Edward Ferguson was born in February or March 1914, in Kearny, New Jersey, in the United States of America, the son of Samuel James Ferguson and Mary Ferguson (née Joyce). It is likely that part of his family originated in Great Britain, for in the spring of 1915, his mother decided to take him there on the May sailing of the Lusitania
from New York to Liverpool.
Leaving Edward’s father behind, mother and son boarded the liner as third class passengers, at her berth at Pier 54 in New York on the morning of 1st May 1915, in time for her scheduled 10.00 a.m. departure. They then had to wait until just after noon before the vessel left harbour, because she had to wait to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor liner
Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned for war service as a troop ship.
Then, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the Lusitania was torpedoed twelve miles off the coast of southern Ireland by the German submarine
U-20, and sank two miles closer to shore. At that stage of her voyage, she was only about 250 miles from the safety of her home port.
Both Edward Ferguson and his mother were killed as a result of this action and he was aged only eleven months at the time of his death.
Although her body was never recovered and identified afterwards, his was - and having been landed at Queenstown, it was taken to one of the temporary mortuaries set up there, where it was given the reference number 154 and described as: -
Male baby about 15 - 18 months. Light brown hair, 2 white woollen sweaters, 1 striped or plaid cotton shirt, red knitted jacket with white buttons, black stockings and American made boots.
As there was no property found on the body, he was then either identified from his clothing, from a visual identification by someone who had known him, or perhaps from a photograph taken of his body. As it was necessary to bury all the recovered bodies as soon as possible, because they could not be hygienically stored in the increasing heat of May, they were all photographed in the temporary mortuaries in Queenstown before being buried as soon as was practicable. Anxious friends and relatives of those missing were then invited to identify their loved ones from copies of these photographs, which were either sent to them, or displayed in prominent places in major cities.
Whenever it was identified, on 13th May 1915, his body was buried in Mass Grave B, 6th Row, Lower Tier, in The Old Church Cemetery, about two miles north of the town, where it lies to this day.
On 21st February 1924, Samuel Ferguson was awarded $10,000.00 by the Mixed Claims Commission for the loss of his wife and son.
Cunard Records, Mixed Claims Commission Docket 46, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/8-10, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.