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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Sun., April 15, 2012

From our archives, 100 years ago

Spokane awoke to the horrible news out of the North Atlantic:

“Titanic, 2160 Aboard, Hits Iceberg And Is Sinking.”

Details were still sketchy but it was obvious that a tragedy was in the making. Another ocean liner in the vicinity, the Virginian, heard distress calls via telegraph and was racing toward the scene from 170 miles away. However, “at 1:37 a.m., the operator on the Virginian says those signals blurred and ended abruptly.”

The story included lists of prominent passengers, including John Jacob Astor. The papers were apparently not yet aware of the local passengers on board, including Margaret Rice and her five children and gravedigger John Henry Chapman and his new bride. All of them drowned.

And people in Spokane certainly were not yet aware of the coincidence surrounding these two unrelated families. Margaret’s husband, William Rice, had died in 1910 when he was crushed while working on a Great Northern engine in Hillyard. The man who dug his grave at Fairmont Memorial Park? John Henry Chapman.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1817: The first permanent American school for the deaf opened in Hartford, Conn. … 1912: Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s longtime Communist ruler, was born Kim Sung-ju in Mangyondae, near Pyongyang.

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