Titanic Disaster Centennial Includes Green-Wood

April 11, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BROOKLYN — A hundred years ago, the sinking of the Titanic was a tragic disaster. Today, it’s fodder for celebrations.

There are replica ships in Tennessee and Missouri, graveyard tours in New York and Nova Scotia, traveling exhibits from Las Vegas to Atlanta, and two brand-new museums in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Southampton, England. Hotels and restaurants are serving Titanic dinners. Ships are even heading to the disaster site.

Nine survivors or victims are buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where a sold-out Titanic trolley tour took place on Saturday, April 7.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

A full account of Saturday’s tour, which was attended by a descendant of George Achilles Harder, one of the two Titanic survivors described below, is available at the website of Green-Wood Cemetery.

The website includes further biographical detail on the victims and survivors mentioned below, as well as photos of George and Dorothy Harder and Douglas Spedden.

Among the gravesites that the Green-Wood Titanic tour featured were those of:

• Douglas Spedden and his parents. When the Speddens were rescued by lifeboat, Douglas, then 6, lost a beloved teddy bear, which was later found and sent to him. The bear, purchased at FAO Schwarz, was manufactured by the famous German Steiff company, which then created a popular Titanic “mourning bear.” Douglas, unfortunately, died at age 9 after being hit by a car. His tombstone reads: “Titanic Survivor.”

• George Achilles Harder and his wife, Dorothy Annan Harder. Harder was a graduate of Pratt Institute and worked for Essex Foundry. The couple, who boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as first-class passengers, were rescued in Lifeboat 5. According to George’s grandson, the Harders saved three things from the Titanic: Mrs. Harder’s fur coat, a bottle of brandy and a button hook for Mrs. Harder’s shoes. The couple are the subjects of a well-known photo taken on the Carpathia, the rescue ship. Mr. Harder was one of several survivors who testified before the U.S. Senate Investigative Committee. However, it was only during the last few years of his life that he spoke to his two daughters about the tragedy.

• Wyckoff van der Hoef, a 61-year-old victim who was the father of twins. He was the only passenger to have boarded the Titanic at Belfast, before the ship reached Southampton. His body was recovered and is buried at Green-Wood.

Elsewhere in New York City, Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is home to graves and memorials for 12 people who were on board. Among them were Isidor Straus, owner of Macy’s department store, and his wife Ida, who chose to stay with her husband rather than get in a lifeboat without him.

In addition, John Jacob Astor, perhaps the wealthiest passenger on the Titanic, who was also killed in the disaster, is buried at Trinity Cemetery in Manhattan.

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