Billy Graham Center

A Story of the Titanic - Newspaper Clippings

What follows is the text of two clippings from (apparently) two different Chicago papers about the Titanic diaster, printed about April 14, 1912. These clippings were loose between two pages in the minute book for the executive committee of the Moody Church, near the minutes for April 17, 1912.

Tragic Death of John Harper.

One of the most tragic results of the disaster to the Titanic was the death of Rev. John Harper of London, England, who was coming to Chicago to preach in the pulpit of the Moody church, 808 LaSalle avenue, and whose daughter. 6 years old, was met on the dock when the Carpathia arrived by a committee from the church. The child, Nana, whose mother died three years ago, and who was in charge of a nurse, was met by E. Y. Wooley, assistant pastor of the Moody church, and J. S. McGlashan of the board of trustees. Immediately they sent this message to F.A. Gaylord of the Moody Bible Institute: "Miss Leitch and Nana arrived well. Lost everything. When they were taken to the upper decks the women and children did not know it meant separation. No opportunity for farewells. We have no hopes Mr. Harper is rescued."

The English pastor was coming to the Moody church to preach for three or four months, as he had done previously. He was the pastor of the Walworth Road Baptist church of London, and with the rest of the heroes of the Titanic stood aside and gave his life to allow the women and children to be rowed away to safety.

Will Care for Girl Here.

The Moody church will take care of his little daughter till it is determined where she will go. A cablegram was received by Mr. Gaylord to-day from Mr. Harper's London church, asking as to his fate. A reply has been sent and the trustees of that church will be asked if they want the daughter sent back to England to their care.

"Mr. Wooley and Mr. Glashan [sic] were sent down to meet the Carpathia," said Mr. Gaylord, "so as to be sure the little girl and the maid would be taken care of when they landed. We will get in touch with Mr. Harper's church and determine what to do for the child, who lands in America almost alone and under such tragic circumstances. Mr. Harper was very much admired. His loss will be deeply felt in Chicago as well as in London."


Letter Describes Last Night.

Nana Harper, the 6 year old daughter of Dr. John Harper, who was on his way to Chicago to preach at the Moody church, will return to England without coming on to Chicago. She is in charge of Miss Jessie Leitch, who was rescued with her. The Rev. Ervine Wooley, assistant pastor of the Moody church, is with them at the Manhattan hotel in New York.
A letter from Dr. Wooley to A. F. Gaylord, chairman of the executive committee of the Moody church, gives Miss Leitch's account of the night when Dr. Harper was lost. Dr. Wooley writes that Nana did not know her father was dead until she arrived in New York on the Carpathia. "Miss Leitch," he writes, "had only the clothes she wore, had saved no money or valuables, and little Nana, taken as she had been from her berth at midnight, had only her little nightgown and blanket wrapper, around which Miss Leitch had wrapped her own cloak. A woman standing by insisted on throwing a heavy ulster over Miss Leitch which she had brought to the pier for that purpose. They had no stateroom on the Carpathia and had stayed night and day in a corner of the library.

Hears Ship Strike Iceberg.

The following is Miss Leitch's account in brief:

"About midnight Mr. Harper came to our stateroom and told us that the vessel had struck an iceberg. While I was dressing he went to learn further particulars, and returned to say that the order had been given to put on the life belts. We did so, and, picking up Nana in his arms, he took her up to the deck. There the women were ordered to the upper deck. I had to climb a vertical iron ladder, and Mr. Harper brought Nana after me up to the ladder, and the men at the top lifted her up to the me again.

"There was no opportunity for farewell, and, in fact, even then we did not realize the danger, as we were assured again and again that the vessel could not sink, that the Olympic would be alongside at any minute, and that the women and children were to be put into the boats first and the men to follow, and that there were boats sufficient for all. Our boat was well manned- it was the eleventh to leave the vessel.

"After about half an hour the Titanic went down. We were about a mile away, but even then I hope and expected that Mr. Harper was in one of the other boats, many of which reached the Carpathia before ours did. How eagerly I looked for his face on the deck as we approached that vessel, but when all the boatloads had come abroad I feared the worst.

"The last day we spent on the Titanic was Sunday. Mr. Harper asked me to read the chapter at our morning family prayers, and later we went to the Sunday morning services. The day was quietly and pleasantly spent, and when Nana and I went to look for Mr. Harper at about 6 o'clock to go to dinner I found him earnestly talking to a young Englishman whom he was seeking to lead to Christ. That evening before we retired we went on deck, and there was still a glint of red in the west. I remember Mr. Harper saying, "It will be beautiful in the morning." We then went down to the staterooms. He read from the Bible and prayed, and so he left us."

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