Crewman not listed


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Sue Bryant

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When I was a child, I had a neighbor who had been employed in the engine room on the Titanic when she sailed. He just happened to be on deck taking a break, when the ice berg was hit. Several years ago, my mother sent me a news article featuring him, and a man who was from the mail room. My neighbor's name was William Spanake. He was ordered to man a life boat, hence, he was among the survivors. I recently saw the Titanic exhibit, and there was no sign of his name, nor have I seen him mentioned on any sites I have looked into, concerning the Titanic. I've asked my mother to try and find that article, since it seems that his name has been lost in the shuffle. Where would be the best place to go to look further into this, and IF I am able to get a copy of this article, who would I send it to to set the records straight?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I hate to break it to you, but I can't find the man listed anywhere. As extensively researched as the passenger/crew listings are, about the only thing that can mean is that the man wasn't there. Bogus Titanic survivors are as thick as fleas

You didn't by chance get the name mixed up?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Mar 18, 2000
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Personally, I would like to see the documenation on William Spanake. Yes, it may turn out he was not on the Titanic - but it is worth it to see what info is available.
 
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Sue Bryant

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I will send you a copy of the article if my mother is able to find it. If my memory serves me right, there was a picture of Mr. Spanake, and the man from the mail room included in the article. Mr. Spanake's son is still alive, and is very close friends with my family. I spoke to my mother last night, she is going to talk to him, and see if he can supply any more information, photos, or personal papers .
I may have misspelled the last name, I am not sure. But, it is pronounced as I spelled it. I wondered if it was possible he was working on another ship owned by White Star, and transferred to the Titanic to fill in for someone, or to assist in running the ship, therefore not listed in any records of the crew.
As a child, I remember photo's of Mr. Spanake, and framed news articles in a local restaraunt. Unfortunately, the restaraunt burned down 10-15 years ago. I have no idea if anything pertaining to him was salvaged.
 
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Sue Bryant

Guest
I was given a bit more info. on Mr. Spanhake. According to his son. Just before the Titanic sailed, Mr. Spanhake was a member of the german army. He wanted out, so he went AWOL, and fled to America aboard the Titanic. As he was trying to get away from the german army, it is probable he boarded the Titanic under an assumed name, so he would not be caught. His son that I am getting this info. from was not born yet, so he is not aware of all the details. IF infact Mr. Spanhake DID board the Titanic under an assumed name, his son is not aware of it.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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One problem is that Spanhake is obviously not a German name. It may be adapted from German, as many immigrant's names were changed in the US by accident or design.

Maybe Henning could suggest a German original but my own bet is that the man was just a other teller of tall tales.
 
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george hanley

Guest
i'm looking to trace any info on my great grandfather who sailed from belfast to southampton .he was working as a stoker.
we found him on 1 site but cant locate him now
. he was called william hanley but he missed the sailing due to oversleeping
 
Jul 20, 2000
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Hello George,

Your great grandfather is on this web-site. He was part of the Crew on the run from Belfast to Southampton. If you go to the opening page of this web-site, go to Search for a Person and type in Hanley, you will get a listing for William Hanley.
Not sure what you mean by: "but he missed the sailing due to oversleeping"
 
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george hanley

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my great aunt said that he was due to travel on the titanic but he and a friend went out and got drunk and missed the sailing
she is his only surviving relative
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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It is far more likely that Hanley never intended to sail to New York. The stokers who brought Titanic to Southampton were what was called 'runners'. They made a living delivering new ships, or ships that had been repaired or maintained. They were paid for the run and given transport back to Belfast. He's not listed as a deserter, as he would be if he'd ever signed on.
 
Nov 26, 2007
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I have a friend who swears that her great uncle, Howard Wright, was lost at sea in the Titanic. She believes he was a crew member. But I cannot find him on any crew list. I realize he could have died in a different shipwreck and the family could have recalled it as being the Titanic. Or he could have used a different name, or even used his middle name--which I don't know--in preference to his first name. He was born in 1871 near Worcester. I can find him on UK censuses living with his mother Ellen until 1901. But I can find no trace of him after that. Has anyone ever heard of this Howard Wright?
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 13, 1999
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Judy,
I would never say it's impossible, given that people sometimes used aliases, but I would say that if his name is not on the sign-on list, then it is improbable that he was actually a crew member, since he was not set up to receive pay. I would still encourage your friend to investigate the story, sometimes family stories get garbled in the translation, or details confused.

All my best,
Tad
 
Feb 19, 2008
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William Charles White, b 1872, myth has it he was a crew member on the Titanic, only evidence a photo of him surrounded by a life-bouy with the name Titanic on it and the fact that an agent for the White Star Line lived in the next village in Wiltshire. The list of deserters only goes as far as "S". Anyone help?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>only evidence a photo of him surrounded by a life-bouy with the name Titanic on it <<

If that's the evidence, you have something of a problem since none of the lifebouys/liferings on the Titanic had the ship's name painted on them.
 
Feb 19, 2008
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Thanks Michael. Re William Charles White, Is it possible the life-bouy picture was part of the recruitment campaign, i.e. you sign on and have a commemorative photo taken to send to the folks at home? Or perhaps a local photographer saw an opportunity to make a quick buck?
I have been unable to verify if the above was on the "deserters" list (my list is incomplete) would you have this information? Many thanks.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>it possible the life-bouy picture was part of the recruitment campaign, i.e. you sign on and have a commemorative photo taken to send to the folks at home?<<

I'm not aware of any recruiting campeigns at the time and in the wake of a coal strike that put a lot of people out of work, I doubt any such was needed. There were plenty of people lining up looking for a berth.

'fraid I can't help you out much on the Deserters list.
 

Jen b

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Feb 6, 2021
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I’ve been researching my husband’s ancestry, and come across evidence that Willie John Mew was a cook working for the railways in 1911; I want to know whether he is the same person as the “W.J.Mew” who I found listed as a sauce cook on the Titanic, and was one of the lucky few to be saved.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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I’ve been researching my husband’s ancestry, and come across evidence that Willie John Mew was a cook working for the railways in 1911; I want to know whether he is the same person as the “W.J.Mew” who I found listed as a sauce cook on the Titanic, and was one of the lucky few to be saved.
Might be a good chance that its him. The odds of different sauce cooks with the same name for the time period and location would seem great to me. On this site they have his name spelled different as Mewe. But that national records show his name spelled the way you do. Keep searching. Cheers.

P.S....I didn't know that Mew was a common name but from looking at the U.S. archives I guess its more common than I thought. Interesting.
 

Jen b

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Feb 6, 2021
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Thanks for that information. perhaps his name on a list I found on the web, which had his name as a survivor, was just an error as he didn’t actually sail in the first place.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Thanks for that information. perhaps his name on a list I found on the web, which had his name as a survivor, was just an error as he didn’t actually sail in the first place.
According to his bio he didn't sail with her when she left Southampton. Could have been for a variety of reasons. He's not listed as a deserter that I've seen. He did serve on the Olympic.
 

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