Horticulturist aboard with tree samples


Mar 20, 1997
115
0
171
I recently was able to get a hold of a 1994 article about a gentleman living in New Jersey who collected Titanic memorabilia and had a sizable collection of items directly related to the disaster. The most intriguing one was a plant he had which supposedly came from tree samples successfully taken off the ship during the evacuation. The relevant excerpt from the Hunterdon County (N.J.) Democrat article said:

"An American horticulturist and his wife were aboard the Titanic. The horticulturist was bringing plant samples back to the States when the liner sank. His wife and the samples found a place on one of the lifeboats. The horticulturist did not. The wife planted the samples and now, eight decades later, the plant grows in Mr. Lonzello's house. "

Does anyone know of passengers who match this description. While I have read the vast majority of the passenger summaries on this and other sites, I have yet to come across a plant expert.

The collector of the items resurfaced in the news a couple years ago when a high bidder on e-Bay reneged on an offer of over $16,000 for a piece of toast that he carved with the likeness of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks. However, I have not been successful in finding current contact information for Mr. Lonzello or his antiques business to inquire further about the plant samples.

Does anyone have additional information about this interesting story and it's veracity?
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,041
296
353
This may have its origins in claims that first class passenger John James Borebank was "a well-known Californian horticulturalist". (The Daily Graphic, 20 April 1912).

The ET biography says that Borebank was a businessman, then living in Toronto. His wife was not on board.

I'm pretty convinced that Borebank was confused with the very famous Luther Burbank, who lived in California and did great work in horticulture. The media of 1912 did this on several occasions. A number of people who had names resembling those of Titanic passengers found themselves getting killed off in the press.

I think the story belongs with the fairytales.
 
Mar 20, 1997
115
0
171
Thank you. Michael, sorry for the confusion about the name. I pasted only a small part of the article. Mr. Lonzello was merely the New Jersey collector who acquired the plant. He didn't claim any family relation to the passenger. In the 1994 article he also apparently had a number plate from Lifeboat 5 which was misidentified as the boat on which Molly Brown escaped.

I suspected that this story may be the result of confusion over names. I was equally curious to see which actual passenger(s) would be the link in the story whether it turned out to be true or mistaken identity. Thanks to Dave for providing that.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,041
296
353
Looking at the photos of "Borebank" in The Daily Sketch and The Daily Graphic, it's plain they are file photos of Luther Burbank.

A particularly funny example of media confusion is in the same papers. First class passenger William Carter was taken to be Thomas Henry Carter, an American senator from Montana. Thomas Carter had died in 1911!
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,609
643
483
Easley South Carolina
>>I suspected that this story may be the result of confusion over names.<<

Seems a safe bet. The press, as Dave pointed out, did a wonderful job of getting things confused. Reading one's own obituary must have been an interesting experience for some of them.
 
Feb 7, 2010
5
0
31
>>Reading one's own obituary must have been an interesting experience for some of them.

It may have been a bit of jolt to read their own obit. Puts a new spin on "I'm all right. I woke up this morning and I didn't find my obituary."

I'm new here. I found this message board via Google and keywords "gambler sister letter titanic". Found my answer.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads