Saturday, May 5, 2012

Abandon Hope of Recovering Roebling and Blackwell

"Abandon Hope of Recovering the Bodies" [1]

Upon return of Karl Roebling from Halifax with no further word on identification of either Washington Roebling or Stephen Blackwell, the Trenton Evening Times reported it was all but certain that the men went down with the ship and would not be recovered. [2]

On May 6, 1912 the Trenton Evening Times reported arrival in Halifax of the ship Minia with 15 additional bodies, mostly those of Titanic crew members.  List of the identified had previously been wired and the ship's arrival caused no modifications in identification.  [3]

The search for Titanic's victims was then continued by the steamer Montgomery, though little additional recovery was expected.  Reports from the captain of the Minia indicated bodies were widely scattered, and conditions somewhat hazardous.  As of May 13, 1912 the Montgomery had picked up five more victims and identified three of them - none Roebling or Blackwell.  [4]

Washington A. Roebling II was neither recovered nor identified.  A memorial to Roebling exists in Trenton's Riverview Cemetery [5].  Additionally, his father, Charles Gustavus Roebling memorialized his son when the Trenton church the family attended was undergoing restoration by rebuilding the entire west wall, including stone statuary and stained glass. [6]

But what of Stephen Weart Blackwell?  I admit when I started researching this series I was under the impression that Blackwell was ultimately identified and buried in Halifax as victim 241 [7].  But a subsequent review of Blackwell's entry at Encyclopedia Titanica states that Blackwell's body was never recovered despite having been identified as victim 241 [8].  Online at the Nova Scotia Archives, the report on victim 241 identifies him as a male estimated to be 20 years of age. 


Nova Scotia Archives.  "Body No. 241 Stephen W. Blackwell," RMS Titanic Resource Guide: Fatality Reports.  Online. http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/titanic/fatalities.asp?ID=241&Page=201010999.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

Blackwell, however, was 45 years old when he perished on the Titanic. 

"Much Regret for Victims of Titanic Wreck," Trenton Evening Times, 21 Apr 1912, pg. 23. Online. GenealogyBank : http://www.genealogybank.com. Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

As of this writing I have been unable to locate a more detailed physical description of Stephen Weart Blackwell, nor was I able to find any newspaper articles mentioning the identification of body 241 as Blackwell.  The personal effects noted with victim 241 seem to speak to Blackwell, though why one would be carrying opera glasses and a button hook, I'm not sure.  But the clothing and age discrepancy are more striking, leading me to think that Stephen Blackwell was not recovered from the wreckage. 




[1] [2]  "Abandon Hope of Recovering the Bodies," Trenton Evening Times, 5 May 1912, pg. 23.  Online. GenealogyBank : http://www.genealogybank.com. Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[3] "Dock with More of Titanic Dead: Minia Arrives with Fifteen Corpses - Not Much Hope of Finding Others," Trenton Evening Times, 6 May 1912, pg. 1. Online. GenealogyBank : http://www.genealogybank.com. Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[4] "Finds Five Titanic Victims; Searchers Report Three Identified and One Buried at Sea," (Cleveland, Ohio) Plain Dealer, 13 May 1912, pg. 2. Online. GenealogyBank : http://www.genealogybank.com. Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[5]  "Washington A. Roebling, II," Find A Grave.  Online. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5924131.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012. 

[6]  Schuyler, Hamilton.  The Roeblings: A Century of Engineers, Bridge-Builders, and Industrialists: The Story of Three Generations of an Illustrious Family, 1831-1931.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1931.  p. 314.

[7]  "Stephen W Blackwell," Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, RMS Titanic Fatality Reports, 1912.  Online. Ancestry.com : http://www.ancestry.com. Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[8]  "Mr Stephen Weart Blackwell," Encyclopedia Titanica.  Online.  http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/stephen-weart-blackwell.html.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[9]  Nova Scotia Archives.  "Body No. 241 Stephen W. Blackwell," RMS Titanic Resource Guide: Fatality Reports.  Online. http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/titanic/fatalities.asp?ID=241&Page=201010999.  Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

[10]  "Much Regret for Victims of Titanic Wreck," Trenton Evening Times, 21 Apr 1912, pg. 23. Online. GenealogyBank : http://www.genealogybank.com. Accessed 29 Apr 2012.

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