Once again, I’m profiling someone who is not a direct ancestor. This week’s prompt is “misfortune”, and nothing says misfortune quite like being a passenger on the Titanic.
The passenger in question was Charles Leonard Kirkland, younger brother of my 2nd great grandfather John W. Kirkland. At the time of the 1861 census, Charles, then aged 20, was living in Richibucto, New Brunswick with John and his family, including my then 2- year-old great-grandmother, Wilhelmina Kirkland. Charles and John were both cabinet makers and were both Baptists. Charles would eventually become a Free Will Baptist Minister.
Three years later, in 1864, Charles married Rachel Warman. They had 9 children over the next 20 years, some of whom were born in New Brunswick, others across the border in Maine. Two years after Rachel’s death in 1896, Charles married Nellie (Carver) Wheeler, a divorcée with four children. In 1900, Charles, Nellie and her four children were living Dover, Maine, where Charles was working as a clergyman. That marriage appears to have been short-lived.
Charles became a well-known preacher who led revival meetings throughout New Brunswick, Maine and frequently in Saskatchewan. In the summer of 1911, Charles spent three months preaching in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, while he was visiting his sister Emma (Kirkland) Withrow, who lived in nearby Tuxford.
In late 1911, Charles travelled to Glasgow, Scotland, reportedly to settle an uncle’s estate, but I’ve yet to be able to confirm that. There was a Kirkland who died in Glasgow in Sept 1911, but I’ve not been able to substantiate the family connection. He was much too young to have been Charles’s uncle. But in any case, there is no doubt that Charles was in Glasgow, as he wrote a letter to his daughter Maud in March 1912. In that letter, he mentioned that a coal strike was making it difficult to book passage home.
Unable to leave from Glasgow, Charles travelled to Queenstown, Ireland, where he bought a 2nd class ticket aboard the RMS Titanic. He perished in the sinking and his body was never identified. A gravestone was erected in the Mattawamkeag Cemetery in Maine, where his wife and 3 of his children were buried. It simply says “Charles L. Kirkland – buried at sea”
I’ve often wondered if my great-grandmother Minnie even knew that her uncle was on the Titanic. I suspect not, as there was nothing in the PEI newspapers about it. As Minnie’s husband, Albert Prowse, was a politician at the time, a local connection to the Titanic disaster would surely have been a subject of great interest.
Much of what I’ve learned about Charles Kirkland comes from his profile on Encylcopia Titanica, although the information on his parents differs from what I have found, which I discussed in an earlier post. As always, sources I’ve used can be found on Charles’s WikiTree profile.