It is unknown if Jane Carr and Milton C. Long crossed paths on the streets of Springfield or during their final hours aboard the RMS Titanic.
Carr, a farmer’s daughter, emigrated here in May 1889 from County Sligo, Ireland, aged 22 and remained here for the next two decades, employed as a cook and servant in Springfield and later at the Chicopee Falls Hotel. Carr worked to raise funds so her extended family could come to America.
Long, the 29-year-old only child of judge and former Springfield mayor Charles Leonard Long, was described as a gentleman of leisure. He attended Harvard and Columbia law schools, although a search of university records shows that he left Columbia University before graduating in 1905.
Carr and Long were among 1,517 passengers and crew who died in the early hours of April 15, 1912, after the ocean liner White Star struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage.
Three years before the sinking of the Titanic, Carr had returned to Ireland with the intention of staying there, according to some accounts. However, she learned that the Windsor Locks Savings Bank in Connecticut, where she had some of her savings, had folded. She made plans to return to New England and settle her financial affairs.
The 45-year-old boarded the Titanic at Queenstown on April 11, 1912, as a third-class passenger with a ticket she bought for £7 and 15 shillings.
Long traveled first class, which cost him 30 pounds. He had boarded the ship a day earlier at Southampton.
Much is known about Long’s final hours, thanks to an account written by Jack B. Thayer, a 17-year-old first-class passenger who met the Springfield native hours before the tragedy unfolded.
Long and Thayer met over a cup of coffee on April 14 around 9 p.m. During their conversation, Long said he avoided risky slopes on a recent ski trip because he feared the impact his death would have on his parents.
“We talked together for about an hour,” Thayer said in his published account of the disaster. “Afterwards, I put on an overcoat and did a few laps on the deck. I never saw the sea calmer than it was that night; it was like a mill pond and just as innocent. It was the kind of night that made you happy to be alive.
The Titanic hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. Thayer recalled only mild shock. “If I had had a brimming glass of water in my hand, not a single drop would have been spilled,” he wrote.
Thayer said he quickly learned from the ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, that the Titanic was likely to sink in about an hour.
At 12:15 a.m., a steward asked Thayer to put on a life jacket. In the crowded lounge on “A” deck, Thayer, his parents and their maid were joined by Long, who was traveling alone.
“There was a lot of noise,” Thayer recalled. “The band played catchy tunes without apparently receiving much attention from a restless, on-the-go audience.”
Long and company headed to the lower deck in an attempt to get Thayer’s mother to a lifeboat, but Long and Thayer became separated from the others in the crowd.
“Long and I couldn’t catch up to them and were separated from them entirely,” Thayer wrote. “I never saw my father again.”
The pair decided not to make their way into one of the last two remaining lifeboats. Long persuaded Thayer not to dive from a height of 60 feet – about six stories – into the 28-degree water, where the teenager believed he could swim to one of the partially filled lifeboats in the distance.
At 2:15 a.m. – minutes before the Titanic slipped below the surface of the ocean – Long, Thayer and hundreds of other passengers headed for the stern of the ship.
“We were a desperate, bewildered mass of humanity, trying as the almighty and nature made us, to hold our last breath until the last possible moment,” Thayer recalled.
As the ocean water rushed over the sinking deck, Long and Thayer stood on the starboard rail near the second funnel, shook hands and prepared to jump into the water, now only 12 to 15 feet below them.
“Go ahead, I’ll be with you,” Thayer recalled telling Long. “I threw off my overcoat as (Long) climbed the rail, sliding down facing the ship.”
Thayer said he struggled in the numbing cold as he swam against the suction of the sinking ship. The teenager was pulled from the water by a few men who had taken refuge on an overturned Engelhart collapsible lifeboat.
“I never saw Long again,” Thayer wrote. “I’m afraid the few seconds that elapsed between us were the difference between being sucked into the deck below, as I believe, or tossed out by the surf.”
From the overturned lifeboat, Thayer watched the Titanic sink.
“Probably a minute passed with an almost dead, quiet silence,” Thayer wrote. “Then an individual call for help, from here, from there; gradually swelling into a composite volume of a long continuous moaning song, from the 1,500 in the water all around us.
The scream lasted 20 to 30 minutes, fading as those in the water succumbed to the cold.
“Partially filled lifeboats that stood a few hundred yards away never returned,” Thayer wrote. “How could a human being disregard these cries? They were afraid that the boats would be swamped by people in the water.
Two of the 20 lifeboats returned and rescued a handful of people from the water. The 712 survivors waited for the rescue ship Carpathia to pass over the horizon shortly after 4 a.m.
News of the sinking of the Titanic soon reached Springfield.
Long’s father was reportedly so upset that a special judge was called in to preside over Hampden probate court in his place.
“I have almost given up hope of hearing that my son is among the survivors,” Charles Long told the Springfield Union on April 17, 1912. “I understand that the full list of survivors is still unknown and I ‘ve sent instructions to the White Star Steamship Company in New York to do all they can to find out if my son is among them, until we receive definite news from the Carpathia, we must hold out some hope.
Milton Long’s uncle James D. Gill traveled to New York, where he stood at Pier 53 on 14th Street and watched the survivors disembark. His nephew was not among them.
“I spoke with some of them, but found no one who remembered seeing Milton Long after the accident,” Gill told the Springfield Daily News on April 19, 1912.
Gill remained hopeful that his nephew was aboard the steamer Californian and traveled to Boston for that ship’s arrival. But Long was not on board.
A week later, Long’s body was identified among the dead picked up by the cable ship MacKay-Bennett on April 30.
Long was buried in the family plot of eight family graves in Springfield Cemetery. Judge Long died in 1930 and his wife, Harriet, died in 1952. The remaining five plots are empty.
Carr’s body, if recovered, has never been identified.
The Hartford Courant wrote on August 26, 1912: “Miss Carr was presumed to be in steerage, and she is one of the few women not rescued from the ship. What makes the story particularly interesting is that she was coming to this country with her money from the Windsor Locks Savings Bank, which had been destroyed by an unfaithful official long before the great steamer took her to his grave.
An administrator was appointed to collect Carr’s savings from Windsor Locks Bank and the Springfield Institute for Savings for his six siblings. His estate was valued at 113 pounds.
A decade ago, Carr, Long and the more than 1,500 others who perished were honored at the dedication of the Titanic Centennial Memorial at Oak Grove Cemetery in Springfield. It was organized by the Titanic Historical Society, based in Indian Orchard.
The wording on the black granite monument reads: “May the memory of the Titanic be preserved forever”.
(Ray Kelly is the editor of The Republican. He can be reached at [email protected]).