A team of ‘Titanicologists’ have solved what is considered to be one of the last great mysteries – or hoaxes – of the doomed luxury liner, over a century after it sank.
A woman who claimed to be the presumed-dead two-year-old daughter of a wealthy family that died on Titanic in 1912 has been exposed as a fraud following extensive DNA tests.
Helen Kramer first came forward in 1940 claiming to be Loraine Allison, a toddler traveling with her parents Hudson and Bess and seven-month-old brother Trevor on the ship.
Hudson Allison was a Canadian entrepreneur and the family traveled with an extensive entourage of servants.
DNA solved a 70-year-old question of whether Loraine Allison survived the Titanic crash. Many have wondered what happened to the two-year-old little girl who disappeared from the crash more than 100 years ago.
The story begins with Hudson and Bess taking their two kids, Trevor, seven months, and Loraine, two years of age, across the Atlantic on the Titanic. At the time of the sinking, it is said that Trevor was rushed to a lifeboat by their maid and that the other three died on the boat. However, only Hudson’s body was found, leaving the mystery of what happened to Loraine and her mother.
When the ship struck the iceberg, Trevor, who was not with his family at the time, was taken onto a lifeboat by a maid, Alice Cleaver, with both going on to survive.
Both mother and father and Loraine are believed to have died looking for Trevor and skipping their opportunities at being rescued.
Trevor then died in 1929 of ptomaine poisoning.
Kramer mounted a long campaign to be accepted by the surviving members of the wealthy Allison family in the face of strong opposition, The Telegraph reported.
The bitter dispute was expected to have ended in 1992 when Kramer died.
But it was revived on the centenary of the sinking in 2012 when Kramer’s granddaughter, Debrina Woods, from Florida, restated the claim on a series of forums dedicated to the Titanic.
She set up a website highlighting her claim and said she planned to write a book about the story.
She claimed she had found a suitcase belonging to her grandmother which was full of documents substantiating the family case.
She also tried to contact the Allison family and arrange a visit, prompting the intervention of their lawyers to ask her to cease.
The unknown remained until 28 years later when Helen Kramer came forward on a radio show called “We the People”, and said that she was the two-year-old missing girl. Only a few of the distant relatives believed her story, but immediate family members denied the claims and kept her out of the inheritance.
When Helen died in 1992 the claims seemed to have died with her. However, in 2012 the granddaughter of Helen, Debrina Woods, resurfaced the claims by saying she had inherited more evidence from her grandmother and that the truth should be told.
With all of this evidence, and with a desire to solve this case, a group of Titanic researchers put together a project to help unlock the mystery.
They did just that, by convincing descendants from each family to have a DNA test done.
The results from the tests show that there is not a relationship between the two families, suggesting that this was a hoax or a complete misunderstanding.
We don’t want to downplay the tragedy of this story to those involved but rather highlight that we have a tool that will help us unlock the mysteries of our past with DNA testing.
This isn’t the first time DNA has helped provide evidence to disprove a connection to a historical claim. DNA testing disproved Anna Anderson’s claims that she was Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II. Similar to the Kramer story, researchers found multiple people from both sides of the family in question and had them take a DNA test. No DNA was shared, disproving a relationship.