The Lebanese on the Titanic
Recently, the ALHS received an interesting email from Leila Elias:
I have recently completed a book concerning the Lebanese who boarded the Titanic. Of those who survived and those who perished, biographical information about these passengers has been researched and taken into note. I have delved into the 1912 materials in both Arabic and English and have found, in some cases, much information, but in other cases, very little. Although the book is presently with a publisher, I am still hopeful to receive new information about any of these passengers and/or their families. I am contacting the Australian Lebanese Historical Society Inc. in the hope that some member may be related to any one of these passengers. Although the destination was New York, I do realize that many of these passengers’ families may have had relatives on the other side of the world, those who had ventured to Australia, or even friends from the same village or town who resided in Australia. Any type or tidbit of information would be a beneficial addition to this story. Some of these family names include: Nasrallah, Assaf, Ilyas (Elias), Ayyub, Daher, Dibo, Karam, Muslamanni, Bazzi, Abi al-Muna, Jabbour, Mubarik, and many others. I prefer not to list all the names, as they are many but do feel that until today, many names may have been left out – many still believe, according to family tradition, that a relative boarded the ship and perished but was not listed as a passenger. If there is someone who had a relative aboard the Titanic, please feel free to contact me as I continue to add and confirm information I already have. I thank you for your interest. Leila Salloum Elias – email@example.com
Leila Salloum Elias’s letter highlights an overlooked fact: along with the many European travellers and Asian seamen who traveled on the ill-fated voyage aboard the Titanic when it sank in 1912 where numerous Lebanese. Some survived and some perished in the disaster.
Many are identifiable as Lebanese because their place of origin is given as ‘Lebanon’ and were migrating to Canada, the United States and South America. Others, such as Mr. Ahmed Ali and Mr. William Ali who were returning home to Argentina were, it might be assumed, were also Lebanese returning home after a visit to the old country. Sixty-six people were listed as residing in Lebanon prior to embarking on the Titanic.
At least one of the victims was a Lebanese crew member. Printer Steward A. Mishellany, who also used the name of Mr E. Hamilton, 52, was born in Lebanon. He was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as Criterion Res., (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic. As the printer he received monthly wages of £6. Mishellany died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
These and many other fascinating and intriguing facts are available on the Encyclopedia Titanic website at http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/. The details of the Nakid family is a good example of the story of the Lebanese aboad the Titanic: The Nakid family of Mr Sahid Nakid (1891 – 1926) and his wife Mrs Waika “Mary” Nakid (née Mowad) (1892-1963) and their daughter Miss Maria Nakid (born 1910) aged 1, were from Zgharta in Lebanon and boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg in France on 10th April 1912. They purchased a 3rd class ticket (No. 2653), which cost 15 pounds 14 shillings and 14 pence for the three of them. They were bound for the town of Waterbury, Connecticut in the United States.
Two other passenger from Zgharta were also bound for Waterbury: Mr Tannous Betros (shoemaker aged 20) and Mr Sarkis Lahoud Ishaq Mowad (general labourer) aged 30. Neither survived the sinking and neither of their bodies was ever recovered. Did Tannous also know the other Lebanese shoemaker onboard in 3rd class: Mr Gerios Yousseff (Abi Saab) , aged 45? Yousseff (Abi Saab) died in the sinking. He was one of 20 passengers originating from Hardin (or Hardeen) in Lebanon. His body was recovered by the Minia and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on Friday 10th May 1912. The three members of the Nakid family, however, were able to join 42 others (including many Lebanese and a number of young Chinese seamen who controlled the lifeboat) aboard lifeboat 3 and survive the disaster and eventually land in New York.
Unfortunately young the infant Mary died on Tuesday 30th July 1912 of Meningitis and was buried at Calvary Cemetery Waterbury. Mr Nakid, described as a shop hand on his death certificate, died on Thursday 30th December 1926 of Tuberculosis and was buried at Calvary Cemetery Waterbury. Mrs Nakid lived on until the age of 70 as a housewife when she died on Wednesday 23rd January 1963 of Pneumonia and also buried at Calvary Cemetery Waterbury.
Mrs Nakid’s obituary in The Waterbury Republican of January 24, 1963, p. 8 noted:
Mrs. Nakid, her husband and infant daughter were among those who left the Lebanese colony aboard the giant liner on her maiden voyage April 14, 1912 to New York. All three survived the sinking which took an estimated 1,500 lives. Mrs. Nackid was born in Lebanon, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Michael Mowad. She is survived by three sons, John, Anthony, and Frederick, all of Waterbury; three brothers, Buddy and James of Lebanon, and Michael of Argentina. Another passenger was Mr Nassef Cassem Albimona. Mr Nassef Cassem Albimona , 26, was a peddler, originally from Shana (Shaneh), Lebanon. He is sometimes listed as “Nassef Belmenly Cassem”. Belmeny is an Americanization of Albimona. It seems that on most documents he would sign himself “Nassef Cassan Balman”.
The 1912 immigration list says he was unmarried at the time whereas descendents report that he was married with, ultimately, five children. Indeed, it was reported that his wife was pregnant at the time of the sinking and on hearing the news went into premature labour, delivering a son who, when he came to America, became known as Mike Belman. It is unclear whether his wife in Lebanon later came to America or if he remarried.
Albimona immigrated to America in 1903 and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he ran a dry goods store and restaurant. In 1912 he returned to Lebanon, to visit his wife and son. On his return to America he was to bring a family friend, the 11-year-old Master Houssein Hassan to visit the boy’s parents in America.
To reach their destination of Fredericksburg, Virginia, he bought third class ticket No. 2699 for £18 15s 9d. They boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg.
In 1938 he was persuaded to tell his story in an account which appeared in a North Carolina newspaper (The Roxboro Courier (North Carolina), 14 April 1938) He reported that after the collision he had placed Houssein on his shoulders and pushed through the crowds to the boat deck. He then placed the boy in a lifeboat, later he states that the boy drowned despite his efforts to save him. Albimona either boarded lifeboatd 15 before it was lowered from the deck or was picked up by the boat from the water. What exactly happened to his young charge unknown. After arriving in New York, Albimona went to his uncle George Hassan at Fredericksburg, Virginia. He moved to Roxboro, N.C. in 1915. During the depression years he would send money to his relatives in Lebanon.
Nassef was married to Najmie and had four daughters by her. He died in 1962 and is buried in Lebanon.