The city of Youngstown has had a strong connection with the sinking of the Titanic. The maritime disaster, which occurred 100 years ago this weekend, claimed the life of one of the city’s most prominent citizens.
George Dennick Wick was one of the founders of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and served as its president. The company went on to become the largest locally-owned steel company in America. Wick, along with his wife and daughter and some cousins, were touring Europe in 1912, and were returning home on the Titanic.
When the ship, called in press coverage “the acme of luxury and bigness,” struck an iceberg, Wick assured his family that it was nothing more than a glancing blow. He was last seen waving to them from the deck as they got into a lifeboat. His body was never recovered, but a memorial stone was placed in Youngstown's Oak Hill Cemetery.
I first heard the story of Wick’s death on the Titanic during a tour of the Arms Museum while growing up in Youngstown. He was not the only passenger on the ship headed to Youngstown, but the most prominent. Titanic aficionados and local history buffs can learn more about the sinking of the Titanic and local coverage and effects at “Titanic: Tragedy in the Headlines,” an exhibit at the Arms Museum through June.
The exhibit includes news coverage from Youngstown’s two daily newspapers at the time, the Vindicator and the Telegram. Many of the headlines focused on the Wicks and their traveling party, but there was also mention of the immigrants in third class who were bound for Youngstown, many to find work in the mills and factories in the area. Some of the immigrants were from Eastern Europe. There were a sizeable number of Lebanese people on board, estimated around 165, including several headed to Youngstown. They had their own dining room.
Jessica Trickett, Ann Kilcawley Christman Memorial Collections manager, assembled the exhibit and was amazed at the early accounts, which claimed not only that George Wick survived the crash, but that the ship itself was safe.
“It’s kind of amazing how fast and furious the information was published without fact checking,” she said.
The Arms Museum, open from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, is operated by the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, whose offices and archives are on the grounds as well. It's dedicated to exhibits on local history and people.
The museum is at 648 Wick Avenue near the campus of Youngstown State University. It's not far from the Butler Institute of American Art, and a short walk from the MVR, a local restaurant started by Italian immigrants on Walnut Street in the neighborhood called Smoky Hollow. The MVR, which stands for Mahoning Valley Restaurant, boasts one of the oldest liquor licenses in Mahoning County.