Titanic's "Unknown Child" Has a Local Connection
local connection to mystery Video by tmj4.comvideo
WHITEWATER - It's been one of the great mysteries of the Titanic disaster--a small boy found floating in the Atlantic, but nobody knew who he was. Now the mystery has finally been solved, and there's a local connection. In a TODAY'S TMJ4 Exclusive, Carole Meekins unlocks the secret of the Titanic's "Unknown Child."
Some 1,497 people died that day almost 100 years ago in the frigid water while lifeboats went unused. The worst off-- children, too small for a life vest. If they fell into the water they were never seen again, except for one--a little boy. Somehow his body still floated for six days in the North Atlantic-- until recovery crews found him. Nobody knew who he was, so they buried him as the 'Unknown Child.' He remained nameless for almost 100 years.
Archeologist Ryan Parr specializes in using DNA to identify remains. When he heard the little boy's story in a documentary, he couldn't resist the challenge. His team exhumed the body of the unknown child, and looked for DNA. They found almost nothing: Just 3 teeth and a bit of arm bone. They were running out of time.
"If the excavation had been done a year later or even now, there wouldn't be any remains or any oppurtunity to identify this child," Parr says.
They narrowed down the list, and knew it had to be one of six children--four from different countries, and all passengers on the Titanic. Then a clue turned up--a constable in charge of guarding the clothes from the wreck made a heartbreaking discovery. One tiny pair of shoes--the shoes of the unknown child.
Seeing the shoes helped Parr narrow down the child's identity. And with extra help from the Armed Forces DNA lab, experts finally believed the mystery has been solved. The unknown child was little Sidney Goodwin--a British boy bound for America with his family, and a long-lost relative of 77-year-old Carole Goodwin of Whitewater.
Carole recalls first hearing about the discovery, "It's a grief all over again. I'm grieving and its very very hard."
It now makes sense to Carole why she's carried a burden of anxiety about the Titanic all these years--as the identity of her tiny ancestor remained a mystery.
"As a young child, I would lay in bed, falling asleep--pretending I was playing with the Goodwin children," Carole remembers.
She recently went to see the gravesite of her imaginary playmate, but Carole won't change the inscription of the 'Unknown Child' on the headstone. For her it stands for all the children who died in the tragedy.
Carole says, "Picture yourself as a mother. Standing there. Your husband not allowed to go. That's your bread and butter. Your two sons are not allowed to go, and you're thrown by the shock of all of this, and by that time the last life boat has gone."
Carole's now writing a book about her family members who went down with the Titanic -- a way of giving voice to all the victims gone too soon--including a little boy named Sidney who never stood a chance against the mighty Atlantic.
If you want to know more, an article describing the genetic analysis that led to the identification of the unknown child's remains is scheduled to be published this June.