Miss Jamilah Nīqūla Yārid was born in Al Hākūr, Akkār, Lebanon. Her exact age is uncertain 1 but she is believed to have been born on 15 April 1898.
She was the daughter of Nīqūla Yārid (1850-1940), a flour miller, and Nūr Badr (b. 1860) and had several older siblings as well as a younger brother, Ilyās. Her mother and several of her 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 Jamilah, her father and younger brother Ilyās 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 Jamilah's father was diagnosed with a contagious eye infection which prevented him from joining any ship. He was forced to remain behind whilst Jamilah and her brother 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 Jamilah and her brother had gone to bed. After feeling a bump she 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 Jamilah and her brother 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 Jamilah became known as Amelia.
Amelia was married on 13 December 1914 to Isaac Abdallah Isaac (b. 12 February 1895), also a Lebanese immigrant who had arrived in the USA in 1905. The couple had seven children: Albert (b. 1916), Fred (1917-2011), Sheffield (1919-1995), Dorothy (1921-1983, later Soud), Margaret (1922-2009), Susan (b. 1925, later Kozak) and Sophie (1928-2003). Her husband Isaac owned a grocery store and in later years acquired investment property and worked in the oil delivery business. He died on 20 September 1942 and Amelia was never remarried and remained in Jacksonville for the remainder of her life.
Amelia became a local Titanic celebrity and was often called upon to speak to school groups or give newspaper interviews. In 1953 she attended a screening of the Clifton Webb movie Titanic held in her honour at the Florida theatre.
Amelia died 8 March 1970 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Jacksonville on 10 March 1970.
- It is generally regarded that Jamilah was born on 15 April 1898 making her 14 years old at the time of the disaster which is likely the correct date. However, there are conflicting ages given in various records which put that date into doubt. Her marriage record gives her year of birth as 1894 whilst her social security application as 1895. Census records give varying and conflicting ages placing her year of birth between 1896 and 1901. Her headstone gives the date as 15 April 1900.
References and Sources
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
State of Florida - Certificate of Death (#70-017885)
Times Union (Jacksonville, Florida) Sisters had Titanic link in mother. 20 January 1998
Unknown Newspaper Obituary
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
Articles and Stories