The Unknown Child – 96 Years Of Mystery
96 Years Of Mystery
Days after the Titanic plunged into the North Atlantic, a particular body was recovered. It was the body of a pale haired baby. The child was 19 months old and was floating above the wreckage without a lifejacket. Those who discovered him were appalled; they brought him ashore and waited for a relative to come and claim him.
NO. 4 – MALE – ESTIMATED AGE, 2 – HAIR, FAIR.
CLOTHING – Grey coat with fur on collar and cuffs; brown serge frock; petticoat; flannel garment; pink woolen singlet; brown shoes and stockings.
No marks whatever.
Probably 3rd class.
However, no one came forward.
There wasn’t much they could do anyway; they identified the child as being a male, 2 years old in a grey overcoat.
On the 4th of May, the unknown baby was buried in Halifax as a memorial to not only him, but every child who perished aboard. However, it posed the question of who the child was, and what his story was. They buried him in a coffin reading “Our Babe”, not knowing who was in the grave.
Who is the child?
Shortly after the baby’s recovery from the wreck, the child was believed to be a young Swedish boy named Gösta Leonard Pålsson, who was washed overboard the ship during the sinking. However, in 2001, with permission from the family, they dug up the remains of the baby and tested them with the family. There was no biological match between the baby in the grave and the Pålssons, so that meant the child was not related to them, nor was he Gösta Leonard Pålsson.
Research began again to try and identify the baby. It was narrowed down to 2 candidates, an English boy and a Finnish boy. In 2002, the baby in the grave was identified to be the Finnish boy. Eino Viljami Panula was a young boy from Finland who perished during the sinking. News was sent to his hometown in Finland and a ceremony was held.
Researcher Ryan Parr, who had identified the child as being Panula, still had doubts. And a pair of shoes recovered from the wreck proved his doubts were grounded in reality.
When the child was recovered, his clothes were burned as to evade Titanic memorabilia hunters. However, one piece of his clothing remained. Clarence Northover was a cop who refused to burn the shoes of the baby, and kept them under his desk until testing for the child in the early 2000s took place. His grandson, Earle, was the one who allowed the shoes to be tested. Not only were they too big for the young Finn, they didn’t match DNA-wise.
After complex research, the remains were identified to be Sidney Leslie Goodwin. The researchers contacted his family from places such as the US, Australia, England and New Zealand to conduct tests. Graeme Goodwin from Australia was revealed to be a relative of the child. It helped to bring closure to the Goodwin family and help better connect to their Titanic history.
Collen Fitzpatrick was one of those on the team working to identify the child. She says that it’s all very exciting, and is important work, stating,
“You’re solving a human mystery, and humans are the ultimate mystery. This case was almost a century old, yet you can bring peace to people. It’s almost like you can bring peace to the child himself.”
Sidney was born in Melksham, England in 1910. Many from the Goodwin family had previously settled in New York, including Sidney’s uncle. Sidney’s father decided to immigrate with his family from England to New York. Not originally planning to sail on Titanic, they had to transfer due to a coal strike.
The entire family was sadly lost in the sinking during the morning of April 15th, 1912. All 6 members perished aboard, but Sidney was the youngest.
Traveling 3rd class, their presence on the ship is a good argument against the White Star Line claiming that most of 3rd class perished due to their inability to speak English.
Sidney’s identity was debated for over 95 years, but now he’s been identified, as Fitzpatrick states,
“And the rest is history”