April 20, 1912: Missionary Annie Funk Perishes on the Ill-fated Titanic


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

April 20, 1912: Word has been received that Miss Annie Funk, a native of Hereford, Pennsylvania, who had dedicated her life to helping the poor and humble in the world and was a missionary in India for the last five years, has perished on the ill-fated Titanic, which sunk in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15.

She had been awakened at midnight by a steward and told the ship had struck an iceberg. It has been reported, but not confirmed, that she was offered a seat in a life boat, which she gave to a woman with a child, thus saving two lives. (Her friends agreed that Annie would have made such a sacrifice.) Remaining on the ship, she died with 1500 others. Her body was never identified.

Annie Funk was a graduate of the West Chester State Normal School and the Northfield Bible Training School in Massachusetts. After graduation, she first worked with immigrants in the slums in Tennessee and New Jersey and volunteered to go overseas as a missionary, which had been her childhood dream. In December 1906 she was sent to India as the first female Mennonite missionary, and she opened a one-room school and hostel for poor girls, with 17 students. Miss Funk’s work was interrupted by a telegram. “Come home at once. Mother very ill.”

Annie made her travel plans quickly. She reached Liverpool, England via train and boat, and the SS Haverford was to take her to America. When she learned that her departure on that ship would by delayed by a coal strike, she booked passage on another ship, the Titanic.

Though it cost her more, Annie was assured that the voyage on the Titanic would get her home in record time. She bought her second class ticket for 13£. The Titanic left the Southampton dock on April 10, 1912, which was her 38th birthday.

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