Loraine Allison and Helen Kramer: The Helen Allison Fraud
Loraine Allison’s Titanic mystery was finally solved in the early 2010s after years of hoax and scandal.
Helen Loraine Allison was young, 2 years old, when she boarded the Titanic with her brother and parents. Bound for Montreal in Canada, they were a wealthy family. They took with them a maid named Sarah and a nurse named Alice. Loraine, who people called by her middle name, was the only child in 1st class to die. It was a tragic title for Loraine Allison to hold.
Alice Cleaver, their nurse, during the sinking had taken the Allisons’ son, Trevor and boarded a lifeboat with him. The rest of the family was in a panic looking for him. They were last seen on the promenade deck, not knowing their son was well alive. Their family is in the minority when it came to those who died aboard the Titanic. They were 1st class, where the highest survival rate was present. Most of those who died were 3rd class males. Being that a 1st class woman and child from the Allison family died is also unusual for those of their status.
For over two decades, people accepted that Loraine tragically perished aboard that night, until something happened.
28 years later, a woman named Helen Kramer, claimed in 1940 that Loraine Allison did not die, since she was Loraine. On “We The People!”, Helen, who had taken to calling herself Loraine, claimed her father put her into the arms of a man named James Hyde. This was supposedly at the last minute, and Helen claims that she made it off on a lifeboat with Hyde. She claimed to have believed Hyde was her father until she learned “the truth”.
As well as claiming she was a Titanic survivor, Helen claimed that James Hyde was actually Thomas Andrews, Titanic’s doomed engineer. Helen, or Loraine, claimed she was raised by Hyde in England before finding out her true identity. She also discovered Hyde’s identity, him supposedly telling her after she asked for her birth certificate. Apparently, Andrews would do such a thing to avoid the pressure of the senate Titanic hearings. The Titanic hearings belittled White Star Line owner Ismay for scandalously surviving the sinking. Helen claimed Andrews hid his true identity to avoid criticism. It is also widely believed that Andrews died aboard, so Helen’s claim was even more bizarre with this element added on.
Some believed her, some didn’t, but it all posed one big question.
If her story was not true, next came the question of why someone would elaborately construct this story.
The Allison family was considerably rich and if Helen were indeed Loraine, she would receive a large inheritance. Trevor, Loraine’s brother, would have received the inheritance if he had not died of food poisoning at age 18. He had ate a tainted beef tongue sandwich and sadly passed away. However, it left a spot open for Helen to come and claim the money.
Money set aside for Loraine Allison
Helen argued that being the heiress of the Allison family, she deserved the most of their wealth. The family did not accept Helen as a member of their family. Distant relatives of the Allisons believed her story, but Helen eventually ended up fading away, settling into a quiet life in Midwestern America. Helen lacked the documents to prove she was indeed Loraine, claiming she had lost them in a fire. Alice, the nanny, had long returned to England, and no one was to confirm or deny Helen’s story.
At first, although the Allisons did not believe her, they offered to pay for her to travel to Canada as to further investigate her claim. Helen wrote back to them, refusing to travel. Although they never accepted her as one of them, the grandson of Loraine’s uncle, David Allison recalls,
“The Allisons never accepted Mrs. Kramer’s claim, but the stress it caused was real. It forced my ancestors to relive painful memories described as immeasurable sorrow and unending grief”
The Canadian Allison family bitterly fought Helen from receiving any of their money. It was a painful few decades of restraining orders and legal battles between Helen and the living relatives of the family who perished on Titanic.
After Helen’s death in the early 1990s, her descendants continued the battle, even diving into a fight over burials with the Allison family. It was believed that Helen’s family wanted to scatter her ashes over the plot of the Allison’s house. The Allison family refused to let this happen, and spent their lives battling with Helen.
In 2013, a project dedicated to Helen Loraine Allison got permission to do DNA testing on those related to Helen Kramer, as well as members of the Allison family. Tracy Oost was the founder of the project. What she discovered by conducting DNA testing is that Helen Kramer was in no way Loraine Allison; instead, DNA testing revealed Helen as a Michigan woman. It seemed like the only reason Helen would compose such a complex story is to receive a considerable inheritance from the Allisons. However, Helen’s granddaughter states, “It is rubbish to suggest it is about money or claim I have harassed anyone. This was never about money. My grandmother never wanted money and I don’t either.”
However, there’s no way to say that Helen is indeed Loraine. Helen Loraine Allison will still remain the only child in 1st class to die aboard. We may never truly know why Helen made up this story. Whether it was for money, or not, we don’t know her true intentions. All the Allison family wants from Kramer’s family now and for many years back, is to be left alone.
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One Reply to “Loraine Allison and Helen Kramer: The Helen Allison Fraud”
Helen Kramer was my babysitter when I was four years old in Los Angeles. She used to tell us the Titanic story all the time.
She told us a version about her and her brother being thrown into the water so that people would quickly bring them into the lifeboats. She was of Russian Jewish ancestry with pronounced semitic features. It’s amazing that people believed she was this gentile child.
As an aside, she was a very cruel person; to the small children she babysat.