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Tottenville and the Titanic

Courtesy bluestarline.com.au

"Staten Islanders in the vicinity of Tottenville are rejoicing over the safe arrival of Miss Mary Davies, of London, a sister of Mrs. E. Langford. Miss Davies arrived at her sister’s home about 1:30 yesterday morning, and was immediately placed under the care of a physician for fear of serious illness from the cold and exposure resulting from the awful catastrophe of the Titanic." ~  The Staten Islander, Sat., April 20, 1912

A reprinted article from the Volume VII, Issue 2, June 2012 of our newsletter, The CART:

From the Syracuse Herald Journal, Thurs., July 30, 1987: 
"Mrs. Mary Davies Wilburn, 104, the oldest- known living survivor of the Titanic disaster, died on July 29, 1987 at the Community General Hospital in Syracuse, New York.  Mary Davies was born on May 17, 1883 in London, England. In April 1912 she booked second class passage on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. She was travelling to the United States for the first time to visit her sister and brother-in-law. On the night of the sinking, Mary Davies and her roommate were awakened by the collision with the iceberg. Clad only in a nightgown and shawl, she quickly climbed to the boat deck. When she arrived there, she saw a large group of people wearing lifebelts. She returned to her cabin and buckled one on herself. When she reached the boat deck for the second time, she saw her roommate being helped into lifeboat number 13. The boat started to lower before she could get into it. A man standing beside her quickly picked her up and dropped her into the boat. But his aim was off and she struck the side of the lifeboat with her knees and fell into the freezing ocean. “The people on the boat grabbed me and pulled me in,” Mary reported. Mary could not forget the screams of dying passengers as the ship’s porthole lights disappeared row by row beneath the 28 degree waves. The lifeboat crew sang “Pull for the Shore, Sailors” so they wouldn’t have to hear the cries. During the night, the survivor’s hopes rose and fell as other liners appeared, and then disappeared. None of them stopped, as they didn’t want to come into the zone because of the ice."

Three years after the disaster, Mary Davies met and married John Wilburn, an American sailor who served in the Navy during World War I.  The Wilburn family lived in Tottenville and Pleasant Plains.  The Langfords resided on Sprague Ave. for many years.  John Wilburn later operated a hardware store, Matheson & Wilburn, that was located at 175 Main Street, Tottenville.  Mrs. Wilburn was a life member of the Order of Eastern Star in Tottenville.  Mary and John Wilburn had two children, Carl and Carol. John died in 1972. The Wilburns eventually moved to Syracuse to live near relatives.

If you have any information on the Wilburn or Langford families or any other Tottenville connection to world events, we’d love to hear from you!