GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - On April 14, 1912, The RMS Titanic hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and did what it was never supposed to do -- sink.
More than 100 years later, family members of survivors of the shipwreck are still sharing the stories of their loved ones' dramatic escapes.
"I don't want the story to be lost. Our family really hasn't shared…this is really the first time I have publicly shared it," Kelley Senkowski, whose great-grandmother survived the Titanic wreck, told 24 Hour News 8.
"My great-grandma was Jessie Trout."
Trout was 26 years old when she boarded The Titanic as a widow. Not quite old enough at the time to travel unescorted, she told the White Star Line she was 30 years old.
"She met a young gentleman and ended up getting married when she was 25. He worked for the railroad, he worked for the Mound Street Rail Yard in Columbus, and he was tragically killed six months after they were married, and she was devastated," Senkowski said.
Trout needed to get away.
"She wasn't sure what to do with herself and she missed her beloved Scotland. So she traveled on the Oceanic White Star Line ship over to Scotland to visit her grandparents. While she was there she didn't realize how much she was going to miss her parents back in Columbus, Ohio. So she decided to leave early and come back early," Senkowski said.
Her trip home would not be as easy as simply hopping back on the ship she sailed in on.
"At that time there was a coal strike in the British Isle, and the White Star Line couldn't get enough coal for all their departing ships that they had scheduled," said Senkowski. "So of course all the coal went to the maiden voyage of The Titanic. With all the hype of in the world they had to sale that one on-time."
Trout was told that her ship would not set sail until May. She had two options -- wait or pay $7 and exchange her first-class ticket on the Oceanic for a second-class ticket on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.
She decided on the second option, just two days before The Titanic was set to sail.
Late at night on April 14, Trout was in her cabin when the ship hit the iceberg.
"She told how she felt the shutter when they hit the iceberg, and how the top of it looked like the root of a tooth it was real jagged. And then she was told they went out of their cabin, they were told to go back in their cabin, so she went back in her cabin," said Senkowski about a newspaper article from Columbus detailing an interview with her great-grandmother.
According to the article, Trout went up on the boat deck but then back to her cabin. About a half hour later she was asked to return to the boat deck.
"She went back up on board but by then I imagine she would have seen all the chaos all the boats in the water. She ran back down to her cabin, got her coat, her purse, some memorabilia, some hair combs might have been her husband's, I don't know, but they were valuable to her."
Trout ran back up to the boat deck where she was loaded into Lifeboat No. 9. She recounts in the newspaper article that it was the second-to-last boat on the ship.
While being lowered to the water, Trout said she was handed a baby boy who was later identified as one of the famous orphans from France.
Trout floated for six-and-a-half hours in the lifeboat, freezing and waiting to be rescued.
The Carpathia was the ship that eventually rescued the 706 survivors of the Titanic.
"On the Carpathia they handwrote everyone's name. They took a list, basically when you got off the lifeboats they asked you what's your name for the records. They handwrote it. Her name on that list was spelled correctly, but whoever looked at it, I believe it was spelled correctly…you know handwriting…whoever looked at it to write the survivor list wrote her name as Jessie Trant." reflected Senkowski.
Trout's family back in Ohio would eventually read a newspaper listing the names of the survivors but thought nothing of seeing the name Jessie Trant. Plus, at the time, they still believed Trout was traveling home on the Oceanic.
Trout made it to New York City, and given $25 and some clothes. Since she had grabbed her purse before she got off the Titanic, she also had her ticket to get her back to Ohio.
"She walked in the door basically and told them she was on The Titanic. They had no idea they thought she was coming home on The Oceanic. They were pretty surprised, I think," said Senkowski.
Trout eventually remarried and had children, one of whom was Senkowski's grandmother.
Trout's life tragically came to an end about 20 years after she survived The Titanic.
"[Their vehicle] hit black ice, and the story was from the family members that she panicked and she jumped. They were about a mile from her home, and she jumped out of the car and it happened to be the way the car was going, and it landed on her in the ditch and it broke her neck."
But her memory lives on with her family members.
"We always think in my house that my five kids wouldn't be here, I wouldn't be here, my husband would have a
different family, he wouldn't have his kids," Senkowski said. "Just all of the lives lost when those people went down, all the generations that didn't come, and just how fortunate we are that she got on Lifeboat No. 9, and now we are here. So it is pretty amazing to think of it like that."
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