Edwin Herbert Keeping – Victim of the Titanic

by uninvitedwriter

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is on April 15, 2012. It is a story that captivates us to this day. This is the story of one of her victims.

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is coming up on us very quickly. As a society, we never seem to get tired of hearing about it. Over 1500 people died when the Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912 while on her maiden voyage. That was more than two thirds of those who set sail on the gigantic ocean liner and so many individual stories came out of that event.

Those who died on the Titanic were fathers and mothers, children, musicians, servants and those seeking a better life in America. Many were never found. We mainly hear about the famous who died, the most famous and wealthy being John Jacob Astor IV. However, most of those who died were ordinary people (many looking for a new life) who just had the misfortune of being on the Titanic on that fateful voyage.

Titanic Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Titanic Memorial in Washington, D.C.
White Star Line
Ship Titanic
Titanic Sinks
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Edwin Herbert Keeping

I was drawn to the story of Edwin Herbert Keeping because we share the same last name. It’s not an overly common name so I decided to try and find out if we are related in any way. Since he was a valet, a servant, there is not a lot of information on him. I found some material checking on Ancesty.com. However, I would have to become a member to read it all and I find it too expensive at the moment.  I will keep searching and maybe one day I will be able to discover his entire genealogy. I have been unable to trace the Keeping branch of my family beyond when they came to Canada. Family lore states that the first Keeping came over from England.

Edwin Herbert Keeping was born in 1878 in London,England to parents Henry and Emma; in 1903 he immigrated to the United States. He was married to Karin Johnasson (known as Carolina) in Montgomery, Pennsylvania; the couple had a daughter named Mildred who was born in 1909. Edwin worked as a valet for many influential people including, reputedly, a Russian grand duke. When he died he was the valet for George Dunton Widener who also died on the Titanic. 


Edwin embarked on the Titanic with Mr and Mrs Widener, their son Harry and Mrs. Widener’s maid at Cherbourg,France; they were headed to Elkins Park,Pennsylvania. Only Mrs. Widener and her maid survived the sinking of the ship; the bodies of Harry and George were never recovered. Edwin was found carrying a locket he treasured which contained photographs of his wife and daughter; he was given a burial at sea on April 21, 1912. Mrs. Widener set up a trust fund to support Edwin Keeping’s wife and daughter; Carolina died in 1968.

Eerie coincidence

On a side note, William James Pirrie, who had close working ties to J Bruce Ismay of The White Star Line and is said to have been involved in the conception of the Titanic, has the same name as my maternal grandfather. And my grandfather was a ship builder in Glasgow. Strange coincidence I would say.

So many stories

This just one of the many, many stories of the Titanic. This one appealed to me because of the name. Did anyone of the same last name as you die on the Titanic? Have you ever wondered if you might be related to them?

There are several websites dedicated to the Titanic and they are a great place to start your research. 


RMS Titanic

More details about the sinking of the Titanic
The RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, United States, and sank on 15 April 1912, resulting in the deaths of ...

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Updated: 02/19/2012, uninvitedwriter
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JoHarrington on 03/31/2012

This is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. :)

Sherri on 02/18/2012

Interestingly, Edwin and his family lived not far from me, in Elkins Park. The Wideners were among the country's wealthiest families as well as enduring philanthropists. Mrs. Widener setting up a trust fund for Edwin's family and the locket found with Edwin are the kinds of detail that make a story memborable. I, also, hope you will find out more about Edwin Keeping.

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