Reverend William Lahtinen was born in Viitasaari, Finland on 23 April 1876 and was the son of Heikki Peura and the former Fredrika Lohilahti (b. 1842). Little is known about his early life but is believed that he may have seen military service as a younger man.
He emigrated to the USA in and around June of 1903, sailing aboard Campania and worked his own farm in Cokato, Wright County, Minnesota as well as spending time in Lead, South Dakota and Michigan and he became a naturalised US citizen on 5 December 1910 in Buffalo, Minnesota. He was also a Lutheran minister, reportedly one of the best known Finnish clergy in the state, and was the pastor of the Apostolic Lutheran Church.
He was married circa 1905 to Anna Amelia Sylfvén (b. 1878), another Finnish American. The marriage was without issue but they adopted a child, Martha Agnes who was born in St Paul, Minnesota on 29 September 1907. The family were shown on the 1910 census residing at their farm in Cokato, Minnesota.
Lahtinen applied for a passport in September 1911 with the intention of returning with his family to Finland; he was described as standing at 5' 8" and light hair and moustache, blue eyes and a fair complexion. He had arranged with contractor Nels Hill of Cokato to have a new residence built in Minneapolis, with completion expected soon after his return.
Upon arrival in Finland their daughter Martha became ill, possibly with meningitis and she died on 10 March 1912.
IN MEMORY OF MARTHA LAHTINEN
To our dear friends in America, Finland and elsewhere, we notify that our beloved daughter, Martha Agnes, had the good fortune to early leave that land of many enticements of sin, of temptations and of troubles on March 10, at the age of 4 1/2 years. When we arrived at Kemi on our trip to Finland she became ill with brain fever, which in about 3 weeks destroyed her earthly tabernacle, freeing her glorified spirit to return to God who had given it. It was joyous and comforting to see now her heart was moved, even unto tears, when we spoke to her of the blessedness and joy of God's children before the throne of God with the angels and the elect.
Although her body was very weak at the end, and she had pains, she bore this her portion of worldly tribulation with contentment. But now she is free from all trouble; she is no longer in pain or sickness, nor is it difficult for her to breathe, as she lamented in her pain. No longer does her breast heave with sighing...
Anna & William Lahtinen
Siionin Lahetyslehti (April 1912)
William and his wife, for their return to the USA, boarded Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 250651 which cost £26) and they were joined by his wife's relative Lyyli Silvén for the journey.
On the evening of 14 April 1912 Lyyli Silvén niece had enjoyed a "dance" in second class but had returned to her cabin and was asleep at the time of the impact which later wakened her. After this she hastened to find the Lahtinens.
Lyyli seemingly remained with the Lahtinens during the evacuation and reported that Anna Lahtinen, despite appearing to be very nervous, refused to be parted from her husband.
William Lahtienen, as well as his wife, died in the sinking and their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.