Mr Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson

Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson

Mr Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson, 28, was born 9 November 1883 the son of Erik Samuel Steffansson and Berta Maria Björnström.

Björnstrom was the son of one of the pioneers of Swedish pulp industry. After finishing his studies in Stockholm's technical university he got a job in Rydö sulphite plant. Since 1909 he had been living in Washington as the holder of Swedish government scholarship. He is also recorded as being a Swedish military attaché in Washington however in an interview he said: "...I should wish that you strongly would deny the rumors spread in the American newspapers that I am an attache at the Washington embassy."

He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 110564, £26 11s). It is possible that he shared cabin C-52 with Hugh Woolner.

Just prior to the collision Björnström-Steffansson had been drinking a hot lemonade in the first class smoking room with other gentlemen, there was a slight jar but he barely noticed and returned to his drink while others went off to investigate. He knew nothing of the danger until an officer came in and ordered pasengers to get their lifebelts and report on the boat deck.

While Björnström-Steffansson was on deck he joined fellow first class passenger Hugh Woolner to assist women, among them Mrs Edward Candee, into Lifeboat 6. Mrs Candee was supposed to be the responsibility of Colonol Archibald Gracie but, with at least four other unaccompanied ladies in his charge, he was nowhere to be seen.

Later, Woolner and Björnström-Steffansson heard pistol shots. They were fired by Purser Herbert McElroy to prevent a rush on Collapsible D which had just been fitted into the davits previously occupied by Lifeboat 1. The men rushed over and helped the officer pull men out of the boat and loading soon resumed.

By 2.00 a.m. the two men found themselves alone near the open forward end of A-Deck, just above them boat D was slowly descending towards the sea, as the water rushed up the deck towards them they got onto the railing and leapt into the boat, Björnström-Steffansson landed in a heap at the bow. Woolner's landing was similarly undignified but they were safe.

Whilst returning to New York on the Carpathia, Björnström-Steffansson and some other survivors (Frederic K. Seward - Chairman, Karl H. Behr, Molly Brown, George Harder, Frederic Oakley Spedden and Isaac Frauenthal) formed a committee to honour the bravery of Captain Rostron and his crew. They would present the Captain with an inscribed silver cup and medals to each of the 320 crew members.

He married Miss Mary Pinchot Eno in 1917. Accoding to his obituary he had been introduced to Miss Eno by Helen Churchill Candee of Washington, a fellow survivor of the disaster. Mrs Steffanson died in 1953. They had no children.

Håkan retired in the 1930s; He died May 21, 1962 leaving a fortune from pulp and land investments. His home on 57th street was then one of the few private houses left on Manhattan. Besides the sister listed in his obituary (Mrs J. H. Douglas Webster of London), he also left a nephew, Thord B. Steffanson, who had settled first in Michigan and later moved permanently to New York City and was a beneficiary of much of his uncle's wealth. Thord Steffanson died in New York City in January of 1977 at the age of 68.

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Pictures

Hakan Bjornstrom-Steffanson as a young man
Montgomery Times  (1912) 
HAKAN BJORNSTROM-STEFFANSON AS A YOUNG MAN
Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson
MAURITZ HÅKAN BJÖRNSTRÖM-STEFFANSSON
Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson
MAURITZ HÅKAN BJÖRNSTRÖM-STEFFANSSON
Steffanson Family Mausoleum
STEFFANSON FAMILY MAUSOLEUM
 

Articles and Stories

ET Comment (2006) 
ET Comment (2006) 
ET Comment (2006) 
ET Comment (2006) 
New York Times (1962) 
(1962) 
New York Times (1953) 
New York Times (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
Calgary Herald (1912) 
Toronto Daily Star (1912) 
New York Times (1912) 
 

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Comment and discuss

  1. Jan C. Nielsen said:

    The late Carl William Ackerman, formerly the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, wrote an unpublished manuscript on this Titanic passenger, which includes information on his experience aboard the Titanic. It's available at the Columbia University Library - Has anyone happened to look this up? What does it say? This library has a file on Charles C. Burlingham, the attorney for the Oceanic Steamship Navigation Company. It also apparently... Read full post

  2. Arne Mjåland said:

    I looked up the file Jan mentioned. I think many of you will contact the Columbia University to see this huge amount of information about Steffansson. Freelance journalist Ulf Ivar Nilsson, Gavle, Sweden wrote a long artice about Steffanssons sucessful investments in New York in a Swedish newspaper in 2000. His adress is Nilsson had made his research about Steffasson at the Kungliga Biblioteket (royal library) in Stockholm. Steffansson had a mansion house near Kalmar, Sweden, which he used to visit every year until 1961. He prepaired... Read full post

  3. Arne Mjåland said:

    Have any of you seen the huge material kept about him at the Columbia University in the City of New York? Carl William Ackerman Papers on him ca. 1910-1962 is kept in the Rare book & Manuscript Library there. Size of collection is 4 linear ft. (ca 700 items in 9 boxes). It was gift of the estate of Douglas V. Ackerman, 1980. It is available for faculty, students, or researchers engaged in scholarly or publication projects. BIOGARPHY. Carl William Ackermann (1890-1970) Columbia University B. Litt. 1913 Dean of The Columbia University School of Journalism from 1931 to 1956 spent from 1960... Read full post

  4. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Arne, Actually I was told about this collection not long ago by someone who teaches there but I had no idea the collection was so large. Looks like a gold mine for an ambitious biographer. There are several such collections on prominent passengers in archives which few researchers seem to know or care about. Thanks for sharing the information. That's why this forum is so valuable. People engaged in so many facets of research meet here and freely share their work and ideas. Randy

  5. Daniel Klistorner said:

    Arne, Another member on this board had posted a similar note about this collection quite a while back. I had tried to contact the university, but never received a reply. I did try a few times too. I guess one just has to live close to be able to view it themselves. Daniel.

  6. Russel Smith said:

    where was his destination?

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Credits

Hermann Söldner, Germany
Phillip Gowan, USA

References and Sources

Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2019) Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #30, updated 25th April 2019 23:46:50 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/mauritz-hakan-bjornstrom-steffansson.html