Miss Berta Olivia Nilsson was born in Ransbysäter, Lysvik, Värmland, Sweden on 22 February 1894. 1
She was the daughter of Nils Nilsson (b. circa 1867) and Ingeborg Johannesdotter (b. 1866) and she had seven known siblings: Per Johan (b. 1888), Nils Adolf (b. 1890), Maria Karolina (b. 1891), Selma Emelia (b. 1896), Johan Helmer (b. 1899), Hanna Frideborg (b. 1902) and Hilma Sofia (b. 1904).
Berta was engaged to be married to Edvard Larsson-Rondberg (b. 1889) 2, also a native of Lysvik and who worked as a cook. He had emigrated to the USA in 1908 and settled in Missoula, Montana but had returned to Sweden to fetch Berta. The pair boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers (Berta on ticket number 347066 which cost £7, 15s, 6d).
On the night of the sinking Berta was asleep at the time of the collision. Edvard arrived at her cabin, waking her and telling her that his own cabin in the forward quarters had filled with water. She then dressed in heavy clothing and made her way to the communal steerage areas.
Berta survived the sinking, escaping in the last lifeboat to be successfully launched from the ship, collapsible D.
Upon arrival in New York the "Women's Relief Committee" in gave her $50. On 26 April she passed St Paul, Minnesota on her way Westwards with other Scandinavian survivors Carl Olof Jansson, Oscar Hedman and Anna Sjöblom.
After the disaster Berta never dared to travel over the Atlantic ocean again. Following the loss of her fiancé she began a relationship with a fellow Swede by the name of Lars Oskar Persson (b. 27 January 1890) but it is not clear if they were married. They had a son named Leonard (1916-1983). Lars died in 1918 and Bertha was listed on the 1920 census as a widow living in Butte, Silver Bow, Montana. She was married later that year on 16 December in Kalispell, Montana to Hans Aron Christensen (b. 1 May 1890), a carpenter, also Swedish and who had emigrated in 1910 from Göteborg. The couple would have four children of their own: Arthur (b. 1922), Marian (1923-1988, later McCrum), Ruth Loraine (1925-2003, later Gabriel) and Dorothy June (1926-2010, later Cherry). Initially staying in Montana, Berta (now known as Bertha) and her family later moved to Chicago, Illinois in the mid-1920s and remained living in that city.
In later years Berta gave several interviews about her experiences on Titanic. Widowed in 1973, Berta herself later resided at 4205 Fullerton Avenue, Chicago and she died following a stroke on 27 December 1976 aged 82. She was buried in Mount Olive Cemetery in Chicago.
Phillip Gowan, USA
Leif Snellman, Finland
- Her death record gives her date of birth as 22 February 1893. The Swedish birth record index confirms the year as 1894.
- In later interviews Berta described Edvard as her cousin.
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55).
Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
Articles and Stories
Chicago Tribune (1976)
Chicago Tribune (1966)
Link and cite this biography
(2017) Berta Olivia Nilsson Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1075, accessed 23rd March 2017 11:07:57 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/berta-olivia-nilsson.html
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