George Sweet

Mark Baber

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George Sweet was a fifteen year old boy travelling to Bernardsville, New Jersey, with the Herman Family. His ET biography describes Samuel Herman's as his "adoptive father", which is consistent with the wording of the biographies of Jane Herman (Samuel's wife) and Kate and Alice Herman (Samuel and Jane's twin daughters), all of which say that George was Mr. Herman's adopted son. Samuel's biography, though, says that "(t)ravelling with the family was George Sweet, their adopted son."

On the other hand, the Newark Evening News of 20 April 1912, reporting an interview with Mrs. Herman after she arrived in Bernardsville, contains the following sentence:

Mrs. Herman said that a boy named Sweet, fifteen years old, who accompanied Mr. Herman and whose first name they did not know, was also lost in the wreck.

A family that doesn't know the first name of an "adopted son" sounds kind of unusual. Anyone have any information that might help? If he was adopted, was it just by Mr. Herman or by both Mr. and Mrs. Herman?

MAB
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Dear Mark,

I know Alice Herman Cleland's daughter, Muriel Harris, and Mrs. Harris has confirmed that George Sweet was the adopted son of her grandparents. George was 15-years-old at the time, and worked with Samuel Herman in the family owned hotel business. The Hermans had no sons of their own so they adopted young George.

The Herman family has photos of young George throughout his life. We don't know just "when" the boy became a part of the Herman family but in the family album, George is seen in the family as early as 8 or 9 years of age.

Hope this helps.

Mike Findlay
 

Kyrila Scully

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Mike Findlay,
I've been trying to e-mail you at the address you gave me regarding my book. Could you write to me privately as I would like to talk to you by phone about some things pertaining to copyright.
Kyrila
 

Mark Baber

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Thanks for the info, Mike. His being with the family for that long makes it all the more curious that the News article says they didn't know his first name, doesn't it?

MAB
 

Mark Baber

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I've obtained a copy of a very short article that appeared in the Bernardsville News on 26 April 1912. It reports on an interview with Mrs. Herman, and describes George Sweet only as "[a] lad of fifteen who had come with them from England..." His name is not mentioned.

Again, this is kind of an odd description of an "adopted son", no? Anyone have any insight into whether (and if so, why) Mrs. Herman might have been deliberately downplaying George's relationship to the family?
 

Mike Herbold

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Mark:
A thought on the previous thread and your concern that the newspaper article said the family did not know Sweet's first name. My immediate reaction was that the journalist who wrote the article was the culprit and not Mrs. Herman. Perhaps he had failed to ask them, and then covered his own carelessness by casually blaming the family, or making it seem like a casual relationship.
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Hi Mark,

I hope I can be of some help here. As I mentioned in my previous posts in the earlier thread, Alice Herman Cleland's daughter told me that George Sweet was a member of their family. There are pictures of young George at various family functions with the Hermans and there is even a photo of Jane Herman and George Sweet taken together in England around 1910. I think the newspaper reporter, as Mike pointed out, carelessly reported the relationship.

Until recently, George's age was speculative. Descendants of the Herman family always thought he was around 16 or 17 years of age. It turned out that George was only 14-years-old aboard the Titanic, and would have turned 15 on April 16th had he survived. He was born in Castle Cary, Wincanton, Somerset, England on April 16, 1897, the son of Joseph and Ann (Chamberlain). The Herman family descendants were quite surprised to see his birth certificate but confirmed that he was still "the son" (although not by birth) that Mr. Herman never had. He worked in the family's hotel business prior to their departure from England to the United States.

Hope this helps.

Best regards,

Mike Findlay