York County holds at least three links to the ill-fated Titanic
This York County Heritage Trust photo shows two Navy men with York County roots. Richard M. Watt, Sr. and Richard M. Watt, Jr. Watt Sr. helped investigate the sinking of the “Titanic” and his son reached rear admiral rank and was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. (See additional “Titanic” – related photo below.) Background posts: Naval Reserve officer, a York High grad, to become admiral and York native to captain new carrier USS Bush and Gitmo second in command hails from York County.
York County has not one, not two but three links to the Titanic, brought back into the news last week when the last survivor of its 1912 sinking passed away.
The story of Richard M. Watt Sr.’s role in investigating the sinking is told in the York Town Square post York has produced its share of high-ranking naval officers, based on research by fellow blogger June Lloyd.
That post features a book cover photo of an Army man, Gen. William B. Franklin.
His family leads to the second and third links to the Titanic.
According to excerpts from “Never to be Forgotten”:
This Associated Press photo shows the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration’s 1:48 scale model of the “Titanic,” part of an exhibit in Mystic, Conn.
Philip A.S. Franklin, son of two prominent county families, becomes the chief American spokesman for the owner of the Titanic. Franklin is vice president of International Mercantile Marine Co. The White Star Line, as it is known, owns the Titanic, and Franklin represents the company in contacts with the press, families of the victims and U.S. Congress.
One week after the Titanic struck the iceberg, Franklin testified before a Senate investigating committee.
Senator: “Was there any direction or request sent … to try to make a speed record on the Titanic?”
Franklin: “Not the slightest, and never would be in the first voyage. She never would be pressed.”
Franklin’s obituary in The New York Times never mentioned his connection to the White Star Line nor did his descendants remember him talking about it.
Coincidentally, a deed for a house owned by the Small family, one side of Franklin’s descendants, went down with the ship. The Lafayette Club, a private club in York, was waiting to purchase its new building at 59 E. Market St., York.
The deed was en route from an executor of the Small estate. A duplicate deed later completed the deal.