Master Ilyās Nīqūla Yārid was born in Al Hākūr, Akkār, Lebanon. His exact age is uncertain 1 but he is believed to have been born on 16 April 1900.
He was the son of Nīqūla Yārid (1850-1940), a flour miller, and Nūr Badr (b. 1860) and had several older siblings including his sister Jamilah (b. 1898). His mother and several of his siblings had left Lebanon a few years in advance and settled in Jacksonville, Duval, Florida. The rest of the family would join them later.
In March 1912 Ilyās, his father and sister Jamilah left their village to make the journey to Beirut from where they would journey to Marseille and then onward to Cherbourg. Before the family could leave together Ilyās' father was diagnosed with a contagious eye infection which prevented him from joining any ship. He was forced to remain behind whilst Ilyās and his sister journeyed ahead. They boarded the Titanic as third class passengers (ticket number 2651 which cost £11, 4s, 10d) and, speaking no English themselves, probably relied on kindly members of their fellow countrymen to look after them.
On the night of the sinking Ilyās and Jamilah were in bed. Jamilah felt a bump and became concerned about noises she was hearing outside their cabin and asked her brother to investigate. He was at first disinterested but Jamilah was insistent and so the two children left their cabin and followed others to the Boat Deck. On deck she remembered the $500 given to her by her father for the trip, they headed back down to the cabin but found that water was filling the passageway and prevented her from opening the door. They returned to deck where they were allowed into (probably) collapsible C.
Upon their arrival in New York aboard Carpathia Ilyās and his sister were met by their elder brother Isaac (1894-1985) and he took them to his home in Nova Scotia where they remained for several months in recuperation. It was not until July that their father arrived in the USA and the family were eventually reunited and all settled in Jacksonville.
To help them assimilate to their new home the family name was changed from Yārid to Garrett and Ilyās became known as Louis Nicholas.
Louis worked for his brother Isaac and initially lived with him at his home in Fresno, California. He was married in Florida on 5 February 1926 to Elizabeth Shedise 2 (1896-1951) who was his brother's sister-in-law (sister of his wife Mary). Elizabeth was also a Lebanese immigrant who had come to the USA in 1900. The couple's firstborn, an unnamed son, arrived on 2 April 1927 but died the same day. They welcomed another child in 1929, another son whom they named Kenneth.
The small family remained living in Jacksonville and Louis became a grocery merchant. In later years he became a Jehovah's Witness and, in the late 1940s, made a return trip to his birthplace of Lebanon, this time via airplane. He rarely spoke about the Titanic and when he did, it caused him to become emotional.
Louis died on 31 May 1981 in Tucker, Georgia whilst visiting his son Kenneth who had moved there in 1973 with his wife Ann. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.
- It is generally accepted that Ilyās was 10-years-old when on Titanic. His social security application records his birthdate as 16 April 1901 which means he was 10 going on 11, celebrating his birthday aboard Carpathia. However, census records, whilst not always accurate, point that he was born in 1900 which means he was 11 going on 12. His marriage record states he was born in 1898.
- Spelling varies depending on record and is sometimes given as Shediac
References and Sources
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Awake (1981) 22 October 1981
Florida Times Union, 2 June 1981, Obituary
State of Georgia Certificate of Death
Times Union (Jacksonville, Florida), 20 January 1998, Sisters had Titanic link in mother.
Leila Saloum Elias (2011) The Dream and then the Nightmare: the Syrians who boarded the Titanic; Atlas, ISBN 978-9933-9086-1-4
Gavin Bell, UK
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
Victor Hugo Ossio Villalba, USA
Roland Frisch, USA
Frances Taber, USA
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