Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 9, 1998

Reliving the Titanic news coverage

The movie "Titanic" has broken all box office records with unprecedented popularity.

In 1912, when the Titanic sank, local newspapers reported major national and international events since they were the primary source of news for people in those days.

With the high interest in the Titanic again, following is reprinted coverage of the Titanic disaster from the April 18, 1912 issue of the Lester Prairie News:


The White Star liner Titanic, the world's greatest steamship, has gone down some 500 miles off Cape Race, with 630 of her 1,300 passengers and her full crew of 860 men on board.

That the greatest catastrophe in marine history has occurred to a vessel of their line is admitted by the officials of the White Star Steamship Company in New York.

The liner Carpathia, the first vessel to come within sight of the Titanic, rescued all the Titanic's lifeboats in which were 670 persons, most of them women and children. Many women and children, however, have perished.

When the Carpathia reached the ill-fated vessel, no sign of life was to be seen anywhere, the mountainous ocean swells giving much evidence to the stupendous disaster. Early reports stated that all the passengers and the crew of the Titanic had been taken off by the Allen liners Virginian and the Parisian, and the Carpathia, but wireless message received here discredit these reports in every detail.

No hope is held out at the offices of the White Star Line that any man on board has survived to tell the story of the final sinking of the livitian, although some of the women in the boats may have witnessed the sinking. Only by a miracle, it is pointed out, could any person who stood by the ship escape the great vessel's powerful suction as she sank to the bottom.

The Titanic carried the most notable list of passengers ever borne across the Atlantic by one vessel. Homecoming American tourists postponed their sailing weeks ago so as to ride the new wonder of the season on her maiden voyage.

Dispatches state that the Titanic went down at 2:20 o'clock Monday morning. The delay in the transmission of the news is attributed to the fact that all dispatches have been subject to difficult relays.

The collision of the Titanic with an iceberg is now known to have been a head-on crash that occurred while the liner was proceeding little less than her best speed. She was a day ahead of her schedule and it is considered probable that an attempt to make a record-breaking voyage was the hope of her crew when she entered the ice field.

Her forward plates were completely wrecked. A gaping wound opening below her water line let the water into her forward components.

In the meantime, the lifeboats were manned and into them were placed as many of the women and children as they could hold. The boats were put off while there was yet some hope of saving the Titanic afloat until wireless could summon help. Later and more conservative estimates tell of great bravery on the part of the men passengers.

There was a minimum of disorder. John Jacob Astor, who, with his bride, was returning from their long honeymoon abroad, saw his bride placed in a lifeboat safely away. Col Astor was drowned. The work of getting the lifeboats away, the work of allaying the fears of the great crowd of passengers as much as possible, the work of keeping the pumps in operation and the engines throbbing, these tasks and countless others were directed by Captain Smith, the venerable commander of the the Titanic, and before her advent, the commander of the Olympic. He displayed almost superhuman power of mind and body at the world's most horrible sea disaster, to crown his long and honorable service on the high seas.

A wireless message from the Virginia states that the occupants of the small boats which she picked up have been transferred to the Carpathia which is proceeding to New York. The Titanic struck the iceberg at 1:25 Sunday night and floundered at 2:20 Monday morning.

At daybreak, the Carpathia arrived on the scene and her passengers and crew brought the small boats with their precious human cargo into New York.

The boats which rushed to the Titanic's aid found only the scattered lifeboats and a dismal scene of wreckage.

"Sinking by the head and women are being rushed into the lifeboats," were the last words that sputtered into the wireless room of the Virginian from the Titanic. All through the night and until her wireless station was silenced over hundreds of miles of seas, from the antennae of the giant liner flashed the mystic and magic "S.O.S.," the world-wide cry of distress on the ocean.

Every wireless operator within range of the doomed vessel dropped other messages to locate and many relayed the fatal message to the world.

The collision occurred in latitude 41.46 North and longitude 50.14 West, 1,150 miles east of New York and 450 miles south of Cape Race, the most westerly point of Newfoundland. Contrary to earlier dispatches, there was no storm when the vessel struck. The weather was clear and calm.

Almost as soon as the Virginian picked up the distress signal it was recorded by the operator on the Olympic, the Titanic's sister ship, and next to her the largest vessel afloat. This was at midnight. At that hour, the Olympic was 200 miles from New York, en route to Southampton.

The Baltic, famous for her rescue of passengers of the steamer Republic and for her Jack Binns, who sat aloft and braved death to summon help, was the next ship to pick up the brief story of the Titanic's plight.

She was on her way from New York to Liverpool but turned about and put on full speed toward the Titanic's position. The Parisian, according to her messages, reached the flotilla of rescue ships shortly after the Baltic.

A wireless message from Captain Haddock confirmed the fears of the White Star Line officials that all but the 670 women and children who escaped in the small boats from the $10,000,000 steamship had perished. A part of this message was withheld, but enough was divulged to make certain an appalling account of the catastrophe. Not until Captain Haddock flashed "Horrible disaster - all but 670 lost," would the White Star officials believe the largest ship ever launched had gone down on her maiden voyage. The scene in the White Star Line offices was pitiful. Brought to a realization of the stupendous wreck, the complete destruction of the fruit of their dreams, gray haired men, many of them veteran seamen, wept.

Many rich men on board

Wealth aggregating something like half a billion dollars is represented by 10 of the passengers on the Titanic. If calamity befell only a few of these 10, it would materially affect vast business enterprises in the U.S. and England.

Foremost among the passengers in point of wealth is Colonel John Jacob Astor, who was returning to New York with his bride, formerly Miss Madeline Force. Colonel Astor's holdings may amount to $150,000,000 and he is connected with nearly a score of corporations, besides attending to his realty interests.

Next in financial importance come Benjamin Guggenheim and George D. Widener. Guggenheim is in the American Smelting Securities Company, the great mining corporation, which was founded by his father, Meyer Guggenheim. He is connected with the following corporations: Blake and Knowles Steam Pump Works, president and director; The Henry R. Worthington Company, president and director; International Steam Pump Company, president and director; The Laidlaw-Dunn-Gordon Company, president and director; and Power and Mining Machinery Company, president and director.

George D. Widener is connected with the Widener-Elkins traction syndicate of Philadelphia. He is one of two sons of P.A.B. Widener. George D. Widener's fortune is estimated at $50,000,000.

Colonel Washington Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn bridge, is president and director of the John A Roeblings Sons company. His fortune amounts to about $25,000.000.

Isador Straus is one of the best known merchants in the world and is worth about $50,000,000. Straus is connected with the following organizations: R.H. Macy and Company, L. Straus and Sons, Abraham and Straus, The Birbeck Investment Savings and Loan Company, vice president and trustee; The Educational Alliance, president and director; Hanover National Bank, director; and Second National Bank, director.

J. Bruce Ismay is president of the International Mercantile Marine Company and is one of the founders of that big organization. It was Ismay and J.P. Morgan who consolidated American and British steamship lines. It also was Ismay who conceived the idea of building the Titanic. He is worth probably $50,000,000.

John B. Thayer is vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. His son, J.B. Thayer, Jr., who was on the Titanic with his parents, formerly was a noted fullback on the University of Pennsylvania football team. Young Thayer was known as one of the best fullbacks that ever played on a college team.

If the fortunes of all the first class passengers were placed together, they would make easily $1,000,000,000, while the fortunes of the ten richest of them would aggregate $500,000,000.

Position of Olympic and Carpathia

The White Star officers figured from their data that the Olympic was 40 miles from the scene of the Titanic's sinking when she sent the news of it. At that hour the Carpathia was estimated to be 1,080 miles east of Sandy Hook.

Minneapolis people on board

Mr. and Mrs. Walter D. Douglas and Mr. and Mrs. John Pillsbury Snyder were on the Titanic. Mr. and Mrs. Snyder were returning from their honeymoon. Mr. Douglas was formerly of Piper, Johnson and Case, commission merchants.

Anxious over Butt

President Taft had frequent inquiries made of the newspaper offices and the steamship companies for his aide, Major Archibald W. Butt, one of the passengers on the Titanic. No word had been received at a late hour at the homes of Frank D. Millet, the painter; Colonel Archibald Gracie, or Clarence Moore, the three other Washingtonians aboard.

Lies two miles down

The death bed of the $10,000,000 steamer Titanic is two miles, at least, below the surface of the sea.

About 500 miles from Halifax and about 70 miles south of the Grand Banks is where the Titanic is believed to have gone down. This location is midway between Sable Island and Cape Race.

Passengers suffer

Those who were saved after the Titanic disaster have gone through hardships of exposure and peril which may have left many of them in a serious condition. A dispatch given out at the White Star offices said that those rescued by the Carpathia were picked up from lifeboats at 10:30 o'clock Monday morning, eight hours after the Titanic sunk.

Titanic cost $8,000,000

The Titanic was insured at Lloyds for $5,000,000 according to advices from London and it was said here that the International Mercantile Marine Company also carried a surplus fund for insurance purposes which could be applied on the loss. The cost of building the great liner has been estimated at $10,000,000, although vice president Franklin of the White Star Line insisted that her value was not over $3,000,000.

The total monetary loss caused by the sinking of the ship, however, is certain to run to many millions more, but the total amount cannot even be conjectured. It is generally understood that the vessel had aboard diamonds of great value.

Mrs. Astor saved

According to best information here, Col. John Jacob Astor is among the lost, but his bride, who was Miss Madeline Force, a daughter of Frank Force, is saved. Mrs. Astor was reported to be in a delicate condition.

Facts about the Titanic


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