Encyclopedia Titanica

Engelhart Cornelius Østby

Engelhart Cornelius Østby
Engelhart Cornelius Østby

Mr Engelhardt Cornelius Christensen Østby,1 65, was born in Christiania (Oslo), Norway, on 18 December 1847.  He was christened on 6 February 1848 at Christiania (Oslo) Cathedral, in the Church of Norwa.  He was the son of Christian Engelbrethsen (b. 7 February 1823 at Nes, Akershus County, Norway) and Josephine (nee Christiansdatter; b. 19 April 1826 at Garnisonen Menighet in Christiania/Oslo) Ostbye, who had married 19 November 1847 at ''Garnison Menighet'' (which means ''Garrison Parish) at Christiania (today's Oslo). His known brothers and sisters were Alvilde Dorthea Christensen, b. 12 June 1850, Johanne Marie Christensen, Marie Amalie Christensen, b. 6 October 1852, b. 12 January 1855, Arthur Oscar Christensen, b. 12 May 1858, Constance Josephine Christiansdatter, b. 7 February 1861, and Ragnhild Sara Dorothea Christensen, b. 26 August 1864.

Engelhardt studied to be a jeweller at the Royal School of Art in his home city. After an education that included six years of apprenticeship, he worked as a successful jeweller in Oslo.

In 1866 while he was still studying his parents and one of his brothers emigrated to America. He followed them in 1869 and travelled via New York to Providence, Rhode Island. He worked initially for the firm of Hunt & Owen (G. & S. Owen ?) but soon moved to the firm of Arnold & Webster (Later Arnold & Steere) where he acted as head of design and engraving for nine years.

In 1879, with capital of about $3000, he formed a partnership with Nathan B. Barton to create the business of Østby & Barton. Working from premises at 25 Potter St. (later called Garnet St.) the firm became the world's biggest producer of gold rings. Lack of space forced the company to move from Potter St. to Clifford St. and the Austin factory building. Soon outgrowing their new premises they again relocated, to the former factory of the Ladd Watch Case Company on the corner of Richmond St. and Clifford St. the building had to be doubled in size to accommodate the burgeoning business.

In addition to his jewellery business, Østby was a director of the High Street Bank and the Industrial Trust Company, and a trustee of the Citizens Savings Bank; all of which were in Providence. Østby became well known in the city both for his success in business and for his many charitable acts.

Engelhart Østby2 was married to Lizzy Macy Webster (born 1854) on 7 June 1876; they would go on to have four sons and, on 30 November 1889, a daughter Helen Ragnhild.

Lizzie died on 26 November 1899, aged 45 and Engelhardt raised his youngest children with the help of his mother until her death on 5 December 1902 at the age of 76. 

Østby often travelled to Europe to survey the European markets, particularly Paris, and he was always on the lookout for developments in both production and design. Beginning in 1906 Engelhart took Helen with him on all his subsequent European business trips. They visited Norway for the first time in 1907, returning with a Norwegian Goats cheese - a family tradition which would be repeated in 1912. In the middle of January 1912 Engelhart travelled again to Europe, he needed a vacation, and again Helen accompanied him. They travelled around Southern Europe and Egypt and while at Nice, France they first heard about the possibility of returning to America on the Titanic. They journeyed on to Paris where they met Frank and Anna Warren whom they had previously met in Egypt. The Warrens already had their ticket for the Titanic.

E.C. Ostby

Engelhart paid £62 for their tickets, according to White Star their last address was c/o Brown Shipley, Pall Mall, London SW. so perhaps they had also visited England. However, it was at the French port of Cherbourg that they boarded the Titanic in first class, Engelhart occupying cabin B-30 and Helen B-36. Engelhart carried with him his old doctor's bag he always used when travelling. In it he had gems, precious stones and other valuables that he had bought in Paris.

On the night of the disaster Engelhart and Helen sat in the reception room, they talked with Mr and Mrs Warren and listened to the orchestra. At around 10 p.m. Mr and Mrs Warren decided to take a stroll on deck but it was too cold so they all went to bed.

After the collision, Engelhart met his daughter in the corridor that separated their staterooms. Together with the Warrens, they climbed the grand staircase to the boat deck. Leaving Helen and the others close to lifeboat 5 Engelhart returned to their staterooms to get some warmer clothes but in the meantime, Helen had boarded the lifeboat and they never saw each other again.

Engelhart's body was later recovered by the MacKay Bennett (#234).


EFFECTS - Gold filled teeth; gold watch and chain; knife: glasses; diary; two pocket books and papers.


The embalmed body was identified in Halifax by an employee of Ostby & Barton, David Sutherland; he brought the coffin to Rhode Island and it was buried on 11 May 1912 (3 May?) at Swan Point, Providence. The paper Svea wrote on 15 May that: "The body was laid in a sealed metal coffin placed into a valuable mahogany coffin. The flower tribute was enormous, even when a note had been circulated not to send any flowers." When Helen died in 1978 she was buried close to her father.

© Michael A.Findlay, USA

The family sought compensation from the White Star Line for their loss. Harold Ostby claimed 840,000 N.Kr. (Norwegian Kroner) for loss off life and Helen claimed 5,376 N.Kr. for loss of property, and 33,600 N.Kr. for loss of property and damage.

Engelhardt left a 14 page will bequeathing his estate to his children along with separate bequests to his brother Arthur, his sister Constance J. Coles of Brooklyn, NY and her daughter Elizabeth Coles. Some years later he added codicils to the will which revoked the bequests to Arthur Ostby and Elizabeth Coles but left intact his bequest of a homeplace in Brooklyn to his sister Constance. Present-day descendants live in Providence, R.I., New Haven, Connecticut, and Garland, Texas.


  1. He was christened Engelhardt Cornelius Christensen.  At some point, his father added Østby to the family name. 
  2. After his arrival in America, his name tends to be spelt Engelhart.

References and Sources

State Of Rhode Island And Providence Plantations Certificate Of Death
Per Kristian Sebak (1998) Titanic: 31 Norske Skjebner, Genesis Publishers
The Providence Sunday Journal, January 1998
The Manufacturing Jeweler, 1912
The Rhode Island Sunday Magazine, 15 April 1962
Svea,15 May 1912
Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0

Newspaper Articles

Providence Evening Tribune (15 April 1912) Englehart C. Ostby
Boston Globe (2 May 1912) Bodies reach Boston
Four of those of Titanic victims, including Timothy McCarthy's, bought from Halifax.
Shelley Dziedzic Providence Journal (11 August 2005) Several interview excerpts by Helen and family details

Documents and Certificates

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Engelhart Cornelius Østby
Age: 64 years 2 months and 9 days (Male)
Nationality: Norwegian
Marital Status: Widowed
Occupation: Jeweller
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 113509, £61 19s 7d
Cabin No. B30
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 234)
Buried: Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island, United States on Saturday 11th May 1912

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