October 3, 2013

The Ship Finance Sinks

This is the continued story of Kitty and Minnie, my Great Aunts as written by my Aunt Rosie.

While waiting on board for the morning tide, a heavy fog surrounded the harbor. In the midst of this, another ship rammed the Finance amidship, and it began to take on water and sink. The family was in a panic and had to cling to whatever they could until rescued some twelve hours later.
Francis, the only son, was a babe in arms and suffered severely from exposure. The captain who happened to be in the same life boat as Kitty and her family told Kitty to throw Francis overboard as he wouldn't live or was already dead. Kitty was outraged and refused. Francis was very ill for awhile, but he recovered.
As I read my aunt's account of this harrowing event, I wondered how much was truth and what was embellishment to make the story exciting. After a Google search, I found some articles that proved that my Aunt's account of this event was very accurate. 

An article written by the New York Times on November 27, 1908 gives the names of the passengers that were on the Finance. On that list are Miss Mahoney, my Great Aunt Minnie, and Mrs. Thomas Halligan, my Great Aunt Kitty and mentioned were the five children.

This is an excerpt from the New York Times  November 27, 1908.  Article titled: Liner Sunk In Fog, 4 Person Drown.

Mentioned in the article again were the Aunts and children.
Read entire article, here.

I also found a story by Jeanne Flynn Stough, written in March 1984, titled: The Sinking of the Panama Railroad Ship Finance, as told by Catherine Halligan Malone, who was one of the five children of Kitty and Tom Halligan who was on aboard the Finance with Kitty and Minnie and her siblings.

Here are a few excerpts.

You can read that story in its entirety by clicking here.

My Aunt Rosie's story continues.
When they got to the life guard station, they asked Aunt Kitty what she wanted to do go back or go on.  She of course said she had no choice. Everything was gone from Toledo. What they had for luggage was at the bottom of the harbor, and her husband was waiting for her in Panama.
Since freighters were frequently going to Panama with supplies, they were booked very quickly, and Kitty and her family finally arrived in Panama, but not before a call at Port Au Prince where they were outfitted with more clothes. The children were dress in Middy suits and caps with H.M.S Victor on the band. Poor Tom was so happy to see his family, he quite overlooked the English labels.
The end of  Jeanne Flynn Stough article has a similar ending.

Tomorrow I will complete the story of Kitty and Minnie and living in the Panama Canal.


  1. It is such a fascinating story although the highlights in blue were tiny and hard to read for us older seniors.

  2. Wow! what an interesting story!

  3. Stories like these get lost over generations -- love that you have republished it here for posterity.

  4. This is a thrilling story. I love reading it!

  5. Hi

    Catherine is my great grandmother! I am so glad to find this story and have heard about the ship disaster many times from her, though not with so much detail.

    Her husband, Peter Malone, was on the canal railway and retired from Panama in 1947, when they returned to the states and lived in New Jersey.

    1. Would love to share photos and stories with you. You can contact me at pmzdan@gmail.com