Everyone has heard about the
Unsinkable Molly Brown
. The Hannibal native was one of more than 700 people rescued when the Titanic hit an iceberg 100 years ago this April.
Here's something that's not as well known -- another northeast Missouri woman helped rescue those survivors.
All while getting exclusive reports on a tragedy that still captures our attention.
May Birkhead was a seamstress from Louisiana, Missouri. Her aunt took her on a trip in 1912. They were passengers on The Carpathia, which was the closest ship to the Titanic when a distress signal sounded on April 14th, 1912. The Carpathia was the first vessel to reach the sunken ship.
"There were five Missourians in this area who were picked up and survived the Titanic tragedy. Three from Clarksville, one from Hannibal and one personal maid from Clarksville," Betty Allen said.
Journalist Betty Allen says Birkhead became an instant journalist. The New York Herald contacted Birkhead while she was on The Carpathia, asking her to take photos and give a first-hand account of the tragedy and the rescues.
Allen said, "She just took the bull by the horns and accepted the message. Birkhead, a seamstress from Louisiana, Missouri, scooped all other seasoned journalists in the country with her report of the sinking of the Titanic."
Birkhead went on to work for the New York Herald for 12 years, writing a social column while living in Paris. She later took a job as a journalist at the Chicago Tribune where she worked for 25 years.
"We're proud of her and Missouri should be proud of her. Actually, some of the journalism schools should be proud of her even though she never attended journalism school. I just think it's good that after all these years, somebody is noticing," Allen said.
Birkhead died in 1941. She's buried in Louisiana in Riverview Cemetery.
The Carpathia was sunk by a German U-boat during World War I in 1918.