Miss Bridget Moran, known as Bertha, was born in Toomdeely, Askeaton, Co Limerick, Ireland on 1 October 1879.1
She was the daughter of Patrick Moran (b. circa 1837), a labourer, boatman and former lighthouse keeper, and Bridget Nestor (b. circa 1845) who had married in 1867.
Bridget was the sister of ten siblings: Catherine (b. 1 April 1868), Ellen (b. 21 December 1869), Alice (b. 1 July 1872), Michael (b. 19 December 1874), John (b. 24 December 1875), Mary (b. 18 April 1878), Frances (b. 15 February 1882), Daniel (b. 7 July 1883), Patrick (b. 20 December 1885) and Thomas (b. 20 May 1888).
Her mother died on 20 July 1891 from tuberculosis and her widowed father never remarried. Although herself absent from both the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses, Bridget's family were listed on the 1901 census living at house 8 in Toomdeely North and on the 1911 census at house 5 in the same locale.
Bridget, who worked in a shirt factory, had emigrated around 1905 and lived in Troy, Rensselaer, New York with four of her siblings; Nellie, Frances, Daniel and Thomas, appearing there on the 1905 census with her family as a resident of River Street and with all the ladies described as collar workers.
Bridget's father died in on 8 October 1909 aged 72 and she and her brother Daniel decided to return to Ireland in November 1911 to claim an inheritance, reportedly estimated at between $12,000 and $15,000.
For their return to New York they boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on 11 April 1912 as third class passengers (joint ticket number 371110 which cost £24, 3s). Travelling on their ticket was a friend, Patrick Ryan and they were also acquainted with another passenger from Askeaton, Margaret Madigan.
On the night of the sinking Bridget had been awakened by a jolt and was further roused by a commotion outside her cabin. Her brother Daniel soon arrived telling her that the ship had struck an iceberg and was in trouble and that she had no time to dress. Throwing a coat over her nightclothes, she made her way with the rest of her party to the communal areas but found difficulties getting near the lifeboats and she related how crewmen barred their access to higher decks. Upon reaching the outer decks she claimed to have encountered Father Thomas Byles who assisted she and Margaret Madigan into one of the lifeboats (boat 15). Whilst Bridget and her friend Margaret were saved, her brother Daniel and their friend Patrick were lost in the sinking.
Arriving in New York aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, Bridget was described as a 28-year-old collar factory worker and her next of kin was listed as her brother Patrick in Ireland. She later filed a claim for loss of property but received only a fraction of the amount. Her inheritance reportedly went down with her brother. Such was the enormity of her experiences Bridget would never set foot on a boat ever again.
Bridget was married in New York the following year to machinist Richard Sinnott (b. 14 May 18892), a fellow countryman and son of Edward Sinnott and Bridget Hanley of Co Wexford. They had three children: Daniel James (b. 29 August 19143), Eileen Ruth (b. 12 April 19164) and Richard (b. 7 June 19185).
The family moved to Detroit, Michigan around 1916 where Richard garnered another machinist job; he died tragically on 26 October 1917 in an accident at work when a pressurised device malfunctioned, with the compressed air puncturing his abdomen and intestines, he passing away only shortly after. He was buried in Troy, New York.
Bridget was pregnant with their youngest child when she was made a widow and their son, whom she named Richard in honour of his late father, arrived on 7 June 1918. She and her children appear on the 1920 census as residents of 800 Porter Street, Detroit and later, to make ends meet, she began working as a beautician.
She was remarried to an English widower George Cooper (b. 15 November 1882 in Bradford), a sausage salesman, who brought to the family three children from his previous marriage: Ernest, Frank and Richard. Bridget and George welcomed a daughter of their own, Bertha (b. 22 February 19236) and the 1930 census shows the blended family living at 2236 23rd Street, Detroit. By the time of the 1940 census Bertha was again a widow and still at 2236 23rd Street, Detroit (the home she would live at for the rest of her life), her husband George having passed away on 17 November 1936.
Bridget spent her later years tending her garden and her nine grandchildren. In 1953 she was a special guest at a special screening of the Fox movie Titanic, an event she found very emotional.
Bridget Cooper, née Moran, late Sinnott, later battled cancer and died on 15 April 1961, the 49th anniversary of the sinking.