Titanic and the Guntur connection
Titanic and the Guntur Connection. Over a 100 years ago on April 15, 1912, the Titanic, dubbed as the unsinkable ship, hit an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic. It later turned out to be a \'Resurrection Sunday\' with the magnitude of a tragedy that remained unforgettable. The ghosts of those who died right before the survivors, haunted them for the rest of their lives.
Over a 100 years ago on April 15, 1912, the Titanic, dubbed as the unsinkable ship, hit an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic. It later turned out to be a 'Resurrection Sunday' with the magnitude of a tragedy that remained unforgettable. The ghosts of those who died right before the survivors, haunted them for the rest of their lives.
The most lucky among the survivors had a Guntur connection who made headlines in international media. Four people who travelled from Guntur had boarded the Titanic and luckily all of them survived.
Allen Becker, an American Lutheran missionary, was working in Guntur, representing the American Lutheran Mission. He had come to India with his wife, Nellie E Baumgardner, son Luther and daughter Ruth. Two children, Marion and Richard, were born to the missionary couple while in India. Luther died in 1907. Richard, who was born in 1910, fell sick, a couple of years later, which forced Nellie, the missionary's wife to return to the US along with the children. Her husband Allen decided to return later to US.
The family set out on the journey on March 7, 1912 and reached London via the Suez Canal on April 5, a Good Friday. They went to Southampton and boarded the infamous 'Titanic' for the voyage to America. Nellie was travelling with her children Ruth, Richard and Marion from Guntur to Benton Harbour, Michigan. Their ticket was #230136 and it cost $39 (cabin F-4).
Nellie initially was uncomfortable boarding the massive ship and was reluctant but she over ruled the premonition as the giant ship had self protection mechanism which can prevent entry of waters into the compartments of the ship even in the event of a disaster. But the turn of events proved to be otherwise. Many in the ship were hesitant to get into life saving boats to save themselves from a 'do or die' situation. Nellie, Marion and Richard were the first to board the life saving boats while Ruth went to fetch blankets from their cabin, six flights down from the deck. Ruth boarded another lifeboat and finally met her mother and siblings in a rescue ship named Carpathia. The family finally reached New York on April 19 and later went to Benton Harbor in Michigan eventually. Allen Becker wound up his missionary work in Guntur and joined them a year later.
Nellie was rescued along with Marion and Richard in lifeboat 11. She would later claim $2184.20 against the White Star Line for loss of property. Once in America, she and her three children settled in Benton Harbour, Michigan, until her husband's arrival from India the following year. Her personality was so erratic after the sinking that she would cry whenever discussing the disaster. She became estranged from her younger daughter Marian. When Marian died in 1944, Nellie refused to attend her own daughter's funeral. Nellie died in 1961 and left her estate to her son Richard Becker who had not been entirely responsible financially and left Ruth Blanchard out entirely. To add insult to injury, she named Ruth as executrix of the estate, meaning that although she would get nothing from her mother, she was charged with the responsibility of seeing to it that her brother got everything.