News of the Titanic Reaches Central Pennsylvania

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, April 16, 1912:  Am fishing around for a subject to write a theme on. We are to commit these to memory and rattle them off on the last day of school.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

There are some interesting things directly related to what Grandma wrote that I could write about today– but I feel like I must share a newspaper article from a hundred years ago today.

I’ve seen so much about the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking on April 15, 1912 in the national news, so I’d like to tell you how Grandma probably learned about the sinking.

An article in the local paper, the Milton Evening Standard, on April 16, 1912 reported the sinking and included a local connection:

1525 DROWN AS TITANIC SINKS

625 WOMEN AND CHILDREN SAVED

MANY NOTABLES WERE ABOARD

Giant Ship Rams Iceberg on

Her Maiden Trip From Liverpool to New York

Special to the Standard

New York, April 15—Early reports of the loss of life aboard the White Star liner Titanic are not exaggerated.

Only 675 out of 2,200 comprising passengers and crew escaped.

1,525 persons, among them many notables, went down with the ship. How they met death will never be known, but it is believed the upmost order prevailed and the men aboard met their fate calmly as the Titanic sank after a four-hour struggle to keep afloat.  . . .

And, now here’s the local angle–

MRS. BALDWIN SAFE; WAS NOT ON BOARD THE TITANIC

Mother Here Gets Message That

Returning Tourist and Daughter

Came on Another Ship

Anxiety over the fate of Mrs. Hasel Baldwin, daughter of Mrs. John McCleery, of 20 N. Front Street, and Mrs. Baldwin’s daughter, Mary Shaw, who it was feared might have been aboard the Titanic, was set at rest this morning by the receipt of a telegram from Mrs. Baldwin who stated that she and her daughter had reached New York safely this morning on board the S.S. President Lincoln. Mrs. McCleery upon learning of the Titanic fatality anxiously scanned the newspapers for the passenger lists, but Mrs. Baldwin’s name was not among them. The uncertainty which was cleared by the receipt of the telegram was added to by the fact that it was known that Mrs. Baldwin had had some difficulty in securing passage at Liverpool, owing to the crowds of tourists coming back for the summer season in America, and it was feared that passage may have been booked at a late hour aboard the Titanic.

Mrs. Baldwin and her daughter will reach here tomorrow. They have been touring France for a year and a half.

To add a bit of context–

According to the Milton History website,  Mrs. Baldwin’s Father, John McCleery had been a prominent attorney in Milton and involved with the Milton Car Works which manufactured railroad cars. (It was later called ACF).  He also was the founder of the Milton Trust and Safe Deposit Company.

A hundred years ago more prominent people probably lived in Milton than do today. Back then there were several large factories—and the businessmen and managers who ran those firms lived in the town.

I’m amazed how quickly news traveled a hundred years ago. Obviously people in Milton knew about the sinking of the Titanic the day after it happened. And, the article about Mrs. Baldwin suggests that people knew about it prior to this newspaper article. For example, the article says, “Mrs. McCleery upon learning of the Titanic fatality anxiously scanned the newspapers for the passenger lists  . . . “ Maybe there were “Extras” of the paper that have not survived over time.

Titanic

Photo Source: Wikipedia

8 Responses

  1. Interesting that at that time they wrote that they met their fate calmly while in the movie chaos reigned. I wonder if they really believed that or that was the way life was supposed to be lived so they reported it that way. Something to be said for that view, maybe. Might give a person more of an ideal to try to live up to.

    • I wonder how many details they really had this soon after the disaster. It seems like the information probably was coming in via teletype–did that exist back then?–or some other antiquated system that probably limited the amount of descriptive information that could be provided. The newspaper article may have presented more the ideal–though those on the ship obviously developed some sort of decision-making process (however chaotically it was arrived at) that put the women and children on the life boats.

  2. […] The previous day Grandma wrote that she was trying to find a topic for a presentation on the upcoming last day of school. What was the interesting subject that Grandma came up with?  I wonder what types of topics were considered appropriate back then. […]

  3. Fascinating! It does seem amazing that the newspaper had so much information already. I wonder if there were more articles written in the coming days elaborating on the original story?

    • This was the last date that I got through the microfilms for, so I don’t know. I’m always amazed how tedious it is to look at microfilms, and how few dates I can get through when I’m at the library. If I remember the next time that I go back, I’ll have to check on if there was anything about the Titanic on subsequent dates.

  4. […] was working on a speech that she needed to present on the last day of school. On April 16, she wrote that she was trying to find a topic; and, of the 17th she wrote that she’d found an […]

  5. […] worried about in yesterday’s diary entry apparently was her oration. She wrote the speech on April 16, 17 and 18; and finalized and memorized it on April 22 and 23. I suppose that she practiced it in […]

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