“West Haven Man and Wife Probably Among Titanic’s Dead”

"West Haven Man and Wife Probably Among Titanic's Dead", New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 18 April 1912, p. 1, col.3&4.

On April 15, 1912, the New Haven Register reported that the Titanic had smashed “full speed into an iceberg in a thick fog on her maiden voyage” and that although she had “immediately settled forward and began to sink”, her “up-to-date construction” allowed her to stay afloat.  A White Star Line official initially declared that “her numerous water tight compartments” made her “absolutely unsinkable” and that the incident “should not cause any serious anxiety”. At this time it was believed that the passengers were being taken off and that it was “probable” they were all safe, while the “Helpless ship” was being towed to Halifax by the Virginian. [1]

The true scale of the catastrophe however soon began to unfold and on April 16th it was reported that “shortly after 2 o’clock” on the morning of April 15th, the “Titanic made her great dive into the ocean, carrying with her to death over 1,200 persons”. Over the next couple of days, while the rescue ship Carpathia made her way to New York, the families of those onboard nervously awaited news of their loved ones. On the 17th, the more prominent names missing from the list of known survivors included, Colonel John Jacob Astor, a businessman and believed to be the richest passenger onboard, the millionaire merchant Isador Straus, Major Archibald W. Butt, aide to President Taft, American Artist Francis D. Millet, London journalist William T. Stead and businessman Benjamin Guggenheim. Locally people eagerly awaited news about Mr. and Mrs. Adolph F. Dyker, a young West Haven couple. [2]

Adolph Dyker was a 23 year old Swedish-American who lived at 468 Washington Avenue in West Haven. He was a conductor on a local trolley line, doing the Woodmont run in the summer of 1911 and his courteousness towards the passengers “won him much favor”. In 1908, he married 18 year old, Massachusetts born Anna Judith Elizabeth Anderson in New Haven. During the first couple of years of their marriage they lived with her parents, Carl and Johanna Anderson, at 187 Center Street in West Haven. Upon hearing that his father was grievously ill in Olsta Gnesta, Sweden, Adolph and Anna hurriedly made preparations to return to Sweden and travelled from New York to Liverpool onboard the Campania, arriving in England on December 13, 1911. By the time they reached Sweden however, Adolph’s father had passed away. The Dyker’s began their journey home in April 1912 and travelled from Gothenburg, Sweden to Hull, England onboard the Calypso. On April 10th they boarded the Titanic at Southampton. [3]

Although third class passengers, the Dyker’s would have experienced a level of comfort on the Titanic more superior than most ships of the day. They either slept in one of the 84 two berth cabins or shared their cabin with strangers, sleeping in bunk beds. Their room likely contained a sink and a small amount of wardrobe space, as well as heat and electric lighting. They would have enjoyed simple but ample food in the dining saloon and socialized in the General Room. Adolph may have also smoked and drank in the Smoking Room.[4]

On the night of April 14th, Anna was enjoying the company of her husband and although many had retired to bed and were in their nightclothes when the ship hit the iceberg at around 11:40pm, Anna was apparently fully dressed with the exception of her hat. When the call came for women and children first, Anna “hung back with her husband” until he threw her into a lifeboat, boat 16, which was situated at the back of the ship and purportedly released at around 1:20am. Once in the lifeboat and rowing away from the ship, it is reported that Anna saw Adolph “standing on the deck waving his hand to her”. She heard a “terrible explosion” and “reports like a revolver” and “saw the big boat sink”. The Titanic sank at around 2:20am.[5]

Whether Adolph fought to stay alive in the freezing Atlantic Ocean or drowned by being trapped in the ship or sucked down during the sinking is unclear. He was one of the estimated 1,509 people that perished on the Titanic that night. Only 13% of third class men survived and Adolph’s body, if recovered, was never identified. Whilst being third class reduced Adolph’s chances of survival, being a man alone made his prospects grim. Only 20% of men across all classes survived and all the prominent men listed above shared Adolph’s fate.[6]

Anna on the other hand apparently stayed in her lifeboat for about 5 hours until she was picked up by the Carpathia. The lifeboat contained mostly third class passengers and crew members and during the night it was reported that the survivors were “moderately quiet” although suffered from “exposure and excitement”. In the lifeboat Anna allegedly carried with her a satchel containing two gold watches, two diamond rings, a sapphire necklace and 200 crowns, which she subsequently lost on the rescue ship. On the Carpathia Anna saw many passengers with broken arms and legs caused by falling into the lifeboats or upon “the rubbish from the ship which was floating in the sea”. It is said that she held up her courage during the trip and sympathized with others.[7]

When Anna reached New York on the evening of April 18th, her family apparently had trouble finding her as they were initially refused from passing through the custom house, as Anna’s name was not on the list of survivors, and then nearly missed her when she went out the other end of the pier. For several days after the crash Anna was hopeful that her husband had survived but by the 19th believed there was “no question about her husband being drowned as he was standing on deck when the boat” sank. Upon reaching her parents West Haven home, Anna had to be carried in by her brothers, where she wept bitterly. On the 20th it was reported that her condition was “rather serious”, in which she was of “frail build and delicate constitution” and was “suffering with a severe cold and from a nervous breakdown”.[8]

Despite the women and children first rule, only 49% of third class women survived, although 74% of all women survived. Anna sued the White Star Line for the loss of her husband and the loss of baggage, jewelry, money and other effects.  She went on to marry John A. Josephson and died on February19th, 1961 in New Jersey. [9]

 


For ease of reading, each paragraph has been given one footnote. If you are interested in finding out exactly where each piece of information came from feel free to contact me.

[1]  “Calm Sea Helps Work of Shifting 1,400 on Board”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 15 April 1912, p. 1, col.1. Information about Titanic staying afloat, probable all were safe and ship being towed. Also, “Titanic Passengers Transferred”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 15 April 1912, p. 8, col.1. White Star Line official statement.
[2] “Ice Fields Parted Boats After Work of Rescue Started During Night”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 16 April 1912, p. 1, col.1. Information about when boat sank and how many people were carried to death. Also, “Besiege White Star Rooms All Night for News of Survivors”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 17 April 1912, p. 4, col.5. List of prominent people onboard.
[3] The Price & Lee Company, compilers, New Haven (Ct.) Directory, including West Haven  (New Haven: The Price & Lee Company, 1911), 169; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 April 2012). Adolph lived at 468 Washington Street. Also, Adolph Fred Dyker, 5 December 1911; “Passport Applications, 1906-1925”; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm M1490, roll 149. Adolph’s birth date and information about nationality. Also, “Fear West Haven Couple Were Lost”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 18 April 1912, p. 1, col.1&2, p.3, col.7. Information about Adolph being a conductor on Trolley line. Also, New Haven, Ct., Marriages, June 1908 (certificates),Adolph Dyker and Anna Judith Anderson; New Haven Vital Statistics. Adolph and Anna’s residence given as 187 Center St., West Haven. Also, The Price & Lee Company, compilers, New Haven (Ct.) Directory, including West Haven  (New Haven: The Price & Lee Company, 1909), 158; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 April 2012). Also subsequent years by same title: (1910) 166. In 1909 and 1910, Adolph is listed as living at 187 Center St in West Haven. Also, 1910 U.S. census, New Haven County, Town of Orange, Ct., population schedule, p 203 A (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 448, sheet 24A, dwelling 485, family 571, Carl and Johanna Anderson family and Adolph and Anna Dyker; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 9 April 2012); citing NARA microfilm T624, Roll 137. Family showed to be living at 187 Center St. even though town appears as Orange on census. Also, “Fear West Haven Couple Were Lost”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 18 April 1912, p. 1, col.1&2, , p.3, col.7. Reason why Dyker’s went to Sweden, fate of Adolph’s father. Also, Manifest, Campania, 13 December 1911, p15(?), line 22-23, “Alf F” and “Edith” Dyker; “UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960”; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 April 2012); citing The National Archives of UK, series BT26, piece 488. Also, Manifest, Calypso, 5 April 1912, p330(?), line 1-2 (736, penned) , Adolph and “Elizabeth” Dyker; “Gothenburg, Sweden, Passenger Lists, 1869-1951”; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 April 2012).
[4] Manifest, Titanic, 10 April 1912, p. 24, ticket no. 347072, Adolph and Elizabeth Dyker, “UK, RMS Titanic, Outward Passenger List, 1912”; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 April 2012); citing The National Archives of UK, series BT27/776 and 27/780. Shows Adolph and Elizabeth embarked at Southampton as third class passengers on 10 April 1912. Also, Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland (http://www.nmni.com/Home#TITANICa–The-Exhibition), information about third class experience on Titanic, Saloon, General Room, Smoking Room, cabins.
[5] “Husband Threw Her into Boat West Haven Woman Says”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 19 April 1912, p. 1, col.6&7. Information about Anna enjoying company of her husband, thrown into lifeboat by husband, seeing explosion, reports like revolver, seeing boat sink. Also, Phillip Gowan, Michael Findlay, Leif Snellman, contributors, Encyclopedia Titanica (http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org : accessed 9 April 2012), lifeboat information for “Mrs Anna Elisabeth Judith Dyker”. Also, Encyclopedia Titanica (http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org : accessed 9 April 2012), Titanic Deck plans- Boat Deck. Also, Bill Wormstedt, Tad Finch, George Behe, “Titanic- The Lifeboat Launching Sequence Re- Examined”, Essay, Bill Wormstedt’s Titanic (http://wormstedt.com/Titanic/lifeboats/lifeboats.htm : accessed 10 April 2012), Table 2- Launch Times Re-examined. Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland, information about time of sinking.
[6] John R. Henderson, Demographics of the TITANIC Passengers: Deaths, Survivals, and Lifeboat Occupancy (http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/titanic.html), information about survival rates based on class and sex. Also, Gowan et al, contributors, Encyclopedia Titanica, passenger information about “Adolph Fredrik Dyker” and prominent men.
[7] “Husband Threw Her into Boat West Haven Woman Says”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 19 April 1912, p. 1, col.7. Lifeboat experience. Also, Gowan et el, contributors, Encyclopedia Titanica, passenger information about who was in Lifeboat 16.  Also, Henderson, Demographics of the TITANIC Passengers: Deaths, Survivals, and Lifeboat Occupancy, information about Demographics on lifeboats. “Loss of The White Star Liner Titanic”, The Auburn (Ny.)Citizen, 19 April 1912, p. 2, col.2; digital images, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 10 April 2012). What was in Anna’s satchel. Also, “Husband Threw Her into Boat West Haven Woman Says”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 19 April 1912, p. 1, col.7. Information about Anna sympathizing with others. Also, “Mrs. Dyker on Wreck Horror”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 19 April 1912, p. 2, col.2. Information about people injured by debris in sea and falling into lifeboats.
[8] “Husband Threw Her into Boat West Haven Woman Says”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 19 April 1912, p. 1, col.6&7. Family’s difficulty finding Anna, having to be carried into parents home by brothers. Also, “Mrs. Dyker on Wreck Horror”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 19 April 1912, p. 2, col.1-3. Initial hope of Adolph’s survival but then no question of him perishing, Anna wept bitterly. Also, “Mrs. Dyker still Prostrated from Titanic Disaster”, New Haven (Ct.) Evening Register, 20 April 1912, p. 1, col.1. Information about Anna’s condition and build.
[9] Henderson, Demographics of the TITANIC Passengers: Deaths, Survivals, and Lifeboat Occupancy, information about survival rates based on class and sex. Also, “Sues White Star Line for $19,000”, Hartford (Ct.) Daily Courant, 15 May 1912, p.12, col.5&6; digital images, ProQuest (http://search.proquest.com/ : accessed 10 April 2012). Anna sues for loss of items and husband. Also Gowan et el, contributors, Encyclopedia Titanica, passenger information about “Mrs Anna Elisabeth Judith Dyker” and her life after Titanic.

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