A Titanic Dover Mystery

RMS Titanic via Wikipedia

While exploring a 1912 issue of a local newspaper, I came across the paper’s reporting on the RMS Titanic disaster. Included in that report was a reference to individuals who were allegedly on the ship, making their way to Dover and a new life in America. It was a thread I could not help but pull on.

The disaster that befell the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 is so well known and documented that it does not need to be revisited here; instead, what follows will explore a reference to immigrants to Dover, Ohio who were believed to be onboard. Their passage on the RMS Titanic had been arranged by a prominent Hungarian immigrant who established himself in Dover as a successful merchant in the early 1900s.

Joseph Fried (1867-1841) immigrated to the United States in 1881 from Hungary and became a naturalized citizen in 1888. He established himself as a clothing merchant in Dover in the 1890s, marrying fellow immigrant Esther Geiger (1876-1974) in 1896. Joseph eventually opened a store on Factory Street (current Tuscarawas Avenue) which, by 1912, was a well-known and respected establishment. Joseph encouraged relatives and friends in Hungary to immigrate, and served as a de-facto representative for the Hungarian community in Dover. He was often called on to translate for law enforcement and the courts when cases involved Hungarian immigrants.

Advertisement for Joseph Fried’s store from the New Philadelphia Democrat and Times, April 27, 1911.

According to newspaper accounts, Joseph Fried had arranged for third-class passage for two families from Hungary on the RMS Titanic. The arrangements were reportedly made three weeks before the ship departed on its fated maiden voyage. The surnames of the the two families were Gorletz and Goledin (also reported as Koledin). Michael Gorletz was said to be accompanied by his wife and Andre (also reported as Andrew) Goledin was bringing along his two children. It was reported that Michael Gorletz had family already residing in Dover.

The first newspaper report of the accident, and the Dover connection, appeared on April 15, 1912. It is the first instance where the names of the two families appear in reference to the RMS Titanic. The article read: “Aboard the ship were Mike Gorletz and wife and Andre Koledin and two children, bound from Hungary to Canal Dover, Ohio. They had been sent transportation by Joe Fried…” Another article that appeared the next day reported that, due to their third-class passage, they were “probably among the 1,500 persons who went down with the ship.”

Headline in the New Philadelphia Daily Times, April 18, 1912.

The problem with these reports of Dover-bound immigrants losing their lives on the RMS Titanic is that, according to the ship’s passenger lists that survive, no one with those surnames (or even close) were recorded as being on the ship. Even records that survive of ticket holders who failed to board do not record either of the two surnames reported in the paper. Census records for Tuscarawas County in 1910 and 1920 do not have records of those surnames either. The names never appear in the paper again. What happened to Mike Gorletz and Andre Goledin and their families? Did they even come to the United States?

The two men’s names, interestingly enough, do appear in the 1920 Census for the city of Chicago. Mike Gorletz’s name appears in that record with an immigration date of 1913, and Andrew Goledin (spelled Golden) appears with an immigration date of 1912. Both were recorded as being married, but they were living alone. Were these the same men that Joseph Fried thought were lost on the Titanic? What happened to their families? Pulling this thread has left more questions to answer in this “titanic” mystery.

View from S.S. CARPATHIA of iceberg which sank the Titanic, 1912. (Source: https://www.loc.gov/resource/cph.3b11749/)

If you know more about this story, please leave a comment and let me know.

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.


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