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Jessie Laird Trout

Jessie Laird Trout
Jessie Laird Trout

Mrs William Henry Trout was born as Jessie Laird Bruce in Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on 1 November 1884.1

She was the daughter of George Bruce (1857-1940), a cattle farmer, and Mary Anne Booth (1856-1938), both natives of Strichen, Aberdeenshire, and she had eight known siblings from a total of eleven: Margaret (b. circa 1881), Nellie (b. 1887), Jemima (b. 1888), Alexander (b. 1890), John (b. 1892), Charles (b. 1884), Robert (b. 1889) and Lottie (b. 1891).

The family appear on the 1901 census living at Uppermill Cottage in Tarves, Aberdeenshire but they would emigrate to North America in 1904. Her parents would eventually settle in Minnesota.

Jessie was married in Franklin, Ohio on 28 March 1911 to William Henry Trout (b. 4 October 1876 in Alexandria, Licking, Ohio), a brakeman for the Hocking Valley Railway. He was the son of Oscar Trout and Jane Showbough and had a previous marriage in 1900 to Cora Worley (b. 1878) but it seems they were divorced sometime before 1910.

Jessie and William settled in Columbus, Ohio but had no children. William died on 22 September 1911 aged 35 when he was crushed in an accident at work. Whilst in mourning, Jessie returned home to Britain to visit family, including her grandparents and sister Margaret and arrived in early 1912.

For her return to Columbus Jessie boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 240929 which cost £12, 13s).

Jessie survived the sinking, escaping in lifeboat 9.

She returned to Columbus and shortly remarried to Harvey Walter Bortner (b. 15 July 1883 in Pennsylvania). The couple settled in Michigan and had three children: Bruce (1915-1977), Mary Elizabeth (1920-1975) and Frances Isabel (1922-1990). Their first born, Bruce, was born on 14 April 1915. The family made their home in Arbela, Tuscola, Michigan and they lived on a farm which her husband worked.

Ice was again to play a part in Jessie's eventual demise. On 30 December 1930 Jessie and her family were travelling in their car several miles from home when it struck black ice and veered off the road. Jessie panicked during the vehicle's skid and threw herself out onto the road where the car rolled over and crushed her; she was 46. Her husband and children escaped with minor injuries.

Jessie was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Millington, Tuscola, Michigan. Her widower Harvey never remarried  and continued to live in Arbela. He died in 1964 aged 80. All her children were married and raised families and, with exception of her son Bruce (who moved to Iowa) continued to live in Michigan.


  1. Many sources say 1885. She was listed as a 16-year-old on the 1901 census and her death certificate gives her birthdate as November 1884. To the Immigration Officer she gave her age as 27 and her status as widowed.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Jessie Laird Trout
Age: 27 years 5 months and 14 days (Female)
Nationality: Scottish
Marital Status: Widowed
Last Residence: in Columbus, Ohio, United States
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 240929, £12 13s
Rescued (boat 9)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 30th December 1930 aged 46 years
Cause of Death:

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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

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Comment and discuss

  1. Michael William Messer Sr

    Michael William Messer Sr said:

    Jessie was the Great Grandmother of my Son in Law.  She was killed in a car accident.  When she was on the Titanic, she was returning from England after the mourning trip for her husband, who had died tragically

  2. Danielle Trout

    Danielle Trout said:

    That is so sad. Do you have any more information about her. Was Trout her married name?

  3. Wendy Hughes

    Wendy Hughes said:

    Trout was her married name. She was born Jessie Laird Bruce in Aberndeenshire, Scotland. She was my great, great Aunt and from the lineage of Robert the Bruce.

  4. Wanda Opperman (2625)

    Wanda Opperman (2625) said:

    Jessie Laird Bruce, Trout, Bortner was my grandmother. Harvey Walter Bortner was my grandfather. My mother, Frances Isobel was their youngest daughter. Mary Elizabeth, my aunt "Betty" and a son, the oldest, Bruce. I, of course did not know her, though I'd have many questions of her had I. I'm a grandmother now and would like my three grandchildren to know this story. Mrs. senkowskl of Byron Center, MI. Who is my 2nd cousin, has spoken at an exhibit in Grand Rapids, MI. Jessie was her great-great grandmother

  5. Ellen Findlay Rairdon

    Ellen Findlay Rairdon said:

    Jessie was my great aunt. When she returned to Columbus, she returned to my Grandmother’s, her older sisiter, Georgina Bruce Findlay, home on North Princeton Ave. The Columbus Dispatch has a short interview with her printed soon after her return to Columbus about her time on the Titanic.

  6. Abigail Williams

    Abigail Williams said:

    I am one of Jessie's great-great granddaughters. I'm one of Bruce's great-granddaughters.

  7. Ashley Bruce

    Ashley Bruce said:

    What an amazing discovery! Jessie was my great-great aunt!

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