The Lusitania Resource > People > Third Class Passenger List > Mrs. John J. Coughlin (Katherine “Katie” O’Neil)

Mrs. John J. Coughlin (Katherine “Katie” O’Neil)

Katherine Coughlin, 36, was a naturalized American citizen traveling aboard Lusitania with her husband, John (39), daughter Margaret (2 1/2), sons John, Jr. (3) and Jeremiah Bernard (11 months). The senior Coughlin and his daughter, Margaret, were lost. Katherine and the sons survived. Katherine Coughlin was born Katherine O'Neil, a native of Ireland from Castletownbere, County Cork. She had a brother, Cornelius, who was a naturalized American citizen who lived in Massachussetts. Katherine married John J. Coughlin, a naturalized American citizen from Ireland, on 20 July 1905 in Butte, Montana. He was employed as a miner. Katherine and John's three children were subsequently born in Butte. The Coughlins continued to live in Butte until the entire family left for Ireland on the Lusitania to return to their family farm and ancestral home. On the day of the disaster, 7 May, Katherine went to the lavatory to wash some little things for the children about a half hour after lunch. She had left Jack and the boys upstairs while she took little Margaret with her. She was there no more than ten minutes when she heard the torpedo impact. She picked up Margaret in her arms and ran out to the deck to where she had left Jack and the children just a few moments earlier. Katherine called for her husband but could find no trace of him. Jack had left the older of the two boys on deck so that Katherine mother would see him. Jack must have been searching for life preservers, but had been unable to make his way back. No trace of Jeremiah Bernard was found at the time. Katherine clung to Margaret and waited for the end, whatever it might be. A wave came and washed them overboard just before the Lusitania sank, and she and the child were separated. Katherine went under, and when she came to the surface her face was covered in rubbish that felt like cloth. Clearing it away, she swam around trying to locate Margaret but did not see her again. She was three hours in the water before being picked up. Then Katherine was taken to a hotel in Queenstown, crying for her husband and children. When she heard that a little boy had been safely brought to land, she asked to see him and was almost overcome with joy to find that the boy was her own, whom she mourned as having met the same fate as her little girl. There is no description of how Jeremiah Bernard was saved, but he was. It is likely that his father placed him into a lifeboat and did not get in himself. Following the Lusitania sinking, Katherine went to the railway station in Skibbereen to see her daughter's recovered body. Katherine and her two sons lived temporarily with one of her brothers in County Cork, Ireland. Afterwards, and they continued to live in Ireland. They were not living with her relatives, but her brother contributed to her support and that of her children. On 20 December 1915, the British Government awarded Katherine 89 pounds and 9 shillings for the loss of her husband. She also attempted to sue the Cunard Company for negligence leading to the ship's torpedoing, but the judgment delivered in February 1920 was in favor of Cunard. Katherine applied through the American consul at Cork for the damages resulting from the lost of her husband and daughter. However, this claim was dismissed because the Coughlins had sold their house and belongings in the United States and did not intend to return. Thus, the United States Department of State declined to approve her application to register as an American citizen in Cork. As her sons were born in the United States, they were entitled to claim damages from Germany as American citizens. The Mixed Claims Commission awarded John Coughlin, Jr. $2,500.00 and Jeremiah Bernard Coughlin $2,500.00 in January 1925.

Related pages

The Coughlin Family at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of interest

Lest We Forget: The Coughlin Family
Contributors Mr. and Mrs. John Sullivan (relatives of the Coughlins) Shelley Dziedzic, USA Jim Kalafus, USA Senan Molony, Ireland Michael Poirier, USA Jean Richards Timmermeister, USA References Mixed Claims Commission. Docket 2489, pg. 513. Molony, Senan. Lusitania: An Irish Tragedy, pg. 26 - 27. Mercier Press, 2004. Poirier, Michael and Jim Kalafus ( 2010 ) Lest We Forget : The Coughlin Family Titanic Research (ref: #11647, accessed 26th October 2011 07:02:45 AM) <>

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