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  • A postcard from Stanley Lord, dated May 12, 1911 on...

    A postcard from Stanley Lord, dated May 12, 1911 on April 29, 2022. Lord was named captain of the SS Californian in the same year. He and the crew of the Californian were later criticized for their failure to aid the Titanic, as they were around 20 miles away from the ship when it sunk on April 15, 1912. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • A brass badge that likely belonged to a crewmate of...

    A brass badge that likely belonged to a crewmate of the RMS Carpathia on April 29, 2022. Bound for Austria-Hungary, the Carpathia reversed course after it had received the Titanic’s distress signal, while the crew did what they could to aid survivors of the wreck. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • A piece of iron that was recovered from the wreck...

    A piece of iron that was recovered from the wreck of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 1998 on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Models of the RMS Titanic and RMS Carpathia on April...

    Models of the RMS Titanic and RMS Carpathia on April 29, 2022. A much smaller vessel, the crew of the Carpathia did what they could to rescue survivors after the Titanic had sunk on the night of April 15, 1912. Both models serve as 1-to-200 scale models of their original ships. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Multiple Titanic-related artifacts owned by Will Kindler on April 29,...

    Multiple Titanic-related artifacts owned by Will Kindler on April 29, 2022. Kindler, the founder of the online Central New England Maritime Museum, discovered his particular interest in the topic at a young age and has collected the pieces in an effort to “preserve and protect” the memory of the ship. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Will Kindler and a number of residents discuss the Titanic...

    Will Kindler and a number of residents discuss the Titanic at Townsend’s United Methodist Church on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Will Kindler, founder and curator of the online Central New...

    Will Kindler, founder and curator of the online Central New England Maritime Museum, presents his “White Stars, Black Sea” Titanic retrospective at Townsend’s United Methodist Church on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Lee McTighe, a director at the Townsend Historical Society, discusses...

    Lee McTighe, a director at the Townsend Historical Society, discusses a couple of connections between Townsend and the RMS Titanic during Will Kindler’s presentation on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

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TOWNSEND — In its first in-person event since the start of the pandemic, the Townsend Historical Society hosted a retrospective on the RMS Titanic, the “unsinkable” luxury ship that went down on its maiden voyage over a century ago.

The Townsend Historical Society invited Will Kindler, founder and curator of the online Central New England Maritime Museum, to host his “White Stars, Black Sea” retrospective in honor of the 110-year anniversary of the ship’s fateful journey, on April 29.

Kindler discussed a number of artifacts connected to the ship, which sunk on April 15, 1912. He also touched on recent efforts to preserve the story of the ship and pieces of it collected from the wreck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

“I’ve been interested in this story for most of my life,” he said. “It’s just been a real passion of mine, collecting some of the more rare stories (connected to the Titanic), things that don’t get talked about very often.”

A former musician, Kindler described himself as a “passionate collector” and historical enthusiast who discovered an interest in the ship and its history at a young age — an interest that he has since dedicated himself to sharing with others.

“It’s just an incredible thing, to be able to hold a piece of the Titanic when you understand its history,” he said.

Lee McTighe, a director at the Townsend Historical Society, also shared recently discovered stories of two former town residents, Clara Lafontaine and Albert Bumstead, and their connections to the ship.

At the age of 17, Lafontaine corresponded with a man who claimed to work on the Titanic. According to McTighe, the two exchanged “love letters” and planned to get married after the ship’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City. While she never heard from the man after the Titanic’s voyage, Lafontaine carried a picture of the man in a locket “that she kept with her all of her life.”

“It was so sweet,” McTighe said. “It made me think of the movie.”

Bumstead, meanwhile, had intercepted the distress signal from the ship while he lived in Townsend Harbor, according to McTighe. He would go on to serve as a cartographer for the National Geographic Society.

  • A brass badge that likely belonged to a crewmate of...

    A brass badge that likely belonged to a crewmate of the RMS Carpathia on April 29, 2022. Bound for Austria-Hungary, the Carpathia reversed course after it had received the Titanic’s distress signal, while the crew did what they could to aid survivors of the wreck. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • A postcard from Stanley Lord, dated May 12, 1911 on...

    A postcard from Stanley Lord, dated May 12, 1911 on April 29, 2022. Lord was named captain of the SS Californian in the same year. He and the crew of the Californian were later criticized for their failure to aid the Titanic, as they were around 20 miles away from the ship when it sunk on April 15, 1912. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Models of the RMS Titanic and RMS Carpathia on April...

    Models of the RMS Titanic and RMS Carpathia on April 29, 2022. A much smaller vessel, the crew of the Carpathia did what they could to rescue survivors after the Titanic had sunk on the night of April 15, 1912. Both models serve as 1-to-200 scale models of their original ships. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • A piece of iron that was recovered from the wreck...

    A piece of iron that was recovered from the wreck of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in 1998 on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Will Kindler and a number of residents discuss the Titanic...

    Will Kindler and a number of residents discuss the Titanic at Townsend’s United Methodist Church on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Multiple Titanic-related artifacts owned by Will Kindler on April 29,...

    Multiple Titanic-related artifacts owned by Will Kindler on April 29, 2022. Kindler, the founder of the online Central New England Maritime Museum, discovered his particular interest in the topic at a young age and has collected the pieces in an effort to “preserve and protect” the memory of the ship. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Will Kindler, founder and curator of the online Central New...

    Will Kindler, founder and curator of the online Central New England Maritime Museum, presents his “White Stars, Black Sea” Titanic retrospective at Townsend’s United Methodist Church on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

  • Lee McTighe, a director at the Townsend Historical Society, discusses...

    Lee McTighe, a director at the Townsend Historical Society, discusses a couple of connections between Townsend and the RMS Titanic during Will Kindler’s presentation on April 29, 2022. (Shane Rhodes/Nashoba Valley Voice)

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Other residents shared similar family stories that have been passed down as well. Local resident John Barrett told the story of two great uncles who had gotten a painting job in Philadelphia. While they planned to cross the Atlantic to America on the Titanic they were, according to Barrett, forced to take an earlier ship due to time constraints.

“They got a telegram that said, ‘We need you right away, take an earlier ship,’ and so they did,” Barrett said. “For a long time, I thought this was apocryphal, a family legend, but it turned out to be true.”

Barrett later discovered that a few days before the Titanic sank, the two men had taken the RMS Baltic, a ship that was en route back to England as the Titanic sunk.

Another resident shared the story of her own great uncle that was to sail on the ill-fated voyage. Fortunately, he overslept and missed the departure after he had a “bit too much to drink” at a farewell party the night before.

Kindler stressed the importance of the preservation of history and celebrated the “tireless” work done by the Townsend Historical Society and other historical societies to do so.

“It’s a responsibility, I feel,” he said. “Any history, really — it’s hard to not see value in preserving something that’s played such an important role in our story as people and making sure it is accurately presented.”

“I would just like to thank Townsend and the countless other historical societies out there for doing what they can to make sure pieces like this are properly shared and preserved for future generations — it’s a very moving thing,” he said.

Townsend Historical Society President Ryan Hayward and site administrator Taber Morrell applauded Kindler for his presentation. They said that as the country starts to move on from the pandemic, the society plans to host similar (though not strictly Titanic-related) events in the future.

“It was nice to see so many people come out, just to have fun and enjoy this,” Morrell said. “Going forward, we’re definitely going to try and get back to it. In fact, we’ve got some events lined up for this summer.”

“It’s just fun to not only get people involved, but to see someone learn something for the first time or truly appreciate history,” he said.

“For me, I come into this wanting to learn something every day,” Hayward said. “But, more importantly, I try to listen to other people and help them share those stories with others.”

For more information on the Townsend Historical Society, visit its website at https://townsendhistoricalsociety.org or its Facebook page.

For more information on Kindler and his work, visit his his website at www.cnemaritime.com or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/whitestarsblacksea.

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