Mr Johan Martin Holten was born in Christiansund, Romsdal, Norway on 1 April 1884.
He was the son of Tron Kristoffersen Holten (b. 1836), a carpenter, and Ellen Marie Høgseth (b. 1840) and had four known siblings: Oluf Kristoffer (b. 1867), Anna Johanna (b. 1869, later Hansen), Hans Thomas Kristoffersen (b. 1872) and Anton Jonas (b. 1875).
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 became a married man on 16 October 1910 when he was wed in Christiansund. His new wife was Bertha Gunhilde Auensen (b. 1 October 1883), 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.
Holten was travelling from Horten to New York together with Albert Andersen and Henry Olsen. He was going to New York to sign on as second mate on SS Edda owned by the Norwegian firm K. S. Nordgren of Bergen and commanded by Captain Meidell. 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.