Subscribe for 33¢ / day

VICTORY — Many people don't realize the town of Victory, and several other Cayuga County communities, have ties to the tragic 1912 sinking of the RSM Titanic. 

Two Victory residents, Helga and her two-year-old daughter Hildur Hirvonen, were on board the historic ship, traveling from Finland to join husband and father Eric Hirvonen in the United States, when it hit an iceberg and began to take on water over. The mother and daughter were rescued from the ship in a lifeboat. 

"The father was already here or he probably wouldn't have made it because women and children were first," Victory historian Beverly Sayles said. "It wasn't like every man for himself the way many times it is today. It was women and children first, they had a chivalry order." 

Sayles, who has been the historian in Victory for 10 years, thought the Hirvonens' story was interesting and wanted to share it with members of the community. On Sunday, she held a program at the Victory Village Museum called "The RMS Titanic's Connection to Victory."

"I thought this was something Victory residents ought to know and many who grew up here when I did, had no idea," Sayles said. 

According to Sayles, the family didn't speak much about their harrowing experience on the Titanic. 

"A lot of people didn't even know about it until they read their obituaries in the paper," she said. "To a lot of people, it was a surprise."

According to Hildur's obituary, the 46-year-old woman died in 1956 after "a long illness." She lived in Victory with her parents for about 20 years on Pople Road before she died and attended Porter Junior High School and the Central City Business Institute in Syracuse. 

Her mother and father died in 1961 and 1964, respectively, and all three are buried in the Cato Cemetery. 

"It's quite a story," Sayles said.  

During Sunday afternoon's program, visitors had the chance to speak with Sayles and look at a collection of research and newspaper clippings. According to article from the Syracuse Post Standard published on April 15, 2012 — 100 years after the Titanic sank — residents from Auburn, Port Byron, Skaneateles and Syracuse were aboard the Titanic. Sayles also provided refreshments of scones and fruit for visitors.   

"I figured that's what they would have had on the Titanic," Sayles said of the snacks. 

Staff writer Natalie Brophy can be reached at (315)282-2239 or Follow her on Twitter @brophy_natalie. 


City Reporter