Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Memorial Service for the "Unknown Child on the Titanic"

This press release was sent to me today by Colleen Fitzpatrick, Ph.D. (CFitzp@aol.com)

Memorial Service for the "Unknown Child on the Titanic” to be Held in Halifax

Forensic Genealogy and Expanded DNA Testing Correctly Identify Child

On Wednesday 6th August, 2008, at 2 pm, a memorial will be held at Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia in honor of Sidney Leslie Goodwin, who for nearly 100 years, lay anonymously beneath a tombstone declaring he was the Unknown Child on the Titanic. The service will be attended by descendants of the families of Frederick Goodwin and Augusta Tyler Goodwin who died with their six children on the Titanic. Their 19-month-old son Sidney was buried in 1912 with over two hundred bodies salvaged from the North Atlantic by the Mackay Bennett cable ship.

In 2002, the child was erroneously identified as 13-month-old Eino Panula. This initial identification was based on ambiguous DNA analysis and forensic odontology on several teeth found in the grave in 2000. Suspicions were aroused that the identification was in error when the child’s shoes, held by the Maritime Museum in Halifax, were found to be too large to be those of a 13-month-old. Expanded DNA analysis and new forensic research on the Goodwin family identified the child as 19- month-old Sidney.

The graveside service will be conducted by Reverend Westhaver from St. George's Round Church in Halifax. Now a historical Canadian site, the church is the location of the first burial service held by the Captain and crew of the Mackay-Bennett. Both Goodwins and Tylers will come from England for the service to join their American cousins from California, Arizona, Wisconsin and Illinois. Some will be meeting each other for the first time. During the service, family members will read the names of the fifty-three children under twelve who died in the accident. Over the decades, thousands of people have visited the child’s tombstone, leaving flowers and toys as a tribute to The Unknown Child.

Goodwin and Tyler family members will be available for interviews at 4 pm after the service by phone or in person at The Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax. Call (714) 296-3065 for more information.

There was also a newspaper article in the Halifax (NS) Chronicle-Herald by Davene Jeffrey and Devin Stevens titled "Remembering new-found kin" at http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/Search/1070779.html

Colleen participated in this search. The article says:

Colleen Fitzpatrick, a forensic genealogist and retired nuclear physicist, was called in to help with the project after the two initial tests on Sidney’s DNA.

Ms. Fitzpatrick found Sidney’s nearest living male relative in Australia through the boy’s paternal grandfather.

"I had to go up the (family) tree and down the tree," said the California resident. She figures there were eight generations separating Sidney from his Australian relative.

But before a sample could be submitted, a third test showed a mutation in the maternal DNA that was an exact match to a living relative on the Sidney’s mother’s side."

This is a great forensic genealogy and family history story.

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