Johan Martin Holten was born 1 April 1884 at Kristiansund, Romsdal County, Norway, to Tron Kristoffersen, a carpenter b. 10 February 1836 at Oksendalen, Norway, and Ellen Marie (nee Hansdatter; b. 5 December 1840 at Gemnäs) Holten.
In 1900, he was noted as an errand boy, aged 16, living with his family at 6, Øvregade, Kristiansund.
His known siblings included Carl Edvard (Nielsen!), b. 1864, Oluf Christopher Tronsen, b. 14 February 1867, Anna Johanna Tronsdatter, b. 23 December 1869, Hans Thomas Christophersen, b. 27 July 1872, and Anton Jonas, b. 17 May 1875. There may have been other siblings.
His sister and her two children were living with the Holten family in 1900.
On 16 October 1910 he had married Berta Gunhilde Auensen (b. 2 October 1883) in Christiansund. Berta was the daughter of Gustav Auensen and Mathilde Martinsen-Krog. Bertha had been working as maid for seven years for a dealer named Henriksen in Bergen. Husband and wife initially lived in Christiansund before settling in Bergen; they had no children.
In 1910, he lived with his wife, mother (actually noted ''mother-in-law,'' sister-in-law and niece at 38 Övregaten, Kristiansund.
He went to sea at a young age and later attended the Petty Officer's School and Depot in Horten near Christiania, graduating in 1908.
He was going to join S. S. Edda (owned by the Norwegian firm K. S. Nordgren of Bergen and commanded by Captain Meidell) in New York as the second officer. He travelled together with Albert Andersen and Henry Olsen. He had recently attended navigation school in Kristiansund and had received his certificate.
He travelled from Bergen via Newcastle to Southampton where he boarded the Titanic as a third class passenger, travelling on joint ticket number 4001 which cost £22, 10s, 6d. Bertha returned to her old job in order to pay the loan of 500 NKr which Johan had borrowed for his studies.
Holten and his travelling companions all lost their lives in the disaster. His body was never found.
After the sinking Bertha's employer, Henriksen, wrote to the Ministry of foreign affairs:
"she was weak, had declared that she had no strength to do similar kind of work, but that she had not any kind of education."
The Mansion House Fund paid 1362.75 NKr (£75) to Bertha Holten on 24 January 1913 and 545 NKr to his widowed mother on 12 February 1913. 1764 NKr ($525) damage claims were paid to his widow on 8 July 1916. Of that sum she had to give 588 NKr to his mother. Another payment of 324 NKr ($90) was made to his widow and 162 NKr ($35) to his mother on 12 January 1917.
Bertha was never remarried and lived with family in Horten. Like her husband before her she also died tragically, she the victim of homicide. She was found dead in her apartment on 5 August 1962, having been strangled by a neighbour.