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The Laroche Family

The Laroche's were the only Black Family aboard the Titanic amd travelled in Second-Class.

Born in Cap Haitian, Haiti, Mr. Laroche, 26, had been living in France since 1901. There he studied engineering and met Juliette Lafargue, whom he married in 1908. The couple had two daughters, Simonne and Louise, who was born prematurely on July 2, 1910 and suffered many subsequent medical problems.

Racial discrimination prevented Joseph Laroche from obtaining a well-paid job in France. Since the family needed more money to cope with Louise's medical bills, they decided to move to America, hoping jobs would be better racially for engineers. Mr. Laroche spoke fluent French and English.

The move was planned for 1913. In March 1912, however, Juliette discovered that she was pregnant, so she and Joseph decided to leave for Haiti before her pregnancy became too far advanced for travel. Joseph's mother in Haiti bought them steamship tickets on the La France as a welcome present, but the line's strict policy regarding children caused them to transfer their booking to the Titanic's second class.

On April 10 the Laroche family took the train from Paris to Cherbourg in order to board the brand-new liner later that evening. There was no mention of a black family aboard the Titanic by any of the press or survivors accounts. This is unusual for the time when prejudice was very existant.

Mr. Laroche, the only black passenger on the Titanic, did not survive the sinking of the Titanic. His wife and two daughters were saved in lifeboat #10.

On August 8, 1973, Simonne, who never married, died at the age of 64.

Mother Juliette, died At age 91 on January 10, 1980. On her grave a plaque is engraved: Juliette Laroche 1889-1980, wife of Joseph Laroche, lost at sea on RMS Titanic, April 15th 1912.

Louise Laroche passed away quietly in Paris, France on January 28, 1998 at the age of 87. She was 21 months old when rescued from the Titanic.

Michel & Edmond Navratil

Wishing to stop his mother-in-law's interference in his marriage, Michel Navratil (a French taylor) kidnapped his two children Michael M. (age 3) and Edmond Roger (age 2) from his estranged wife Marcelle, and sailed aboard Titanic.

The divorce proceedings were in process and the Easter Sunday, April 7th was Michel's day to visit the children. In a well thought out plan he picked up the boys at his mother-in-laws and took them to England to board the Titanic. He had a revolver in his pocket in case of interference.

Marcelle's mother had been caring for the boys while she worked as a seamstress to supplement the family income. The mother-in-law constantly undermined Michel's standing in the family. At the end of the Easter weekend Marcelle went to pick the boys up from their father but they were no where to be found. She never dreamt that her name would be a household word on two continents.


Master Edmond Roger Navratil was 2 years old and Michel Marcell Navratil was 3 years old when they boarded the Titanic at Southampton with their father, Michel. The family was travelling under the assumed name of Hoffman. Julian Pedro, who had the table next to Navratil in the dining saloon aboard the Titanic, described Mr. "Hoffman" as a rather handsome man about 40 (actually 32), 5 ft 6 inches tall with a dark moustache and hair, who looked either English or French.

"Hoffman" isolated himself from the other passengers during the crossing. He rarely let the boys out of his site not trusting anyone. Only at one point when he wanted to participate in a card game, he did. He let a Swiss woman by the name of Bertha Lehmann who spoke only French and German, but not English, look after the children.

Onced the disaster occured, Michel Navratil knew he had to now trust someone else with his precious children. He loved his sons and when handing them to strangers in Collapsible Lifeboat D he kissed them goodbye. The boys were handed into the arms of two different passengers - one to a First-Class and the other to a Third-Class passenger.

Mr. Navratil remained behind after placing his sons in Collapsible D. When the Titanic sank, Michel Navratil was aged 32 years. His last residence was in Nice, France. He had boarded the Titanic as a 2nd Class passenger at Southampton on Wednesday April 10, 1912, Ticket No. 230080, Cabin No. F2. His body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (No. 15) and was buried at the Baron De Hirsch Jewish Cemetery, Halifax Nova Scotia Canada on Wednesday May 15, 1912.

Aboard the Carpathia, Edmond and Michel (unable to speak English) were dubbed "the Orphans of the Titanic" when they turned out to be the only children who remained unclaimed by an adult. First Class survivor, Miss Margaret Hays agreed to care for the boys at her New York home (304 West 83rd Street) until family members could be contacted. They were assumed to be Hoffmans.

It was soon discovered that a man named Hoffman - fitting Michel Navratil's description - representing himself as a German antique dealer, had purchased tickets for himself and the two children in March at the Thomas Cook offices in Monte Carlo. Marcelle Navratil read the story of the "Titanic Orphans" and knowing her husband had a friend by the name of Hoffman, cabled a picture of Michel to Monte Carlo, then gave a description to Miss Hays through the Paris Bureau of the New York Herald. Confirming that she was the mother, the White Star Line gave her a ticket on the Oceanic to New York were she was reunited with her children on May 16. The three sailed back to France on the Oceanic.

In later life Edmond worked as interior decorator and then became an architect and builder. He was married. During World War II he fought with the French Army, was captured and made a prisoner-of-war. He managed to escape from the camp in which he was held, but his health had suffered and he died in the 1954 at the age of 43.

Michel Marcel became a scholar and teacher of philosophy and received his doctorate in 1952. He had two sons (a doctor of Urology and a German translator) and two daughters (a psychoanalyst and a music critic).

The boys mother, Marcelle Navratil, died in 1974.

Michel Navratil lived in France until his death on January 30, 2001. He was the last male Titanic survivor.

Mr. Michel Navratil was buried in the Jewish "Baron de Hirsch Cemetery" in Halifax. The officials offered to move his body to the Catholic section after the error was discovered but his wife was quite happy to leave the body where it was resting. No member of the family had ever visited Mr. Navratil's grave until Michel Marcel did - then 88 years old. Following Jewish tradition many visitors had honored his memory by leaving stones on his marker to signify their having stopped to pay their respects.

Edmund (left) and Michael (right)

Marian Thayer & her Son, Jack

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, Saturday, April 15, 1944:


Mrs. John B. Thayer, widow of John B. Thayer, prominent Philadelphian and Pennsylvania Railroad official, died yesterday on the 32nd anniversary of her husband's death in the Titanic disaster. She was 72.

When the Titanic sunk on April 14, 1912, off Newfoundland after striking an iceberg, her husband, 2nd vice president and director of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was carried to his death, but Mrs. Thayer and her son, John B. Thayer, Jr., were rescued in a lifeboat.

Mrs. Thayer was the daughter of the late Frederick Wister Morris, and lived in Cheswold Lane, Haverford. She had been ill a year. Surviving, besides John, are another son, Frederick M., of Newtown Square, and two daughters, Mrs. H. Hoffman Dolan, of Haverford, and Mrs. H. E. Talbott, Jr., of New York. Funeral services will be held at 5 P.M. Monday at the Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr.

Jack Thayer:

Jack would later serve as a captain in the artillary in World War I and marry Lois Cassatt. In 1945, at the age of 50, he committed suicide by cutting his wrists and throat in a car. Jack was then buried in the family plot at the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, PA.

From his Obit, September 23, 1945, Philadelphia Inquirer ...

John B. Thayer, 3d, financial vice president of the University of Pennsylvania and a member of an old Philadelphia family, who had been reported missing since Wednesday, was found dead, his wrists and throat cut, in a parked automobile near the P.T.C. loop at 48th St. and Parkside Ave. yesterday morning.

Mr. Bell said that Mr. Thayer had been suffering from a nervous breakdown during the last two weeks. "The breakdown," Mr. Bell explained, "was due, I believe, to worrying about the death of his son, Edward C. Thayer, who was killed in the service."

The P.T.C. employees who found the body on the front seat of the car with the feet under the steering wheel are George E. Wharton, of 2036 N. 54th ST., a supervisor, and Daniel Petetti, a mechanic, of 1247 N. 54th St.

They said they first saw the automobile, a sedan, registered in the name of his wife, Mrs. Lois C. Thayer, parked adjacent to the trolley loop on the south side of Parkside Ave. at noon Thursday. When they saw the same car parked there yesterday, they investigated.

Mr. Thayer's mother, Mrs. Marian Longstreth Morris Thayer, died at her Haverford home April 14, 1944, which was the 32nd anniversary of her husband's death on the liner Titanic, which sank after striking an iceberg in the Atlantic.

Robert W. Daniel, Philadelphia Banker

"Not until the last five minutes did the awful realization come that the end was at hand. The lights became dim and went out, but we could see. Slowly, ever so slowly, the surface of the water seemed to come towards us. So gradual was it that even after I had adjusted the life jacket about my body it seemed a dream. Deck after deck was submerged. There was no lurching or grinding or crunching. The Titanic simply settled.

I was far up on one of the top decks when I jumped. About me were others in the water. My bathrobe floated away, and it was icily cold. I struck out at once. I turned my head, and my first glance took in the people swarming on the Titanic�s deck. Hundreds were standing there helpless to ward off approaching death. I saw Captain Smith on the bridge. My eyes seemingly clung to him. The deck from which I had leapt was immersed. The water had risen slowly, and was now to the floor of the bridge. Then it was to Captain Smith�s waist. I saw him no more. He died a hero.

The bows of the ship were far beneath the surface, and to me only the four monster funnels and the two masts were now visible. It was all over in an instant. The Titanic�s stern rose completely out of the water and went up 30, 40, 60 feet into the air. Then, with her body slanting at an angle of 45 degrees, slowly the Titanic slipped out of sight."

While aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, he met fellow Titanic survivor Mrs. Lucien P. Smith, whose husband perished during the disaster. The two were married in 1914 in New York City.

Robert W. Daniel died on December 20, 1940, at the age of 56. Eloise Smith Daniel had died on May 3, 1940.

Mrs. Daniel Warner Marvin, on her honeymoon

"As I was put into the boat, he cried and said to me, �It�s all right, little girl. You go. I will stay.� As our boat shoved off he threw me a kiss, and that was the last I saw of him."

Daniel Warner Marvin and Mary Graham Carmichael Farquarson were married on January 12, 1912. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton. Travelling as first class passengers, the couple were returning to New York City from their honeymoon in Europe. They occupied cabin D-30.

Mrs Marvin was rescued in lifeboat 10 but Daniel Marvin died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

On October 21, 1912, Mary gave birth to a baby girl, the posthumous daughter of Daniel Warner Marvin. She named the baby Mary Margaret Marvin.

In the spring of 1913, Mary Marvin met Horace DeCamp and fell in love. In 1916, Horace adopted Mary Margaret, the daughter from Mary's first marriage. Horace and Mary had two children of their own ... a daughter born in 1918 and a son in 1920.

Mary and Horace DeCamp (passport photo, 1921)

Horace DeCamp died in 1954 at the age of 67. Eighty year old Mary died on October 16, 1975.

Master William Rowe Richards

When the Titanic sank William Rowe Richards was aged 3 years. His last residence was in Penzance Cornwall England. He boarded the Titanic as a 2nd Class passenger at Southampton on Wednesday April 10, 1912, Ticket No. 29106. Destination: Akron, Ohio.

William Rowe Richards survived the sinking (lifeboat 4) and was picked up by the Carpathia disembarking at New York City on Thursday April 18, 1912.

He died January 9, 1988 from heart failure brought on by heart disease.

His mother, Mrs. Sidney Richards (Emily Hocking), 24, was born in Penzance, Cornwall, the daughter of confectioner and baker, William Rowe Hocking and wife Mrs Eliza Needs Hocking. She lived with her family at 38 Adelaide Street, Penzance.

Emily married Mr James Sibley Richards and moved to 'The Meadow', Newlyn. They had two sons, William Rowe Richards (named after his maternal grandfather) and George Sibley Richards and a daughter, Emily. Her husband subsequently emigrated to Akron, Ohio and she planned to join him there.

She boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger with her two young sons under ticket number 29106, having been transeferred from the Oceanic. She traveled with her mother, Mrs Elizabeth Hocking, her brother George Hocking and sister Nellie Hocking.

Emily Richards and Addie Wells had strolled the deck of the Titanic the night of the 14th, noticing how cold it was. She had just put her children to bed and was about to go to bed herself when the Titanic collided with an iceberg.

After the collision, her mother rushed into her room and shook her. Mrs Hocking said "There is surely danger, something has gone wrong." Mrs Richards and her other family members put on their slippers and outside coats and dressed the children and then went up on deck in their nightgowns. As they went up the stairs a crewmember called out that "Everyone put on life preservers." Mrs Richards returned to her cabin, as family members reassured themselves that nothing was the matter. They returned to deck and were told to pass through the dining room to a rope ladder placed against the side of the cabin that led to an upper deck. Mrs Richards, her two sons, her mother, and her sister were pushed through a window into lifeboat 4. They were told to sit in the bottom of the boat. Some of the women tried to stand after the boat pulled away, however the crewmen pushed them with their feet back into a seated position. The boat was only a short distance away from the Titanic went it went down. The people in the boat pulled seven men out of the water.

The Richards and Hockings hoped that George Hocking had been rescued by another ship, but this had not happened. After leaving the Carpathia, the Richards stayed at Blake's Star Hotel at 57 Clarkson's Street in New York City and she was reunited with her husband Sibley ("Sib") Richards who had travelled from Akron.

She ultimately returned to the UK to live. Her husband died on July 3, 1939 at the age of 51. Emily continued to live in Paul, near Penzance, Cornwall until her death on November 10, 1972. She is interred in the Paul Cemetery, Cornwall.

Berthe Leroy

Berthe Leroy was born on August 10th, 1884 in a modest miner�s house in the French Pas-de-Calais region. When she was 19, she got a job in Paris, being hired by a family to iron linen.

At the beginning of 1910, Mrs Mahala and Mr. Walter Douglas, an American who co-founded the Quaker Oats Company, were staying in Paris. Mrs Douglas asked Berthe to join her staff and the young lady became her Travelling Companion. Berthe made the first of many trips across the Atlantic ocean along with her new employers.

In April 1912, the Douglases were on a trip in Europe; they wanted to buy new pieces of furniture for their Lake Minnetonka house. Mr. Douglas wanted to celebrate his 53rd birthday at home, in America, so the couple decided not to stay too long in Paris. The first liner sailing from France was the Titanic. The Douglases had a ticket (number PC 17761) purchased at the Parisian offices of the White Star Line. They boarded in Cherbourg, where a strange thing occurred. According to Mrs Douglas, a man who was speaking broken English told her that the Titanic was cursed, that she had better disembark in Ireland. Mrs Douglas felt uneasy and sent Berthe after the man. Berthe never could find him. Mr. Douglas laughed and told his wife that the ship was unsinkable. The Douglases occupied cabin number C-86, on C-Deck, and Berthe was in cabin C-138.

Berthe had vivid memories of a brilliant life on board, of evening parties, gala dinners and special meals held in honour some of the most fortunate passengers. Life was simply beautiful until the shout: Everybody on deck! rang out.

Berthe stated she heard the noise of the collision with the iceberg, which she first thought was nothing but the rumble of a storm. She was sleeping, and did not worry at first. She did not answer the order to leave ship shouted by a sailor who knocked many times at their door. She later admitted, some day in 1966, that she imagined this was a trick from a young man whom, she thought, was rather fond of her and tried to have her open her door. Much later, when she noticed that the ship was tilting forward and because the sailor was insisting at the door, she finally put a dressing gown over her night gown and hurried out of her cabin, with only one slipper on as she could not find the second one, and a lifebelt she found in a cupboard.

The corridors were almost deserted, she remembered. As they were not lighted, she found it difficult to reach the upper deck, finding her path reading the cabin numbers on the brass plaques glinting in the dark. She hoped she would meet her employers up there.

She was one of the last passengers to leave the liner on the next to the last lifeboat, #2. Because of the dark, she did not notice that Mrs Douglas was also in the same boat.

It was ten minutes after 4 a.m. Mrs Douglas was the first survivor to set foot on the rescue ship. She hysterically shouted that the Titanic had gone down with hundreds of passengers, and one crew member had to quiet her down. On the Carpathia, Berthe met Mrs Douglas, and both women were given comfort and warmth.

Mr. Walter Douglas� body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett a few weeks after the sinking; his body, N0 62, was described as: Male � Estimated age, 55 � Hair grey, Clothing : Evening dress, with "W.D.D." on shirt. Effects : Gold watch; chain; sov. case with "W.D.D."; gold cigarette case "W.D.D."; five gold studs; wedding ring on finger engraved "May 19th '84"; pocket letter case with $551.00 and one �5 note; cards. � First class � Name � WALTER D. DOUGLAS, Minneapolis.

Berthe promised Mrs Douglas to stay with her. She would not leave her until Mrs Douglas passed away, aged 81, in 1945.

Just after the First World War, Berthe was in Boston; Mrs Douglas was going to have a party and Berthe was asked to hire musicians. She found someone she had not seen for years: Gaston Bourlard, whom she had known as a boy in the North of France. Later, they began a serious relationship and married in 1928. Gaston became a butler, both employed by Mrs Douglas.

After Mrs Douglas died, Berthe and Gaston retired to Santa Barbara, California, where they bought a small villa at 2206 Modoc Rd.

Gaston died on August 15th, 1955; after a long period of ill health. He rests in America, at Santa Barbara�s Calvary Cemetery.

Berthe sometimes went back to France, but she became an American citizen on July 14th, 1942. She last sailed across the Atlantic on the France from August 8th to 12th, 1964.

Her life ended quietly. She passed away on July 4th, 1972 after asking for some water she had no time to sip. She gasped twice and her life, which had been at the same time incredibly restless and simple, ended.

Margaret Tobin Brown - "The Unsinkable Molly"

Margaret Brown (also know as Molly Brown) was born on July 18, 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri. Her parents, John Tobin and Laura Collins, were both immigrants from Ireland. She had two brothers and two sisters. She grew up in a cottage not too far from the Mississippi River. Margaret was a hard worker and stripped tobacco leaves as a teenager to get a better job.

After she moved to Leadville, Colorado with her sister Mary and her husband Jack Landrigan, they established a blacksmith shop. Margaret shared a cabin in Colorado with her older brother Daniel, who worked in the mines and successfully became a mine promoter.

In the summer of 1886, Margaret met James Joseph Brown, also known as J.J. Like Margaret, J.J.'s parents had also immigrated from Ireland. They married on September 1, 1886 at the Annunciation Church in Leadville. The Browns had two children, Lawrence Palmer, who was born in 1887 and Catherine Ellen who was born in 1889.

When her children were quite young, Margaret was involved in a feminine association. She belonged to The National American Women's Association, Colorado Chapter. She was also involved in supporting soup kitchens for the needy and to assist families of the Leadville miners.

In 1894 James Joseph Brown struck it moderately rich in a gold find, and the two moved to Denver, where Maggie sought to enter Denver society, with little success. She began visiting New York and Newport, R.I., and then Europe and through persistence and her flamboyant personality was able to join the select group of wealthy Americans whose acceptance she craved.

The Brown's purchased a house on Pennsylvania Street in Denver and later on they built a summer house called Avcca Lodge. Margaret became very fond of the Denver Womens' Club, a network of clubs that discussed suffrage and the human rights throughout the United States. She raised enough funds to build the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph's Hospital and worked as well with Judge Ben Lindsey to help desperate children.

Margaret Brown boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, France, as a First Class passenger. She occupied Cabin B-4 and Cabin B-6 aboard the Titanic. She and her daughter Helen had been traveling in Europe. Margaret heard that her first grandchild was ill, so she booked a passage on the first ship she could, the "Unsinkable," the "Wonder Ship," the "Ship of Dreams," the Titanic. Margaret's daughter Helen was going to go with Margaret, but then she made a sudden and wise decision not to go on the Titanic. Little did her family know that Margaret was on the Titanic and what would happen to her when she took the trip.

After the ship struck the iceberg, Margaret helped women and children into lifeboats and eventually was shoved into lifeboat six. Margaret told the women on the lifeboat to row together and not let fear take over.

Margaret's greatest work happened on the Carpathia. She established The Titanic's Survivors Committee for the people that needed help and for the poor. Margaret also raised almost $10,000 dollars for desperate survivors of the tragic event.

Shortly after the sinking Margaret wrote to her daughter:

"After being brined, salted and pickled in mid ocean, I am now high and dry. I have had flowers, letters, telegram-people until I am befuddled. They are petitioning Congress to give me a medal. If I must call a specialist to examine my head, it is due to the title of Heroine of the Titanic."

Her humor prevailed as she spoke to the people:

"Thanks for the kind thoughts. Water was fine, swimming, good. Neptune was exceedingly kind to me and I am now high and dry."

Margaret visited Nova Scotia to place wreaths on the victims graves and continued to serve the Survivors Committee. She was fairly unhappy that as a woman she couldn't testify at the Titanic hearings. Because of this Margaret wrote her own version of the event that was published in the newspapers of New York, Denver and Paris.

Sadly, Margaret Tobin Brown died of a brain tumor on October 26, 1932 at the Barbizon Hotel in New York where she was working with actresses. She was sixty-five. She was buried next to J.J. who died September 6th, 1922.

Her remains were not returned to Colorado. After a simple funeral service Maggie was buried, next to James Joseph Brown, in Long Island's Holy Rood Cemetery. It was only after her death, when she became the subject of the hit Broadway musical and film "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", that she gained some of the fame she would have so enjoyed in life.

Their daughter Helen Brown Benziger died in Old Greenwich, Connecticut on October 17th, 1993 at the age of 97.

Molly Brown is a name Hollywood made up for her. Because of this name, Margaret's family stayed away from writers, photographers, reporters etc. after the Titanic's sinking. They eventually withdrew themselves from crowds who wanted to see them.

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