Mr Juho Niskänen

Mr Juho Niskanen was born in Finland (possibly Kannonkosken, Kuhaniemessä, Räihän) around 18701) but other details about his family and early life remain uncertain.

He was married around 1890 to Anna Leena Ruuskan (b. circa 1873) and they had several children. Having spent around three years living in the USA Juho had returned to Finland but with intentions of returning and bringing his family with him. 

He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a third class passenger (ticket number STON/O 2. 3101289, £7 18s 6d) and was apparently travelling with Juho Strandén (they travelled on sequential tickets) with whom he shared a cabin. He was also acquainted with Eirikk Jussila. Niskanen was travelling from Kivijärvi, Finland to Boston, Massachusetts.

After the collision Strandén woke Niskanen who in turn went to and warned Eirikk Jussila of the situation. Together with Strandén he reached boat deck where, according to their account, they assisted with the loading of one of the lifeboats. Niskanen and Strandén were rescued, (most likely lifeboat 9 or 15).

After reaching New York Niskanen made a claim of £50 for his lost luggage.

Juho Niskanen, who became known as John in America, encountered hard times in years after the disaster; unable to find stable employment it became impossible to finance his family to join him in his new home. Alone and in poverty it appears his mental health later suffered. He settled in Cazadero, California and worked as a rancher of the McCune Mill District, living a lonely and reclusive life in a redwood cabin eight miles up the Fort Ross Road in Cazadero and with nearby residents only recalling him travelling to town to purchase supplies.

Niskanen had at least one brush with the law: in August 1924 he was charged with threatening to kill his neighbour Mrs Emily Jenner. Mrs Jenner alleged that Niskanen had started several fires and that she had heard several shots the night before. The following day she went to his home to confiscate his rifle but he returned unexpectedly and caught her in the act at which point he reportedly drew a knife to her. The case was dismissed and charges dropped in early September 1924 and he was released from jail to return to his home in Cazadero. 

Reportedly despondent over his failure to strike gold and perhaps in a fragile mental state already, Juho Niskanen set fire to his cabin on 13 August 1927. Neighbours had attempted to subdue the flames but it was too late; once the flames had died Niskanen's charred body was discovered, with a rifle and an exploded shell in the chamber close by. Whilst his remains were too burnt to initially identify any bullet wounds, a later inquest determined he had shot himself. 

Described as being 60 years of age at the time of his death, Juho Niskanen was buried in Oddfellows Cemetery, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, California.

His widow Anna remained in Finland where she died in 1943. 

 

Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2017) 
Santa Rosa Democrat (1927) 
 

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Leif Snellman, Finland
Claes-Göran Wetterholm, Sweden

Notes

  1. Age uncertain; when he joined Titanic he gave his age as 39 placing his year of birth as around 1873. When he died in 1927 his death record gave his age as 60 years, placing his year of birth around 1867, whilst his death notice in the Santa Rosa Republican (13 August 1927) gives his age as 62 years of age, placing his year of birth around 1865.

References and Sources

Healdsburg Tribune, 26 August 1924, Threat on life charged in Cazadero altercation
Healdsburg Tribune, 4 September 1924, District Attorney fails again to prosecute case
Santa Rosa Republican, 13 August 1927, Man Found Dead in Burning Cabin... Suicide seen by authorities in man's death
Juho Niskanen Eloonjäänyt Titanicin Uhri Biography by Juho's granddaughter Erja Taipale (in Finnish)
State of California Department of Health Services Certificate of Death
Santa Rosa Democrat (California), 14 August 1927, Recluse Fires Cabin, Then Kills Self, Officers Find
Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2018) Juho Niskänen Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1078, updated 21st September 2018 06:11:21 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/juha-niskanen.html

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