|The Laroche Family|
Viewing the mementos salvaged from the wreckage was sad, yet reading about the passengers was fascinating. From that exhibition, I learned about Joseph and Juliette Laroche, an interracial couple on board the ship.
Joseph Laroche was a Haitian-born, French educated engineer from a prosperous family. His wife, Juliette, was white, and from a privileged French family. Joseph Laroche had not intended to travel on Titanic when he left France with his family in 1912.
Because he was black, Laroche had been unable to find work in France. So upon learning of his wife's third pregnancy, he decided to return to his native Haiti. He'd bought first class tickets for the French liner France. But once he found out that children could not eat with their parents, he transferred to Titanic.
His first-class France tickets were equivalent to second-class tickets aboard the British Titanic. He and his family boarded the ship at Cherbourg, outside of Paris. They enjoyed the ship's luxury for three days, and on April 14, dined together for the last time. Afterwards, Joseph retired to the smoking parlor with other men in second class, while Juliette returned to their suite with daughters Simonne, three, and Louise, one.
Joseph Laroche felt the collision later that evening, and ran back to his room for his wife and daughters. As Juliette and the girls were placed in a lifeboat, Joseph draped his coat, stuffed with money and family valuables, across his wife's shoulders. "You will need it," he told Juliette, who was 22 at the time. "I will see you in New York. I must take another raft. God be with you."
Those were the last words Joseph Laroche spoke to his wife, and although his coat was stolen, Juliette Laroche and her daughters survived. Joseph Laroche was 26, and the only black man aboard the ship. He was one of 166 second-class passengers who died.
I found the above information here in a story that described an exhibit featuring them. The Laroche's story is a fascinating, yet little known Titanic fact. Had you ever heard of them?
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