Stories of Lebanese on the Titanic – Part 4: Two Men from Toula & Zahle

For part 1, click here. Part 2, click here. Part 3, click here.

Toula is a small town in the Batroun region which had only one person aboard the Titanic, named Fahim el Zeanny. Seeing as his name is difficult for foreigners to pronounce, it was changed in Cherbourg to Fahim Kini before it changed, yet again, once he got to New York, to Philip el Zeanny.

Philip left Toula at the age of 23, leaving in Marseille his wife whom he married 4 months prior so he can settle down and start his own business in Cincinnati before she follows him. Philip wrote down what he went through on the Titanic.

Philip, 2 years before his death.

On the night the ship hit the iceberg, he was fast asleep. One of the passengers woke him up hastily and told him what was happening. So Philip started panicking, as was everyone around him. He then ran to the deck where, still panicking because of what he had heard moments ago, he got into a rescue boat. The officer, though, forced him off and threatened him with his gun, saying: women only.

Philip then used the chaos around deck to his favor and got into a second rescue boat. That same officer, however, saw him and forced him off again. Moments later, Philip got past that officer and hid under the seating flanks of one of the boats. That boat was lowered into the water. It only had two men who couldn’t row it away from the ship fast enough with more than twenty women on it. So Philip made his presence known and helped them take the boat away from the Titanic.

Then they waited and watched as the ship sank. The shrieks coming from the passengers who were thrown in the water were deafening.  Philip urged them go back but no one agreed. More lives could have been saved. As he looked around his rescue boat, Philip was apalled by one woman who brought her pet dog with her. The dog was big enough for another person to take its place.

Once the Carpathia arrived, the woman said sternly to Philip, whom she thought shouldn’t have been on board with them, to help her carry the dog as she got on the Carpathia. Philip refused, telling her that the souls of people are more important than those of animals.

Philip ended up passing away on 1927, fifteen years later, leaving a family of four children behind.

The descendants of Philip

On the other side of Lebanon, Zahle had the only Lebanese passenger not in third class. Nqoula Nasrallah and his wife, Adele, were both second class passengers. Nqoula left Zahle at the age of 28, to go to San Francisco where his uncle had started a successful movie franchise.

Seeking the fame and fortune that his uncle had already found, Nqoula took his wife and got on the Titanic. On the night the ship sank, Nqoula got his wife on a rescue boat while he jumped into the water and started swimming away, hoping like other swimmers, that the vests they were wearing would keep them afloat until the rescue boats arrived. His hope was out of place.

As Adele’s rescue boat moved away from the ship, she saw her husband swimming away. So she stood up and started shouting with every bit of strength she had for him to come on board. But amid all the chaos of all the people in the water around her, Nqoula never heard her. He kept swimming and swimming until he could swim no more.

On April 24 th, 1912, the MacKay-Bennett found Nqoula’s body which was thought to belong to the millionaire John Jacob Astor. The following description of the body was given:

Nqoula’s mother, Wardeh, was devastated by the untimely passing of her son. So she went out on Zahle’s very cold winters outside and sat, as snow piled up on her, so she can have a taste of what her son went through in the freezing water of the Atlantic. Wardeh’s granddaughter Emily told how her grandmother used to go outside and put her hands in a frozen pond just so she can feel closer to her son.

Adele was pregnant when she was rescued. She gave birth to a baby boy on December 9th, 1912. The boy died soon afterwards. Adele remarried and had a family of four children. She died on January 20th, 1970.

Part 5 will be coming tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Stories of Lebanese on the Titanic – Part 4: Two Men from Toula & Zahle

  1. Pingback: Stories of Lebanese on the Titanic – Part 5: The People of Zgharta & Choueir « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

  2. Pingback: The RMS Titanic and Lebanon « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

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