Titanic - The Edgewater Connection

Vol. XXIII No. 3 - Fall 2012

By: LeRoy Blommaert

There were 1,324 passengers that sailed on the Titanic’s maiden – and final – voyage; of those, only 492 survived. One of those survivors, a 23 year old second class passenger by the name of Charles Eugene Williams, later became an Edgewater resident. Charles Williams was an English champion indoor (squash) racquets player and was on his way to New York for a world champion match when that aggressive iceberg forced a postponement. His legs were damaged by being in the frigid waters for over eight hours, but he was young and determined, and he made such a recovery that he was able to participate in that planned match. He returned to England after the match, but later came again to the United States. In 1913 he lost the championship to Jack “Jock” Soutar of Philadelphia, but in 1929 he won it back. He never lost it again.

Offered a job as professional at the newly formed Chicago Racquets Club, he moved to Chicago in 1924, and bought the house at 5524 N. Lakewood in April 1925, becoming its fourth owner. It is the south half of the double house designed in 1898 by Church & Jobson for J.L. Cochran. (The northern half at 5526 was on EHS’s 2011 home tour.) Mr. Williams remained there until his death on October 29, 1935, at the age of 47. His death was unexpected, having taken ill with bronchial pneumonia only a week before. He was survived by his wife, Lois, and six children. Services were held at the house, and he was buried in Rosehill Cemetery. His widow retained ownership of the house until August 1945.

A descendant recently stopped by the house, now owned by the Norcik family; otherwise we would not have known of Edgewater’s connection with this famous, but ill-fated, ship and one of its survivors, a world champion racquets player.

Interestingly, Rosehill Cemetery is the burial place of two other Titanic survivors.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Library of Congress, conversation with Xan Norcik