Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kate Buss and the Titanic

Today I stepped back in time as I made a trip to our local museum. I was given passage on the ill fated White Star Line's R.M.S Titanic. My boarding pass gave me passage as a 2nd class traveler. Who was I and did we survive?

For today on the Titanic I am Miss Kate Buss

Kate is 36 years old and boarding the Titanic with ticket #27849--2nd class-E Deck. Cost of ticket 12 pounds, boarding in Sittingbourne, England. Destination San Diego, California.

Kate left her home in Sittingbourne, England where she worked as a grocer's assistant in her brother Percy's grocery business. Kate was traveling to San Diego to be married to her longtime sweetheart Samuel Willis.

On Sunday April 14th Kate joined about a hundred other passengers in the second class dining saloon for a service led by Rev Ernest Carter, she noticed that people sang the hymns with great emotion and that some had tears in their eyes.

Kate had retired and lay in her bunk reading a newspaper when the collision occurred at 11:40 pm that evening. She thought it sounded like a skate on ice. She waited and listened to the engines reversing, when they stopped she went out in the hallway where she met her table companion, Dr Ernest Moraweck, who offered to investigate. Kate then went to the cabin of Marion Wright, whom she met during the voyage, awakened her, and together they went on deck. On deck there was little activity but they met Douglas Norman who told them the ship had hit an iceberg. They looked over the rail at the well deck where people were congregating, some with their belongings. Kate berated a passenger who remarked on how protective they were being of their property, telling him that those trunks might contain all they had in the world. Before an argument could develop Douglas Norman guided the ladies below for some warm clothes.

As the boats were loaded, Kate turned away, she couldn't bear to watch the evacuation. She, Marion and Douglas discussed their chances of rescue. A little while later she got into boat number 9. But Douglas Norman was prevented - despite Kate's protests - from boarding.

When the boat reached the Carpathia she was the last to leave the lifeboat as she was frightened of heights and didn't like the thought of climbing the rope ladder up to the deck.

When the Carpathia reached New York Kate was alarmed that passengers without people to meet them would be taken to Ellis Island (although none were), for this reason she stepped off the ship into the crowd. Kate was eventually taken to the Junior League House, a hostel for women. She was later taken under the wing of Rev S. Halstead Watkins chaplain to the Port of New York to whom the vicar of Sittingbourne had written.

(The above text in italics was found Here)

Kate and Samuel were married May 11, 1912 and later had a daughter they named Sybil. Kate lived to the age of 96 and died on July 12, 1972.

The best part of the entire exhibit was the boarding pass and making a connection with the person that you were given. Only 705 people survived this ill fated cruise and well over 1500 perished.

If you have a museum nearby it is a wonderful way to take part in history and to pass it along to your children and who knows what you might learn or experinece along the way. For today I'm glad that I got to know Miss Kate Buss.