Welcome to our Titanic Museum Attraction CREW BLOG!
Join us as we tell the stories of the 2,208 passengers and crew who sailed on the RMS Titanic and the stories of our guests who visit the Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, Mo. and Pigeon Forge, Tn.
Although Robert J. Bateman was an Englishman, born in
Bristol, England in 1860, he lived in the United States for a number of years,
working particularly in Knoxville, Tennessee and in Jacksonville, Florida.Arriving in Knoxville in the late 1890s,
he founded the People’s Tabernacle, a church located in a rough part of town, a
mission that ministered to the poor, providing them with shelter, food, and
clothing.He did not remain in
Knoxville, however, and by the early twentieth century had moved on to
Jacksonville, where he was involved in the Central City Mission, a ministry to
those often neglected by the wealthier, more prominent churches.
Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/1p6pxDr
Early in 1912 Bateman was back in England for a couple of
months and then booked passage in second class on the Titanic, thinking to return to Jacksonville to continue his work
there.Accompanying him on the
trip was his wife’s sister, Ada Ball.Did Bateman feel some premonition that he might not reach New York?A postcard he mailed when the ship
docked at Queenstown, Ireland, told his nephew:“Tom, if this ship goes to the bottom, I shall not be there,
I shall be up yonder.Think of
it!”Such thoughts hardly seemed
to be in anyone else’s mind, since it was widely believed that the Titanic was unsinkable.
The claim has been made that Bateman conducted the only
worship service held aboard
the Titanic, but
this is directly contradicted by other accounts.Some claim that Bateman asked the band to play “Nearer, My
God, to Thee” at the service he held.Other accounts
mention the singing of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,”
with its plea “for those in peril on the sea.”
When the ship hit the iceberg and it became apparent that
the Titanic was actually going to
sink, Bateman was concerned about his sister-in-law, but it is difficult to say
exactly what took place. In one account Bateman had already taken a seat in a
lifeboat when he discovered that his sister-in-law was still on the ship.He hastened to change places with her,
fully aware that it would probably mean his own death.In another version, the one given in
Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember, Bateman
was never in one of the lifeboats but helped his sister-in-law into one, promising
her, “If I don’t meet you again in this world, I will in the next.” In several accounts he gave her some article of clothing—an
overcoat, a scarf, a necktie.
Ada Ball may
have kept the book for some time but then seems to have passed it on to
Bateman’s widow.It is at this
point that a figure familiar to many Putnam Countians enters the story: Harry
L. Upperman.At that time the
future president of the Methodist high school called Baxter Seminary was only
twenty years old.
During her final illness in Baltimore, Mrs. Bateman gave
Upperman the Testament that her husband had carried, presumably on August 15,
1915, since this is the date Upperman recorded, along with this statement of
the book’s history:“To Harry L.
Upperman, a gift from Mrs. Bateman as a remembrance of her husband, who got up
out of a rowboat as the Titanic was sinking, and gave that seat to his sister
[sister-in-law], who he thought was in another boat, but who had really been
left on the Titanic.Mr. Bateman
got back on the Titanic and lost his life as the boat sank.” Along the lefthand
margin is written the name of the sister-in-law: “Mrs. Ball (Ada).”Further down the flyleaf is written:
“Harry L. Upperman, President, Baxter Seminary, Baxter, Tennessee.”Dr. Upperman did not come to Baxter
until 1923, so obviously this was written later.
The story of the New Testament, titled The Emphatic Diaglott Containing the Original Greek Text of What Is
Commonly Styled The New Testament…with an Interlinerary Word for Word English
Translation was told in an article written for the Putnam County Herald by a Cookeville man, Albert Brogdon, and
published April 11, 1940.Apparently
Brogdon interviewed Upperman, since he included this statement from him: “The
drama, as I see it, was in that man, who in the darkness of the night, knew
that if he got back on that boat, he would die.”Brogdon added that Upperman was to preach in Baltimore on
the anniversary of the ship’s sinking and would read his text from the Bible
that had been saved from the ship.
The only bible saved from Titanic - on Display NOW at Titanic Pigeon Forge.
Harry L. Upperman retired as president of Baxter Seminary in
1957. Soon after that the school was turned over to the county and given the
name Upperman High School. Upperman died in 1984 and is buried in Baxter. The Testament,
which had been at Baxter Seminary all those years, was passed on to the Upper
Room Museum in Nashville and now the
bible is displayed at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tn.
To purchase tickets to the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tn. Click Here.