Annie McGowan's Age

The purpose of this note is to clarify Annie McGowan's age in the absence of a birth certificate. It was put together after reading several pieces of information on this site and other sources that can easily be construed from the text. The primary sources for establishing her age are the Massbrook School Register and the Census data in Ireland for 1901 and 1911.

Annie was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA on 5 July, either in 1894 or 1897. It has not been possible to locate her birth certificate. Articles written about her state her age as either 14 years or 17 years when she boarded the Titanic at Queenstown along with her aunt, Catherine and twelve other steerage passengers from the parish of Addergoole in Co Mayo. In the absence of a birth certificate the following helps to establish her correct year of birth as 1894.

Page 2 of the Massbrook Infant School Register in the Parish of Addergoole, Co Mayo, shows that she started there on the 20th November 1899; her register number is 395 and her age last birthday is given as 5 years old. She transferred to the Juniors on 29th September 1900, in the age column the digit 6 is overwritten with 7, or the other way round. This entry is on page 29.

Annie lived with her mother and father in the townland of Massbrook. The 1901 Census shows the family living with her grandfather, Anthony who was 71 years. In that census Annie’s age is given as 7. The 1911 Census shows her father, John, as head of the household, also included are her mother, Maria and six other children, including her brother, Anthony who was also born in the USA. That Census gives her age last birthday as 16 years.

In The Emergency and Relief booklet by the American Red Cross (1913) Annie appears as Case Number 283.

“A girl, 17 years of age, travelling with her aunt who was lost, left without funds or friends, suffered seriously for many months from shock and exposure.”

Evidence suggesting that Annie was 14 years when she boarded the Titanic comes from sources in the USA, e.g. 1930 Chicago Census gives her age as 32, and a footnote to a copy of that census on the Encyclopedia Titanica site says that she married circa 1921 when she was 23 years old. Her obituary in the New York Times dated 2 February 1990 states that she was 92 years old when she died. These cannot be accurate.

Interestingly the Mormons' International Genealogical Index shows Annie as born in Scranton on 5 July 1894, making her 17 years old in April 1912.

Annie Straube (McGowan) died on died 30th January 1990 aged 95 years and was buried in All Saints Cemetery, Des Plaines, Illinois.

Related Biographies:

Anna Louise McGowan


Source: Massbrook School Register


Mick Molloy

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