April 15, 2012, marks one hundred years since the sinking of the Titanic. This blog post begins our series about the ill fated ship and its connections to Mississippi. The series was written by Brandie Thomas of the MDAH Archives and Reference Services Division.
Just about everyone knows the story of the Titanic, the large, luxurious ocean liner that sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg on her maiden voyage. Most of us know that the ship was thought to be unsinkable, that there weren’t enough lifeboats onboard, that two-thirds of the 2,200 people onboard died in the icy waters of the Atlantic. But how many people know that a Mississippian was among those unfortunate passengers?
For weeks after the disaster, the Titanic and her passengers dominated the front pages of newspapers across the country, including papers in Mississippi. Titanic’s first class was filled with wealthy Americans, who were the celebrities of their day, and many prominent passengers perished, sending shockwaves throughout society. The drama of the events of April 14 captured the imagination of the American public in 1912 and has maintained its hold, more or less, for a century.
Coverage of the sinking in Mississippi mostly consisted of reports from the country’s news wire agencies. However, nestled among the wire reports regarding the aftermath of the sinking is a short piece of original reporting appearing in the April 23, 1912, issue of the Biloxi Daily Herald newspaper. The article is about a Mississippian named A.N. Lahaud, who may have been aboard the Titanic. Lahaud, a Biloxi resident originally from Syria, had been visiting his childhood home and had intended to leave Europe to return to Mississippi around the same time that Titanic sailed for the United States. When lists of survivors and victims began appearing after the wreck, an individual named Sekas Lahoud appeared on listings of those who were not saved. Lahaud’s parents, also residents of Biloxi, began to suspect that this individual may be their son.1
Passenger lists found online feature Sarkis Lahoud/Lahowd as a passenger in third class, though the spellings of the name vary to some degree, and none of the lists feature a Lahoud alongside the initials ‘A.N.’2 An article appearing in the April 27th edition of the Jackson Daily News seems clear up the confusion. The article reports that the Lahauds received positive confirmation from a daughter living in Philadelphia that their son was aboard the Titanic and that his name wasn’t on any of the lists of those who were saved.3 Mr. Lahaud’s body was not among the 328 recovered from the wreck site. It appears that ‘A.N.’ and ‘Sarkis’ were the same person.
So far, Mr. Lahaud is the only passenger we’ve discovered with a direct connection to Mississippi, though there were other passengers with indirect links to the state. This series will investigate those passengers and explore Mississippi’s news coverage of the Titanic, which occurred in the same context as the Mississippi River Flood of 1912.
1 “Son of Assyrian Couple of Biloxi Feared to Have Been Lost in Wreck,” Daily Herald, April 23, 1912, Biloxi, Mississippi.
2 Encyclopedia Titanica, “Comprehensive list of RMS Titanic third class (steerage) passengers, with full biographies,” accessed March 30, 2012, http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-third-class-passengers/ and Library of Virginia, “Titanic’s Passenger List,” accessed March 30, 2012, http://www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/titanic/p2.htm.
3 “One Mississippian Lost,” Jackson Daily News, April 27, 1912, Jackson, Mississippi.