Port Byron's Connection to RMS Titanic




Newspaper article excerpts from April 1912:

Rev. Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett of Port Byron is one of the fortunate survivors of the Titanic.  His father, who is Rev. M. E. Collett of the First Baptist church in Port Byron, his mother and three sisters, Lillian, Daisy, and Violet, all live in Port Byron.  The girls are at present in Rochester preparing for college.  One brother, Thomas Collett, lives In Syracuse and attends the College of Liberal Arts of Syracuse University.  Another brother is in Ontario, Can., and another brother, Frederick P. Collett, is with the General Electric Company in Shanghai, China and another brother, Ernest Collett, is in England, connected with an electrical company in London.  Mr. and Mrs. Collett settled in Port Byron two years ago.   The family have been experiencing the most harrowing extremes of gloom and joy intermingled with such shocking frequency since the first news came that it will be surprising if no permanent nervous shock results.  The first news came on Monday morning when Rev. and Mrs. Collett heard that the big liner had collided with an iceberg.  Knowing that their son, Rev. Sidney C. S. Collett, was aboard, they were instantly plunged into despair, and it was not until the afternoon dispatches, sent out from various places near the scene of the trouble, erroneously stated that all passengers were being taken off and there was no danger, that their fears were allayed.  Later came the news that the vessel was reported to be sinking, and there was no definite news as to the fate of the passengers. Mrs. Collett had written a postcard to her son, Thomas, in Syracuse stating:  "Teddy is on the Titanic.  All taken off in Mats.  How dreadful. We are anxious."
The Syracuse member of the family thereupon went continuously to the offices of the local papers anxious to hear further news, and when the shocking message came that the big liner had never had any chance and had gone to the bottom at midnight on Sunday night, he was overcome.  He went at once to Port Byron to comfort his mother, and the family prepared for the worst.  Hastening back to Syracuse for further news young Collett was admitted into the Post-Standard office last night.  He arrived shortly after 6 o'clock just as the Associated Press operator was receiving the latest revised list of those who were saved and were on board the Carpathia.  Peering with tear-stained eyes over tine shoulders of the telegraph expert, who was kept at top notch of efficiency in his efforts to catch correctly the names, he watched the type keys of the typewriter as it rapidly sput out the lines of names of the fortunate survivors.  The operator had -pounded out 14 names on bis "mill" and with the fifteenth name young Collett gave a gasp and trembled with joy,  He read "Stuart Collett"  "I muet tell father and mother," be exclaimed as he ran for the telephone booth.  The joyful news was soon conveyed to the various members of the family assembled at home and although happy in the news, they now await the son in "flesh and blood" before they will be calmed.  He is expected on the Carpathia, which will reach New York sometime tonight or tomorrow morning.  The family motto "dum spiro sperc, "while I live I hope," was put to the test in this rare episode.  The family bears a name distinguished in England.  Rev. Sidney Collett was ordained to the Baptist ministry three years ago ia England and was coming to this country to preach.  The rescued clergyman is commonly known as Stuart Collett because another Collett is known by his surname, Sidney.  He is the last but one of the family to leave England.  The Colletts have been coming to America for eight years and are making places for themselves in educational and church work.   The Collects are linked with the nobility of England.  The family coat of arms bears the motto of hope and Sir Richard Collett of Peaaan Hall, Suffold County, is an uncle of the Port Byron clergyman.  In the reign of Edward VI. a Collett was twice Lord Mayor of London and the family name is prominent in history.
Eight years ago Thomas Collett, now about 30, came to America. For some time, be had. been connected with St. Paul's Church in Syracuse.  He is also taking a course in the College of Liberal Arts of Syracuse University. 
Sir Richard Collett, head of one branch of the family, was one of the six engineers who designed the Great Eastern, in its day the largest vessel afloat.  For his services in this connection he was knighted by the King of Portugal.  Stuart was bringing with him those family possession which had not been previously brought to America by other members of the family.  These consisted of a valuable library, family documents and a considerable sum of money. All of the valuables are believed to have gone to the bottom of the ocean with the Titanic.  Stuart's trip on the Titanic was not his own choice.  He arranged for passage on the St. Louis, but this boat's sailing was cancelled because of the coal strike.  His passage was then arranged on the Philadelphia, but this was cancelled for the same reason and the young man wrote his parents congratulating himself that he was coming over on the giant Titanic at the rate asked on the other boats.  In a letter written April 5, Stuart told his mother to remind Thomas of a promise the latter made to carry until Stuart reached America - a small pocket Bible.  Thomas still has the Bible, although it is only a packet of worn covers and loose leaves.  Stuart contemplates entering the ministry in this country.


Probably Owes His Life to Having Had Two Young Girls In His Care
Mother put the kettle on on,
   Let's have a cup of tea
Ready for dear old 'Sid' 
    Who's coming home from sea
You'll be glad to see him  
    And kiss him with delight  
So, put the kettle on Mother
    I'm coming home all right 

The above jingle was received on a postal card by Mrs. Mawbey Ernest Collett,  mother of Rev, Sidney S. Collett,  the young clergyman who was one of the fortunate survivors of theTitanic, a few days after that hapless vessel sailedf from Southampton for New.York.  It. was the only news they had received beyond, earlier advices that he intended to sail on the Titanic, but its pleasant little message was set at naught when- the news of the sinking reached the Port Byron home and placed a crushing weight upon the young man's parents.  But the glad news came that he had been saved and his return home, now delayed by the investigation in New York, is anxiously awaited. 
According to the meagre information thus far furnished, Mr. Collett was assisting the women and children, and while at first he was stopped by ship's officers, he was allowed to pass when it was seen that he was ministering to the sick and injured. He is now in New York attending several of the survivors and waiting to be called by the investigators of the Senate.  In all probability, the examination of the officers wil not be concluded today and he may have to wait until next week and go to Washington. While his inability to come home is a cause of deep regret to his parents, they patiently defer their preparation for his home coming, but they will surely "put the kettle on," once definite news reaches them that he is on his way.


Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett (1887 - 1941)