Holly Peterson

Former Member
As I can't seem to find a decent survivor list anywhere on the Internet, can anyone list the child survivors (17 and under) of this shipwreck? I hear it was really tragic and only about 4 or 5 children out of over 100 survived. I know there was a little girl named Grace, but who else? Any names would be really appreciated!

Empress child survivors were:

First Class:

Josephine Helen O'Hara aged 10

Second class:

Florence Jessie Barbour aged 9
Grace Hanagan aged 7

Third class:

Herbert Lawler aged 13
Arvo Markkula aged 14

Holly Peterson

Former Member
Oh my gosh. That's all. That's just ... heartbreaking. I knew there weren't very many, but I always thought there were more than that. God bless those poor children who were lost in the shipwreck, and those who survived without parents or friends to guide them on life's journey. Rest in peace little ones.

Holly Peterson

Former Member
A few more questions, if you don't mind:

- How did these children survive? Were they saved by someone? Did any of these children get off in lifeboats? (I doubt it, as the ship sank on only 14 or so minutes.)
- Was Arvo Markkula Finnish?
- Are there any pictures available on the Internet of these?
- I was looking over an earlier thread and saw another child survivor: Tiria Townsend, who was 17 years old. Did you not post her name because she actually died, or was 18 or over?

Holly Alzbeta Peterson
Alzbeta, since you are interested not just in children but in young adults up the age of 17 you might want to check out the crew too. I think there were one or two bellboys among the survivors.
The bell boys who survived were Samuel Baker and Charles Spencer. I don't know their ages but bell boys were generally aged 14-16. Also among the crew survivors was Robert Bell, who signed on as a deck boy. Spencer's survival is well documented as he surfaced in the water alongside the Captain. They both clung to a piece of wooden wreckage till picked up by a lifeboat.
Alzbeta, if it's a passenger list you're interested in, I know of at least one book {"Forgotten Empress" by David Zeni) which has one. It runs from page 195 to page 207. Beyond that, I don't think you'll find any such on the web. At least not one that isn't pirated or completely unreliable.

Holly Peterson

Former Member
Do you own the book? Because I don't want to pressure by Mom into buying it as she already spent a lot of money on Irish Abord Titanic. But if you have it, would it be possible for you to list all survivors under the age of 18 here? Or would that go against copyright? If it doesn't I would really, really appreciate it!
I own it but unfortuantely, I don't have time to go through all that and transcribe the details. The book may not be in print in any event and if this is the case, you may have to get it from a second hand dealer. Depending on the condition of the book and the dealer you buy it from, you may actually get a better price that way.
Charles Spencer was 15 years old, Robert Bell was just 14 and did not survive.

For a passenger list, Google "Seaview Imaging" then go to Empress of Ireland. The passenger list is on that site.
Alzbeta, unfortunately it might be hard to find passenger or crew lists that give ages. The passenger list in Forgotten Empress does not, but it does have detailed accounts of how some of those children were saved. Generally by clinging to floating wreckage or luggage until picked up by boats, though little Miss O'Hara was a strong enough swimmer to reach a lifeboat and then to climb aboard by using an adult survivor in the water as a ladder!

Forgotten Empress is certainly an excellent read, but out of print in the US and now fetching high prices second-hand. There was a paperback edition published in the UK but that too seems to be unavailable right now. Alzbeta, don't be shy about asking (or getting Mom to ask) at your local community or college library about the inter-library loan service. If they subscribe to it that's fine, and if they don't there's no harm done by asking.
As Bob says, you will find it difficult to find a list that gives ages for the people on the Empress.

I can add one other teen survivor to your list. Charles Bristow was age 15, and travelling with his parents. His mother died, but his father was saved. The two returned to England after being rescued, and before Mrs Bristow's body was recovered from the St. Lawrence.

Also, from the crew, William Hird, age 16, and a mess steward, was saved.

And to answer one of your questions, Arvo Markkula, was from Finland.