Mr Charles Hallace Romaine

Mr Charles Hallace Romaine1 was born in Kentucky2 on 11 July 1866.

He was the youngest son of William H. Romine (1825-1867), a farmer, and Julia "Jailey" Hester Lynam (1826-1911). His father hailed from Virginia3 and his mother from Kentucky.

He had eleven siblings: William Henry (1843-1927), John F. (b. 1846), James H. (1847-1903), Jo Ann Matilda (1849-1922, later Mrs Oliver Pearce), Mary E. (1851-1880), Sarah (b. 1854), Richard Absolam (1855-1945), D. Howard (b. 1858), Artimecia (1860-1934, later Finney), Franklin F. (1862-1944) and Georgie Ellen (b. 1864).

His father died in 1867 and his mother was remarried to Joshua Secrist4 (b. 1827), another Kentucky man who worked as a farm labourer and who had several children from a previous relationship. Charles, his mother, stepfather and step-siblings appear on the 1870 census living in Tiffin, Adams County, Ohio. When the 1880 census was conducted a 13-year-old Charles, listed as Harrison Sechrest, is described as a farm labourer and living in Oliver, Adams County, Ohio. His whereabouts after this are unclear but it seems he and his family uprooted and moved to Anderson in Madison County, Indiana sometime around 1892.

Charles was married around 1895 to Eileen Beatrice Doll (b. 15 March 1874) but they had no children, settling in Manhattan. When the couple appeared on the 1900 census they were residents of West 112th Street, later appearing at 107th Street for the 1905 census. By 1910 the couple were residents of West 109th Street. Romaine earned a living as a stockbroker.

Romaine's 1915 passport describes him as standing at 5 ' 11" with grey hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion.

In April 1911 Romaine's mother Jailey died. She had been in a bad fall four years previous and suffered up until her death. Almost exactly one year later Romaine would find himself aboard Titanic.

Romaine boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 111428 which cost £26, 11s). He is remembered as one of several passengers engaged in gambling on the ship and he used several aliases including Harry Romine but chose Mr C. Rolmane for this trip. He would later claim to have heard passengers on say they had seen icebergs near the ship just a short time before the collision.

Romaine was rescued, possibly in lifeboat 9.

Charles and his wife appear on the 1920 census as residents of West 98th Street, Manhattan and by that time Charles is described as a promoter of oil stocks. He had spent time living in London in 1915 where he served as a managing director of Throg-Morton trust company and for a few years following the Titanic disaster he managed the Hotel Doxey in Anderson, Indiana before returning to New York and the brokerage business.

Charles was killed after being hit by a taxi cab on 18 January 1922 just a block away from his home. He is buried in Maplewood Cemetery, Anderson, Indiana.

His sister Matilda was to follow him in death less than five months later on 4 May as a result of blood poisoning, believed to have derived from a slight scratch on her finger nail.

His widow Eileen never remarried and later settled in Englewood, New Jersey. She died in January 1970 aged 95 and was buried with Charles.

Notes

  1. Surname more commonly spelled Romine, but Charles seems to have preferred the Romaine spelling
  2. Birthplace uncertain. Several sources give his birthplace as Georgetown in Scott County. Romaine himself stated on his 1915 passport that he had been born in Lafayette County, Kentucky. No such county exists and it is possible he meant Fayette County. On his 1918 passport he stated he was born in Harmony, Kentucky, a town in Fulton, County. The 1850 census shows his family as residents of Bath County and on the 1860 census at Owen County. A family source places his birthplace as Bowling Green, Warren County.
  3. Birthplace uncertain; he stated on the 1850 census that he was born in Virginia and on the 1860 census he stated Tennessee as his birthplace.
  4. Spelling of Secrist varies across records

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Charles Hallace Romaine
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Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2017) 
(1922) 
Chicago Daily Journal (1912) 
 

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Comment and discuss

  1. Arne Mjåland said:

    I persuaded The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana to write a story about this famous gambler on the Titanic. The story appeared on April 12 2002. "Charles Hallace Romaine was a colourful chap. A tall boisterous man with a sharp eye for money and not necessarily in the lawful sence. But under whichever name Romaine may prove to be one of the more curious characters to board the "unsinkable" ship. Ann Harris, 90 who is Romaine s only living relative still living was interviewed in the... Read full post

  2. Brian Meister said:

    Dear Arne, There has indeed, been a great deal of work done on Mr Romaine and his fellow gamblers. My colleague, Phil Gowan has contacted the families of all three, and I have been to the graves of Romaine and Homer. There will be a great deal told about these three later. They both lead very interesting lives full of intrigue. Stay tuned

  3. Arne Mjåland said:

    Anne M. Harris Nov 27 1911 - May 6 2005 By incident I found this online obituary. As you notice I mentioned Mrs Harris above September 19 2002 here on the massage board. I am glad she was interviewed now after she has gone. According to the obituary she had a daughter Kay of Anderson and a son Phillip Hardin of Geneva ILL, 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. It was mentioned in the obituary that she was the great-niece of the Titanic survivor, Charles Hall Romaine I must mention that in the 2002 interview Mrs Harris gave she told that she had a small wooden box in her... Read full post

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Gavin Bell, UK
David Johnson
Phil Harris

References and Sources

Department of Health of the City of New York - Bureau of Records Certificate of Death #1981
The Anderson Herald (Indiana) 21, 22 January 1922
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2019) Charles Hallace Romaine Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #243, updated 25th April 2019 21:45:11 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/charles-romaine.html