Mr Samuel Beard Risien was born in Deal, Kent, England on 3 June 1842.
He was the son of Samuel Smillie Risien (1807-1885), a coal merchant, and Elizabeth Chambers (1908-1889), both Kent natives who had married in Deal on 28 October 1833. He had seven known siblings: Elizabeth Ludlam (b. 1835), Joseph (b. 1837), Jonathan Braily (b. 1839), Alfred William (b. 1845), Jonathan (b. 1846), Emily Turton (1850-1897) and Edmund Ebeneezer (b. 1853).
When he first appears on the 1851 census living at 121 Lower Street in Deal he is aged 9, still at school but already working alongside his father as a coal merchant. He later worked as a carpenter and was described as such when he was recorded on the 1861 census, then living as a lodger at an address in Newington, Surrey.
He was married in London on 8 June 1867 to Mary Louisa Lellyett (b. 1846), a native of Havant, Hampshire and who was the daughter of Walter and Charlotte Lellyett. The couple had four children: Samuel Walter (b. 1868), Katie Elizabeth (b. 1870 1), Alfred William (b. 1872) and Charles James (1880-1948). They had emigrated from England to the USA not long after the birth of their first child and remaining children had been born in Michigan. By the time of the 1880 census they were living in Groesbeck, Texas and Samuel was still described as a carpenter. His wife apparently died before the end of the decade but what became of her is not clear. He was remarried around 1889 to Emma Jane Lellyett (b. 1848), his wife's sister.
The couple appeared on the 1910 census living in Limestone, Texas and it is possible they had spent time living in South Africa where Emma's family were reportedly involved in diamond mining. They returned to Durban in late 1910 and stayed for about 14 months. Family lore has them bringing back diamonds and travelling third class so no one would guess what they were carrying in their huge suitcases.
On 30 March 1912, Samuel sent a postcard to his son Charles Risien from London:
About the time you get this we will be leaving for N. York We expect to sail on the new ship "Titanic" largest in the world and her trip (45,000 tons) two more papers I think will be all I can send We shall sail from Southampton on April 10th that is if they can get coal enough to go on. it is getting very scarce and dear Both well, Papa
On 10 April 1912, Samuel and his wife boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers (ticket number 364498, which cost £14, 10s).
Samuel Beard Risien and his wife Emma both died in the disaster. Their bodies, if recovered, have never been identified.
There are a few inaccuracies in this biography. There is no evidence that Samuel's parents ever visited the USA and they did not have a daughter named Mary. Emma and Mary Lellyett were both born in Hampshire, England (as were their parents Walter and Charlotte) and can be found on the 1851 and 1861 censuses of England there. There were Lellyetts in South Africa, and one of them married a De Beer (a well-known diamond family) but the connection to Emma and mary is not known. Samuel's siblings: Elizabeth Ludlum b. 1834, Joseph b. 1837, Jonathan Brailey b. 1839 (d. 1846), [Samuel Beard b....
Samuel Risien was a member of the Joe Johnston Camp No. 94 of the United Confederate Veterans in Mexia, Texas, a few miles from his main residence in Groesbeck. The camp subsequently reported his death in the December 1912 issue of the Confederate Veteran magazine, with the claim that Risien has served as an engineer aboard the famous Confederate sea raider Alabama during the war. I have not been able to corroborate that from any other source.
Andy, we have heard about this too and I have been searching through a pile of data regarding the Alabama crew. He is not listed as an engineer on the Confederate Raider. I can only assume he may have been in Capetown when the ships engineer accidentally shot himself and perhaps Risien volunteered to fill his place. If he did, he adopted another name but there is no mention of it in Capt.Semmes log or anywhere. The Confederate Veteran Magazine is a trusted source but Risien may have been another one of these people who like to invent past glories. ACWRTQ Australia....