As I walked through the Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington, Indiana, I was surprised to see “LOST ON THE TITANIC” carved into a large granite monument. There in front of me was a part of one of the most dramatic stories of the early part of the twentieth century.
On April 14, 1912, the White Star Line ship named, Titanic, for it’s enormous girth of 46,328 tons of steel, lurched forward on that fateful and foggy night, hit an iceberg in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. At 11:30 p.m. the massive luxury liner began to take on water.
The story of that night is legendary. The individual stories, though, are often lost in the telling of the BIG STORY about the notable ocean liner that was reported to be unsinkable. Because of a shortage of lifeboats, 1,513 of the 2,244 people on the ship were lost. In this case, John Bertram Crafton of Indiana, affectionately dubbed the “stone king” because of his success in the Indiana limestone business, had gone to bathe in the healing spa waters of Europe to cure his rheumatism.
As it turned out, a case of homesickness caused Crafton to change his plans from sailing back on the German ocean liner Kaiserin Auguste Victoria to book a week earlier on the Titantic. That decision sealed his fate. J. B. Crafton was lost on the Titanic and his body was never recovered.
The monument in the Rose Hill Cemetery is a cenotaph. It was erected to commemorate the life and death of a person who is not buried under the tomb. The word cenotaph originates from the Greek word kenotaphion. Kenos means empty and taphos tranlsates to tomb–together they form “empty tomb.”