In the appalling calamity which befell the Titanic on Monday - (pages 7 and 8) - a toll of eleven lives was exacted from Peterborough, and remarkable to say, all in one family. These were Mr. and Mrs. John Sage, of Gladstone Street, and their nine children, Stella (2), George (20), Douglas (19), Frederick (15), Dorothy (14), William (12), Ada (9), Constance (7), and Thomas (3).
The news of the disaster came as a great shock to the many personal friends of Mr. and Mrs. Sage, and even up to Thursday, they were hoping against hope that the names of some of the family would appear amongst the list of survivors.
Mr. and Mrs. Sage came to Peterborough nearly two years ago from Watton, in Norfolk, where Mr. Sage had carried on the trade as a licensed victualler. He took over the bakery and confectionery business of Mr. Plant, in Gladstone Street, which also had an off-licence, and remained there for a year, eventually moving into a private residence in the same street. less than twelve months ago, accompanied by his son, he went to Canada, where both acted in the capacity of cooks in the victualling department connected with the Central Pacific Railway.
After some months, Mr. Sage and his son had saved sufficient money to embark out in a venture of his own, and he purchased a fruit farm at Jacksonville, Florida, which he intended to cultivate. in August of last year, he returned home to Peterborough, being followed by his son George two months later, and preparations were made for the whole family to go out to their new home.
It was Mr. Sages original intention to proceed west on the Philadelphia on the Saturday following Good Friday, but that vessel's voyage was cancelled owing to the coal strike, and passages were then secured in the Titanic. On the Tuesday before the ill-fated vessel sailed, Mr. Sage, who was of a jovial disposition, was busily saying goodbye to his friends, and telling them in a joking way he was going to plant six acres of Pecan nuts which, then they came to fruition, he would send a sample home to his friends at Peterborough.
Thus it came about on Wednesday morning of last week, the family of eleven emigrants left Peterborough to join the ship at Southampton. The train, which was due to leave Peterborough at 3.52, did not arrive from the North till an hour later, and this enabled those friends who had come to wish God-speed to take a longer farewell. These friends were Mr. and Mrs. Todd of 188, Walpole Street, and Mr. Cracknell and Mr. Gibbs, neighbours of Gladstone Street. Whilst the youths, Douglas, George, and Fred, were engaged in conservation with their companions from the Great Northern Hotel, where at one time they were employed, other members of the party were exchanging farewells, and all spoke of contemplated return to the old country in years to come.
Miss Stella Sage, who was a great personal friend of Mrs. Todd's, was most emphatic in saying she would be back again in a year or two. Amid all the heartiest good wishes, with handkerchief waving the emigrants were speeded on their journey, which, alas in a few days was to end in a tragedy swift, sudden, and almost heart-breaking to contemplate.
On Saturday, cheery postcards were received from Queenstown, one addressed to Mrs. Todd, with a picture of the great vessel on it, reading:
Dear Mrs. Todd -
Just a postcard of the boat. I am not sea sick yet and hope I shall not be.
Will write a long letter while on the boat.
Cheer up, I'm coming back soon.
With love Stella.
Mrs. Todd as she handed the postcard could not restrain her feelings, as she related what a jolly and happy girl Stella was, and then to think that her bright young life had been so soon cut off.
A remarkable coincidence happened on Sunday. Mr. Todd, who is a member of St. Barnabus' Church, made a request that the hymn ''Eternal Father, strong to save'' might be sung at the evening service, and it was actually rendered within an hour or so of the vessel meeting with her doom.