Encyclopedia Titanica

Johan Charles Asplund

Mr Johan Charles Asplund was born in Oskarshamn, Kalmar, Sweden on 31 January 1889.

He was the son of Johan August Asplund (1860-1922), a sailor, and Emilia Augusta Jonsdotter (1865-1939) and had at least two siblings: Karl Alfred (b. 1885) and Arvid Oskar (b. 1890). His father was reportedly a scoundrel and a heavy drinker and he and his wife divorced when Johan was quite young. 
Johan, like his father and brother Oskar, worked as a sailor and in 1909 was working aboard Frida. His brother Karl, known as Fred, had emigrated in 1907 and by 1912 was living in Minneapolis, Minnesota; it was Johan's intention of also settling in America also.

Asplund and his friend Einar Karlsson were travelling together and boarded Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers (he on ticket number 350054 which cost £7, 15s, 11d); according to one list he was on his way to a friend, Mrs A. Engström at 212 53rd Street, New York but probably he was on his way to his brother.

According to Einar Karlsson, on the night of the sinking he and Asplund were awake in their cabin and felt the thud of the impact with the iceberg. Leaving to investigate they made their way to the forward well-deck where they saw chunks of ice. After waiting around for a time and feeling that something was amiss they returned to their cabin to collect personal belongings. Their passage was impeded when they found water rising and already knee-deep in their section of the ship. In response they returned to the communal steerage areas and somehow managed to find their way up the aft-starboard boatdeck where they waited. Seeing a lifeboat being lowered, number 13, they took a chance and jumped out onto the falls and slid down into the boat. 

Reaching New York Johan was photographed alongside other surviving male Swedish passengers; whether he ever visited Mrs Engström is unknown and he received $25 and a ticket to Minneapolis from the Salvation Army in New York. 

Asplund did not settle in Minnesota and soon returned to New York; at the time of his US draft in June 1917 he was unmarried and living at 409 Bergen Street, Brooklyn and was employed as a painter by A. Larsen of 1232 67th Street, Brooklyn. He was not a naturalised citizen but had declared his intention of becoming so and gave his previous military service as a 10-month stretch as a sailor in the Swedish Navy and was described as being short in height, of medium build and with brown hair and blue eyes. 

Apparently serving in the battlefields, although in what capacity is not known, Asplund returned to the USA in August 1919 aboard La Lorraine. He continued to live in the USA for the next few years, working at sea, and in 1923 ended up back in Göteborg, Sweden, repatriated by the Swedish consulate from Antwerp following a violent episode and showing signs of poor mental wellbeing. 

Back in his native Oskarshamn Johan's mental health continued to decline and with his family unable to control his violent outbursts he was soon committed to Västerviks Hospital which would be his home for close to two decades where he spent a miserable existence, frequently in isolation. He died there on 14 August 1943 aged 54 and was buried in Oskarshamn.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Johan Charles Asplund
Age: 23 years 2 months and 15 days (Male)
Nationality: Swedish
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: in Oskarshamn, Småland, Sweden
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 350054, £7 15s 11d
Rescued (boat 13)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Buried: Oskarshamn, Småland, Sweden

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References and Sources

Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
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Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Leif Snellman, Finland Claes-Göran Wetterholm, Sweden