Encyclopedia Titanica

John Spanton Van Riper

RMS Carpathia First Cabin Passenger

Mr John Spanton Van Riper was born in Dundee Lake, Bergen, New Jersey, USA on 5 March 1873.1 Of Dutch and English heritage, he was the son of farmers Richard Van Riper and the former Charlotte Spanton, natives of New Jersey and New York. He had at least three siblings. 

Later an employee in a dye works, Van Riper was married in Manhattan in June 1896 to Christine Nilsson Roeck; they had three children: Charles, Florence and Kenneth and by 1910 the family lived at 126 Pennington Avenue in Passaic, New Jersey. 

In April 1912 Van Riper and his wife were first cabin passengers on the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic disaster. Mr Van Riper stated that at about 1.30 am his wife was awakened by commotion of the crew up top who were making preparations to welcome the survivors, including the noise of lifeboats being slung out; hanging out a porthole and questioning a member of crew about what was happening, Mrs Van Riper was informed that nothing was amiss. Not being satisfied with the answer she left the cabin and asked a stewardess what all the excitement was; the stewardess told Mrs Van Riper to say nothing, but that word had been received that the Titanic was in distress and that their own ship had changed course and was heading to give assistance. 

Mr Van Riper then rose from bed, dressed and went on deck where he observed a number of crewmen busying themselves preparing the lifeboats; at around 4 am the Carpathia passed by “three immense icebergs” and about fifteen minutes later the first lifeboats were sighted. Mr Van Riper stated that several of the lifeboats contained just a fraction of their full capacity; he also stated that Bruce Ismay was arrived in a lifeboat filled mainly with women and was in such a state of emotional distress that he was immediately escorted to the physician’s quarters and “at once placed under opiates…” never being seen again during the voyage back to New York.

Mr and Mrs Van Riper relinquished their own stateroom to survivors; after the Carpathia landed the survivors to New York, the couple resumed their journey to Europe. 

John Van Riper and his wife spent much of the remainder of their lives living in Manhattan. John died 30 May 1951 and was buried in Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. 



  1. Birthdate as per New Jersey Births and Christening Index; also cited as 3 March 1873.

Carpathia Passenger Summary

Name: Mr John Spanton Van Riper
Age: 39 years 1 month and 10 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married to Christine Nilsson Roeck
Ship: Carpathia
Died: Wednesday 30th May 1951 aged 78 years

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Research Articles

Günter Bäbler Titanica! (2019) Carpathia Passenger List

Newspaper Articles

Passaic Daily News (19 April 1912) A Thrilling Story of the Carpathia
New York Times (19 April 1912) RMS Carpathia: First Class Passenger List including place of living or booking

Documents and Certificates

RMS Carpathia: First Class Passenger List printed on board
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Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) John Spanton Van Riper (ref: #2918, last updated: 25th July 2021, accessed 21st January 2022 22:00:37 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/carpathia-passengers/john-van-riper.html