10 Last Survivors Of Major Historical Events

by Mohandas Alva2 years ago
Picture 10 Last Survivors Of Major Historical Events

History has always been ridden with events that are sometimes kind to people but oftentimes not. However, some people are either lucky or are possessed with rare gifts to overcome even the worst of perils and eventually survive them. Furthermore, it is quite an achievement to be recognized as one of the last survivors of a historical event that took place long ago yet is still discussed and is subject to speculation by many people. There is no telling as to how someone could easily survive events like natural disasters, but survive they do and live to tell the tale. Here are some people who were the last survivors of major historical events.

1 Mary Allerton

Mary Allerton was the last passenger of the Mayflower, the ship in which the pilgrims from England came to New York. She was a Dutch settler who resided in the Plymouth Colony, which in the present day is Massachusetts, until 1699. 

Mary Allerton
Marry Allerton (Image to the left), Landing of the Pilgrims, by Charles Lucy, Painting. Image Credit: Alchetron.com, Scan by NYPL/ The New York Public Library via Wikimedia.org

Mary Allerton Cushman was born in 1616 in Leiden, Netherlands, and was four years old when she boarded the Mayflower with her parents Isaac Cushman and Marry Norris. Isaac worked as a blacksmith in London but eventually moved to the Netherlands. Onboard the ship, Mary Norris was pregnant but gave birth to a stillborn child.

She too died two months later. Mary Allerton married Thomas Cushman around the year 1636. Her husband, Thomas Cushman, came to America at the age of 13 on the Fortune, the second ship that made it to the Plymouth Colony from England. Mary died on 28 November 1699, aged 83, and was known to be the last survivor who came to America on the Mayflower. (1, 2, 3)


2 Millvina Dean

Eliza Gladys “Millvina” Dean was the last survivor of the ship, the RMS Titanic, which sank on 15 April 1912. She was two months old when the ship sank and was therefore also the youngest person aboard that ship. 

Millvina Dean
Millvina Dean (Image to the left), Titanic launched at Belfast. Image Credit: Stephen Daniels/wikimedia.org, Bain News Service/Library of Congress via Wikimedia.org

Millvina Dean was born on 2 February 1912 in Branscombe, England. Her father died on the Titanic. Her mother and brother both lived to a ripe old age, and Millvina herself died on 31 May 2009, aged 97. She was neither married nor had any children.

The Dean family was planning to settle in Wichita, Kansas where several of their relatives resided and had businesses. Sadly, they were not even supposed to leave on the Titanic, but due to a coal strike, they were given third-class passenger tickets.

As did many other immigrants that were supposed to leave for America on the Titanic, Etta Dean, Millvina’s mother, returned to the United Kingdom after the tragedy. Millvina would go on to become a cartographer and a British civil servant. (1, 2)


3 Donald “Nick” Clifford

Donald “Nick” Clifford was the last surviving member of the crew that sculpted Mount Rushmore, which is a popular monument in the USA with the faces of four of its presidents carved in stone. Nick was also the youngest man to be hired to work on this crew at the age of 17.

Donald "Nick" Clifford
Donald “Nick” Clifford (Image to the left), Mount Rushmore. Image Credit: Edition.cnn.com, Shutterstock.com

Nick died at the age of 98 on 23 November 2019 at Hospice House, Rapid City. In the year 1938, at the age of 17, Nick, who played baseball on the Rushmore Memorial Baseball Team, was hired by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore himself, as a worker on the crew.

He first worked as a laborer and eventually moved to be a winchman and driller. He later served in the Second World War and spent the latter part of his time in service in the European Theatre in the 8th Air Force Signal Corps.

He eventually went on to write a book and was invited by the concessionaire at Mount Rushmore to converse with the tourists and for his book signing. (1, 2)


4 Werner Franz

Werner Franz was the last surviving crew member of the LZ 129 Hindenburg, a German commercial passenger airship that crashed on May 6, 1937. He was 14 years old when this incident occurred, and he lived until the year 2014 when he died at the age of 92. 

Werner Franz
Werner Franz (Boy in the left image), The German passenger airship Hindenburg seconds after catching fire, May 6, 1937. Image Credit: Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmBH Archive/facesofthehindenburg.blogspot.com , Shutterstock.com

Werner Franz was born in Frankfurt-Bonames, Germany on 22 May 1922. Due to monetary problems including his father’s medical condition, which made it difficult for him to work again, Werner was in search of an apprenticeship and aspired to become an engineer.

He eventually became a crew member on the Hindenburg airship where he washed dishes and delivered coffee to the crew. When asked about his time in the airship in an interview, he claimed it to be the “best time of his life.”

He survived the disastrous crash by jumping out from an opening in the bottom of the airship. This disaster cost several lives including 13 passengers and 22 crew members. (1, 2)


5 Mae Keane 

Mae Keane was the last surviving “Radium Girl” who lived until the age of 107 and died on 1 March 2014 in Middlebury, Connecticut. “Radium Girl” was the term given to factory workers who were given the task of painting glow-in-the-dark watch faces with radium-infused paint, and Mae Keane joined this job when she was 18.

Mae Keane
Mae Keane (Image to the left), ‘Radium Girls’ working in the factory. Image Credit: Hartford Courant/nytimes.com, feministezine.com

Keane worked at the Waterbury Clock Co., where she and her co-workers were advised to sharpen the brush bristles with their lips after dipping them in radium-infused paint. Keane later confessed that she couldn’t “lip-point” the brushes as the paint was very bitter.

She worked for about eight to nine weeks and later transferred to another job at the company. Most of her other co-workers who worked there for a long time painting radium onto watches suffered a terrible fate and died of bone cancer and several other ailments.

Keane, however, survived until she was 107 and is believed to be the last surviving member to ever work as a “Radium Girl” in that factory. (1, 2)

Also Read:
10 Historical Events Overshadowed by Other Events

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