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Titanic exhibit: Muskegon ties to the disaster

10:27 PM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - A new exhibit about one of the deadliest disasters in maritime history is opening this weekend in Grand Rapids. More than 1,500 people perished when the Titanic sank over a century ago, and a Muskegon native was among them.

Michigan's lumbering boom offered adventurous soles from around the country endless opportunity. One such person it attracted was Edward Gifford Crosby from New York. After fighting with Michigan's first Calvary in the Civil War, he moved to Muskegon. Crosby eventually rose to the position of Superintendent with the Muskegon Boom Company.

Records show from there he went on to start his own company.

"He purchased a tug, then a small construction company, worked on projects like the Muskegon Harbor. He could take those profits and keep plowing them into business until he owned a fleet of ships that worked Lake Michigan," says John McGarry, Executive Director of the Lakeshore Museum Center.

The Crosby Transportation Company moved freight from Muskegon and Grand Haven to Milwaukee. By the turn of the century, Captain Crosby was wealthy and well known on both sides of the lake.

In 1911 Captain Crosby and his wife Catherine traveled to Europe to visit their daughter Hariette. She had been studying music abroad. In 1912, all three boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers.

"They wanted to come back on the newest and moist luxurious ship and that was the Titanic," says McGarry.

Records show Catherine and Hariette were among those who escaped from the sinking Titanic by getting into a portside lifeboat, but Captain Crosby perished. His body was recovered and delivered to Milwaukee in May 1912. A funeral took place on his Lake Michigan steamers and his remains were placed in a Milwaukee mausoleum.

To learn more about Captain Crosby, visit the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon or the Tri-Cities Museum in Grand Haven.

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