Titanic leaving Southampton (from Cameron's TITANIC)
Here is a very moving piece written by a fellow "Titaniac" , commemorating this year's anniversary of the sinking - it sums up the feeling a lot of us have regarding the Titanic and says it much better than I could myself. It is reprinted with permission of the author.
The Little Angel That Was Almost Forgotten
April 15, 1998
That date means something to everyone. For some it means Income Tax day, others a special birthday. To me, it means the end of an era, the death of a dream. Why are you, as future historians, and myself a historian for 32 years still fascinated by this one event in history? One very special story of the tragedy comes to light, so when April 15th comes around, please give this story some thought.
Alma Paulsson had a dream of a new life in Chicago for herself and her 4 children. She boarded the new liner in Southampton on April 10, 1912 bound for New York and the new life awaiting her. She and her children were traveling in 3rd class. What she did not realize is that the fates were going to deal her a cruel hand. As the ship was going down, the last that was seen of this small family, they were huddled on the boat deck, after all the boats were gone. Like most steerage passengers, they were never given a proper chance to save themselves, as steerage were held below decks until the very last. As the family went into the water, one by one, Alma lost the hold on her precious children, until they were all gone. She ultimately froze to death, trying in vain to find her children.
The Mackay-Bennett (pronounced MaKee Beennea) was dispatched to search the site and recover bodies from the disaster. On Saturday, April 21, the 4th body recovered was that of a small blond haired little boy of about 2 years of age. He was tagged #4 until a proper identification was made. All the bodies were returned to Halifax for identification and burial if necessary. One by one the bodies were identified and buried, or removed by loved ones. One lonely body remained, that of the little boy.
The Captain of the Mackay-Bennett and the crew wanted to take care of the little guy. Capt. Lardner and his crew sponsored the little one's burial, done with great care and remembrance. The boy was placed in a small white casket, and was borne on the shoulders of 6 sailors from Mackay-Bennett to a final resting place in Fairview Cemetery, the casket heaped high with flowers and the entire city of Halifax sent flowers to the burial site. The little angel was buried in a sunny part of the Titanic section of the cemetery.
But that is not all the Mackay-Bennett crew did. They wanted to make sure that the little one was never forgotten. So they purchased and erected one of the largest headstones in Fairview Cemetery, that of an Angel and added the poignant inscription: "Erected To The Memory Of An Unknown Child Whos Remains Were Recovered After The Disaster To The Titanic, April 15, 1912."
But that is not the end of the story. Due to diligent research, the little angel has been identified as Gosta Leonard Paulsson, 2 years old son of Alma Paulsson. He is buried just feet away from his mother, as it should be. Unfortunately, his brother and 2 sisters were never found.
This is why we are here. To continue our work, to keep Titanic's memory alive for all generations. For all the controversy, salvage or anti-salvage arguments, and movies made about the disaster, this is what means the most to me. The story of human sacrifice, the tragedy and horror of the actual event. So please say a prayer for those lost on this day, April 15, and save a special prayer for Gosta, the little angel that was almost forgotten.So when the fighting is over concerning salvage, the bruha over the movie is long gone, little Gosta's memory lives on and on. God Bless the lost souls of Titanic. Susan R. Newberg, Oregon©1998