Events | People

A Titanic piece of family history

By Holly Fournier / The Detroit News

Detroiter Fred Quick feared his wife and two daughters had died aboard the Titanic.

Almost 100 years later, his granddaughter recalled hearing stories of that fateful night when Jane Quick, 32, Winifred, 8, and Phyllis, 4, survived the tragedy on the “unsinkable” ship that foundered April 15, 1912, in the frigid north Atlantic.

Stories of survival — and death — on the ship’s maiden voyage are fading from memory, but enthusiasm about the historic event is strong as ever with lectures by experts, TV shows and an exhibit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. The touring exhibition of more than 300 artifacts runs through Sept. 30, 2012.

More than 60 of those who boarded the mammoth White Star Line boat in Southampton, England, for the trip to the United States were ultimately headed to Michigan. Among them were the three members of the Quick family.

Father Fred had left England 31/2 years earlier, traveling the world looking for work. A plasterer, Fred Quick settled in Detroit from Canada, found work and sent for his family to join him. They bought second-class tickets on the Titanic for the trip.

“My grandmother told me a lot about that night,” said Jeanette Happel, 77, of Troy, the late Winifred Quick’s daughter. “She told me how cold it was.”

Early reports of the sinking had claimed all passengers had been rescued. The truth was more sobering: More than 1,500 had died.

Upon learning of the ship’s collision with an iceberg and knowing his family was aboard, Fred Quick rushed to The Detroit News’ office a day after the sinking, according to an article published in the paper that day. His hands “clenched convulsively” as he searched a list of survivors that came over the telegraph at The News.

After finding his family’s names, he announced, “I’m going to New York” where the steamship Carpathia was to dock with hundreds of survivors from the Titanic.

“My mother, when she first put on her lifejacket, was hysterical because she thought she had to jump into the water,” Happel recalled from stories her mother and grandmother told her.

Jane Quick found seats for her two daughters on Lifeboat No. 11, but was told only children were allowed on board.

“They were not going to let my grandmother in,” Happel said. “She said, ‘We either all go together, or we don’t go at all.’”

Her wish granted, Jane Quick huddled with her daughters on the lifeboat as the band played aboard the sinking ship. One song she remembered, Happel said: “Nearer My God to Thee.” The lifeboat drifted for hours until the Carpathia arrived.

“Everyone in the boat kind of cheered,” Happel said.

The Quicks’ reunion in New York was emotional, but highlighted with humor.

“The first thing my grandmother said to (my grandfather) was, ‘Oh Fred, what a funny hat you have on.’”

The Quicks settled in Detroit and Winifred went on to have five children, including Happel, and Phyllis had four.

Jane Quick publicly shared her story for years until the memories grew too painful. “I think she was probably having dreams,” Happel said. “She was reliving it all the time.”

Stories by survivors or relatives of those who died have fascinated Floyd Andrick.

Andrick, 64, has collected Titanic memorabilia and traveled across the United States and Europe, meeting 14 survivors.

“Just being able to hear their story, one on one, from people who were there and experienced it, it was an awesome experience,” Andrick said.

Andrick is a longtime member of the Titanic Historical Society who has delivered many presentations about the ship.

The thought of a ship — the most luxurious ship carrying “the cream of American and British society” that ended up “at the bottom of the ocean” — kept Andrick’s interest, even while he worked in real estate development and as a licensed surgical technician. He’s been retired for 13 years.

By the time the anniversary comes Sunday, Andrick will have given four presentations on the Titanic this week.

“I think this will probably be the last big fling, could we call it, for the Titanic,” Andrick said. “I think the interest is going to wane after this.”

State residents set sail

Those on the Titanic who had ties to Michigan or who ended up in Michigan:

Died

Ida Anderson, 38, Manistee

Frank Andrew, 25, Houghton

Frederick Banfield, 28, Houghton

William J. Berriman, 23, Calumet

Petar Calic, 17, Sault Ste. Marie

William Carbines, 19, Calumet

Alfred J. Davies, 24, Pontiac

John S. Davies, 22, Pontiac

Joseph Davies, 17, Pontiac

Alphonse De Pelsmaeker, 16, Gladstone

George F. Eitenmiller, 23, Detroit

Charles J. Fillbrook, 18, Houghton

Frank J. Goldsmith, 33, Detroit

Leo J. Hampe, 19, Detroit

Marta Hiltunen, 18, Detroit

Jenny Henriksson, 28, Iron Mountain

Stephen C. Jenkin, 32, Houghton

James Lester, 39, Pontiac

Rene Lievens, 24, Detroit

John Lingane, 61, Chelsea

Joseph C. Nicholls, 19, Houghton

Ellen Pettersson, 18, Iron Mountain

Alfred Rush, 16, Detroit

Frederick C. Sawyer, 23, Halley

Anna K. Skoog, 43, Iron Mountain

Karl T. Skoog, 11, Iron Mountain

Mabel Skoog, 9, Iron Mountain

Harald Skoog, 5, Iron Mountain

Margrit Skoog, 2, Iron Mountain

William Skoog, 40, Iron Mountain

Samuel Sobey, 25, Houghton

Phillip Stokes, 25, Detroit

Thomas L. Theobald, 34, Detroit

Philmn Van Melkebeke, 23, Detroit

Victor Vandercruyssen, 47, Detroit

Camille Wittevrongel, 36, Detroit

Survived

Nellie Becker, 36, Benton Harbor

Ruth E. Becker, 12, Benton Harbor

Marion L. Becker, 4, Benton Harbor

Richard Becker, 1, Benton Harbor

John M. Davies, 9, Houghton

Theodore De Mulder, 30, Detroit

Emily B. Goldsmith, 31, Detroit

Frank Goldsmith Jr., 9, Detroit

Anna Hamalainen, 24, Detroit

Viljo Hamalainen, 1, Detroit

Catherine Joseph, 23, Detroit

Michael Joseph, 4, Detroit

Mary Joseph, 2, Detroit

Fatima Masselmany, 17, Dearborn

Jane R. Quick, 33, Detroit

Winifred Quick, 8, Detroit

Phyllis M. Quick, 4, Detroit

Julius Sap, 25, Detroit

Jean Scheerlinck, 29, Detroit

Dickison Bishop, 25, Dowagiac

Helen Bishop, 19, Dowagiac

Hanna Touma, 27, Dowagiac

Maria Touma, 9, Dowagiac

George Touma, 8, Dowagiac

Maude Sincock, 20, Hancock

Mary Davies, 48, Houghton

Borak Hannah, 20, Port Huron

Michiganians aboard
63

boarded ship

36

died

27

survived

hfournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

Detroit News Staff Writer Josh Katzenstein contributed.