Encyclopedia Titanica

Ernst Ulrik Persson

Ernst Ulrik Persson
Ernst Ulrik Persson

Mr Ernst Ulrik Persson, 25, was born in Julita, Sweden on July 29, 1886. Before leaving Sweden he had worked as a janitor and a chauffeur and lived at Hollandargatan 4, Stockholm.

Persson, who was immigrating to America, boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number 347083, £7 15s 6d) together with his sister Elna Ström and niece Telma Matilda Ström it is believed that they occupied cabins on G deck (possibly room 6 or 7). They were travelling to Indiana Harbor, IN where Elna Ström had been settled for some time.

Ernst described the terrible experience of the sinking in a letter to his wife.

When Elna and I came up all lifeboats were crowded at that time no rescue was found. We stood together all the time, so we agreed to accompany each other into the deep. But as the boat sunk and the water started pouring over the deck there was a terrible sight and scuffle and that separated us. Then I heard Elna saying "Tell Wilhelm and my parents and sisters if you get rescued." Then I didn't see her any longer because then we were all washed overboard. When I came into the water I sunk several meters below the surface so as I came up again, I had a roof of wreckage over my head. I managed to come up in it and got hanging for a good while, but when the last part of the boat started to sink, so I had to leave the wreckage and try to swim away, otherwise I once again would have been dragged down into the deep. As I swam, I saw how people in the water tried to rescue themselves in an overloaded boat but as they hanged on the gunwale and all drowned and the boat turned the keel upwards, then I saw how some people climbed up on it, then I swam away towards it and was taken up. On this boat was only Italians and it was crowded, that it floated nearly one meter below the water. There I had to lie for six hours with the water up to my shoulders. Then we were taken up in a lifeboat that rowed us to the big boat that had come to rescue us.

Elna and Telma Ström were lost in the sinking, Persson's account suggests that he was rescued on one of the collapsible boats that were floated off the ship, probably collapsible B1.

Persson made an insurance claim (Claim No. D35) for personal injury ($5,000) and loss of property ($250). He also received relief from the American Red Cross (#376).

Case number 376. (Swedish).
Chauffeur, 25 years of age, coming with his sister and her little daughter, both of whom were drowned, lost baggage and $50 in cash. He has wife and two young children in Sweden. ($50).

Ernst's wife Anna and sons Ernst Folke and Ernst Tage came to join him in America in October of 1912, two more children were born later.

By 1914 Ernst had changed his name to Ernest Pearson2, worked as a bricklayer at the Standard Forgings company (the same company as Wilhelm Strom) and lived with his family at 3725 A Carey Street, Indiana Harbor, Indiana. The family later moved to Hammond, Indiana.

Ernst's wife appears to have predeceased him. Ernst himself died on 17 October 1951, aged 65. He was buried in Elmwood cemetery, Hammond, Indiana.


1.No independent verification of Persson's story has been found and others have suggested that he actually left in lifeboat 15 which was lowered from the deck but, again, no hard evidence exists to support the claim. According to a Hartford newspaper, Persson entered the "last lifeboat" together with messrs Dahl, Johansson, and Jonsson. This article has not been identified as yet. Charles Dahl would later mention his presence in boat 15, saying there were over 80 people in it (!), but that only about 15 or so were women and children. The Lake County Times of 27 April 1912 supports the essence of Perssons's story but suggests it was Mrs Astor (who was in boat 4) that facilitated his rescue. This is most likely an example of journalistic licence, not uncommon at the time.
2. Later in life Ernst would explain that he changed his name to Pearson because of being teased about being 'Ernst Person', in fact what actually happened was that in the hospital following the disaster, the name change occurred because his English was not very good and the spelling was changed to Pearson.

References and Sources

The Lake County Times, 24, 27 April 1912
The Hammond Times, October 18, 1951
Letter from Ernst Persson to his wife 20 April 1912
Indiana State Board Of Health Certificate Of Death (#32770)
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
American Red Cross (1913) Emergency and Relief Booklet (#376)
East Chicago City Directory p.269
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer At Port Of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship: Carpathia) - National Archives, NWCTB 85 T715 Vol 4183
Names and Descriptions of Alien Passengers Embarked at the Port of Southampton, 10 April 1912 (PRO London, BT 27/780B).
Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0

Research Articles

Peter Engberg-Klarström Titanica! (2020) Titanic's Stockholm Connections

Newspaper Articles

Lake County Times (27 April 1912) LAKE CO. MAN TELLS TERRIBLE STORY
Chicago Daily News (27 April 1912) Saved by Mrs. Astor from Death in Ocean
Hammond Times (18 October 1951) Calument Region Obituaries : ERNEST PEARSON
Hammond Times (18 October 1951) Calument Region Obituaries: Ernest Pearson
Hammond Times (18 October 1951) Death and Funeral Notices : ERNEST PEARSON
Hammond Times (18 October 1951) Death and Funeral Notices: PEARSON


St Louis Post-Dispatch (1912) Titanic Survivors in New York

Documents and Certificates

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Günter Bäbler, Switzerland
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Mike Pearson, USA (great grandson of Ernst Persson)
Patti Pearson-Kotz, USA (granddaughter of Ernst Tage Persson)
Richard Paul Smyers, USA (East Chicago Public Library), East Chicago, IN

Comment and discuss

  1. Patti Pearson-Kotz

    Wonderful. Was told that my Great-Grandfather was a passinger. Ernst Person name was changed to Pearson. Found the web site full of great info. Will continue to brouse often. Thanks. Patti Pearson-Kotz Batavia, IL

  2. Bert Pearson

    Grandson of Ernst Ulrik Persson Would like to hear from other relatives. Bert Pearson Gurnee, IL


    Re: my father was Ernest Folke which makes me the grand son. The above account by my grandfather was hand written on stationary from the Swedish Immagration Home in New York. I was able to get it translated by Mr. Wilham Baum, an archievist of old documents in Stockholm. I tried to contact him at a later date, but all of my letters were returned. The above account is his translation of that letter. Ironically, he was in another boating incident in about 1947 when I was about 6 years old . My father, grandfather and I were fishing from a small... Read full post

  4. Peter Mayfield

    he was a brave man

  5. Logan and Max Madani

    Great article!Signed Max and Logan Madani (Ernst Ulrik Persson/Ernest Pearson's Great Great Grandson's)

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Ernst Ulrik Persson
Age: 25 years 8 months and 17 days (Male)
Nationality: Swedish
Marital Status: Married to Anna Sofia Johansson
Last Residence: in Stockholm, Uppland, Sweden
Occupation: Chauffeur
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 347083, £7 15s 6d
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Cause of Death:
Buried: Elmwood Cemetery, Hammond, Indiana, United States

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