Mr Johan Vilhelm Henrik Törnqvist

William Tornquist

Mr Johan Vilhelm Henrik Törnqvist was born 25 March 1886, either in Hedvig Eleonora parish, Stockholm, or in Nikolai parish, Örebro, as Johan Vilhelm Henry (Björklund), to parents Karl Johan Gabrielsson, a land owner and bricklayer b. 5 October 1829 in Amnehärad, Skaraborg, and Vilhelmina (nee Larsson; 13 October 1844 – 21 August 1900) Björklund. His parents had married 22 April 1878. Karl Johan had been married before, but his first wife, Stina Maja, nee Larsdotter, had died 24 August 1877 and he subsequently remarried.

Johan Vilhelm Henry's known siblings were Anna Wilhelmina, b. 22 December 1858; she was Karl Johan's daughter from his first marriage, Karl Alfred, b. 5 September 1863, who also was a son from Karl Johan's first marriage, and Einar Julius, b. 24 July 1880 (d. 24 May 1881), and Maximiliana Jenny Katarina, b. 7 November 1875 at Örebro; she was apparently a daughter from Karl Johans' first marriage.

He had been living in Örebro, where he had been working in the construction business, but had later emigrated with his sister to the USA, where he had attended navigation school and had got a certificate as a ship's officer.

His nearest relative in Sweden was J. Malmström, Örebro, Närke, Sweden.

In 1912 he had made a visit to relatives in Stockholm and was returning to New York. His last job had been as mate on the American Line vessel New York, the ship that almost collided with Titanic as she left Southampton. He travelled as a third class passenger (ticket number 370160) together with fellow American Line employees: William Cahoone Johnson Jr., August (Alfred) Johnson, Lionel Leonard (Andrew Shannon), Alfred Carver and Thomas Storey.

When the Titanic he claimed there was no room for him in any lifeboat and that he had swum in the water for 30 minutes and been rescued on Collapsible A however, he was probably rescued in Lifeboat 15.

I knew (William) Johnson well when I was on the Philadelphia and when he shipped for home on the Titanic…When the ship struck Billy was sleeping, but arose with the rest of us and went on deck. When the lifeboats were being lowered one of the officers recognized Billy and told him to do duty on that boat, I and another steward were detailed to row in that lifeboat….Just as the boat I was in was about to be lowered, I called to Billy and told him to climb in, as I thought there was room…. Our boat was lowered and then rowed off I kept watching Johnson…. - The Paterson Morning Call, 3rd May 1912.

He lost his American citizenship papers in the water and a few weeks later had to ask for new ones from Boston district court. He later got a job with Matson Lines, where he stayed several years. He was married to Novelle (born 9 March 1892, died in Seattle, Washington 10 February 1988).

WIlliam Turnquist
(Honolulu Advertiser, 17 October 1946)

The Honolulu Advertiser of 17 October 1946 stated Mr. Turnquist had been 'quartermaster' on the Titanic. They also said he had been a relief master of the S. S. Mariposa and had been chief officer on the City of Honolulu, master of the Calawai and the Diamond Head. He had joined the Matson line in 1927 as first officer. His final command had been the White Squall, a Maston-chartered freighter.

He passed away on 13 September 1946 in Colma, San Mateo, California, is buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California



Johan Vilhelm Henrik Törnqvist

Articles and Stories

Long Beach Independent (1946) 
Long Beach Press Telegram (1946) 


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

References and Sources

Long Beach Press Telegram, September 14, 1946, Obituary
State of California Certificate of Death
Honalulu Advertiser 17 October 1946
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
Unidentified newspaper (Massachusetts) 1912
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2018) Johan Vilhelm Henrik Törnqvist Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1267, updated 11th December 2018 08:43:31 AM)

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