HUDSON COUNTY SURVIVORS TELL OF SEA TRAGEDY

Jersey Journal

Union Hill Governess Gives Graphic Recital of Scenes After Giant Ship
Hit Iceberg and Went Down---Praises Bravery of Men
Passengers---Complains of Treatment on Carpathia

---
BAYONNE YOUTH SAYS HE WAS DRIVEN AWAY FROM LIFEBOATS
---

Several Hudson County people are among the survivors of the ill-fated
Titanic. To-day they told stories of the awful disaster and related
their personal experiences in which they were literally snatched out of
the jaws of death. Some had escapes from watery graves that were little
short of miraculous. All have gone through an ordeal which will be a
livid [sic] memory throughout their lives and their prayers of
thanksgiving for their own good fortune are mingled with supplications
for their fellow travelers who went down with the ship.

So far as can be learned, two Hudson County residents perished. One is
the Hoboken boy for whom hope was given up on Thursday. The other lived
in Jersey City, and with him died his younger brother, whom he was
bringing over to live in the New World.

In many of the churches throughout the county to-morrow services will be
held in connection with the tragedy. They will be in the nature of
memorials. There will be special sermons on the wreck of the Titanic
and prayers will be offered up for both the lost and the saved.

JERSEY CITY MAN AND BROTHER PERISH

John Kieran, who boarded with James Tierney at Grove and Second streets
perished, along with his brother Phillip, in the wreck of the Titanic.
John was 23 years old and was employed as a bartender at 268 Varick
Street. He was a citizen of the United States. He had saved up some
money and made up his mind about six months ago to go back to his native
town, Foster, County Longford, Ireland, to visit his parents. His rosy
description of the new world caused his brother Phillip to develop a
longing to come to this country with him, and the father and mother
reluctantly consented to their youngest son's departure from the old
home. Phillip was scarcely 19 years old when he sailed with his brother
for New York.

Phillip Keleher, of Grand and Henderson streets, uncle of the young men,
was on hand Thursday night, hoping against hope that his nephews might
be among the saved. He left uncomforted and the revised list of the
survivors of the wreck and those who went down with it finally convinced
him that both young men had perished. They were cousins of Thomas
McCormack, of Bayonne, who was among the rescued.

In addition to their parents the Kiernan boys are survived by their
sisters, Annie, Mary, Katherine, Margaret and Bridget.

RESCUED UNION HILL GIRL'S STORY

A story entirely different from that of those rescued from the Titanic
is told by Miss Elizabeth Dowdell of 215 Park Avenue, Union Hill. When
seen at her home last night Miss Dowdell was very emphatic in telling
about the treatment received on board the rescue ship, Carpathia. She
said the passengers were virtually robbed by those who offered to send
wireless messages to friends telling that they were safe, and that these
cost $1 a word.

The band on board the Titanic did not play "Nearer My God to Thee" when
the ship made its final plunge into the deep, and there was a scene of
utter desolation at the end of the tragedy of the sea with only the
heroic conduct of the men passengers to relieve the terror of the
situation, she says.

There was open and flagrant gambling on board the Titanic all day
Sunday, she says, to such an extent that she felt something dreadful
would be the result. She describes the final moments of the ship and
among other things declares that two of the boats were not available
because the crew was unable to get the canvass coverings off them. She
was on boat No. 13 and there were seventy persons in that boat.

Miss Dowdell was returning from Southampton with the six-year-old
daughter of Estelle Emanuel, a well known opera singer. Mrs. Emanuel
sent the child over to New York to see her father and grandparents and
did not accompany her because she has just signed a six months' contract
to sing in England. Several weeks ago Mrs. Emanuel went to England with
the child and Miss Dowdell on the Olympic, the sister ship of the
Titanic.

Both Miss Dowdell and the child were saved. They were taken aboard the
Carpathia and for one whole day bundled into the steerage, where they
were fed hard-tack. Finally, when Ethel, the little girl, refused to
eat this coarse fare any longer they were admitted to the second cabin.

"When taken on the Carpathia," she says, "we were herded on deck, cold,
chilled, and with only so much clothing as we were able to get on. I
had taken time to dress, however, and also to clothe my charge. I even
put on her kid gloves before starting for the deck of the Titanic. We
arrived on deck late and were put into lifeboat No. 13.

FED ON HARD-TACK

"On the Carpathia we were looked over by the officers, and those who
apparently had nothing were all ordered down into the steerage. With my
charge I was put in with the rest. We were fed on hard-tack. Many of
us refused to eat, and when the Carpathia's officers saw this, they had
us come into the second cabin. Before this we had been down in the
steerage for a full day, rubbing arms with Chinese immigrants. We were
desperately hungry by the time they had decided to take us out of this
place.

"All of the survivors who were recognized to have been of prominence or
means were well taken care of and given choice treatment, while we were
accorded anything but that.

"Those who had money could send messages, and those without funds had to
go without doing so. I had $5 in my pocketbook, and I was charged a
dollar a word to send word to Mrs. Emanuel, in England, telling of our
rescue and the safety of her daughter. I sent the message on Tuesday.

"One man, a barber, had but $1.25 with him, and he handed over one
dollar of this to send the word ‘safe’ to his mother.

GAMBLING ON TITANIC

"Prior to the wreck there was open gambling aboard the Titanic every
day. No effort was made to conceal it. Even on Sunday the tables were
crowded with men of the first and second cabins, and the games were open
to anyone who wished to enter. I felt then that something dreadful
would happen.

"The iceberg was plainly visible from the lifeboat in which I was. In
fact we rowed towards it as soon as we could. It was about five stories
in height, and at least a block square.

"My honest impression was that we struck the iceberg headon. The impact
was not very great, but a terrible shiver seemed to go through the ship
at the time.

"I had put Ethel to bed, and was preparing to retire when the crash
came. I went into the passageway and asked a steward what was wrong.
He assured me that everything was all right. I returned to bed.
Scarcely had I closed the door before someone came running along the
passage, ordering all hands to dress and put on life belt.

THOUGHT SHIP UNSINKABLE

"I took my time in getting ready, not thinking the situation was
serious. I firmly believed the Titanic was unsinkable. When we tried
to get to the deck the stairways were so crowded that we could not use
them. Men and women were climbing over each other here, and it was
impossible for them to move up. They appeared to me to be steerage
passengers, and their cries and curses were terrible to hear.

"Finally some of the men passengers realized that it would be impossible
to get up by the stairways, and they hoisted the women and children to
seamen on the gallery above. They clasped their hands to gether [sic],
to enable the women to step upon them and reach out to those who would
grasp them.

ONE BRAVE MAN

"An Englishman stepped to my side and picked up my charge. He held her
up as high as possible, but she was too small to grasp the hands
overhead. Finally he stood alongside one of the poles and lifted her to
his shoulders. Still she could not get up.

"Step on my face, kiddie," he said.

"She did, and was lifted up. Then I placed my foot on his two hands and
climbed above. The child had her shoes on, too, and his face was
frightfully scratched. Still, he smiled bravely when he assisted me.

" 'Goodby, Miss, and good luck,' " he said.

"When we arrived on deck nearly all of the boats were off. They were
just filling No. 13, and the men and officers were trying to get the
canvass off two others. They failed in this, and at last gave up in
despair. My charge and I were carried bodily into boat No. 13.

SAW THREE MEN SHOT

"Several men tried to rush in on us before we were lowered. I saw an
officer shoot three of them. The others stopped immediately.

"The Titanic began to list alarmingly. When we reached the water the
next boat behind us was coming down, and just missed coming on top of
ours. As it was we collided, and for a moment I thought we would
overturn.

"I stated before that we saw the iceberg plainly. After striking, the
Titanic had backed away. When we rowed towards the towering ice
mountain I looked and saw the gaping hole in the side of the big ship.
The sea rushed in in torrents. Our boat was manned with twelve sailors,
two at each oar, and it must have taken nearly ten minutes before we
were free from the suction.

CRIES AND SOBS

"No sooner were we off than the Titanic began to go down rapidly. The
bow disappeared first. There was no playing by the bands, and only the
cries and sobs of those aboard and in the boats was to be heard above
the wash of the sea.

"Many aboard the lifeboats, when they saw their dear ones on deck
doomed, threw themselves overboard. Some had to be forcibly restrained.
The last thing I heard was what I believed to have been the captain's
voice crying 'every man for himself.'

"While we were rowing about many came alongside and were pulled aboard.
We had seventy in our boat by the time the Carpathia picked us up. I do
not know how many we took on board at the start.

"All during this time rockets were being sent up from the doomed vessel.
Revolver shots added to the din and the dying voices. Then there was
one great explosion. I guessed it was the boilers. The Titanic did not
stay up long after that, but tilted, bow downward, with a great part of
the stern in the air. She stayed for a moment, then plunged under. Her
lights were burning to the last.

"One woman from a capsized boat came near to us. She was swimming.
'Man, let go of me,' she pleaded to some one who was hanging upon her.

" 'I will not,' responded the masculine voice. 'If I do I will drown.'
He did let go, however, and the woman was hauled aboard. She said she
had been swimming for an hour, and supporting this unknown man for half
of that time.

FAMILY OF NINE DIED TOGETHER

"There was one instance of a family of nine, including the mother and
father. The men tried to force one of the daughters into the boat, but
when she learned that her father and brothers could not be saved, she
leaped back on the wave-washed Titanic deck. This was in the boat
lowered after ours.

"We were rowing about for six hours before being picked up. The men
became so tired that we women had to change places with them and row.

"I was even surprised at my own calmness. I guess it was the
responsibility I had in caring for Ethel. I worried only about her, for
I have been with her a good while and we are attached to each other."

Miss Dowdell's relatives were among those at the White Star Line pier
awaiting the arrival of the Carpathia. When they arrived and were
admitted they could find no trace of her. In fact, when they decided to
return to North Hudson they were satisfied of her being among the
missing.

She had gone with the grandparents of the Emanuel child, in their home
at 605 West 113th Street, New York. They are Mr. and Mrs. Thiel. Later
the father came from his residence, at 629 West 115th Street, New York.
Then a telegram was sent to Union Hill announcing Miss Dowdell's safety.

Her name was not checked off as among the survivors by the White Star
Line officials. In some manner she slipped by them in leaving the dock.
Later the father of the little girl sent word to his wife in England
that their child was safe.

REUNITED ON HOBOKEN CAR

Miss Dowdell's relatives came over the Fourteenth Street ferry to
Hoboken, sorrowing, for they were sure of her loss. They boarded a
Fourteenth Street trolley car there, and to their amazement she came
aboard a few passengers behind them. There was a great reunion, and it
was learned that the survivor had sailed from New York to Hoboken in the
same ferryboat as those who were looking for her.

When asked about the time of the collision with the iceberg Miss
Dowdell said it must have occurred about ten minutes to 12 o'clock. She
is positive that the stern disappeared beneath the waves at half past 1
o'clock, for one of the sailors had a watch with him, and looked at it.

EXPERIENCES OF A YOUNG ENGLISHMAN

Thomas Pehcy [sic] Oxenham, 22 years old, of Pondersent, England, was
also a passenger on the Titanic. He was on his way to the home of his
brother Charles Oxenham of 966 Tonnele Avenue, New Durham. He was one
of those who survived. Just how he happened to be rescued is not yet
clear in his mind. A chum who was with him, Walter Harris, who was
married secretly in England over a year ago, and who leaves a wife and a
young son on the other side of the ocean, was lost. He was with Oxenham
up to the time the latter was pushed into a boat, but that was the last
seen of him.

Oxenham was dressed only in his underclothing when he got into the
lifeboat and when he was taken aboard the Carpathia. At the home of his
brother last night he refused to discuss at length what happened.

"My mind is in a sort of daze," he said. "It all seems like a nightmare
to me --- like some dream that I had, and to say it is only five days
since the ship went down seems impossible. It feels more like an age
has elapsed.

"Both Harris and I were second cabin passengers. I was aroused from my
sleep by one of the stewards and told to hurry on deck. This I did
after awakening Harris. We got up to the boat deck somehow and then I
forget what happened. I remember being in the boat. The rest of the
story has been printed better than I could describe it. Anyway, I don't
want to talk. I need a long rest, and I am not going to say anything
more until I have recovered from the shock and exposure."

At this point, Oxenham's brother declared that he thought the reporter
had better not question the young man at further length. He became
intemperate in refusing further answers by his brother.

At the door he said in reply to questions that he did not believe the
young man's mind had been affected to any extent by the disaster and
that he had not yet called in a doctor.

"All he needs is a good rest," the brother said, "and I am going to
insist that he gets a rest. I won't even let members of my own family
talk to him about the horror. I brought him here this morning from New
York. He had no clothes in which he could travel even from New York
here, and I had to get him some before he could leave the ship."

Asked if any of the officials of the White Star Line had tried to induce
his brother to not talk about the disaster and if he had been promised
any compensation for the belongings he lost, Charles Oxenham refused to
discuss the matter any further and would neither affirm nor deny that
the steamship officials had "seen" the young man.

BAYONNE YOUTH'S REMARKABLE ESCAPE

Thomas McCormack, 19 years old, of 39 West Twentieth Street, Bayonne,
one of the survivors of the Titanic, had a thrilling escape from death,
according to the stories he related to his sister, Catherine, and
brother-in-law, Bernard Evers, yesterday at St. Vincent's Hospital,
Eleventh Street and Seventh Avenue, New York, where he is confined owing
to exposure. His relatives in Bayonne located him yesterday and were
overjoyed that he survived. He will, it was said to-day, be able to
return to Bayonne within a few days. He was up and around the hospital
yesterday and apparently on the road to speedy recovery.

According to the story he related to Miss McCormack and Evers, he had
retired in his stateroom in the second cabin when the crash came.
Scantily attired, he rushed to the deck as the ship started to settle.
All was confusion, but he managed to secure a life preserver which he
straped [sic] securely about himself.

Officers of the ship were holding back the men on the boat with some difficulty and
on several occasions backed up their orders with threats to shoot any
man who sought to crowd out a woman from the life boats, which were
hurriedly manned.

JUMPED INTO THE SEA

When McCormack saw that he would be unable to get a seat in one of the
life boats he did not hesitate but sprang from the decks of the Titanic
into the ocean. The water, he said, was comparatively smooth at the
time but cold, and he had considerable trouble keeping above the water.
The monster ship was settling badly as he started to swim toward a life
boat a short distance away.

McCormack is a good swimmer and a strong athletic young fellow. As he
neared the life boat which was moving slowly, he declares he was warned
off by sailors who were in the boat.

WAS DRIVEN AWAY FROM LIFEBOATS

Realizing that it was his only chance of saving himself he seized the
side of the boat only to be repeatedly beaten off by sailors. Blow
after blow were showered on his hands, arms and body from their oars by
the sailors and finally he was obliged to release his hold.

Another life boat came along a few minutes afterward and McCormack,
according to his story, repeated his attempt, this time successfully, to
get aboard. There were several vacant seats in the boat and he was
determined, he declared, to get into the boat. He was beaten again by
the sailors but kept his hold on the boat and finally managed to crawl
into the boat. He was almost exhausted by his fight and suffered from
the blows which had been showered on him. The life boat he was in was
picked up about two hours afterward by the Carpathia and he was
furnished with clothing and given medical attention.

SUCTION TERRIFIC

The suction of the Titanic, he declared, was terrific as she sank with
her many occupants.

When the Carpathia reached New York McCormack was among those who were
removed to hospitals in the metropolis. His sister and brother-in-law
had some trouble in finding out what had become of him, but after a long
wait managed to learn to what hospital he had been taken.

REJOICING AT BAYONNE HOME

There was a scene of rejoicing at the home of his sister and
brother-in-law, Bernard and Mrs. Evers, in West Twentieth Street, last
night. Friends of McCormack who called were informed, amid tears and
smiles, that he was among those who had survived, and would be back in
Bayonne within a few days.

McCormack had been in Ireland for six months, visiting his birthplace
and seeing relatives and friends. Mrs. Evers said last night that she
would go to New York to-day and see her brother. Evers declared that he
had had but a few hours' sleep since the Carpathia docked in New York.
He retired last night about 8:30 o'clock. He accompanied his wife to
New York to-day to visit his brother-in-law.

Hope for the return of his brother, Leonard, who went to his death at
the bottom of the Atlantic in the Titanic disaster, has been completely
abandoned by John Moore, who resides in a little apartment at 519 Willow
Street, Hoboken, with his life [sic].

It has been a gruesome experience for the couple. They were both much
attached to the boy, who was 19 and just graduated from school. As they
sat last night, wan and haggard from their hopeless vigil, tears came to
their eyes.

It was hard for John to speak of the matter. He had been to the pier
and waited through the long hours Thursday night during which the
survivors grimly wended their way down the gangplank of the Cunarder
Carpathia, and when the last of them had left the vessel he returned to
his home heavy of heart, finding it difficult to realize the extent of
the horrible disaster. He and the lost brother had been inseparable
since childhood.

"I suppose it is the will of God," he said philosophically to-day, "and
we have to accept it as best we can. He was a good fellow."

Fears are entertained that Miss Kitty Cohn of 554 Avenue C, Bayonne, is
one of the passengers who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. A name
somewhat similar to her's [sic] appears among the list of the drowned,
but her sister, Mrs. Kampton, with whom she lived at the above address,
is hopeful that she may have taken passage on another steamer. Miss
Cohn left London after visiting her sister, Mrs. Edith Blott, about ten
days ago for Liverpool, to board a steamer for New York, but it is not
known for a certainty that she engaged passage on the Titanic. She had
been in England about a year.

[Note: Ms. Cohen was not, in fact, on Titanic.  MAB]

 

Related Biographies:

Elizabeth Dowdell
Walter Harris
John Joseph Kiernan
Philip Kiernan
Virginia Ethel Martin
Thomas Joseph McCormack
Leonard Charles Moore
Percy Thomas Oxenham

Contributor

Mark Baber

500
Leave a comment...