Relative of famous Titanic survivor in Toledo - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Relative of famous Titanic survivor in Toledo

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She's best known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." That was just a name for stage and screen versions of her life. Her real name was Margaret Brown. Family members say there was a lot more to her story than surviving the sinking of the Titanic. Her great granddaughter is in Toledo to share the rest of the story and you have a chance to meet her at Imagination Station.

Helen Benziger says the first time she realized she was even related to Margaret Brown was while watching the movie "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." She says her mother leaned over to her and said that's your great grandmother. That began her fascination with her famous relative and the Titanic. More than 80 years after her death, the story of Margaret Brown is very much alive, "I love the fact that by sheer accident of birth I get to have an amazing heritage. I want to continue to tell her story and the stories of others before they are lost."
Margaret was a first class passenger on board the ill fated ship in April 1912. Helen says once everyone realized what was happening to the luxury liner, her great grandmother began helping others, "She was helping women and children get into the life boats and heading to the other side of the ship to do the same thing when two crewmen grabbed her and dropped her into life boat number 6. They said you're going along too. She had no choice, otherwise she would have continued helping get people on to the life boats."

Some of the artifacts from the wreckage of the Titanic are now part of an exhibit here at Imagination Station. Helen has been talking about her great grandmother at exhibits like this for more than a decade, "The stories of the people on board the Titanic are what these exhibits are all about, to pay homage to the people and their stories. That's what we have to do to keep them alive."

While a lot of Brown's fame comes from the Titanic, Helen says it was only a small part of her story. She spoke five languages fluently, she was an accomplished pianist, she was awarded the French Legion of Honor award for her work during World War I and she ran for office before women even had the right to vote but her real passion was helping others, "She thought giving back was what God wanted her to do so that is why she was involved with so many causes and charities."

While most of us don't have relatives who were on board the Titanic, Helen says it is well worth learning about your own family tree, "Everybody has ancestors who will fascinate them. Just go back and look to keep your history alive."Helen says Margaret's favorite charities involved education as well as efforts to help women and children. She died in 1932.

You have a chance to talk with Helen about her famous great grandmother Friday and Saturday at the Imagination Station's Titanic exhibit. She will be there both days from 10am-12:30pm and then again from 1:30-5pm.

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