Many local history buffs and Titanic fans know that Anderson’s Maplewood Cemetery is the final resting place of Charles Hallace Romaine.
He was a first-class passenger aboard the Titanic on its maiden voyage in April 1912. Romaine survived the disastrous sinking when he was allowed to take a seat in Lifeboat No. 9 after the women and children had been given a place.
While Romaine spent much of his time in New York City, where he worked as a stockbroker, he and his wife must have thought of Anderson, where Charles had worked and lived as a young adult, as their home since they purchased burial plots in the, at the time, new Maplewood Cemetery. Their stout upstanding marker, designated “Romaine,” can be seen in Section No. 12 from the east drive. They are buried next to each other on the west side of the stone.
Having a Titanic survivor resting in a local cemetery isn’t the only connection Madison County has to the infamous ship. The Madison County Historical Society in February accessioned what has been named “The Titanic Letter Collection.”
Ruby Hiday Jones (1908-2000) was an author and an English and journalism teacher at Madison Heights High School in Anderson. She was also a Titanic enthusiast. Through her letter writing in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, she developed friendships with two people who had very close ties to Titanic.
For almost 20 years, she corresponded with Walter Lord, the Titanic historian and author of the best-selling book “A Night to Remember.” This 1955 page-turner started the ongoing global interest and research into all things Titanic.
Jones also corresponded with Titanic survivor Edwina Troutt MacKenzie for almost 10 years. Troutt was seated in Lifeboat No. 10 and rescued a 5-month-old baby who had been separated from his parents in the chaos. MacKenzie lived to be 100, attended Titanic reunions and meetings, gave media interviews and appeared on TV numerous times.
Jones kept all the letters she received from Lord and MacKenzie. MacKenzie’s are neatly hand-written; Lord’s are typed on stationery with his letterhead and signature. There are more than 40 such documents in the compilation, and many discuss circumstances surrounding the story of Titanic.
At Jones’ death, Anderson attorney Richard Kreegar became manager of her estate. For their preservation, he gave to the Madison County Historical Society the letters Jones kept from her two Titanic “pen pals.”
Visitors to the Museum of Madison County History, at the corner of Meridian and 11th streets in Anderson, may view “The Titanic Letter Collection” on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.