When Anna Sophia Turja of Finland boarded the Titanic in Southampton on April 10, 1912, she looked forward to starting a new life in America at the home of her sister and brother-in-law. The couple had paid for Anna’s third class passage, and she planned to work in her brother-in-law’s store in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Anna Sophia Turja
Anna, 18, shared a cabin with two women from Finland and one of the women’s two young children. She was fascinated with the size of Titanic and all it had to offer, even for third class passengers. On the night of April 14, Anna was awakened by what she described as a shudder. Unconcerned, she remained in bed until a brother of one of the women came to their door, telling them to get dressed and get up on deck, “unless you want to find yourselves at the bottom of the ocean.”
Third class stairway on Titanic
Not believing they were in any real danger, the women took their time dressing. They made their way through the maze of corridors and stairways, until a crewmember ordered them to stop. When they refused, he let them pass, but locked the doors behind them. None of the group spoke English. Anna stated, “We were not told what happened, but had to do our own thinking.”
On the Boat Deck, Anna and her friends listened to the ship’s orchestra until after midnight. The crew worked quietly to get women and children to the lifeboats, but Anna was certain the Titanic wouldn’t sink and they would be safe. She wandered to a lower deck, where a crewman grabbed her and put her into a lifeboat, possibly Lifeboat 15. She did not see her friends again.
Two Titanic lifeboats as seen from Carpathia
After watching the Titanic sink, Anna later recalled the worst part of the entire night. "The voices, the screams and the cries for help of those left on the deck as the ship went under…”
On board the Carpathia following rescue, Anna remembered the kindnesses shown to the Titanic survivors by the Carpathia’s passengers. "The people were so wonderful," she said. “For me it was a welcome to America, even under the circumstances."
Survivors aboard the Carpathia
After their arrival in New York, rather than being processed through Ellis Island, Anna and the other immigrants who survived the Titanic were sent to local hospitals. The Red Cross and other organizations provided clothing and immediate needs, and White Star Line paid her hospital bill. Anna was sent on to her destination, Ashtabula, Ohio, by train.
A few weeks later at her sister’s home, Anna learned that somehow her name hadn’t been on any of the survivor lists in the Finnish papers. Her family there had thought she had died, until she could write to them.
Anna soon met her brother-in-law’s brother, Emil Lundi. They were later married and had seven children and 18 grandchildren. She never did go to work for her brother-in-law, and never learned to speak English. Her son, Martin Lundi, who later became a Lutheran minister, acted as interpreter during interviews. In 1953, he and his mother were invited to attend a showing of a new Titanic movie, starring Barbara Stanwyk. It was the first movie she had ever seen. Afterwards, Anna turned to her son in tears and asked, “If they were so close to take those pictures, why didn't someone help us?” It took some time to convince his mother the movie was not real.
Anna Turja Lundi
Anna outlived Emil by 30 years. She died in California in 1982 at the age of 89. She is buried in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Photo credits: Art.com, encyclopediatitanica.com, Titanicuniverse.com