A young man of 20 years and a girl of 18 were the objects of a great deal of sympathy when the Titanic went down last April. They were the children, according to gossip, of JAMES MONTGOMERY SMART, who perished in the wreck. Orphaned and desolate, somewhere in Europe, where they were supposed to be finishing their education, the hearts of the multitude went out to them. Through the American Consuls in Europe, a persistent search was made for them, without avail. It was clear that they did not read the newspapers, however intelligent they might be. Neither did they dwell among people who kept in touch with the news of the day.

We had been accustoming ourselves to say that the world is very small, but it seemed large in view of the seeming fact that two full-grown children of a man who had died in a disaster which had shocked all mankind, and had left property, could not be located or identified. They were, to be sure, found, or nearly found, last August, in Belgium, and it was learned then that their names were GEORGE and ANNIE; but this was like the innumerable discoveries of DOROTHY ARNOLD. Nothing more was heard of it. The year of the Titanic disaster ended, leaving the SMART heirs among the missing. The mystery seemed impenetrable.

Perhaps it was solved Monday, when the will of JAMES MONTGOMERY SMART was filed for probate. It mentions no children. After providing for the payment of the testator's debts the estate is divided between two of his friends in Australia. It is a natural inference that he had no children, that GEORGE and ANNIE SMART never had any more bodily existence than the children of Gentle Elia's dream, that they belong, like the Unicorn and WASHINGTON'S cherry tree, to mythology. But the origin of the SMART children legend might be traced. Perhaps one gossiping person (no, not necessarily a woman) may have confused Mr. SMART with another man of the same name, or another name; but a legend often has slighter foundation than that. It seems that all the persons who have given testimony since the wreck as to the existence of SMART'S children now say that they never heard him speak of them. Anyhow, he had made a will ignoring them, and the will, though dated in 1897, some years before his wife is supposed to have died, ignores her, too. Did he ever have a wife? The sympathetic gossips have made SMART a man of mystery, but it is likely that there is no other mystery left in his case except that ancient, unsolvable mystery as to why so many people will talk confidently about matters of which they know nothing at all.

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John Montgomery Smart


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) THE SMART MYSTERY (New York Times, Wednesday 8th January 1913, ref: #3616, published 30 August 2004, generated 28th July 2020 04:21:36 AM); URL :