DNA TEST CONFIRMS IDENTITY OF TITANIC’S YOUNGEST VICTIM
At Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, thousands of visitors gather around a gravestone with the words "Unknown Child." There rests the 13-month-old flaxen-haired boy who was the youngest of the 1,500 victims who perished when the Titanic sank. Around his neck he wears a copper medallion with the words "Our Baby". It was a gift from the Mackay-Bemers crewmen to the little baby they found after the Titanic sank. The crew who had searched for bodies wanted to pay for the burial despite the fact that the White Star Line wanted to pay the burial expenses. The baby was placed on a bed of roses in a little white casket.

He was found floating, but frozen to death, with his face toward the sky in the 2° water. He was neatly dressed: coat with fur collar, flannel dress, vest of wool and brown leather shoes. His unfortunate mother had dressed him as warmly as possible because she knew it would be very cold. All this information has become a legend as well as the supposition that the child could be the Swedish Gösta Pålsson whose relatives started the identification process.

It had been 90 years since the event of 17 April 1912 until it was decided to establish the child’s identity with the help of a DNA test. The Swedes felt secure about the identity but the Finländers doubts of the child’s origin showed them to be correct. The boy was Eino Panula, youngest of Juho and Maria Panula’s five sons. All five - Ernest 17, Jaakko 15, Juho 7, and Urho 2 years — drowned, as well as their mother, 42-year-old Maria and the babysitter Sanni who was age 22. Only the father, Juho Panula who traveled on an earlier ship, survived.

For the rest of his life he missed his family and never found peace. He traveled around America to meet people who survived and talked of the Titanic’s last moments. Juho remarried later and the children from that marriage now have DNA proof and the family’s puzzle has been solved.

"There is no way the terrible story has a happy ending. The child has been identified, he has a name and the family has a special story," said Ulla Appelsin. She has written a book "Titanic’s Unknown Child", Gummerus 2003.

Eino Panula has become a symbol for all the children who drowned when the ship sank, perhaps for all the children who drowned at sea. The Panula family has also become a symbol for all of the emigrants who traveled for various reasons to America over the years. During the years 1870-1929 about 350,000 Finländers emigrated to the other side of the Atlantic. A great many of them came from Österbotten, Vasa and Uleåborg county, who had suffered severely during the years of famine.                                         ---->

 

 

 

 

 

Much has been written about the luxury and the cut glass chandeliers on the Titanic, but the majority of the passengers who drowned were ordinary emigrants — there were no princesses or millionaires among them. Seventy of the victims were Finländers.

"I became enormously impressed by the courage and mood of the emigrants. On their arrival in America they hardly knew anything at all about the country. They could not speak the language and knew nothing of the state of affairs. They had only a deep confidence in a better future," wrote Appelsin.

At the University in Thunder Bay, Canada, sisters Magda Schleifer and Violet Edge, together with their 100-year-old mother’s brother took part in a DNA test. Maria Panula was a sister of Magda’s mother’s mother. People from other countries were also tested inasmuch as 6 children under 2 _ years went down with the Titanic.

"I heard the grown-ups whisper about the Titanic when I was a child, but it was a forbidden topic in our family. I think my mother, who was Juho Panula’s second wife, wanted to protect father because the event was a touchy matter," said Magda Schleifer.

The Panula family has been in an American TV documentary. The identification was great news over the entire world, certainly in Canada, but also in the US where it was on the front page. The cemetery in Canada has become a tourist attraction.

In the National Archives in Helsingfors, Appelsin found the correspondence that the bitter Juho Panula carried on with authorities after the tragedy. He had a clear theory: The Titanic sank because of a craving for money, competition and greed. His feelings came through in the obituary he sent to New York Uutiset: "With great sorrow I announce that I, as a victim of capitalism, lost my wife Maria Emilia as well as my children…with the shipwreck of the Titanic…"

For two years after the loss of the ship he campaigned to have some compensation for the loss of his family. "I have lost the dearest I have in the world — my own family. They should now be with me if the ship had not been driven so recklessly despite warnings."

In Maria’s pocket was all the money the family had after they sold all their property, money that would be used in the new land. Juho got only a nominal compensation because the imperial senate in Finland had other problems. TheWorld War stood at the door.

 


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Hilda Kotkamaa, Suomen Silta No. 1-2004

Translated by June Pelo

The article included the wedding picture of Juho and Maria Panula as well as a photo of Juho and Maria and three of their children, taken in Ohio in the early 1900s. The family returned to Finland before their return trip to America. There is also a photo of Juho (John) Panula with his second wife and three of their children, taken ca 1928.

 

"Unknown child" on the Titanic proved Finnish - A baby boy who perished in the Titanic disaster 90 years ago was a Finn named Eino Viljami Panula, Canadian researchers announced on Wednesday. Helsingin Sanomat. International Edition, Foreign - Thursday 7.11.2002

Titanic's 'Unknown Child' Identified ..."The remains of the young boy are “most likely those of an English child, Sidney Leslie Goodwin,” Ryan Parr, vice president of research and development for Genesis Genomics Inc. in Ontario, and colleagues write in the June issue of the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics."... Discovery News Tuesday Apr 26, 2011

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