Encyclopedia Titanica

Maria Mathilda Backström

Maria Mathilda Backström, née Gustafsson (Smeds) was born on 28 July 1878, the daughter of Karl Fredrik (b. 3 October 1847 at Strömfors),  and Maria Lovisa Gustafsson (née Gustafsdotter, b. 8 September 1844 at Sarflax, Pernå, Finland).

Her known brothers and sisters were Emilia Sofia, b. 12 May 1870, Mathilda, b. 17 November 1871, Karl Viktor, b. 24 October 1872, Anders Vilhelm, b. 5 April 1875 (fellow victim), Edla Kristina, b. 24 November 1880, Johan Birger, b. 15 June 1883 (fellow victim), Elin Kristina, b. 3 July 1885, and Fredrik Hjalmar, b. 23 June 1892.

Mathilda Backström had made a previous visit to the USA but had returned to Finland and, in 1911, married her childhood friend Karl Alfred Backström.  She lived in Kejtala, Strömfors (Ruotsinpyhtää), Finland.

The following year Karl, Mathilda (6 months pregnant) and her brothers Johan Birger Gustafsson and Anders Vilhelm Gustafsson travelled from Hangö to Hull on the Polaris. On 3 April Mathilda wrote a letter home saying that the trip had gone well thus far, one week later the party boarded the Titanic at Southampton.

On the night of the sink she was not keen to enter any lifeboat, but was persuaded by her husband to enter one of the last ones after he had promised to try to follow in the next one; she was shivering because she only had a nightdress and lifebelt on.

Karl was unable to find another boat and died when the ship went down, Mathilda's brothers also perished.

After her arrival in New York Mathilda was quartered in Union League Home together with Erna Andersson. Mathilda did not want to stay in USA and White Star paid the trip back home. May 9 she returned to Finland on FÅA's Urania. In June she gave born to a daughter, Alfhild Maria. In the New York Evening Journal a photo of "Maria Bickstrom (sic) and her son" was published a few days after the arrival of the Carpathia, a misunderstanding as she had no son.

From the Red Cross files: 028. (Finnish) Husband drowned, while returning from a visit to Finland with his wife and her two brothers. The wife was saved, the two brothers were drowned. The wife was pregnant. She and her husband had lived in this country seven years. The wife returned home in April, 1912, to make her home with her mother. She was given $300 and clothing while in New York and was paid £100 from the English funds. (Referred to the English Red Cross)

She gave birth to Alfhild in June, 1912.

Mrs. Backström returned to live in Kejtala where she died on 30 June 1947. She is buried in Ahvenkosken Hautausmaa, Loviisa, Finland.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Maria Mathilda Backström (née Gustafsson)
Age: 33 years 8 months and 18 days (Female)
Nationality: Finnish
Marital Status: Married to Karl Alfred Backström
Last Residence: in Keitala, Finland
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 3101278, £15 17s
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Monday 30th June 1947 in Keitala, Finland aged 68 years
Buried: Ahvenkosken Hautausmaa, Loviisa, Finland

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References and Sources

Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0

Newspaper Articles

Uusi Aura Maria Backstrom's account
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Comment and discuss

  1. leeann gilbertson

    leeann gilbertson said:

    After attending an exhibition of the Titanic, I found this name as one of those passengers who died. Some time later upon looking at our family tree back to the approx. time of the Titianic I found a relative by the name of Karl Backstrom who had no decedents and no date of death. If I could find any information on his fathers name or other family, I could tie this all together.

  2. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    In case you haven't seen it, here's Karl's entry in the passenger biographies section of this site. Not much there, but it might help.

  3. Arne Mjåland

    Arne Mjåland said:

    Here is the obituary about Maria Matilda Backstrom from the "Kotka Nyheter", Finland. In spite of the fact that the newspaper is Finnish, the language is Swedish. (About 10 % of the Finns speaks Swedish) Our loving mother and grandmother Maria Matilda Backstrom from Stromsfors, Kejtala, born 28.7.1878 slept in quietly 30.6.1947. Thankful memories kept by daughter, son in law. grandchildren and other family. Alfhild and Yrjo Forso Arla Elise-Helena and little pian (probably little girl) The funeral takes place at Abborfors funeralplace Saturday 5 July 1947 at 13 o clock. ... Read full post

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Trevor Baxter, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Leif Snellman, Finland
Claes-Göran Wetterholm, Sweden