Bloomington memorial marks Hoosier "lost on the Titanic"

John Bertram Crafton of Bloomington was aboard the TItanic in 1912.
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A Bloomington man was one of the thousands of people who died aboard the Titanic 100 years ago.

In Bloomington's Rose Hill Cemetery, rush and miss a brush with history.

"It intrigues me," said Debra Frazier of the cemetery's mystery.

A hundred years ago, John Bertram Crafton was homesick for Indiana. He'd been visiting European health spas for weeks.

"He had developed arthritis," says Hillary Detty with Monroe County History Center. "At that point, he was willing to do anything to get some relief from the pain."

In 1912, they called Crafton "The Stone King" and "Mr. Stone Man."

He made a fortune on Indiana limestone, a self-made man.

"He was know as 'The Hoosier Millionaire'," said Detty. "He was worth $50,000."

But on April 10, 1912 Crafton just wanted to get home. The traded in his ticket on another boat for one on a faster ship. He paid 26 pounds - $2,300.00 in today's dollars - for a first-class stateroom aboard Titanic.

"His family was uncertain he was even on the Titanic," said Detty.

At Bloomington's Monroe County History Center, records show for days after learning of the sinking, The Stone King's wife clung to hope like a rock.

"A couple of weeks, that he was still alive and possibly another ship had picked him up and made his way into a lifeboat, but she finally embraced that he was not coming home," Detty said.

Like hundreds of others, Crafton's body was never found. But he is memorialized in the cemetery by stone he had cut a decade before his death. Others later added the line, "Lost on the Titanic."

New Hoosier generations now explore the Titanic era at the History Center.

"The name will hold so much power because of what happened and how tragic it was," Detty said.

"The more we learn, the more we are connected and that's what it's all about," Frazier said.

A history in stone, in steel, and in the sea.