Audio – Tracy Oost CFRA Ottawa Radio January 23, 2014 – (17 minutes)
On April 14-15, 1912, as the RMS Titanic sank, one Canadian family tragically missed all opportunities to be saved. Hudson and Bess Allison, along with their almost three year old daughter Loraine, were supposedly last seen huddled together on the boat deck, near the officers quarters, as others were struggling nearby to free the last of the collapsible lifeboats for use. Leading up to this last forlorn vignette, various reports have them searching frantically for their seven month old son, Trevor, not knowing that he had already made it off the ship with his nurse in a lifeboat. Other reports indicate that Bess and Loraine were also placed in a lifeboat, but that they returned to the ship, either because Bess would not leave her husband, or because she was distraught, not knowing that her son was safe. Either way, she apparently would not be separated from her daughter at this point either. One hundred years later no one can actually prove exactly what happened. All we have to go by are the statements made by survivors, any surviving documentary evidence, and the testimony from the U.S. and British inquiries. Hudson’s body was the only one recovered.
Loraine was the only child from first or second class that went down with the ship. Or did she?
In 1940 a woman styling herself Loraine Kramer made a public plea on a show “We the People”, in search of her real family. She claimed to be Loraine Allison, and that she was saved from the Titanic at the last moment when Hudson placed her in a lifeboat with a man that she had always thought was her father. This “Mr. Hyde” had raised her as his own, but now, when she requested her birth certificate from him, he disclosed to her who she really was, and how she had come into his care. Given that he was dying, he also disclosed his real identity: Thomas Andrews, Titanic’s designer/builder!
Mrs. Kramer pursued her claim for many years, and while some, more distant relations believed her, none of Hudson’s immediate family believed her claim. Despite this, they agreed to meet with her, even pay her way to Canada, so that they could investigate her claim. Interestingly, she wrote back to them, refusing. Eventually, she moved to the Western U.S., and was not heard from by the Allison family again.
Fast-forward to 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. A woman going by the name of Debrina Woods starts posting on the various Titanic websites and forums that she is Mrs. Kramer’s granddaughter. She has apparently found a suitcase belonging to her grandmother that is full of documents, mainly letters between Mrs. Kramer and a lawyer from Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada, that she claims proves that her grandmother really was Loraine Allison. She also indicates that she is in touch with Allison family members who are willing to provide DNA, and that she will soon make an announcement that the DNA has proven her claim.
Ms. Woods has been prolific in her attestations that her grandmother was truly Loraine. She has a website, she supposedly has DNA evidence, a museum group that has apparently authenticated her grandmother’s documents, and even book and movie deals. She’s selling trinkets with photos of Hudson and Bess on them. She must be Loraine Allison’s granddaughter, right?
What Ms. Woods doesn’t have yet is forensically certifiable proof of anything. Despite numerous inquiries from Titanic researchers and interested people from all over the world, Ms. Woods has never released her alleged DNA results. In fact, she continues to send letters to the descendants of Hudson Allison’s brothers and sister, requesting that they meet with her and asking for DNA samples. Ms. Woods has also never released the name of the forensically accredited laboratory that has completed her DNA tests, or the name of the museum that has allegedly authenticated the suitcase full of documents.
The Loraine Allison Identification Project has been formed in order to forensically investigate this claim. The project has the support of the immediate Allison descendants, and more than a dozen of them are prepared to provide DNA samples to the project for independent forensic DNA testing, should they be deemed to be a potential match The project is also in contact with other branches of the family to request DNA samples to make sure that every base is covered. All Ms. Woods need do is also agree to provide her certified sample, and the testing will begin.
If the testing conclusively proves that Ms. Woods is an Allison what an amazing upheaval of history it will be! If the testing proves that Ms. Woods is no relation to the Allison family, then the question remains, who exactly was Mrs. Loraine Kramer? This is a question that the Project will also seek to solve, and therefore, we are also making an appeal to other relatives of Mrs. Kramer to come forward and offer to provide their DNA samples.
The Loraine Allison Identification Project is committed to investigating this claim using the highest scientific and forensic standards. The results will be released/published to the families involved, the scientific community, and the public at large, finally solving this 101 year old mystery.