Miss Mārīyā al-B'aqlīnī (aka Maria Catherine Baclini)was born on 21 September 1906 in Al Shwayr, Syria, then part of the Ottoman Empire and now part of modern-day Lebanon.
She was the daughter of Sulaymān Dāwūd al-B'aqlīnī (b. 1878), a pharmacist, and Laţīfah al-Haj Qurbān (b. 1888). By April 1912 she had two younger sisters: Ūwjīnīyā (b. 1908) and Hilānah (b. 1909).
In late 1908 Mārīyā's father left their village with a neighbour, Najīb Qiyamah, fleeing potential religious persecution and with the intention of establishing his own pharmacy in New York. Instead, he spent time in San Cristóbal, Venezuela before entering the USA on 7 June 1910. By 1912 he had established a dry goods business and saved enough money to send back to bring his wife and daughters across the Atlantic.
Mārīyā was travelling to her father at 217 Washington Street, Brooklyn, New York. Also travelling with them was her teenage neighbour Adāl Najīb Qiyāmah, who her mother was chaperoning to her father Najīb Qiyamah. Their journey started from their village and went to Beirut from where they sailed to Marseille, after which they would journey to Cherbourg. Before boarding at Cherbourg it was discovered Mārīyā had conjunctivitis, preventing their further travel on grounds of contagion and so their journey was delayed until they could join the next available ship, the Titanic. They boarded as third-class passengers with ticket number 2666 which cost £19, 5s, 2d.
On the night of the sinking Mrs Baclini was somehow able to navigate her way, with three young children and Adāl Najīb Qiyāmah in tow, to the upper decks where the five were able to enter a lifeboat and escape. The al-B'aqlīnī family is a rare example of a larger third class family group surviving intact.
When Marie appeared with her family on the 1930 census living at 2071 66th Street, Brooklyn she was described as an unmarried department store manager. She was married on 1 November 1934 to George C. Khanisur (b. 24 May 1902), a New York native of Lebanese parentage. George worked in a newspaper printing press and had already been married once before, in 1925, to a woman named Lillian Warner and had a daughter, also named Lillian, who died just shy of her first birthday in 1927. George and Lillian later divorced and during the 1930s he saw military service in the New York Guard.
Marie's home 1730 E. 27th St. Brooklyn
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19 December 1937
Marie and George went on to have one child of their own, Joyce Gail (b. 30 August 1937) and the small family lived in Brooklyn, her husband later purchasing 1730 East 27th Street in December 1937 and where they lived for a number of years. This was stated as Marie's address when she applied for US citizenship in August 1941.
Marie's signature from her naturalisation papers
Marie had few memories of her time on the Titanic, which she didn't care to discuss anyway, but did recall gunshots being discharged when she was boarding her lifeboat.
Marie died on 27 June 1982 aged 75 and she was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York under an elaborate headstone. Her widower George followed her in death over a decade later on 27 July 1996 aged 94 and they are buried together.
Her daughter Joyce later married Anthony Joseph Genovesi (1936-1998), the son of Sicilian parents. A lawyer and Democrat politician, he later served as a member of the New York State Assembly. The couple had five children: Lara, Joseph, Anthony, Mark and Elena. Joyce, who was still alive as of June 2018, lost her husband in a car accident on 10 August 1998. Her daughter Lara was recently sworn in as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court.
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