Chhatishgarh town's 'Titanic' connection
Janjgir-Champa indeed sent a passenger, a missionary Annie Clemmer Funk, who had made this town her home. She was among the 1500 souls who perished onboard Titanic on April 15, 1912.
Annie was on her way to visit her ailing mother in America. Annie arrived in India as a Mennonite missionary in 1906 from America and served in Janjgir-Champa on her mission. In 1908, she opened a one-room school and hostel for poor girls and taught 17 students initially. She also learnt Hindi during her India stay. The school was later renamed as Annie C Funk Memorial School. Not much is left of Annie's school with only outer walls surviving the wreckage of time but her story is a legend in Janjgir-Champa. All that is left of Annie's time here is a small plaque which describes her brief but extraordinary life and her tragic death onboard the liner. According to Sarojini Singh, the principal of Saint Thomas school here, the memorial school was running till 1960 but was closed soon after.
The story of Annie is equally heartbreaking as that of the liner. From Janjgir-Champa, Annie reached Mumbai via rail and boarded a ship for England. She was to take 'SS Haverford' from Southampton for America but the ship was laid off because of a strike by coal labourers. She was offered to change her ticket for Titanic for 13 pounds. Annie bought a second class ticket, whose number was 237671. She also celebrated her 38th birthday on the ship with her co-passengers, according to Gameo.org, an online encyclopedia on Global Anabaptist Mennonite.