A Titanic death and Emanuel County virtual history

by | August 26, 2008 12:00 am

by JACK ATKINSON

A couple of years ago while surfing the net (we could call this studying or doing research), I came upon an interesting site called Find A Grave. This site lists cemeteries, inscriptions and historical information about many famous persons. We all know where Elvis is buried but do you know who the last Revolutionary War veteran was and where he is buried? This site can give you that information and much more.

For Emanuel County, two graves of note were listed. One still remains; and you can look this one up yourself. The other one has now rightly been transferred to Johnson County. Along highway 80 just outside our county is Poplar Springs Methodist Church and Cemetery. In the cemetery is a gravestone for Lennie B. Futrelle who died in July of 1912. On her own gravestone is listed the death of her son Jacques Futrelle, who died April 15 of 1912 in a terrible and famous accident. His body was never recovered; thus the marker is called a cenotaph and probably the only memorial to this remarkable Georgian.

Jacques was born in Pike County to W.H.H. Futrelle and Lennie Bevil Futrelle. His dad was a teacher and along with Lennie ended up living in a hotel in Adrian in 1910 where he was listed as a bookkeeper. His son began working for the Atlanta newspaper, then on to Boston and New York. He became a nationally famous writer and published a number of successful short stories, novels and plays. Just after his 37th birthday, he and his wife May Peel Futrelle, left on the Titanic for a relaxing trip home after a trip to Europe. He and his wife had first class passage on the Titanic’s maiden voyage.

May Futrelle was rescued from the shipwrecked Titanic, picked out of the ocean from the collapsible lifeboat D and was listed on the Carpathia passenger list. Jacques stayed behind, as gentlemen were asked to do, although only 14 of some 60 seats were taken on that lifeboat. He went down with 1,500 others. This is our local connection to the Titanic disaster of April, 1912. His parents were living in Adrian in Emanuel County when he died. With no body to bury, when the family placed a marker on his mother’s grave (she died three months after his death), they included an inscription for her famous son.

Long before the popular movie, there has been an avid group of Titanic collectors, researchers and people fascinated with this seminal disaster in ocean liner history. From the Titanic Society to the museum in Nova Scotia there is much interest and much to be learned. This web site adds to the history by allowing anyone to set up a virtual cemetery of Titanic survivors or deaths. How does this work?

Anyone can join the Find A Grave community for free. Regular people are also listed, not just the famous. This becomes a genealogical tool, assisting researchers with finding relatives buried anywhere. These community volunteers place grave notices and usually give additional information for their listing. There are many options with this site. One can walk through a virtual cemetery, post a note or leave flowers at the grave or build a necrology of the dead for a certain period of time. Why would one want to leave flowers via the computer? The site says it is a way of keeping the memory of someone alive; one can visit loved one’s graves, when in real life, due to distance and the cost of gas, one may not be able to do so.

One Find A Grave member for the last seven years has ten virtual cemeteries he has built. These include Died in the White House, Republican Presidential Nominees, and Last Veterans. This veteran’s site is interesting as he has located the last Revolutionary War soldier, the last Union and Confederate veteran, and the last surviving soldier for all the other wars before WWII.

In the south we labor on family grave plots weeding them and keeping them up with seasonal silk flowers. At a time when gas is so high, the virtual cemetery has merit. Will it pass muster with equal the reverence and respect a real visit demonstrates?

Jack Atkinson can be reached at jpatkinson@pineland.net

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