Encyclopedia Titanica

Albina Bassani

Lady's maid to Mrs Bucknell.

Albina Bassani
Albina Bassani

Mrs Albina Bassani 1 was born in Italy2 on 24 May 1880.

She was the daughter of piano maker Antonio Bassani (1851-1920) and Pierina Fusianto (1852-1916) and had several known siblings: Pietro (1874-c.1930s), Enrica (1877-1964, later Mrs Chiabrandi), Angela (b.1882?), Battista (1882-1973), Effra (1889-1973), Bianca (1891-1975, Blanche, later Mrs Luigi Gragnani) and Erminegildo (1894-1978, later Ermen G. Bass).

Albina married Gaspar (most likely: Gaspare) Bertoccini (or Berticanno) in Rome. The couple had two children; the first was born around 1902.  Gaspare died around 1906 and Albina, now a widow reverted to her maiden name.  

Albina's mother and several siblings emigrated to America in 1901 and her father and some other siblings arrived in 1909. The family was listed on the 1910 census as living at 241 London Street in Fall River, Massachusetts.  

Probably at the beginning of 1911 Albina met Mrs Emma Ward Bucknell, while the latter was visiting her daughter Countess Pecorini in Rome, and was engaged as her lady’s maid. Ms Bassani and Mrs Bucknell returned to USA and arrived in New York on 28 June 1911 aboard the Kronprinz Wilhelm. In a 1912 newspaper article, Albina was described as a young woman with black hair and bright brown eyes.

In late 1911 Ms Bassani travelled again with Mrs Bucknell to Rome to visit her employer's daughter, Countess Pecorini. Their return to the USA was board Titanic which they boarded at Cherbourg on 10 April 1912 as first-class passengers (ticket number 11813 which cost £76, 5s, 10d). Whilst aboard she occupied cabin D16, adjacent to Mrs Bucknell's cabin.

On the night of the sinking Ms Bassani and Bucknell were rescued in lifeboat 8.

Following the disaster, Ms Bassani filed a sizeable claim for loss of property ($2,890, approximately $89,000 today) and also claimed that the Oceanic Steamship Navigation Company owed her compensation. The property claim consisted of:

Dresses and other wearing materials and apparels for which primarily consists of stylish, tailor-made gowns for which your deponent paid a sum equal to currency in the United States of and that the same is reasonable value thereof. ($400)

Bedding and linen and other apparatus for bedding purposes, and that the same is the reasonable value thereof. ($300)

Hats, bonnets and head gear, and that the same is the reasonable value thereof. ($100)

Shoes, slippers and other foot gear, and that the same is the reasonable value thereof. ($50)

Tools and implements which your claimant uses in her daily vocation of a lady in waiting for ladies by whom she is employed at divers times, and that the same is the reasonable value thereof. ($250)

Jewels for personal adornment, and that the same is the reasonable value thereof ($1500)

Toilet articles, and that the same is the reasonable value thereof. ($40)

Money. ($250)

Albina Bassani Signature
Albina Bassani's signature from her compensation claim form
(National Archives)

Shortly after the sinking Albina resigned her position with Mrs Bucknell and joined her parents in Fall River. At the beginning of the summer 1912 Ms Bassani was employed in the family of Maj Harris of Fort Greble.

In June 1912 Ms Bassani received a cheque from the Red Cross emergency relief of New York City and hoped to send the money to Italy for her children. At the time it was reported that the eldest was in a hospital in Rome convalescing from a recent operation.

GETS 100 FROM RED CROSS. 
Titanic Survivor Will Spend Money to Bring Children Here. 
Miss Albina Bassani, one of the survivors of the Titanic disaster, has received a substantial check from the Red Cross emergency relief of New York city, which will partly compensate for apparel, money and other personal effects which were lost during her efforts to assist Mrs. Bucknell, a wealthy Philadelphia woman, to whom she was maid. Miss Bassani is now employed in the family of Maj. Harris of Fort Greble. She was married When a young girl to Gaspar Berticanno in Rome. About six years ago the husband died, leaving his widow with two small children. The oldest who is now 10 years of age, is in a hospital in Rome convalescing from a recent operation. After her husband's death, Mrs. Berticanno retained her maiden name. She does not wish to cross the ocean again, but hopes to send to Italy for her two children with the money which was paid to her through the kind assistance of the Associated Charities. — The Evening Herald, Fall River (Massachusetts), 25 June 1912

Albina married for a second time in Fall River, Massachusetts on 9 October 1915 to Augusto Papetti (b. 27 December 1877), a widowed shoemaker, and the couple had one daughter, Bruna Isabell  (b. 28 February 1920). They made their home in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, living at School Street for a number of years, and Augusto worked for the Gold Seal Shoe Company in Boston.

As far as can be ascertained her two children from her first marriage never followed her to America but she perhaps visited them; on 6 September 1929, she is listed, under her maiden name, on a voyage on the SS Augusta from Genoa to New York. In the passenger manifest, she gave her contact in Italy as her sister Angela Mandelli (wife of Giovanni Focarazzo), and her contact in the United States as her elder sister Enrica, living in Leyman [sic], Massachusetts.  

It is believed that in later years Albina moved with her husband and daughter to California; Augusto died in Los Angeles on 8 February 1954 and was buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park. Mother and daughter seemingly became estranged and Albina returned to Massachusetts where she spent the rest of her life.

It is believed Albina's two older children remained in Europe for the rest of their lives.  Her younger daughter Bruna later worked as a secretary and was married twice. Her first marriage to Frank Lanni ended in divorce and her second union was in 1948 to John Marshall Machin (1923-2003). She made her home in California and raised a family before her death in Ventura in 2011.

Albina herself died in Nahant, Massachusetts on 23 July 1960 and was buried in Melrose Cemetery, Brockton.

Notes

  1. Surname sometimes listed as Bazzani.  Most records give her first name as Albina, but a 1926 City Directory gives Alphina and her grave gives her first name as Alvina. An electoral register from 1946 gives her name as Albina A. indicating a possible middle name.  Her mother's 1916 will (in which she left her daughter $1), gives the name as Albena. 
  2. Some records and articles give her birthplace as Rome, but all her family came from Arsiè in the Province of Belluno north of Venice.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Albina Bassani
Age: 31 years 10 months and 22 days (Female)
Nationality: Italian
Marital Status: Widowed
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 11813, £76 5s 10d
Cabin No. D15
Rescued (boat 8)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Saturday 23rd July 1960 aged 80 years

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References and Sources

US Census
Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915
New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957
New York, Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924
California Marriages, 1850-1952
California Birth Index, 1905-1995
The Evening Herald, Fall River (Massachusetts), 17 May 1912, 25 June 1912

Newspaper Articles

Philiadelphia Inquirer (20 April 1912) Mrs E. W. Bucknell says carelessness cost many lives
Survivor of the titanic condemns lack of boats and failure to have drills
The Evening Herald (Fall River) (17 May 1912) Titanic Survivor is in Fall River

Documents and Certificates

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912, National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
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Comment and discuss

  1. Titanicusmordicus2

    Titanicusmordicus2 said:

    In Emma Eliza Bucknell's biography, her maid's name is "Berzani" not Bazzini... check it out, it would be nice to correct her name. Apart from the biography, no I don't have proof.

  2. silva

    silva said:

    Historia incrivel,alias quando assisto o filme sinto grande emocao indescritivel,e como se estivesse no navio

  3. Melissa Mandel

    Melissa Mandel said:

    As Mrs Bassani's granddaughter I can say that her name is spelled correctly - Albina Bassani - as I learned from my mother, Bruna Papetti. In fact, it was misspelled in the original Titanic exhibit that toured some years ago and we, my family, had her name spelling corrected.

  4. arnatese

    arnatese said:

    Att. Mrs Melissa Mandel: Albina Bassani is undoubtedly spelled correctly. However, we don't have a document that confirms her birth in Rome. Also we have no documented information about her family. Have you any connection with Antonio Bassani's family i.e. his wife Pierina Fusinato or their children Enrica, Battista, Effra, Pietro, Bianca, Ermenegildo that supposedly were her siblings?

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Acknowledgements

Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Matteo Marcato
Hermann Söldner, Germany