The identity of Mr K


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Pat Newman

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A bit of a long-shot this, but… In ‘Werwolves’ (1912), US author Elliott O’Donnell refers to a ‘Mr. K–’ who witnessed lycanthropy among the Kandh (Khond) people of Orissa in India and ‘whose name I see in the list of passengers reported ‘missing' in the deplorable disaster to the ‘Titanic.’’ The only other reference to the man I can find is in ‘Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghouls’ (1968) by Bernhardt Hurwood, who likewise declines to identify him other than that he was English. I have been through the Ks in the passenger lists, but no one seems to fit the bill. The only possibility to my mind – assuming that he even existed and that his name really began with a K – is J. Frank Karnes, whose widow went down with the ship not knowing he had died from smallpox a few days earlier in India. Any ideas anyone?
 

Mike Herbold

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There were a lot of mistakes in the early newspaper reports, so maybe Mr. O'Donnell was reading one of them.

The "Complete Passenger List of the Titanic.." from the April 16, 1912 New York Herald, page 3, shows a 'F. Karnes', and doesn't say Mr. or Mrs.
Their April 19th edition, page 6, doesn't show a 'Karnes' on the list of survivors or the list of missing.
The NY Herald Special Titanic Section of April 21st, however, lists 'Mrs. F. G. Karnes' among the second class passengers who died.

So, depending on where your Mr. O'Donnell lived, he may have been reading one of these early papers.
 

Inger Sheil

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:) O'Donnell - legendary 'ghost hunter' - was English (although he did travel in the States). Don't seem to run into his works that often these days, although I did come across Montague Rhodes James' rather scathing opinion of him the other day. Am intrigued by the connection you refer to, Pat - would love to know more about this interesting aside.

Inger
 

Mike Herbold

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I note on the ET biography of Mrs. Percy Corey that Lawrence Beesley overheard a female passenger from India talking and the insinuation is left that the passenger was Mrs. Corey or Mrs. Karnes.
Don Lynch wrote his "Ruth Becker Blanchard" biography in the Winter 1990 "Commutator" and he figures that Beesley was talking about Nellie Becker.

I'd be interested in what our resident Beesley expert Pat Cook thinks.

Forget to ask: What does 'lycanthropy' mean?
 

Pat Cook

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Did somebody call my name? I kept hearing voices.

The question of who the ladies, one recently returned from India, were that Beesley mentions in his book has a few answers. The most likely candidates, I would agree, (as of now, anyway) are Mary Corey and Claire Karnes. I had thought of Nellie Becker but have my doubts on her since she had a sick child (Richard) who she was taking to America to hospitalize. I just couldn't see her chatting casually (Beesley thought the two women to be friends) with someone else with her son sick in their cabin.

However, another likely candidate, I always thought, would be Annie Funk. She was a Mennonite missionary who had set up a school in India and was returning home to see her mother. In fact, Annie had a birthday while traveling on the Titanic. Sadly, Annie did not survive.

Just my two cents here.

Oh, Lycanthropy, as far as I know, is the study of werewolves. I suppose the werewolf itself (himself? herself? Who'd be brave enough to find out?!) would be a lycanthrope.

Best regards,
Cook
 

George Behe

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Pat Cook wrote:

>I had thought of Nellie Becker but have my doubts >on her since she had
>a sick child (Richard) who she was taking to >America to hospitalize. I
>just couldn't see her chatting casually (Beesley >thought the two women
>to be friends) with someone else with her son >sick in their cabin.

Hi, Pat!

I don't think Mrs. Becker can be eliminated from the mix for the simple reason that Richard wasn't sick in his cabin; Ruth was charged with looking after him, and she spent a lot of time wheeling the little guy around the decks in a perambulator.

All my best,

George
 

Pat Cook

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Hey George!

Thanks for that update, O M! However, I still would go with Karnes and Corey, at least, going by what Beesley writes. He mentions they were 'probably friends only' which suggest there were very chummy - at least, that's my impression. These two were neighbors in India and traveling together. Same reason I rule out Becker as I do Funk. (Becker and Funk, sounds like the sound a train makes when it goes over the points!)

Speaking of Mary Corey, here's an article I just ran across, if you haven't already seen it. Apparently there was ANOTHER Titanic victim no one ever listed. According to this:
http://my.ohio.voyager.net/~jmassimo/titanicsecret.html

Best regards,
Cook
 
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Pat Newman

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Thanks everyone. Inger – who is Montague Rhodes James?! According to O'Donnell (who writes fabulously evocatively, by the way, whatever his faults), 'Mr K–' saw a man turn into a weretiger (the subject of my researches…), which then chased him through the jungle. 'Mr K–' only managed to escape because he had the good fortune to climb into the only holy tree in the area, where he spent the night. At the sight of the tree, the weretiger fled but regained its composure enough to slaughter and partially devour a whole unfortunate family as they slept in their home in the local village. When his story appeared in print,'Mr K–' naturally wanted his identity kept a secret, for fear of ridicule. Luv Pat.
 
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All.

Could the mysterious English werewolf-believer be that most respectable - but surely most eccentric - W.T. Stead? He was surely well-travelled and entertained a lot of radical and actually quite creepy notions, as brilliant people do. His journalistic work seems to have been effusive and he touched on every subject imaginable. Perhaps a perusal of his articles and/or books might yield a reference to the blood-curdling subject of "lycanthropy."

Randy
 
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