to America in May, but she wanted to surprise her siblings, so she travelled earlier to Central City, Iowa.
She boarded the Titanic as a second class passengers at Cherbourg. Her ticket was provided by the agent: Im Obersteg, Basel for 330 Swiss francs (number SC 1748, price: £12) She left her home on Easter Sunday and was accompanied by her father Johann Lehmann-Kupferschmied to the railway station at Basel. He kissed her good-bye and said: "I suppose, I won't see you again." he also expressed premonitions saying, "Bertha, every time you come along with me I have some sort of bad luck, and I feel now like something is going to happen to you."
The next morning she was in Paris and left that town by train around midday. Around midnight on 9 April she was at Cherbourg. The Titanic stopped at Cherbourg the following evening. She occupied a starboard-cabin on D, E or F-Deck.
Right from the beginning she became seasick. So she had to stay at her cabin till saturday. On this day she felt better and took her meal at the dining saloon. At her table sat Michel Navratil with his two children. After dinner Navratil bade her to keep an eye on them. In the evening she wrote letters in the library and finally went to her room. On April 14th she went to bed at 11.30 pm and fell asleep.
On the night of Sunday 14th April, she read in bed before settling into a light sleep. She likened the impact to a train "grinding to a very sudden stop." Woken by the collision she looked through the porthole and saw nothing but stars, and went to bed again. Loud talk in the adjacent cabin made her nervous, so she dressed and went outside. She met Roger Bricoux (of the Titanic orchestra) who told her she had to fetch her coat, all passengers had to change to another steamer. He helped Bertha to put on her life-preserver and led her to the Boat-Deck. She entered a lifeboat (possibly boat 12), which was lowered at 1.30 am. She recalled hearing three loud reports and then saw the ship break apart.
After arriving in New York she was brought to St. Vincent's Hospital. A few days later she travelled to her sister at Central City, Iowa. From the American Red Cross she received clothing and $50.
In 1913 Bertha Lehmann married John Zimmermann. On 21 March 1914 a son, Elmer, was born to them. Her husband died in World War I 1914 or 1915. She and her mother-in-law were at odds, so she moved back to her sister and later to Pequot Lakes, Minnesota where she met her second husband Carl Luhrs (born 9 September 1892, died in Brainerd, MN in January 1978). In 1917 they married in North Dakota and stayed there for four years. During that time a son and two daughters were born one of whom - Ethel Patrick - was born 4 July 1919, died in Brainerd in June 1984.
Bertha and Carl then moved back to Pequot Lakes. In 1926 and 1931 another two daughters were born. The last daughter was her sixth and last child. Her sister Marie and her brother Friedrich died in the thirties. Bertha Luhrs-Zimmermann lived many years at her husbands farm in the southwest of Pequot Lakes. In summer 1965 she travelled to Switzerland to meet her sister Ida Sägesser-Lehmann at Lotzwil, her birthplace.
On 5 December 1967 Bertha Luhrs died at St. Joseph's Hospital, Brainerd, Minnesota. She was buried at Wildwood cemetery. She left 5 children, 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
References and Sources
The Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 6 December 1967, Obituary
Minnesota Department of Health Certificate of Death
Günter Bäbler (1998) Reise auf der Titanic. Chronos, Zürich
Brainerd Dispatch (Minnesota Newspaper), 1930s
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer At Port Of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship: Carpathia) - National Archives, NWCTB 85 T715 Vol 4183
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Brainerd Daily Dispatch 2 December 1937
Articles and Stories
Le Journal de Genève (1912)