Miss Bannūrah Ayyūb-Dāhir1 was born on 15 March 18952 in Kafr 'Abaīdā, al-Batrūn, Syria, then within the Ottoman Empire but now part of modern-day Lebanon. She hailed from a Maronite Christian family and was the daughter of Ayyūb Dāhir Dāhir and Mārī Yūsuf.
Bannūrah had several relatives in the USA and she decided to travel to Columbus, Ohio to the home of her uncle John Abdow (1860-1920), a dry-goods merchant. Her brother Dāhir had been living there for the past year whilst another brother Yūsuf lived in Owen Sound, Ontario.
She would travel with her cousins Jirjis Yūsuf Abī Sa'b (Gerios Youseff), Ḥannā Ṭannūs Mu'awwad (John Thomas) and his teenage son Ṭannūs Ḥannā Mu'awwad Ṭannūs (Thomas), all of Tuḥūm, Syria. Others in their party were relatives of the Ṭannūs men, Shanīnah Shāhīn Abī S’ab Wihbah, and Ṭannūs Dāhir, both also of Tuḥūm.
Bannūrah boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as a third-class passenger (ticket number 2687 which cost £7, 4s, 7d) and was headed for Columbus, Ohio; the remainder of the group were bound for Youngstown, Ohio.
When the Titanic struck the iceberg Bannūrah was below deck with the other third-class passengers. Asleep in her cabin, her cousins alerted her to the danger and went out to investigate but found nothing amiss and told her to go back to sleep. A short while later she reawakened to find water beginning to enter her cabin. She and her cousins hurriedly dressed and darted out of their cabin into the communal areas of third class.
Whilst waiting in the throng of passengers Bannūrah recalled what she thought were first-class passengers circulating among the crowd offering assistance. Her cousin Ḥannā Ṭannūs went in search of his son Ṭannūs and disappeared down one stairwell only for the young Ṭannūs to appear from another. Bannūrah informed him that his father had left to look for him and gestured to where he had went; the young man followed his father and she never saw either of them again.
Her cousin Jirjis Yūsuf accompanied she and Shanīnah Wihbah up to the lifeboats and saw them safely into one of the latter ones before he stepped back into the crowd. Which lifeboat Bannūrah and Shanīnah escaped in remains unclear but some researchers place them in collapsible C.
Bannūrah and Shanīnah were sheltered and cared for at the New York Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society at 239 Broadway Street following their arrival in New York; there they became the subject of a famous photograph consisting of a group of second and third class survivors which included: Mrs Jane Quick and her daughters, Mrs Leah Aks and her son; and Mrs Beila Moor and her son Meier. They later boarded a train to go westward to Ohio and Bannūrah was reunited with her uncle John Abdow at 270 North Third Street in Columbus. Shortly after this Bannūrah travelled to Owen Sound, Ontario where she had more family.
Described as 17-years-of-age, Bannūrah was married in Owen Sound on 11 September 1912 to Michael Deyoub (b. 19 February 1884 in Batrūn, Lebanon). Known as Mike, he was a moulder by profession who had first emigrated to the USA in October 1902. The couple initially made their home in Owen Sound and began their family of seven children, their first two children being born there before they settled in Michigan in 1917.
The children of Bannūrah and Mike were: Mary (b. 1913, later Samaha), George (1916-1983), Peter (1920-1993), John (1924-2004), Ferris (1925-2010), Margarette (b. 1929, later Roman) and Sarah (1933-2001). A son Thomas was born in 1915 but he died on 17 April 1916.
A 1917 immigration record described Bannūrah as standing at 5' 1" and having brown eyes, black hair and a dark complexion; at the time she was travelling to 357 Swan Street in Buffalo, New York and it was indicated that she was unable to speak English.
The 1930 census records the family living at 3561 Alexandrine (?) in Detroit and on the 1940 census at 3670 Arndt Street in the same city; Bannūrah's husband Mike worked for many years in the Ford motor company and by the time of the latter census he was working in the radiator department.
Bannūrah never returned to Lebanon or saw her parents again but despite her experience on the Titanic she loved boating. She remained a devout Catholic for the rest of her life.
Family remember Bannūrah as a small but feisty lady, especially when it came to raising her family. Her husband Michael—who enjoyed gambling—would receive a weekly cash envelope with his pay whilst working at Ford Motor Company's Rouge Assembly Plant. One week, however, Michael came home without his earnings, having wagered it away. An irate Bannūrah reportedly got on a bus and went down to Ford's Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and spoke of these troubles to Henry Ford himself. From that day forward all subsequent pay envelopes were sent directly to her instead of being given to her husband. Michael's days of squandering his paycheque on gambling were thus put to an end.
As a Titanic survivor, Bannūrah remained largely invisible and was seemingly overlooked in her later years. During the Titanic-hype of the 1950s there was no mention of her and no latter-day interviews have ever surfaced. This may be down to the fact that she never mastered English, or just down the fact that she had chosen not to ever think about her experiences aboard Titanic again. She remained in obscurity until her death.
Bannūrah became a widow in 1956 and she herself died in Detroit aged 75 on 3 December 1970 and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery; her simple headstone reads:
WIFE - MOTHER