Mr Jean Scheerlinck

Mr Jean Scheerlinckx was born 26th January, 1883. He was a farm hand and lived with his widowed mother in an old farm house in Haaltert. The relationship between he and his step-father soured, and this prompted him to leave for America. He travelled with Philemon Van Melkebeke.

He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number 345779, £9 10s), he was heading to assist in the sugar beet campaign near Detroit, Michigan.

Jean gave conflicting accounts of how he survived so it remains unclear just how he escaped from the Titanic. He claimed to have jumped into the water and was picked up. More than likely, he left the ship in one of the starboard aft lifeboats (possibly lifeboat 11) where a majority of steerage men escaped.

Jean was penniless when he reached New York. He and fellow Belgian survivors, Jules Sap and Theodore de Mulder, met a fellow Belgian man who owned a traveling stage show. He contracted them to travel with him and relate their stories of the Titanic. The men appeared at each performance and were promised to be paid $5 per day. Eventually, the show owner disappeared with all the money that had been promised to the three Belgian men and they were penniless again.

Jean was the first of the male Belgian survivors to return home. He failed to find work in America and decided to take up the White Star Line on their offer for free passage back to Europe. He left with $400 given to him by the Red Cross. He received more than the other two men since he was reported to have contracted tuberculosis, had suffered severely from shock and exposure and desired to return home.

When he arrived back home in Haaltert, he found out that his stepfather had left. He moved back in with his mother. Café owners liked to offer him drinks on the house for telling his story of the Titanic. He never had to pay for a drink again in his village.

He married Marie Stevens in October of 1912 and in 1914, was called up for military service in the Belgian army. He returned home in 1918, and remained a farmhand for the next 31 years, often working in the sugar beet campaigns in northern France. He lived in the family home until his death on 25th June, 1956, aged 73.

 

Credits

Herman DeWulf, Belgium
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Georges Picavet, Belgium
Kassandra Picavet, Belgium
Hermann Söldner, Germany

Notes

Sometimes listed as "Jan Baptiste" or "Jean Baptiste" or "Joannes". An Amercan Newspaper wrote: "John Scheerlenck", the List or Manifest records "Jean Schurlinch".

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
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

Link and cite this biography

(2017) Jean Scheerlinck Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1205, updated 26th August 2017 18:24:01 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/jean-scheerlinck.html

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