The Black Family Aboard The Titanic
Cap-Haitien is located in the northern part of the country of Haiti and it’s where Mr. Laroche was born on May 26, 1886. Laroche came from an affluent family. His uncle, Cincinnatus Leconte, also served as President of Haiti.
At the age of 15, Laroche decided that he wanted to study engineering. There was no school for such in Haiti so he left for France where he settled in Beauvais to attend engineering school. During his time in France, he met Juliette, the daughter of a wine seller. They soon became friends, fell in love, and decided to eventually get married.
After graduating from school, Laroche was looking for work with his qualified skills. Unfortunately, due to racial discrimination, he was unable to obtain a decent paying job.
In the midst of their second child being born, Juliette had faced many medical problems. Taking better care of her is why Laroche decided to move back home to Haiti to look for a better paying job to take care of his family.
When he learned that she was pregnant with their third child, Laroche opted for an earlier departure date to Haiti. Originally, Joseph’s mother purchased first-class passage for the family aboard CGT’s (French Line) newest steamship. The company, however, did not allow children to eat with their parents, so Laroche traded their tickets for second-class passage on the Titanic. The Haitian engineer was the only black man among the 2,223 passengers and crew.
The Night of the Accident
Juliette’s family told the Titanic Historical Society that a steward had come to their cabin and told them to wear their lifejackets because the Titanic had suffered an accident. Joseph put everything valuable including, money and jewels, in his pockets. Unable to understand, Juliette let Joseph, who spoke English fluently, lead her to the lifeboats.
It took roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink after the ship hit the iceberg.
Laroche did not get on the lifeboat on the morning of April 15. He perished at the age of 25 along with approximately 1,500 other people. His body was never recovered.
Juliette returned to France with her daughters, Simonne and Louise. She later gave birth to a son in December 1912, who she named Joseph Jr, after their father. Louise Laroche was one of the last remaining survivors of the Titanic until her death in 1998.
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