Mrs Irene Corbett

Irene Corbett

Mrs Walter Harris Corbett (Irene Colvin) was bornn in Payson, Utah on 6 August 1881.

A Mormon, she was the daughter of Levi Alexander Colvin (1857-1928), a farmer, and Mary Alice Curtis (1858-1940). Both her parents, who had married in 1880, were also Utah-born and of English, Canadian and American heritage. Her father was a county official, had served as a trustee of Payson school district and was also a Bishop in the Church of Latter Day Saints.

She had three sisters: Kady (1882-1963, later Mrs Sidney Cluff), Nellie (1889-1967) and Hattie Lucile (1892-1968, later Mrs Samuel Solomon), and two brothers Curtis (1885-1904) and Tracy Sherman (1887-1972). Irene appears on the 1900 census living in Payson City, Utah, still with her family.

An alumni of Provo Academy, she later graduated with a teaching certificate and taught in an elementary school, Peteetneet Academy, a profession she left behind upon her marriage. She was married on 11 December 1905 to Walter Harris Corbett (b. 28 October 1883), a farmer, and they had three children:  Walter Colvin (b. 16 December 1906), Kady Roene (b. 5 November 1908) and Mack Colvin (b. 27 December 1910). The family were listed on the 1910 census living in Pleasant View, Utah.

Irene made plans to travel to London in the winter of 1911 to study midwifery. This was in spite of her husband's wishes, and that of his family, also members of Church of Latter Day Saints who were against her designs. Her own family gave their blessing to her plans and Irene, a firm supporter of women's suffrage, started out for London's General Lying-In Hospital, a pioneering maternity infirmary. Her three children were taken under the care of her parents in her absence.

Her parents received a letter from her on 15 April 1912 in which she said she would take passage on the Titanic, also stating that several Mormon elders were also taking passage. In the end, however, the other Mormon passengers did not travel aboard Titanic and Irene travelled alone. Irene boarded the Titanic in Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 237249 which cost £13).

Irene Corbett was one of fourteen ladies travelling in second class that were among the lost. The reasons for her remaining behind on the ship to meet her fate are not known and her body was never recovered. She is commemorated in a memorial in Peteetneet Academy.

After the sinking, Bishop Colvin telegraphed New York to find out what had happened to his daughter. He received in answer two telegrams on the afternoon of 19 April. The first stated:

"New York, April 19, Levi Colvin, Provo, Utah. Neither the name of Mrs Irene Corbett nor anything like it appears on the Titanic's second cabin list of passengers as having sailed from Southampton. WHITE STAR LINE."

Minutes later the second telegram arrived:

"New York, April 19, Levi Colvin, Provo, Utah. Now find name of Mrs Irene C. Corbett is on the list of passengers having sailed from Southampton, but regret is not a survivor on Carpathia. WHITE STAR LINE."

Her widower Walter Harris Corbett was remarried on 11 November 1914 to a woman named Annie Dean but died less than three years later when he was involved in a mining accident and died on 4 February 1917 following surgery.

Her children Mack and Kady were taken in by their maternal grandparents and they appear on the 1920 and 1930 census records living in Salt Lake City. Her son Walter appears with his paternal  grandparents on the 1920 census living in Pleasant View, Utah.

Walter Colvin was married in 1933 to Annie MacKay and had at least one child, a son named Walter (b. 1936). He died in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Kady Roene was married to Paul Ward (1909-1995) and she died in Nevada in 1973.

Mack Colvin was married in 1932 to Grace Lora Perschon (1911-2007) and raised a family. He died in Salt Lake City in 1976.

References:

 

Pictures

Irene Corbett and one of her children
The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City  (1912) 
IRENE CORBETT AND ONE OF HER CHILDREN
Irene Corbett
IRENE CORBETT
 

Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2018) 
WHO WERE THEY AND WHY DID THEY DIE?
The Evening Standard, Ogden City, Utah, (1912) 
The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City (1912) 
The Evening Standard, Ogden City, Utah, (1912) 
Salt Lake Tribune (1912) 
Salt Lake Tribune (1912) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. David Matthew Stewart (Titanicus) said:

    Hello! I was just wondering, what all do we know about her? I read the thing about second-class women, and how she is the only one they are almost totally unsure of what happened to. ALSO: In a letter to her family, back in Utah, she mentioned about two-LDS missionaries who would also be sailing on the ship. Do we know who they were, and what happened to them? Any information would be GREATLY apreciated.

  2. David Huffaker (Davidh) said:

    The LDS missionaries were not on the ship. Source - Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News. David H.

  3. David Matthew Stewart (Titanicus) said:

    Thanks, and PS: Nice name. :)

  4. James Smith said:

    Hi all-- Does anyone have any additional information on Irene Corbett beyond what is in her bio on the ET website? Thanks Jim

  5. Renae Barrett Salisbury said:

    I have quite a bit of information about Irene. She's my favorite Titanic passenger. Our paths crossed while guiding my 7th grade students through a Titanic project in 1997. I had the opportunity of interviewing her grandson Don Corbett, and he gave me copies of numerous materials, as well as pictures of this amazing woman. In fact, one of my goals is to compile my research and submit it for publication with ET. She was intriguing, to say the least. Irene went to London in the fall of 1911 to study obstetrics at the Lying In Hospital there as it was reputed to be among the best. Her... Read full post

  6. James Smith said:

    Hi Renae-- Thanks for the info, it was very helpful indeed! I had wondered about the Mormon missionaries Irene mentioned. I came across a letter some time ago from one Cornelius Asmus, a resident of Salt Lake City but originally born in the Netherlands. In the letter, Asmus states that his emigration to the US was organized by the British Mission of the LDS Church, and that he was originally slated to go on the Titanic. However (supposedly), British Mission President (and LDS Church Apostle) Rudger Clawson was in attendance of a meeting of White Star Line bigwigs where someone... Read full post

  7. James Smith said:

    The Ogden Standard-Examiner ran an article about Irene today. You can see it at and going to the "features" page. --Jim

  8. James Smith said:

    From the Ogden Standard-Examiner, posted here by permission: ------------------------------ A tale of Titanic proportions Utah woman among those lost on ship's maiden voyage Sun, May 23, 2004 By BECKY CAIRNS Standard-Examiner staff After six months of studying nursing in a London hospital, Irene Colvin Corbett was ready to come home. The 30-year-old wife and mother of three dashed off a quick postcard to her family in Provo. "Leave London soon -- am going to sail on one of the biggest ships afloat; the Titanic,... Read full post

  9. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    James - Great report - thanks. In case you haven't seen it here is the Red Cross Report on her: (From The Emergency and Relief booklet by the American Red Cross, 1913). No. 89. (American). A wife was lost while returning from England, where she had take a nurse's training in order to help support the family. Her husband, a farmer, is left with three small children, for whose care he must provide, and is deprived of his wife's prospective earnings. he is a man of good morals and habits and is paying for his farm. ($1,000). Best regards - Brian

  10. Darren Honeycutt said:

    I noticed a postcard of hers is being offered on Ebay for $5000.00. There seems to be some mistakes in the listing. She was not a first class passenger and she did not board the Titanic in Queenstown.

  11. Vickey Gearring said:

    Hello--I am doing a little research on Irene Corbett-- Thanks to the people here I have quite a bit of info on her--but would love to view a picture of her--can anyone help? Thanks in advance-- Vickey Gearring

  12. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Here you go, Vickey:

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Homer Thiel, USA

References and Sources

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah), 17 April 1912, p. 1, 20 April 1912, p. 3
Women of Faith, Irene Colvin Corbett
The Herald Extra, 15 April 2012; Grandson of Titanic Victim Remembers  
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2016) Irene Corbett (ref: #387, last updated: 14th January 2016, accessed 8th August 2020 16:06:33 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/irene-corbett.html