Miss Mariyam Tu'mah (Thomas) was born in Tibnīn, al-Janub, Lebanon on 16 October 1902 1.
In 1905 her father Darwīsh left Lebanon and settled in Silver Creek, Michigan where he worked on a farm, saving enough money to buy his own farm in Dowagiac and send for his wife and children. The journey started for Mariyam, her mother and brother around February 1912 when she and other villagers left their village by camel caravan to Beirut on the coast where they journeyed by freighter to Marseille. From that port in France they journeyed to Cherbourg by train where they boarded the Titanic on 10 April as third class passengers (ticket number 2650 which cost £15, 4s, 11d). Aboard ship Mariyam and her brother spent hours running up and down passages and stairwells and playing in nearby vacant cabins.
On the night of the sinking her mother had put her younger brother Jirjis to bed but was concerned as Mariyam had not returned. When the accident occurred her frantic mother took her brother to the boat deck before returning in search of Mariyam who had fallen asleep in a vacant cabin and only awoke as her mother was returning to their own cabin. The pair made their way to the upper decks and were reunited with her brother and they escaped in a lifeboat (possibly collapsible C) and were later rescued by the Carpathia.
Upon reaching New York Mariyam, her mother and brother were taken to St Vincent's Hospital for recuperation following which they headed to Dowagiac, Michigan. Although her father was aware that his family were coming to the USA, he had no idea that they were journeying on Titanic and was surprised when he received a telegram from his wife.
Mariyam and her family settled in Dowagiac and later anglicised their names to Thomas and Mariyam became Mary and she gained a further three siblings: Sam (1913-1997), Francis (1914-1965) and Joseph (1916-1995).
Mary was married on 28 July 1919 in Elkhart, Indiana to Nicholas Haddad (b. 28 December 1896), the son of Khalīl and Thelma Haddad and also a Lebanese immigrant who had come to the USA in 1910. The couple initially settled in Dowagiac before moving to Flint, Michigan and they had six children: Emma (1920-2013), William (b. 1929), Daniel (b. 1932), Pearl (b. 1935), Gerald (b. 1938) and Francis (b. 1940).
Mary Thomas Haddad died in Flint after a long illness (liver cirrhosis) on 12 August 1953. Her widower Nicholas passed away in 1976.
David Bronson, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
- Birthdate under dispute; whilst her exact age is not certain, the birth year of 1902 is the generally accepted date. Census records and her marriage record seem to indicate that she may have been just one year older.
References and SourcesDowagiac Daily News, May 3, 1912, Article
Michigan Department of Health Certificate of Death
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
South Bend Tribune, 13 February, 1998, Titanic Recollections
Leila Saloum Elias (2011): The Dream and then the Nightmare: the Syrians who boarded the Titanic; Atlas, ISBN 978-9933-9086-1-4
Thomas, Joseph L. (2008) Grandma Survived the Titanic, ISBN 1425921922