Thursday, March 21, 2013

Before the Titanic

Petronilla Bartolomeo Litizzette


me-->Bruce Albert Buchanan-->Gertrude Maxine Wahl Buchanan-->Dominica Litizzette Wahl-->Petronilla Bartolomeo LItizzette

Today I finally found the passenger list I've been trying to find for years.  The reason why I haven't been able to find it is because Petronilla Litizzette sailed to America under her maiden name, Bartolomeo.  Her two children, Guiseppe and Pietro, also used her maiden name.

They left the port in Le Havre, France and boarded the ship La Bourgogne

and landed in New York on September 17, 1888.  This ship was a French ship run by a French crew.

Here's a few facts about the ship.

built in 1885 
almost 500 ft. long
2 funnels
4 masts
7,395 tons
17-knot speed (apparently it was the fastest ship at the time)

Accommodations were
390 First Class
65 Second Class
600 Third Class
220 Crew

I don't know what class my family were, but I'm guessing third.  

Now, if you are like me, you've never heard of the La Bourgogne.  And if you are like me, you probably don't ever want to.

Before the Titantic in 1912, the world experienced a horrific tragedy in 1898.

The La Bourgogne was sailing from New York back to La Havre, France, when it hit a British vessel known as the Cromartyshire.  The British vessel didn't receive too much damage and was fine.  Initially the captian of the La Bourgogne thought they were too.  But 40 minutes later it sunk.

Here are some chilling statistics:

Number of passengers on board: 506
Number of crew members on board: 220

Number of passengers who survived: 70
Number of crew who survived: 103

Number of women who survived: 1
Number of children who survived: 0

Does it seem odd to you that only 14% of the passengers survived and 47% of the crew survived?  Well it was odd.  So much so that the surviving crew was held in custody when they reached the shore.  The United States wanted to conduct an investigation, but France insisted on bringing them back to their own country.  There they conducted their own formal investigation.

What they discovered were absolutely horrific tales of chaos and a lack of humanity.  Let's just say that if my great great grandmother and her two boys had been on that fateful voyage, they wouldn't have had a chance of surviving.

I wonder if she ever found out about the shipwreck.  I wonder if she put herself back on that same ship and wondered what would have happened had it sunk as they were sailing towards a new life.  

On a related note, I don't think I'll be booking a cruise any time soon.

Planned to set sail in 2016.

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