TITANIC-TITANIC.com | Titanic Articles: Whatever Happened To Eino Lindquist?

BY PHILLIP GOWAN

 

Eino Lindquist

In the late 1940's a middle-aged Finnish man in Ontario began a protracted search to find his missing brother. Martin Lindquist wrote many letters and took out pleading ads in newspapers from Minnesota to New York. He contacted friends he had lost contact with many years before. But Eino Lindquist seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth. In Dalsbruk, Finland, Eino Lindquist, Jr. worried that he might never hear from his father again. As the years passed, the unrelenting quest of family members melted into a resigned acceptance of the fact that the disappearance might never be solved. Martin Lindquist went to his grave in 1966, never knowing the end of the story. In 1998, Eino Lindquist, Jr. died quietly in Finland after 50 years of worried wondering.

The saga begins with three children born to Karl August and Elizabeth (Vik) Lindquist who lived on a farm in Dalsbruk, Finland. Daughter Helga Elisabeth Lindqvist Hirvonen was born January 2, 1890 followed by sons Eino William on February 13, 1892 and Martin on July 6, 1894. Not long after Helga Elisabeth Lindqvist Hirvonen married Eric Alexander Hirvonen, the couple decided that life in the United States would offer more promise for them and their baby daughter, Hildur Elizabeth Hirvonen. Mr. Hirvonen preceded the rest of the family, arriving in the United States on November 5, 1911 and finding work in the steel industry of Monessen, Pennsylvania.

In April of 1912 Eino Lindquist decided to accompany his sister and niece to America and the trio, with friend Abraham August Johannes Abrahamsson, boarded the ship Arcturus at Hango and sailed to Hull, England. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton and for the first few days enjoyed an uneventful trip. Eino Lindquist was a fine physical specimen having spent much time in the gymnasiums of Finland and he enjoyed the rowdy "merriment" in the ship's saloon and dancing pavilion on the night of April 14th. His sister and niece had retired early. Not long before midnight, Eino Lindquist went to bed and had only been lying down for a few minutes when he felt a jar that he described as being more like a heavy vibration than a violent jerk. Not long after, Abraham August Johannes Abrahamsson returned to the cabin and yelled in his ear telling him that the ship struck an iceberg and was sinking. Remaining unconvinced that anything was wrong, his friend forcibly pulled him out of bed and then the two went up to investigate. On deck they saw splinters of ice but did not see the iceberg. A crewman took his life preserver telling him it would be disturbing for other passengers to see him wearing it.

Eino LindquistEino Lindquist made his way to his sister's cabin but she was nowhere to be found. Within a short time he encountered her alone in a hallway in a hysterical condition. She told him she had left Hildur Elizabeth Hirvonen asleep as she didn't want to disturb the little one if they all were going to die anyway. Eino Lindquist went back to the cabin and wrapped the baby in a blanket and carried her in one arm, climbing up two iron tank ladders with Helga Elisabeth Lindqvist Hirvonen keeping a death grip on his coat. On the way the family spotted a mother trying to place life preservers on what Eino estimated to be 7 children. He asked if they had a spare one but there was none to be had.

On the boat-deck, Eino Lindquist saw the women safely placed in a lifeboat while Abraham August Johannes Abrahamsson left their company and found his own entry into one of the boats. Eino Lindquist remained on deck until the stern of Titanic began to rise steeply and then jumped into the water. His muscular build proved to be his biggest asset in the swim of his life and he remembered thinking that the cold ocean was no worse than swimming in ice-filled Finnish ponds when he was a young boy. He watched the ship as it broke in two and continued to swim, arriving at the side of overturned Collapsible B. Eino Lindquist recalled that many men were struggling around the side of the boat and he was punched, kicked and bitten prior to getting a foothold. During the night he observed other men slowly dying and slipping off the sides of the Collapsible boat.

After rescue Eino Lindquist found Helga Elisabeth Lindqvist Hirvonen, Hildur Elizabeth Hirvonen and Abraham August Johannes Abrahamsson and was given a fireman's overalls to wear. In New York the family was taken to a hospital for three days and then to "a large warehouse" where he was given clothes much too large for him as well as $50. Then the family continued on to Pennsylvania where Eric Hirvonen was waiting.

In 1915 Eino Lindquist, by then known as "Ed," moved to Syracuse, New York and the Hirvonens followed him there in 1917. Ed was a hammer man at the Burke Steel Company and Eric Hirvonen found work as a "heater" in area steel mills. Eino Lindquist was naturalized as a citizen of the United States in the 1920's and continued to live in the Syracuse area until the early 1930's. He then made frequent trips back to Finland for extended periods and while there fathered an out-of-wedlock son, his only child. After World War II he simply vanished and was never heard from again by any family member.

Abraham August Johannes Abrahamsson later worked as a carpenter, married a Finnish woman, but had no children. He died in the summer of 1961. Hildur Elizabeth Hirvonen became a stenographer for a law firm. A spinster, her life was cut short by cancer when she was 46. Her mother followed her in death in 1961 and Eric Hirvonen lived in a hotel room after losing his entire family. In frail health and despondent, he took his own life in March of 1964.

Using clues provided by the only child of Martin Lindquist, the mystery of Eino Lindquist's disappearance was finally solved early in 2000. Eino Lindquist had returned from a trip to Finland and drifted to various parts of the United States, finally renting a small, dirty apartment for his few possessions. Unable to find work and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, he was committed to a state mental institution where he lived for years while his family searched for him in vain. A stroke took his life when he was in his mid-60's and he was buried in an unmarked grave. His estate, $68.74, was applied to the claim for $2,665.48 made by the Department of Mental Hygiene. Although his son never knew why his father lost touch with him, grandchildren in Finland now know the end of the story.

 

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