Lebanese Armenians march with flags and signs on the …

Catherine Rizk (24) and her children, Michael (4) and Anna Mary (2) Boarded the Titanic as third class passengers.

I came upon this headstone today on a drive through a cemetery after visiting my parent’s gravesite. (story below photo) 

The inscription on the headstone reads:

“Michael P. Joseph, nicknamed TY
and recognized as a miracle child
by the nuns of Sts. Peter & Paul
Jesuit Church after surviving the
sinking of the Titanic
on April 15, 1912”

According to information derived from the internet, Michael’s story goes something like this:

Michael’s mother, Mrs. Peter Joseph (Catherine Rizk), was born in Lebanon c.1888. She was married to Peter Joseph (an anglicised form of his Lebanese name), in 1907 the couple emigrated to Detroit, Michigan where they had two children, Michael and Mary Anna.

Michael was born in Detroit, Michigan on 11 May 1907, and his sister, Miss Anna (Mary), was born 21 August 1909.

In 1912 Peter Joseph sent his wife and children back to Lebanon whilst he got on his financial feet. Catherine’s tuberculosis may also have been a factor in the trip, as the Lebanese climate would better suit her.

By April 1912 their financial situation had improved and Catherine planned her return to Detroit. Catherine (24) and her children, Michael (4) and Anna Mary (2) boarded a freighter at Bayrût (Beirut) to reach Marseilles. From there they travelled to Cherbourg where they boarded the Titanic as third class passengers (ticket number 2668, £22 7s 2d). When giving her name she adopted her husband’s first name as her last, and that is how she and her children appear on passenger lists as the Peter family.

On the night of the sinking Catherine bundled her two children into warm clothes and headed towards the higher decks. It is presumed that she and her children were guided towards the Boat Deck along with all of the other Lebanese . On their way to the boat deck, Catherine lost contact with her son Michael and ended up in one collapsible boat while Michael was placed in another. After the sinking Michael saw a great number of icebergs in the water, a scene that haunted him for the rest of his life. Mother and son were later reunited on the Carpathia, where she was overcome with joy and relief and knocked them both to the deck.

After Catherine’s arrival in New York she travelled onto Detroit, Michigan. In years after the disaster the Joseph family was plagued with misfortune. Catherine had another child, a boy, who died not long after birth. Anna Mary died in horrific circumstances on 22 March 1914 when fire swept through the family home at 134 Congress Street East, Detroit. She was four years old.

Catherine Rizk Joseph died in Detroit, Michigan in 1915, from the tuberculosis that had plagued her for some time. Her husband died in 1920. 

After losing both parents Michael went to live with an uncle.

Michael was dubbed ‘Ty’ by the nuns at his school that had learned of his close escape. He worked as a delivery boy for a soft drinks company for many years, married and raised a family.

Michael ‘Ty’ Joseph never liked to discuss the Titanic disaster, but would do so occasionally to his grandson Brian who, coincidentally, employed survivor Winifred Quick Van Tongerloo’s daughter Jeanette Van Tongerloo Happel in his funeral director business.

Michael Joseph lived for the rest of his life in Detroit, Michigan. He died on 18 May 1991. On his gravestone is an etching of the Titanic.

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