Recovered artifacts tell of a round-the-world journey of two young men.
Sutehall, Jr. had looked forward to the trip from Southampton, England to New
York City on Titanic's maiden voyage. The Atlantic crossing marked the final leg
of a journey around the world that had begun on January 1, 1910, two years and
four months earlier. Though the trip had been long and he yearned to return home,
Henry had waited specifically to travel aboard Titanic. He had sent post cards
home, bragging about his intended passage on the newest super ship in the world.
The wait for the April 10, 1912 sail date was not distasteful
to Henry. He had many family members living throughout England with whom he had
visited during his stay. Henry had been born in England on July 23, 1886, the
first son of Henry Sutehall, Sr., born in 1864, and Sarah Stanton Sutehall, born
in 1866. His father and mother had married on August 2, 1885 and had built a family
consisting of Henry and two siblings before leaving England for the United States
in 1895. Both his sister, Clara, born in 1889, and his brother, William, born
a year later in 1890, were born in England. Following immigration to America,
the Sutehalls settled in the Buffalo, New York are and two more children were
born: Ella, in 1897, and Edwin, in 1902.
Henry's father was a plasterer by trade and worked on some of
Buffalos' finest new constructions. Ironically, one of those buildings was the
cathedral on Delaware Street in Buffalo, which was designed by the famous architect
Edward Kent, also from the Buffalo area. Mr. Kent also would become a passenger
aboard the ill-fated Titanic and, after assisting the efforts to evacuate women
and children from the sinking ship, met his own untimely demise upon her sinking.
Henry's mother operated the family's corner store at 2852 Delaware
Avenue at the intersection of Mang Street in Kenmore, a suburb of Buffalo. The
store featured cigars, tobacco, school supplies, confectioneries and Wheat's ice
Henry's trade was that of a "trimmer", installing and repairing
upholstery in carriages and early automobiles. It was at his workplace, E. E.
Denniston's in Buffalo, that he met a young man named Howard Irwin, who rapidly
became his best friend. Henry, called Harry by his friends and family, and Howard
together embarked their world tour and traveled throughout the United States during
1910. When they were fortunate, they found work at their trade as trimmers. Other
times, they worked at any job they could find, even picking peaches in California.
In mid 1911, they left the United States for Australia. Finding
employment in their profession, they remained there for a time. While in Sydney,
two things happened which would change Henry's outlook on life.
First, and perhaps, most importantly, he met a young lady with
whom he fell deeply in love. Research has not yet uncovered her name, but Henry's
descendants tell the story of his young lady in Australia, to whom he became engaged.
His intentions, according to letters home, were to return eventually to Australia
and marry this woman.
Both Henry and Howard were common people. They had no base of
wealth from which to draw monies as needed. Henry's second blessing in Australia
had been winning a sweepstakes that aided in funding the balance of his trip.
Henry and Howard apparently had differing interests in choices
of sights to see, so they agreed to part company when they left Australia to explore
their own adventures. It is believed that the two young men reunited briefly in
Durban, South Africa and vowed to meet again in England early in 1912 to conclude
the voyage home together.
Henry's movements during the time he and Howard were traveling
separately are unknown. He eventually arrived in England to spend time with his
many relatives. Having visited England in 1907, this part of the trip was actually
a reunion of sorts. Howard had arrived in England about a week before Henry and
the two reunited travelers spent time together awaiting the day Titanic would
Henry was also a musician. He had left Buffalo with his violin
in tow. During his early years he had studied violin under the tutelage of a Mr.
Penner and he had played in his Presbyterian Church orchestra. Music was ultimately
where his heart told him to look toward a career. While in Europe, near the end
of his trip, he arranged an interview and audition with John Philip Sousa, "the
March King." Sousa was impressed with Henry's abilities but had no openings available
for a violinist. He instructed Henry to continue to pursue a career in concert
violin and suggested several avenues to attain those goals. Henry's musical talents
most likely aided his friend, Howard, who had taken up the clarinet while they
were still traversing the United States. Henry's abilities to read and interpret
music undoubtedly aided Howard's musical development. Research indicates that
later, while briefly reunited in South Africa, the two entered a talent contest
and won a trip. Howard most likely used that prize to fulfill part of his solo
Henry and Howard were opposites. According to Howard's memoirs,
Henry was "Popular among his own set. He was quiet, honest, unassuming and upright.
He did not drink, smoke, swear or cast an evil eye upon the beautiful young ladies
that crossed his path." Howard, on the other hand, was somewhat less even keeled.
By his own evaluation, he had "a fiery temper, arrogant, aggressive and he would
cuss and fight." Howard was also very strong in his convictions and political
outlooks. While Howard's complete story is to be told another time, suffice it
to say he met, in his travels, several world leaders who would change the course
of history. He fancied that, not only had he learned from them, but that they,
also, had learned from him.
Finally, it was the day of Titanic's departure from Southampton.
Henry arrived at the dock alone. Why Howard was not with him to board the ill-fated
liner or how Howard's steamer trunk came to be in Henry's possession aboard the
ship has not yet been confirmed. Three different scenarios exist to explain Howard's
absence and those scenarios are being researched. History tells the rest of the
story. Henry met his untimely death aboard the ship that couldn't be sunk, leaving
Howard's possessions to rest at the bottom of the ocean for 81 years. Henry's
father was appointed by the courts as Administrator of Henry's estate after his
death. The estate filed a claim against the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (OSNC),
owner of the White Star Line, which, in turn, was the owner of the steamship Titanic.
OSNC had placed a large sum of money in escrow, pending settlement of claims against
it resulting from the Titanic disaster. Five hundred dollars of that escrow was
devoted to Henry Sutehall, Jr.
On March 14, 1916, on advice of his attorney, Henry's father
settled the claim in Erie county, New York's Surrogate Court for the amount of
two hundred dollars. Henry's body was never recovered. All of his possessions
were lost. The possessions of his friend, Howard Irwin, were lost. All that remained
were family memories.
In 1993, during recovery efforts at the wreck site, RMS Titanic,
Inc. President George Tulloch was aboard the submersible Nautile on a dive to
the debris field. Before Nautile lay a steamer trunk, which was recovered and
taken to France for restoration of its contents. After 81 years at the bottom
of the ocean, Howard Irwin's personal possessions were found. Among the trunk's
contents was a memorandum, or diary, Howard kept for the year of 1910. His first
entry in this memorandum begins the tale of their journey: "On Jan. 1st, Harry
Sutehall and myself started on a trip around the world. Working our way, stopping
in all the principalities between Buff & Frisco. From there to Australia,
then through the Suez Canal & Med. Sea to England. From there to New York
and Buffalo we figure. With luck this trip will take us two years and with bad
luck (WELL) we are going anyway."
Because of the efforts of George Tulloch and RMS Titanic, Inc.,
history was reborn with a new and continuing life. Howard Irwin's possessions
and Henry Sutehall's life story became an active part of the legacy of the Titanic.
In fact, for those readers who have visited the exhibitions in St. Petersburg
or in Boston, you've most likely seen many of Howard's possessions, including
the above-mentioned diary, on exhibit.
Our involvement with Titanic is a direct result of RMS Titanic,
Inc.'s recovery effort and we are forever indebted to Mr. Tulloch and his company,
not only for changing our lives forever, but also for bringing these people and
many more back to life as a result of their dedicated efforts.
Quotes from the memoirs of Howard Irwin are used with the permission
of Helen Irwin Lunney Quotes from the memorandum of Howard Irwin are used with
the permission of RMS Titanic, Inc.
Dave and Barb Shuttle live in Erie, Pennsylavnia and are Titanic International
Association members. Nineteen letters, written by Dave's family, were recovered
by RMS Titanic, Inc. They were part of the contents of Howard Irwin's steamer
trunk. Dave's great Aunt Pearl was Howard's girlfriend.