Mr Johan Julian Abrahamsson Sundman was born in Munsala, Finland on 20 March 1867, the son of Abraham Abrahamsson Klemetsö and his wife Brita Johansdotter.
He was married to Sanna Maria Jakobsdotter Präst (b. 31 August 1866) and had four known children: Jacob Edvard (b. 1895); Emil Arvid (b. 1898), Ida Maria (b. 1905, later Mrs Nils Karl John Algot Nystedt) and Andy (b. 1909).
He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number 3101269, which cost £7, 18s, 6d) and he was travelling to Cheyenne, Wyoming to visit a friend William Henry Putcamp at 252 Main Street. He had reportedly been to the USA at least twice before, in New York and on the west coast and his eldest son Jacob had been born in New York in the mid-1890s.
On the night of the sinking he reportedly dressed following the collision and made his way leisurely to the upper decks. Without fuss or obstruction, Johan freely jumped into lifeboat 15 and was saved.
When the vessel struck the iceberg I was asleep in my berth. I was awakened by a crunching noise along the side of the ship. It was followed by another. At the time we struck most of the 800 or more people in the steerage were asleep, but there were many men in the large smoking room in the after part of the ship smoking and playing cards.
FIGHTING FOR LIFE
By the time I got on my clothes every one was alarmed and hastily leaving their berths. In a few minutes the ship's officers came into the steerage and ordered everybody aft. Soon there was a struggling mass trying to get up the passage ways to the first-class deck. Families became separated in the confusion. By the time I succeeding in reaching the upper deck several boats had already been launched. I made my way to the rail where a boat was being put off. It was full of people but I saw no women left on deck. Someone yelled to me, 'jump.' The boat was already being lowered. I jumped and fell on my head in the middle of the boat, knocking over two or three of the occupants. I do not know how many were in the boat, all the way from forty to sixty, I should say. There were eight women, all of whom were in their night clothes. One of them, a Swedish woman, lost her two children and husband in the wreck. The husband carried all the money they possessed and she was left destitute. About half of the occupants of the boat seemed to be of the ship's crew, waiters or stokers. There were no sailors among them, and we passengers had to take the oars. I crawled over several people and took an oar on the port side. We rowed for five or six hours before we were picked up by the Carpathia. We were the third boat picked up, I believe.
SUFFERING IS SEVERE
The women and some of the men in the boat who were lightly dressed suffered severely from the cold. After leaving the Titanic I did not observe much that followed, as I was busy with the oar. Before I fell into the boat I noticed there was much confusion on the deck, which was filled with struggling men. I heard no shots or any explosion as the vessel sank, as has been reported. After our boat put off, there is not much to relate. Silently we floated around in the realization that our only lay in being picked up by passing ship. It was a great relief when we at last sighted the Carpathia. It was biting cold, and all around us we could see icebergs.. - The Salt Lake Tribune, April 28, 1912, p. 32.
Following a few years in the USA Johan returned to his homeland, continuing to work on his farm, Oppegårn, until his death on 1 February 1920.
His widow later returned to Canada to be close to her children and she died in Vancouver on 25 August 1949 and was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Burnaby, British Columbia.
His sons remained in British Columbia; Jacob died on 21 June 1940 aged 45, Emil on 12 May 1936 and Andy on 14 October 1955. Daughter Ida was married in British Columbia in 1925 to Nils Karl John Algot Nystedt (b. 1901) and was still alive as of 1950; what became of her thereafter is not known.