Bloomington Man Loses Life Aboard the Titanic

The clipping noted below, written by Blaine W. Bradfute, was published in an undated, unsourced Bloomington newspaper under a column called “Looking Back.”  It was found in a scrapbook compiled by a man named Fred Lockwood.  The scrapbook is held by the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana. 

In 1900, according to census information, 47-year old John B. Crafton, the owner of stone quarries, lived with his wife, Sarah, and son, Harry, at 115 E. 7th Street (sic) in Bloomington; in 1910, Dr. J. Edmund Luzadder lived at 115 E. 8th St.  A digital image of Crafton’s January 1912 passport application indicates that he was born in Owen County, Indiana.

titanicThe first man who planned and boasted to his friends that he would make a million dollars out of the local stone industry was John B. Crafton, the only local man who was lost in the sinking of the Titanic when that great ocean liner struck an iceberg on its premier voyage nearly two decades ago.

Mr. Crafton was undoubtedly the most farseeing man of his day in the Bloomington stone belt and had he lived to an old age he would likely have cashed in his stone holdings for more than a million.  Having a great belief in the future of stone, Mr. Crafton leased many hundred acres of land in the local belt and at one time had a large amount of the finest stone land in the county under lease.  For twenty-five years Crafton dabbled in stone land, leasing tract after tract.  Four decades ago the investment in stone quarries and mills was very small and the output was correspondingly small.  The Hunter Valley quarry was one of the first successful companies operated northeast of Bloomington, and when the Hunter Valley was sold for $100,000 to become the Consolidated, the selling price was held up as a big fortune.

The writer as a boy heard John B. Crafton remark, “I may not live to see it but my son, Harry, will someday get a million dollars for my stone holdings.”

Mr. Crafton’s prediction that out of his stone leases would come a fortune of a million dollars to his son did not prove true as his life was cut short when the Titanic was lost; the Crafton stone operations ended just about the time stone properties began to greatly increase in value.  Had he lived and continued his stone operations as he planned, he would have undoubtedly left a fortune of over a million, and as it turned out he left a comfortable estate to his wife and son—or so it was generally supposed at the time.

Mr. Crafton was in his stateroom at the time the Titanic ran into the huge iceberg which ripped one side of the vessel open much as if it had been a huge can opener.  Mr. Crafton was not seen about the vessel by the survivors at any time after the accident, and it was supposed that he met an instant death in his stateroom when the iceberg was struck.

The Crafton family during the years of residence in Bloomington lived in the house on East 8th Street, now occupied by the Dr. Luzzader family.  Although the body was not picked out of the sea, and undoubtedly found a burial place in the hull of the Titanic which sank in the deep water off the Atlantic, a stone monument in Rose Hill Cemetery was erected by the widow to the memory of Mr. Crafton—one of the men who in the early days had a true vision of what the great Bloomington stone belt was to become.

Post by Randi Richardson

3 thoughts on “Bloomington Man Loses Life Aboard the Titanic

  1. Randi,

    The Cemetery Committee had this stone as part of its tour of Rose Hill. There is actually a bit more to this story. Grafton was not originally scheduled to take the Titanic but extended his trip and the change allowed him to return (or plan to return) on the magnificent Titanic.

    Bob

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  2. You know I love it when cemeteries are part of a post (thanks—Randy)! Just a heads’ up, the Cemetery Committee will again lead it’s “Limestone Heroes” Tour of Rose Hill Cemetery for Limestone Month this year on June 10 (Rain date June 17—I’ll be there both days) at 1:30 p.m. at Rose Hill. Come see the monuments of Monroe County’s Limestone industry!

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