Mr John David Baumann was born in San Francisco, California on 9 February 1864.
He was the son of a German father from Bavaria, John Baumann (b. 1825), a musician, and a Swiss mother, Verena (née Heitzelman?) (b. 1833).
He had five known siblings, all sisters: Emma (b. 1854), Evelina (b. 1857), Verena (c. 1861-1864), Augusta (b. 1862) and Louisa (b. 1867).
The family appear on the 1870 census living in San Francisco and by the time of the 1880 census John is still living with his parents, then aged 16 and still attending school. Following this the family drops off the radar. By 1892 Baumann appeared on electoral registers and was then a resident of 115 Eddy in San Francisco. His father died in Philadelphia on 2 August 1881 but what became of his mother and surviving siblings is not clear.
By 1905, at the time of his passport application, he was a resident of 118 Maiden Lane, Albany, New York. He described himself then as standing at 5' 9½", with an oval face, dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair and he worked as an importer. With offices later at 120 Maiden Lane, John D. Baumann & Co. were engaged in the hemp trade, also being described as jute, gum and timber merchants.
A figure, possibly John D. Baumann himself, outside his New York business.
1909 was to be an eventual year for Baumann. In February Baumann & Co. were sued for $266,249 by London merchants and later that year, in a reversal, the press show that Baumann had sought damages in the Supreme Court against a Cuban named Salvador Comas on the charge of alleged conversion, a business deal on peanuts not going to his satisfaction (New York Times, 7 August 1909).
Baumann was acquainted with the theatrical manager Henry Birkhardt Harris and, in years previous had granted him a favour in a time of need. By 1912 Mr Harris and his wife wound up in London and found Baumann there with "affairs going against him, and arranged for his return to America" (New York Times, 20 April 1912), Harris returning that favour.
Whilst little is known about Baumann's time on Titanic, it is stated that he remained with Mr Harris after he had placed his wife in the last lifeboat to successfully leave the ship.
Mr Baumann was lost in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
In September 1912, a Mr John S. Fanning of East Orange, New Jersey, a creditor of the Baumann estate, applied for letters of administration for the estate of Baumann. Mr Fanning said that the will of Mr Baumann named Henry B. Harris, the theatrical manager who also lost his life on Titanic, as executor. The attorneys for Fanning said that they knew little about Baumann's affairs, except that at times he had been wealthy and at others very poor. When he was drowned he was returning from London, where he had financed one of his companies. Mr Baumann's will left his estate in trust to Mr Harris for a sister after a claim of $10,000 has been paid to Mr Harris. He left to Mr Harris his Masonic charm, watch and chain, studs, pins and other personal possessions.