Encyclopedia Titanica

William Lahtinen

William Lahtinen
William Lahtinen

Reverend Wilhelm 'William' Henriksson/Heikkinpoika Lahtinen was born in Viitasaari, Finland on 23 April 1876 the son of Heikki Peura (b. 2 October 1839) and Fredrika Karlsdotter Peura, née Lohilahti/Lohilax (b. 1842).1

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 around June 1903, sailing aboard the 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.

As well as farming, he was pastor of the Apostolic Lutheran Church.

William married Anna Amelia Silfvén 15 October 1904 in Lawrence County, South Dakota. (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 to Finland to visit his now widowed mother; 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.

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 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 Lahtinen and his wife both died in the sinking and their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.


  1. It is unknown why his parents went by Peura when William went by Lahtinen, but it has been stated he changed his name to Lahtinen when he in 1902 was living at Taivalkoski.

Newspaper Articles

Believed by a relative to be among those who went down with the Titanic
Cokato Enterprise (25 April 1912) MRS. WM. LAHTINEN DIES WITH HUSBAND
Karlshamns Allehanda (15 May 1912) Miss Lyyli Silvéns account


Minneapolis Star Tribune (1912) William Lahtinen in c. 1912



Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988) Titanic, Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
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Comment and discuss

  1. Virginia Psick

    Virginia Psick

    To Donna Matson or anyone else who may have information on these people. I found a picture in my deceased grandmothers things. On the back it says, Rev. and Mrs. William Lahti and adopted daughter. Drowned in Titanic 1912. Thanks, ginny

  2. Kay Moloney

    Kay Moloney

    Would like any info on Anna Amelia and her husband William. Does anyone out there know if there are any photos of the couple,or any living relatives.Any info would be gratefully received.

  3. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Kay - Here is mt printout on the above couple I hope that it helps? Lahtinen, Mrs. Anna Amelia (nee Sylvan). Missing. Wife of Reverend William Lahtinen (see below). 26-years-old. En route from - Kemi, Finland. Going to Minneapolis. Minn. USA. Mrs Anna Lahtinen, aged 26 years. Anna was born in the USA and was visiting her husband's family. After the accident William calmly smoked a cigar whilst Anna clung to him in mortal terror. Her name at first appeared on the list of survivors, but in fact she was drowned. Mrs Lahtinen's daughter Martha died on 10th March 1912 while the family was... Read full post

  4. Dennis Foley

    Dennis Foley

    Hi Kay: There are photos of a very-striking (in my opinion) Anna holding her baby, and of her husband, in one of the Titanic Commutators which featured an article on "Finns on the Titanic". I have it boxed away somewhere and would be glad to share it with you if I should come across it. Regards, Dennis Foley

  5. Maritha Boström

    I would be very interested in seeing that photo and reading that article if it would still be possible! I am currently doing a lot of research on the Finnish and Swedish passengers and some seem just impossible to get any grip on.

  6. Lester Mitcham

    Maritha, Nothing on the Lahtinens, but have you seen this book? - I'm Going to See What Has Happened: The Personal Experience of Third Class Finnish Titanic Survivor Mrs. Elin Hakkarainen, including the stories of Miss Laina Heikkinen and Miss Anna Sofia Turja by Gerald E. Nummi and Janet A. White.

  7. Maritha Boström

    Lester, Thank you very much, I had not seen that book. I was aware of some book by Janet A. White that has been referred to in other threads concerning Finnish passengers, but I never noticed the title of it. Perhaps this was the one. Thanks!

  8. Hildur Panula-Heinonen

    Does any one know when baby Martha was born? And are you sure it is'nt spelled the Finn way Martta? They were living in a Finn populated area, after all.

  9. Maritha Boström

    Martha was born 1907 (don't have month or day, though). Of course it is possible it was spelled Martta, but many other immigrant parents gave their children names familiar to them from their home countries but did indeed spell them in an American way. Perhaps that was a way to "retain the old country" and at the same time make it easier for their children to grow up in the new country, with names that "fit in".

  10. Hildur Panula-Heinonen

    Is she child was born in 1907 and died in 1912, she would hardly be considered an infant now.I wonder why she died? I am interested as well to that picture od the family and that book. I have never heard of it before.

  11. David FIlpus

    Anna Lahtinen's maiden name was spelled Silfven. Lyyli Sylven was a cousin of Anna's. There is a quite large Silfven family in the United States. Roy Silfven contributed to the Lahtinen family entries in the Encyclopaedia Titanic. He published a Silfven family tree at Lyyli's entry is at... Read full post

  12. Hildur Panula-Heinonen

    Oh, my go, thank you so much! This helps alot! A question though, i am 100% Finnish, born and raised in Finland, but i notice that Silfven is not Finnish. It looks if anything to be, typically, Swedish or possibly (far-fetched) Russian. Did Anna have Swedish or Russian in her history?

  13. David FIlpus

    Anna's grandfather Karl Jacob Silven, added the "f" to Silvén, changing the family name to Silfven, according to Karl's father, Mickel Sipola, adopted the surname Silven, possibly from an occupation change.

  14. Hildur Panula-Heinonen

    Mayhaps Anna's grandfather changed his name due to possible immigration?

  15. David FIlpus

    Quote: Mayhaps Anna's grandfather changed his name due to possible immigration? Perhaps, my sources are vague on when the name was changed from Silven to Silfven. Karl Silfven came to America with his family, so all of the Silfvens have lived in America. However, there is a family gravestone in Tornio Finland with a Silfven family name on it. The gravestone is for Titanic survivor Lyyli Silven's parents, Nikolai Alexanteri and Anna Karolina, her brother and his wife, Johan Ferdinand and Anna Ester and her nephew, Eino Johannes. All of the records, except this gravestone, and all of the... Read full post

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Rev. William Lahtinen
Age: 35 years 11 months and 22 days (Male)
Nationality: Finnish
Occupation: Priest / Minister
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 250651, £26
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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