Mr Ḥannā Ṭannūs Mu'awwad

John Thomas

Mr Ḥannā Ṭannūs Mu'awwad (John Thomas) was born in Tuḥūm, Lebanon on 2 July 1877. He was the son of Ṭannūs Mu'awwad and his wife Mary and he had two known siblings, Joseph (1872-1941) and Shaheen (b. 1886).

He arrived in the USA on 13 July 1897 and made his home in Columbus, Ohio and became a naturalised US citizen on 2 April 1902, changing his name to John Thomas. He appears on the 1910 census residing as a boarder at a household on East Spring Street and was described as a clothing salesman; also resident there was a cousin, Najib Wihbah (b. circa 1875).

Contemporary news reports2 state that he had worked for the Princess Theatre for a number of years and accumulated a fortune manufacturing tea gowns and kimonos but lost a considerable portion of his wealth when banks he had invested in, the Union National Bank and Columbus Savings and Trust, folded. His brother Joseph also emigrated to Columbus and operated a dry goods store whilst his brother Shaheen lived in Owen Sound, Ontario following a short spell in Columbus.

In February 1911 Ḥannā (as John Thomas) applied for a US passport so that he could return to his native Lebanon to visit his family, intending to return within twelve months. He had been married around 1895 3 and had a wife and son back in Tuḥūm. His passport stated that he had lived in the USA uninterruptedly since 1897 and describes him as standing at 5' 6" and with brown eyes and dark hair and complexion. He had a square mouth with a moustache and a high forehead.

The identity of his wife is not clear (née Dāhir) but his son was Ṭannūs Ḥannā Mu'awwad Ṭannūs (b. 1896). It appears whilst in Lebanon his wife gave birth to another son, Yūsuf (born circa January through to March 1912). Ḥannā had returned to Lebanon to fetch his teenage son Ṭannūs with the intention of bringing him to the USA to have him finish his education and eventually enter Ohio State University. 

For his return to the USA John and his son boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as third class passengers (he on ticket number 2681 which had cost £6, 8s, 9d). Also travelling with them were several relatives: his cousins Jirjis Yūsuf Abī Sa'b (Gerios Youseff), Shanīnah Shāhīn Abī S’ab Wihbah, Bannūrah Ayyūb-Dāhir and Ṭannūs Dāhir, his brother-in-law.

On the night of the sinking Ṭannūs and his son are believed to have been in their cabin asleep only to be awakened by the impact. They gathered with their other relatives in the communal areas of the ship. Bannūrah Ayyūb-Dāhir recalled that Ḥannā's teenage son Ṭannūs became separated from them. Ḥannā went off in search for him, descending down a staircase only for young Ṭannūs to appear coming up another stair; Bannūrah explained to the young man that his father was searching for him and told him where he had gone: Ṭannūs set off in search for his father and Bannūrah and the others in her party never saw them again.

Father and son were lost in the sinking and their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.

What became of his widow is not clear but it is believed she remained in Lebanon. His infant son Yūsuf later married and raised a family of five children.

His brother Joseph died in Columbus on 23 March 1941 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

 

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK

Notes

  1. Birth date as per his 1911 passport.
  2. The Columbus Evening Dispatch, April 1912
  3. The 1910 census stated that he had been married for 15 years.

References and Sources

Elias, Leila Saloum (2011) The Dream and then the Nightmare: the Syrians who boarded the Titanic; Atlas, 2011. ISBN 978-9933-9086-1-4

Link and cite this biography

(2017) Ḥannā Ṭannūs Mu'awwad Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1257, updated 22nd August 2017 14:22:01 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/john-thomas-tannous.html

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