Two thousand, three hundred and fifty-eight people were aboard the Titanic, a ship of the White Star Line, when it sank April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland the day before. The ship was making its maiden voyage.
Survivors of the wreck were rescued by the ship the Carpathia. The wireless operator aboard the Carpathia, Thomas Cottan, was the first witness before the Senatorial Investigation Committee, it was reported in the Plainfield Courier-News on April 20, 1912.
"I sent many messages to the Baltic, but did not keep the record of them. I was too busy at the time," Cottan said, referring to the Baltic, another ocean liner.
"At 10:30 a.m. Monday I sent all the details to the Baltic which was then coming to the scene of the wreck. I was not then in touch with any land stations," he added. "I told the Baltic of the total loss of the Titanic and of the rescue of those who had been picked up and that we were bound for New York," according to the report in the Courier-News.
Reports of how many Titanic passengers rescued by the ship Carpathia varied.
On April 16, 1912, a report in the Courier-News said 866 people — mostly women and children — were rescued by the Carpathia.
But, that number changed.
On April 17, 1912, it was reported there were only 705 survivors on board the Carpathia, This total came from a wireless from Winfield Thompson, a newspaper man from Boston who was a passenger on the Franconia. The Franconia was a Cunarder bound for Boston from Liverpool.
The figure changed once again on April 19, 1912, when it was reported in the Courier-News there were 745 passengers from the Titanic aboard the Carpathia.
Whether the total of saved passengers was 866, 705 or 745, the ship's navigators believed all on board would have had a chance for safety had there been enough life boats and rafts.
But, there was not.
The Titanic only carried 20 large modern life boats, and they were loaded to the gunwales with women and children, who, in accordance with the unwritten law of the sea, had been put over the side first, according to a report in the Courier-News.
The report on April 16, 1912 said most of the men on board the Titanic were missing.
Among the well-known passengers who were not reported among the saved were Col. John Jacob Astor; President Taft's side and companion Maj. Archie Butt; Benjamin Guggenheim, Jacques Futrelle, William T. Stead, F.D. Millet and Henry B. Harris, a report in the Courier-News said.
While not well-known, there were some Garden State connections on board the Titanic, such as Henry Blank. Blank, who had been born in Providence, Rhode Island, moved to Newark as teenager. Rescued, Blank died from pneumonia on March 17, 1949.
Arthur O'Keefe, who was born in Rahway and a well-known figure in the city, was aboard the Titanic as well, and perished. The city of Rahway went into mourning, and flags on government buildings were lowered to half-mast.
Passenger William Logan Gwinn was living with family in Asbury Park by early 1912. He died in the ship's sinking.
"The unequaled (sic) and tragic circumstances of the Titanic disaster which has stunned the world, and hangs like a pall upon the hearts of all men everywhere, holds at least one mitigating circumstance which amidst universal pain and distress casts forth an unspeakable hope and tempers our grief with a sense of pride for the race of man," wrote the Rev. E. Vicars Stevenson of Grace Episcopal Church in Plainfield, in a letter to the editor that appeared in the Courier-News on April 19, 1912. "I speak of the splendid courage and fortitude of those who are gone; the manhood and womanhood of those who met such a death so splendidly," Stevenson invited all members of the community to a Memorial Service for the Dead at the church.
On Sunday, April 21, 1912, local pastors referred to the Titanic disaster in sermons or prayers. At Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in Plainfield, the Rev. Dr. Sheridan Zelle, read, "I charge therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made for all men," the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in the second chapter of the First Epistle in Timothy, according to a report in the Courier-News on April 22, 1912.
Some of the information was compiled with Encyclopedia Titanica, www.encyclopedia-titanica.org.
NJ victims, survivors
In addition to Blank, O'Keefe and Gwinn, New Jersey residents on the Titanic included:
- John Ashby, who was living in West Hoboken with his wife Emma in 1912. He died in the sinking.
- Stephen Weart Blackwell, who, according to the 1870 and 1880 censuses, lived in Trenton. He died in the sinking.
- William Hull Botsford, who lived in Orange. He died in the sinking.
- Alexander Taylor Compton, who lived in Lakewood. He died in the sinking. His mother and sister survived.
- Alexander Taylor Compton, who lived in Lakewood. Survived.
- Sara Rebecca Compton, of Lakewood. Survived.
- Elizabeth Dowdell, born in West Hoboken. Survived.
- William Cahoone Johnson Jr. of Hawthorne. He died in the sinking.
- John Joseph Kiernan of Jersey City. He died in the sinking. His brother was also lost.
- Thomas Joseph McCormack lived in Bayonne in 1920. Survived. He died in Elizabeth in 1975 and is buried in Jersey City.
- Leonard Charles Stanley Moore of Hoboken. He died in the sinking.
- Elizabeth Nye. Survived. She died in Asbury Park, on Nov. 22, 1963, at age 81.
- Peter Henry Renouf and his wife Lillian Elizabeth Jefferys appeared on the 1910 census living in Elizabeth. Peter Renouf died in the sinking. His wife Lillian was saved.
- Washington Augustus Roebling II was born in Trenton on March 25, 1881. He died in the sinking. His father Charles, a member of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Trenton, later had the west wall of the cathedral rebuilt as a memorial to his son.
- Charles Emil Henry Stengel was born Nov. 19, 1857 in Newark. Survived.
- Annie May Stengel, née Morris, wife of Charles Emil Henry Stengel. Survived.
- Frederick Sutton lived in Haddonfield. He died in the sinking.
- Elmer Zebley Taylor (Juliet Cummings Wright). Survived. Juliet and Elmer resettled in East Orange. Died in Atlantic City on April 23, 1927, aged 64.
- Elmer Zebley Taylor. Survived. Elmer and his wife Juliet resettled in East Orange in 1914. He died on May 20, 1949, aged 85.
- William Anderson Walker, of East Orange. He died in the sinking.