Gunnar Isidor Tenglin c.1972
Mr Gunnar Isidor Tenglin, 25, was born on March 2, 1887, in Stockholm, Sweden, the son of Gustav and Hilda Blom Tenglin.
Tenglin moved to the USA from Sweden in 1903, settling initially in Shoquoquon, IA. He recalled later that it contained "three thousand Swedes and four Swedish churches - five if you count West Burlington." Later moving to Burlington, IA he worked with crews cutting ice from the Mississippi River because he could speak no English. Later he gained employment at the Horace Patterson farm and it was there that he learnt to speak English.
In 1908 Gunnar returned to Stockholm, Sweden, having promised his mother he would return after five years. On 6 April (?year) he married Anna Amelia Anderson. Their son Gunnar, was born 16 January 1911.
A year later he planned to return to Burlington. He purchased his ticket (#350033) in Copenhagen and travelled via Esbjerg, Denmark to Southampton with August Wennerström and Carl Olof Jansson. Tenglin and Wennerström shared a cabin on the Titanic.
Tenglin said that third class on the Titanic was as good as first class on most other steamers. On the night of the disaster, Tenglin retired to his berth about 8 o'clock and was awakened by the shock of striking the iceberg.
"We had just come back from a party," he said. " I was sharing a third-class compartment with a newsman and had just taken off my shoes to get to the bed when we felt the thud.
"I put on my jacket, leaving my shoes by my bunk and my life jacket under my pillow. I never returned for either."
He was rescued in lifeboat 13 or 15. He had first entered the boat but then stepped out when a woman with children hadn't stepped in yet (probably Elisabeth Johnson). Then, finding that there was still room in that or the other boat, stepped into it.
In some newspaper accounts Tenglin claimed to have been pulled from the water by the occupants of collapsible A.
In New York he was quartered at Salvation Army's cadet school. From their aid committee he go $25 and continued after a few days to Burlington where he arrived on April 24, 1912. He initially lodged at the home of John (?Erick) Moberg, 623 (?502) South Marshall Street. Later he was joined by his wife and young son.
In Sweden his relatives, due to a misunderstanding, believed that he was dead, only when he sent a telegram home the family understood that he was alive.
Gunnar later became a plant engineer at the old Showers Bros. Plant. At one time he was a gas-maker in the utilities plant that supplied Burlingtonians with gas. He also worked for a time at the Burlington Railroad shops.
In 1937 he was the first man to be hired by the firm of J I Case, when the firm came to the city and for whom he worked as a millwright. After 22 years, in 1959, he retired.
Tenglin lived out his retirement with his wife at 1321 Burlington. Mrs Tenglin died March 11, 1968.
After 60 years apart, in 1972, Tenglin was visited by his brother Einar (79) and his great nephew Rune (Ron) (32) who acted as interpreter between the two men, Gunnar's English apparently by now better than his Swedish!
Tenglin died at 6 p.m. Wednesday, 6 February 1974 in Burlington Memorial Hospital aged 86. A protestant, Tenglin was buried at Aspen Grove cemetery on Saturday 9 February, 1974 following a service at Prugh's Chapel conducted by Rev. Donald Turkleson. He was survived by his son Gunnar S. Tenglin (died in Burlington on 15 May 1996); three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Gunnar Tenglin's name became distorted on many lists, it was spelt Tongling, Tongdin and Tonglitz. He also was confused with Anna Tångring who had travelled on the Cymric on 11 April.
The Burlington Daily Gazette (Iowa), 25 April 1912
The Burlington Hawkeye (Iowa), 5 June 1972
The Burlington Hawkeye (Iowa), 7 February 1974
The Burlington Hawkeye (Iowa), 2 January 1998
Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
State of Iowa - Certificate of Death #74-002943
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Steve Grover, USA
Leif Snellman, Finland
Articles and Stories
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (1912)
Burlington Daily Gazette (1912)
Burlington Hawk Eye (1998)