The Unknown Child


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Laura Melinda Varjo

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Wow! ET has changed SO much while I was...gone. Anyways, finally I have time to post. Ok, I doubt the Unkown little boy was Eino Panula, aged 2. This is why: From Carpathia, a passenger saw a woman clutching a baby to herself in the water. Now, that may have been Alma Palsson with little Gosta. But then, where did Gosta disappear ? Or, could that lady be Maria Panula ? Plus, science isn't perfect. On a site(forgot which one) a WHILE ago I've read Eino is the Unknown Child, vecuase of the tooth sample taken from the poor little baby. They objected that the tooth was from a baby under one years old. But, we have to realize the sailors on MacKay Bennet described the baby as a 2 year old boy. So, he can't possibly be Gilbert Danbom (5 mos), and/or Alfred Peacock(7 mos). What I'm trying to say is that the scientists (sorry mom!) screwed up with this finding and viewing this tooth. This baby, (ok I do believe it was one of the Panula children, because blood samples were taken and matched with their family in Finland)might be Urho Panula, aged just 2. The mother thing, how sure are we that it was 29 year old Alma Palsson's body they have recovered ? Wouldn't it be logical that it was Maria Panula ? And that SHE was the one witnessed by Carpathia passengers in the ocean, but then eventually Urho floated away from her arms. History has ignored little Urho for all this time, when he might be it.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Alma Palsson's body was carrying effects such as the ticket for herself and the children and a number of letters including one from her husband, so there can be no doubt that the identification was correct. What is the source of the story about passengers on the Carpathia seeing the bodies of a woman and child in the water? Are you perhaps thinking of the report from the liner Bremen, which passed bodies several days after the sinking? That included reference to a woman in a nightgown, clasping a baby. If the observers really saw what they thought they were seeing, then that body was probably never recovered. Alma Palsson's body certainly was fully dressed, and as far as I can recall from the lists none of the bodies recovered was dressed only in a nightgown.
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Laura Melinda Varjo

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Oops! Yeah, it was the Bremen, my bad. The source is The Irish Aboard Titanic. I guess then, the woman was Edith Peacock with baby Alfred in the water. Oh for real ? I didn't know it was Alma for sure. Yeah, I don't think the people would lie about what they saw(women and baby) so then, yeah it was Mrs. Peacock with Alfie because I remember they have reached the boat deck near the end.

I still reason it was Urho(2), not Eino(1). The unknown child.
 

Bob Godfrey

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I would be careful of taking the mother and baby story too literally. I'm sure that bodies were seen, but the observers were probably not close enough to see much, and our imagination can be very convincing when adding extra detail. I find it hard to believe that anybody could have jumped or been washed off the ship while clutching a child and managed to keep hold of it at that time and later, with weakening muscles, while hypothermia set in within minutes.

There are plenty of accounts from survivors that told of the impossibility of keeping contact with others once in the water. Cook John Collins, for instance, and a steward were carrying the two children of a distraught woman passenger when all were washed overboard and he could not keep hold of the child. That woman could well been Mrs Peacock, as Collins later claimed that he knew the family and had been watching out for them during the voyage.

You could be right about the Panula child. I don't know know just how reliable was the pathology evidence about the age of the tooth, but it's worth remembering that the judgement of the child's age came not from sailors but from a highly-experienced mortician who worked at a time when, sadly, the characteristics of the dead bodies of babies and very young children would have been very familiar to him.
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Nov 22, 2000
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Hi Bob,

Totally agree with your first couple of sentences. The imagination can indeed be convincing. Take the case of the crewmen who thought that they had seen, following the disappearance of the "Waratah" in 1909, bodies including that of a young female child clad in a red dressing gown - which other ship's crews claimed to be a large roll of printing paper.
I think it's a case of if you expect to see something - you will!

I don't think, however, that we can play down a mothers natural protection towards her child. We've only to look at some of the victims of both the Lusitania and Empress of Ireland, where the bodies of mothers were found holding their children in a vice like grip. to protect or hold onto your child is part of the very basis of human nature.
Collins was, if not a friend, then certainly a work mate of Benjamin Peacock - it remains a mystery how the two men knew each other as if I'm correct, it was the first voyage for him, whereas Peacock had worked on the Trans Atlantic liners for some years. I wonder if his natural instinct to survive overcame his wish to save the child?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Hallo, Geoff. An interesting area of speculation. For Titanic, there's nothing in the body descriptions or anecdotal/diary/letter references from the recovery ships to suggest that any child's body was found in the arms of an adult (which would surely be a crucial point for identification). I'm not totally familiar with the id descriptions of the Lusitania dead, but since these were very detailed is there any mention of the crucial point that any two were found together, or any instance of a child buried with its mother other than those cases in which both had been identified. There were instances of unidentified babies and young children (with non-sequential numbers) buried in the same coffin, but were there any cases listed of an unidentifed mother/child combination?

I agree there were accounts of dead mothers found clutching babies and of young children entwined in each other's arms, but any such accounts that I've seen generally end with a harangue against how pleased the Kaiser and German navy would be to see such sights, so we could perhaps be in 'babies on bayonets' territory here? I really don't know and would appreciate input from those who have studied the available information (on recovered bodies and burial) in detail.
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Nov 22, 2000
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Hi Bob,


Yes, but when we consider how few children's remains were recovered from Titanic as well as a lack of mothers, it does make me wonder just where they ended up!

The Lusitania files in the Cunard Archives yield a number of photographs of women with their children either strapped to them or fingers locked about them (That's before Cunard closed them to public view recently). There are several cases of unidentified women and babies buried in the same coffin, usually because the woman was holding the child. I don't suppose that it necessarily means that the woman was the mother - but I would think it likely.
Photographs of the Empress of Ireland disaster exist much the same - although I've yet to find the description lists.

Would agree with you that these Lusitania photographs were used for political purposes, especially by the newspapers. I recall seeing a photograph of some of the Empress of Ireland dead used in a Canadian paper covering the Halifax explosion several years later! It's either good press or a bad reporter!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Thanks, Geoff, that's the kind of info I needed. I'll check the Lusi lists again. Strapping or tying the child on sounds like the most feasible option. There's mention in Fenby's book about the Lancastria of a father successfully rescuing both himself and his 2-year old by swimming with the child's dress gripped in his teeth, like a mother cat transporting a kitten. The ultimate example of the paternal instinct! I guess if that's physically possible then anything is.
 

Senan Molony

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Hi Bob, Geoff

Entwined death is not unusual in drownings. Not just adults and children, but often adults who were supporting each other prior to both succumbing. Then there are the "desperation" entanglements.

Photos of entanglements, if not entwinings, would not be very tasteful. There are however photographs of dead women holding children that were taken in the Queenstown morgues prior to the coffining of the Lusitania victims.

Some unidentified children were co-coffined with women who were not their mothers. I suppose there were various motives for so doing, possibly springing in part from a human instinct not to abandon a child in death.

I think even one identified child was co-coffined with a non-relative female - the Coughlan boy, if memory serves.

I see you are reading Fendy's excellent new book, Bob. Have you got to the bit yet about Grattidge pulling a man away from the wreck by the hair...

The only difficulty I have with Bremen reports of the bodies is the alleged 'Johanna Stunke' (apparently Johanna 'Steinke') sighting of a woman with her arms wrapped around a large dog. In one version, the dog is identified as a St Bernard. There was no St Bernard on board.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Senan, thanks for the additional information. The photographs of dead children which are reproduced in your own Lusitania book, by the way, are images which I found very distressing yet crucial perhaps to the understanding of the emotional impact of the disaster.

I received The Lancastria book only this morning, saw the pic of the child concerned and thought of this thread, so I looked her up in the index! Will make a start at reading the rest tonight. I did take note, however, of the touching gift by one serviceman to his rescuer, this being the only object he could find in his pockets. But that's a story (as Shelley would say) for the Smoking Room.

I'm with you on the shaggy dog story. A drowning person, we are assured, will grasp at just about anything, and for my money that's what the lady concerned was holding onto - just about anything. At the observer's distance it might have been possible to identify that the object was a dog, but to go further and identify its breed, that's stretching it a bit for me.
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Aug 28, 2005
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Everybody Knows that for a long time the Little Boy recovered from the wreck site was never Identified. For a long time it was believed to be that of Gosta Palsson, from one of the nine large families lost that night. However, in 2002, the remains were exhumed from its grave at Fairview Lawn Cemetery for a DNA Identification so the name could be engraved on the headstone. There were seven different victims it could have been, but the results proved that it was the remains of Eino Panula.
 
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Laura Melinda Varjo

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Yeah, I guess it was little Eino, after all. Before that, I have ALWAYS thought it was Gosta Palsson, then Urho Panula, but I was wrong. So, is the name engraved on the headstone now ? (These three children probably looked SO similar to each other on board. All cute little blonde haired blue eyed Scandinavian bubs. What a TERRIBLE loss, if you really think about it.)
 
Nov 11, 2005
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I am related to Eino Panula, and i knoe he was on deck, when the ship sank. Anna Turja, spoke to my g-g-g-great grandfather, Eino's father, and said, her lifeboat was going down to the water, and she seen Ernesti carrying Eino. After that she said she could'nt see anything else.As for Gosta Palsson , and Eino, they do not look that much alike. Eino has a longer face, with thin longer blonder-white hair, and he was a little smaller then Gosta.I have a few pics of the family, and the last of him being, 11 months, in Feb 1912, with the rest of his brothers.
 
Nov 11, 2005
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They matched my gramdma Magda's dna, with Eino's and i found out i was related to him. We always kinda knew, because we knew the family drowned, and my grandma said when she was a girl, her grandma always said she had a sister who drowned ion the great Titanic with all her lovely sons.
 
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Laura Melinda Varjo

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Hildur, oh my gosh, you have a picture of little Eino and his brothers ? Can you please send the picture to me ? My e-mail is: lauragosta2000@yahoo.com (See Gosta's name in my e-mail ?!)Over here on ET, the picture is not up yet, and I would LOVE to see this beautiful little baby!


Thanks, Laura
 
Nov 11, 2005
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Did you know that Eino had three other siblings that did'nt live long? Juho Eemeli b.d. 1892, the year of his parents wedding. Emma Iida b. 1902d.1906(i have to check the date of death.)and Lyydia, b. d. 1903. Juho and Lyydia were born in Finland, but Emma was born and dieded in Ohio.Also Maria's real name is Maija Johantytar Ojala (Panula).
 
Apr 16, 2009
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Hildur, are ever doing to post the pic of Eino and his brothers up on the board? I can't wait to see those cute little boys. (Gosta Palsson is still my boo.)

Thanks,

Melinda
 
Nov 11, 2005
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I was wrong on the death date of Eino's sister, Emma Iida, she died in 1910. And i had to find the pics, i have found one of the parents and Emma, but i am still looking for the others, i hope to post it very soon, no worrie.
 

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