William Charles Stephenson Sr and Winifred E Lenahan Stephenson missed passage

  • Thread starter Francis Paul Gerdes
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Francis Paul Gerdes

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This is my first post. There has been a family story that my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, William Charles Stephenson, Sr., and Winifred E. Lenahan Stephenson were supposed to be on the Titanic, but missed boarding due to his "diversion" to a bookstore. I never had any specific information to confirm the story though.

A few nights ago I was talking to an older cousin, who told me that as a young child, he remembered SEEING the unused Titanic ticket in my grandfather's desk in Beeville, Texas, and discussing it with my grandfather, William Charles Stephenson, Jr. My cousin is totally convinced that what happened was a fact.

No-one in the family now knows what may have happened to the ticket.

Does anybody have any information relative to tickets purchased but not used ??

Paul Gerdes
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Paul,

I wish you luck in finding a Stephenson connection (other than Mrs. Walter B. Stephenson, who did make it aboard).

An interested lurker,
Parks Stephenson
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Paul,

Out of curiosity, I looked in my Stephenson family history for a William Charles Stephenson, or even the Gerdes family name, but could find neither. A branch of my family did end up in Texas, though, and Beeville sounds familiar...I believe the name came up at some point during my family research. Do you have any more Stephenson names that I could look for; there are quite a few holes in my family tree and sometimes, all it takes is one match to clue me in on a missing branch.

Parks
 
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Francis Paul Gerdes

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WOW !! perhaps we have a connection somewhere.. I'm sorry, but right now I'm at the office, and I do not have all my data, but here is what I can recall right now.

William Charles Sr. and Winifred Lenahan had a number of childred, the three I am sure about is William Jr., my GF, Joseph, and John, the family was from Buffalo, NY. W.C. Sr.'s parents were Joseph E.Sr. and Catherine O'Brien (I have a pic of her).. also, the story goes that Joseph's mother was the daugher of the Mayor of a NY city (sorry, I can't remember if it was Buffalo).

William Charles Jr. came to Beeville by train in April 1908 (I have the unused protion of the ticket) he bought a round trip to Brownsville just to check it out.. got off in Beeville, and never went back to Buffalo except to visit his family later in life. He wired my grandmother to pack up and come down.

My mother, Frances Delores Stephenson, was born in Beeville, and married my father, Hilary (Dilly) Paul Gerdes. His mother was a Meyer (pronounced MAI-YAAH if you are a true german.. ahahah)

I will respond again tonight with the rest of the Stephenson tree info when i have it in front of me. So check tonight or tomorrow for more data.

Thanks.. as you may be able to tell, I'm hooked !.. you should see the Mini-Museum I am doing on W.C., Jr., my GF.. the shakespearian actor, the violinist, the sculptor, the architect. He was an incredibly talented fella. E-mail me direct at "fpgerdes@aol.com".

Later

Paul Gerdes
 
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Francis Paul Gerdes

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Oh, darn, how could I have forgotten, there were also two unmarried sisters of my GF, William C. Jr., who lived their entire lives in Buffalo, Cora and Clara.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Paul,

I am excited as you about finding a potential connection, but my inner voice is telling me that we're probably looking at two separate families here. Just to be sure, though, I'll take the names you gave me and look for them in my family history, which is at home.

Parks
 
May 12, 2005
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Paul & Parks,

Phil Gowan would know the details if he's at liberty to disclose them, but I am pretty sure that some of Mrs. Walter B. Stephenson's family live (or did live) here in Texas.

Randy
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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They're in Dallas--still live there, but aren't Texans by birth (their families are from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania).

PG
 
Mar 3, 1998
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I have already looked at Walter B. Stephenson, and determined that he's probably not a relation. I'm not sure about the other Stephensons mentioned in this thread.

Parks
 
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Francis Paul Gerdes

Guest
I just spoke to my cousin again, and his recollection of seeing the unused (2) tickets were that they were in an envelope, approximately 3 x 5 inches, and the ticket color was a purple or magenta color. Does this sound correct ? If the color and size alone are correct, it contributes to the credibility of the story.

Any help would be appreciated.
Paul Gerdes
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Hello Francis,

I don't know whether the ticket thing is true and whether indeed the tickets were unused. I'm not sure how it worked, but if a ticket was bought for one ship, such as Titanic, and was not used, the passenger could change his/her plans, cancel and transfer to another ship of another company, or simply change plans to sail on another ship of the same company ... as your great-grandparents seem to have done.

William C. Stephenson (56) and his wife Winnie Stephenson (57), would have diverted their plans to Liverpool and boarded the Adriatic there. They arrived in New York city on the Adriatic on April 27, 1912.

I know of other passengers who have done that. There were originally going to be 6 gamblers to travel on the Titanic, however 3 of them must have changed their plans as they never ended up boarding Titanic and instead boarded the Celtic (I think it was the Celtic) in Liverpool and arrived in New York on April 20, 1912.

I hope this helped.

Daniel.
 
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Francis Paul Gerdes

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Daniel..

Thanks so much for posting.. however, it's not specifically clear what you said.. so here goes..
Are you saying you found them on a passenger list of the Adriatic ?? Since you said "they would have".. I just wasn't sure what you meant by that...and if so, where can I get a copy of the passenger list ?? In the meantime, I will be searching for more info on the Adriatic..

Thanks again for steering me in the right direction.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Hi Francis,

Would have implies, "if" they had originally planned to sail on the Titanic. Sorry for my confusion. Lets say they did intend to sail on Titanic originally. In that case, they did change their plans, and if they booked passage in London, then instead of catching the boat train to Southampton, they would have caught the boat train from London to Liverpool and boarded the Adriatic there.

Now I don't know how fast the Adriatic was and how long her crossings took. I know that Olympic ran on a weekly basis. If Olympic left Southampton on Wednesdays (as it usually always did) she was expected morning of the following Wednesday in New York and even on a few occasions, arrived Tuesday evening. So depending on how fast the Adriatic was, subtract those days from New York's April 27, 1912 arrival.

Now about the passenger lists. Go to:

http://www.ellisislandrecords.org/search/passSearch.asp?MID=03478640180050051040&

which is my short cut in searching for passengers. Mark "male". Type in W for the first name (or you can even try William) and type in the last name. It will come up with 146 names if you type in just the W and I presume less if you type in William. I feel safer doing just the first initial when typing in the name, it lets you have a look at all the W's of that last name. Now, since you have 146 W Stephensons to look through, go to edit year of arrival. I put down 1911 - 1913 just to be on the safe side. It comes up with 6 names, and your great-grandfather is the last two. For some reason he seems to be mentioned twice, on the same passenger list. Once with his wife in the alien section, as a British/Canadian subject, and then once again with his wife in the US Citizen section. Don't know why or how that happened. Chances are, on the original list, he was crossed out in one of these sections, but when the list was transcribed, he was put on it anyway.

You can then go and chose to look at a picture of the ship, and it gives you a very brief history of it. You can also look at the transcribed and I believe the original version of the passenger manifest. The latter wouldn't come up on my computer.

The original manifest should be available on the web, but if you want to do it the expensive way, you can order it through NARA for $35.

Also, another good way to obtain further info on your great-grandparents, is to obtain Adriatic's Liverpool outgoing (i.e. departure) passenger list for that voyage from PRO - Public Records Office in Kew England (e-mail me if you'd like help obtaining them). It would give you their ticket number, and perhaps a bit of other information (but not much). The ticket number may be compared to ticket numbers held by Titanic passengers and see if the ticket may have been bought about the same time as other Titanic passengers. If you'd like, you can tell me their ticket numbers, I may be able to help you further with that.

Obtaining this list from PRO should not be so expensive. Although I know how to order them, I have never ordered any lists from them ... yet.

Daniel.
 
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Francis Paul Gerdes

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GREAT ! ! ! They are THERE .. it all ties in..his and Winifred's ages match... I have not done the math to see if it was possible to get from point A to point B at the correct date.. but the reason they are noted as Canadian is that I believe that Winifred was from Canada..I don't have my Family tree with me now..(2400) names.. so I don't remember all the info.. William was from Buffalo, NY, and my GF.. William Jr. was born there.. as a matter of fact, in my mother's things (she passed away in March, 2000) I have a ticket to the Blarney Castle, and chip of stone from "the wall next to the Blarney stone", dated in 1912.. I have the exact date, but not with me.. also some "flora" from the Blarney castle.. a bit of dried weed..

Thanks a million for your research.. it's late.. I live in Dallas, but am in Galveston now.. visiting my fiance... will add more in the next couple of nights.. I think I want to order the log data you mentioned.. so watch for some specifics...
 
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Francis Paul Gerdes

Guest
Daniel-- Thanks again--

Last night, I finally was able to take the time to check out the Ellis Island Website, as you proposed, and yes, I found all that you said.. and was able to view and download the manifest from the Adriatic. Actually, I had been there before and done a search on "W Stephenson", and scanned down the listing, but I appeared that the database was sorted by arrival date, and as I scanned from page to page, when I got up to about 1920, I quit looking, and gave up.. In Fact, the dates are NOT in chronological order, because a few pages further the dates begin to be in a random oreder... this could be a big problem for researchers, if you know what i mean...

And guess what... an Uncle of my grandfather's (Charles H. Forrester) and his wife (Cecelia Forrester) and his boy (Charles Jr.) are on the same page of the manifest.

There is a line drawn thru the names (W.C. and Winnie), perhaps because the citizenship is wrong, and a suplimental sheet, where nearly all the names are marked "CIT-USA" is written in. Perhaps the mistaken citizenship was discovered, and they had to correct it on a new page.. that's why they are in the listing twice.

No one (living) in the family ever knew that they were traveling together..I called to a cousin in Idaho, who is somewhat of a historian on the family, and she also had no idea that the two families were together.

The timing works, and there is still a possibility that the plans for the passage on the Titanic was intended. IF the plan was to be on the Titanic, they would have boarded in Queensland at the second stop. IF they DID just miss the boarding, they must have decided to take in the sights for a few days, as I have a ticket to the Blarney Castle dated 4/13/1912. The Adriatic set sail on 4/18/1912, so they had time to get to Liverpool. The Adriatic arrived NY on 4/27/1912.

The question comes to mind.. were there any other ships they could have taken out of Queensland that left shortly after the 11th ?? If so, why did they not take that one???

Now the task is to find when the two families went to England, and if they went together. If they went together, then perhaps they were together the whole time. But they may not have as Charles H Forrester made a number of trips to England in that time, once only a year before in 1911, as he was some sort of a merchant, and went often on business.

Well that's all I have now.. if anybody has any additional info, or ideas, please post.

Thanks everybody

Paul Gerdes
 

debbie beavis

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Jun 10, 2006
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Daniel

You mention obtaining a passenger list from the PRO, and that it may be cheaper..not neccessarily so, sadly. And neither is it easy - you need to give them the exact document reference which tends to be the hard part for overseas applicants as this information is not available anywhere online, then pay 70 pence per sheet (these are large documents) and postage on top. The number of passengers travelling dropped quite a bit in the aftermath of Titanic, but under normal circumstances you can expect around 30 to 35 sheets for a full list for a large transatlantic steamer and often more. The PRO website http://www.pro.gov.uk gives general photocopying info including postage.

Debbie Beavis
 

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