Encyclopedia Titanica

John Starr March

Mr John Starr March was born in Middletown, Orange, New York in October of 1861.

He was the son of an English father, Thomas Alfred March (b. 1835), a saw maker, and, an American mother, Jane "Jennie" Harriet Mills (b. 1837). His father was born in London and came to the USA as an infant. He was marred to Jane Mills around 1860. John had one known sibling, his sister Sarah Isabell (b. 1864), known as Belle.

John appears on the 1865 through to 1880 US censuses living in his native Middletown, the latter record describing, like his father, as a saw maker. He was also a volunteer with the Middletown fire company .

He was married in 1883 to Nellie Eliza Harding (b. 1858), of Mount Hope, Orange, New York and the daughter of a carpenter. The couple settled in Orange County and had two daughters: Antoinette "Nettie" H (b. 1884) and Florence Belle (b. 1885). The family appeared on the 1900 census in Jervis village in Orange, by which time John was already working as a mail clerk, then on the railroads. They had moved to Newark, New Jersey around 1904 and appeared in that city on the 1910 census.

John became a widow when his wife died during surgery in June 1911. He continued to live with his younger daughter, Nettie, at 57 Emmet Street in Newark.

Contemporary reports recalled that in his eight-year marine career, the ships March worked on had been involved in eight separate emergencies. Among the vessels on which he served were Olympic and Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. His two adult daughters constantly pleaded with him to seek safer work elsewhere within the postal system, especially after the death of their mother. But by 1912, March had grown accustomed to the sea and was unwilling to give up his grand voyages for a less-glamorous postal position. He even assured his daughters that he would never drown at sea.

March was the eldest of the three American postal clerks on the Titanic and signed on giving his local address as 13 West Park Terrace in Southampton. During the sinking, the five clerks, helped by steward Alfred Theissinger and several other crewmen, struggled to bring some 200 sacks of mail up to a higher deck.

March died in the sinking and his body was later recovered by the MacKay-Bennett (#225).


CLOTHING ? Dark coat; vest; blue pants; striped shirt.

EFFECTS ? Gold watch and chain; fountain pen; diamond tie pin; gold ring, letter "M."

57 Emmet St., N.Y.

The body was forwarded to Newark, New Jersey on 3 May 1912 under the care of the undertaking firm Smith & Smith and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, New Jersey with his wife.

What became of March's two daughters is not clear. His elder daughter Nettie is believed to have later moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey where her married sister lived and seemingly remained unmarried. She was buried with her parents in Evergreen Cemetery.

His youngest daughter had been married to John Archibald Corwin (b. 1879), a Philadelphian tobacco clerk, and lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey where they had two children: John Archibald (b. 1906) and Ruth (b. 1908). Another child, Robert March, was born after the loss of his grandfather, in October 1912. Florence and her husband were still living in Elizabeth by the time of the 1940 census but what became of them thereafter is not known.

Mr March's descendants still own several of the effects that were recovered from his body, in particular, the gold ring with the letter "M." which assisted in his identification.


1. March had been a volunteer with the Middletown, New York, fire company and later a member of the Port Jervis (New York) Lodge of the Elks and Odd-Fellows.
2. The house was demolished a few years ago and is now a vacant lot in one of Newark's more deprived areas.

References and Sources

John Eaton & Charles Haas (1992) Titanic: Destination Disaster, Patrick Stevens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 534 0
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)
White Star Line (1912.) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett" Including Bodies Buried at Sea and Bodies Delivered at Morgue in Halifax, N.S. Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Halifax, N.S., Manuscript Group 100, Vol. 229, No. 3d, Accession 1976-191, 76 pp., unpaged.
Brian Ticehurst (1996) Titanic's Memorials World wide: Where they are Located. ISBN 1 871733 05 7

Newspaper Articles

Newark Evening News (16 April 1912) NEWARKER IN CHARGE OF THE TITANIC'S MAILS
Washington Times (16 April 1912) Washington Man Mail Clerk on the Ill-Fated Steamer
Newark Star (17 April 1912) Three of Ten Jersey Passengers Are Safe
Brooklyn Daily Times (17 April 1912) W L Gwyn, Former Brooklyn Mail Clerk, May Have Been Lost
Newark Star (18 April 1912) MR. STENGEL SENDS WORD HE IS SAFE
Newark Evening News (20 April 1912) JOHN S. MARCH ONE OF THE HEROES
Rutherford Republican (20 April 1912) MAIL CLERKS DIED BRAVELY
New York Times (21 April 1912) GAVE LIVES FOR THE MAILS
Newark Evening News (22 April 1912) FAMILY OF J. S. MARCH MAY RECEIVE $10,000
Asbury Park Evening Press (23 April 1912) PENSION FAMILIES OF LOST CLERKS
Newark Evening News (29 April 1912) GOVERNMENT TO SHIP BODY OF MARCH HERE
Elizabeth Daily Journal (29 April 1912) RECOVER MARCH'S BODY
Elizabeth Daily Journal (30 April 1912) FUNERAL OF TITANIC VICTIM
Newark Star (30 April 1912) Will Bring Titanic Victim's Body Here
Elizabeth Daily Journal (8 May 1912) COMPLAIN OF CONDITION OF BODY OF JOHN MARCH
Hampshire Advertiser (10 April 1915) Titanic Memorial Tablet
Memorial to the sea-post officers
The Southampton Times (10 April 1915) Titanic Sea-Post Memorial
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Comment and discuss

  1. Michael March

    Middletown, NY not Middleton....

  2. BarbMetzinger

    As for the family of John Starr March, his grandson John Archibald Corwin is my grandfather. The family is alive and well!

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr John Starr March
Age: 50 years 6 months (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Widowed
Last Residence: at 13 West Park Terrace Southampton, Hampshire, England
Embarked: Southampton
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 225)
Buried: Evergreen Cemetery, Hillside, New Jersey, United States

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