The Titanic Mystery Files: The Case of Loraine Allison/Helen Loriane Kramer

MysteryLoraine Allison was the only first class child to perish when Titanic sank in 1912. Her parents, Hudson and Bessie, died in the frantic search for baby Trevor. Trevor had been taken by the maid, Alice Cleaver, and both her and the baby survived the sinking. That normally would end the tale except that in 1940 a woman by the name of Mrs. Lawrence Kramer of Berkley, Michigan claimed to be Loraine Allison. Needless to say, this caused a stir in the Allison family who long thought she was dead.

According to the Chicago Tribune (5 Sep 1940), Mrs. Kramer notified the U.S. Department of Justice that she had just learned her real name was Loraine Allison and had been rescued by an Englishman named Hyde. Supposedly this Hyde sent her a letter detailing that he had gotten her from the arms of her father that fateful night. Hyde recounted her father said his wife and baby were on another lifeboat. He then went on to say later he learned neither of her parents survived and so raised as his own daughter in England. Mrs. Kramer would also make the claim that while aboard the rescue ship Carpathia she shared a room with Titanic designer Thomas Andrews.

Kramer hired a lawyer to investigate her claim, obtain her birth certificate, and other needed papers. Members of the Allison family were soon in contact with her. Sadly young Trevor, who had survived Titanic, died in 1929 of ptomaine poisoning. Then her attorney suddenly died and when asked about the papers that proved her claim, Kramer said they had been destroyed in a fire. Her claim ended and Kramer was not heard from again. Then her granddaughter alleged she had found a suitcase full of documents that supported the original claim. This suitcase allegedly contains all the documents her grandmother had amassed thanks to her attorney and others. This is apparently to be revealed in an upcoming book.

Kramer’s claim back in 1940 was sensational. And like an extraordinary claims, you need extraordinary proof. We know that Trevor survived because Alice Cleaver took him and got on a lifeboat. The Allisons would not leave Titanic until they found the baby. Mrs. Allison did get on a lifeboat with Loraine at one point but got off to race to the other side because she was told her husband was seen there. All three perished when Titanic sank. Only the body of the father, Hudson Allison, was found and buried at the family plot in Canada. Even more sensational was the claim Thomas Andrews survived and returned to England managing to avoid detection by anyone, and becoming Loraine’s adopted father of sorts by bringing her back with him.

A description of Loraine Kramer says she was “a 31 year old woman, former registered nurse and married with 5 children, living in a nice suburb of Detroit, Michigan as Evangeline Kramer, who wanted to go across the river to Windsor, Ontario, Canada to shop.” This would imply someone stable and not prone to fantasy. A high school friend said that in their teens they formed a sunshine club. The Milwaukee Journal (6 Sep 1940) had some interesting information about Hyde. Hyde had brought his 3 year old daughter and lost her in the confusion (she perished) and ended up caring for Lorraine in the end never informing proper authorities he had Loraine Allison. The paper also relates that Lorraine would also be in line for a considerable sum of money from the Allison fortune.

That would be a motive for trying to make such a fantastical claim. However those trying to make such claims generally try to keep it simple and with just enough proof to make it plausible. No doubt the Allisons, if they had good sense, hired their own attorneys to verify her claim. Kramer just had to prove she was Bessie and Hudson Allison’s daughter by producing proof from this Mr. Hyde who raised her about the story she related to the justice department and press. I suspect both the Allison’s and energetic journalists on both sides of the pond tried to locate this Mr. Hyde, who apparently was alive in 1940. Of course Britain was at war with Germany at the time making things more difficult due to wartime restrictions. According to a recent news article in the Chesterville Record (2 May 2012), he is identified as James Hyde and a traveling geologist. He put her in British boarding schools and rarely visited the girl.

The other possibility is that Kramer made it all up as part of a fantasy. It would not be the first or last time someone has believed they are someone they are not. Consider the case of Anastasia, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. The Soviets had the family killed in 1918. Stories of her possible survival circulated and several women claimed to be Anastasia, the most famous of which was Anna Anderson. However the remains of the executed royal family was revealed in 1991 which had the remains of the Tsar, wife and three daughters. In 2007 the body of the son and a daughter (either Anastasia or Maria) were found. DNA testing on Anderson’s remaining tissue (she had been cremated) concluded she was not related to Tsar Nicholas or his family.

DNA has now become an important forensic tool to clear up a lot of unsolved crimes and determine paternity in custody suits. And apparently the Allison family decided to do just that using Mitochondrial DNA. Since the main principals are dead, you look for the DNA that is passed down by female line but only the female children pass on this DNA. So one has to look for the proper descendants to test. Once done, you then take a sample of the same DNA passed down through the Kramer line as well. It is somewhat complicated having to determine who is the best candidate but once you have it, you send the DNA samples off to a lab to determine if they are related. And according to the blog Loraine Allison Identification Project the test proved negative. That means Mrs. Lawrence Kramer was not related to the Allisons nor their daughter Loraine.

However this is disputed over at her granddaughters site:
We have also completed our own mtDNA and other separate DNA TESTINGS,
that included much “CLOSER genetic participants” than the
aforementioned opposition complied “TEAM”.

Furthermore, we have always maintained that it is suspiciously, convenient
to many of those on this opposing team’s best interests,TO HAVE
A DETERMINATION of this nature “announced” at this time
in THEIR (so called) FAVOR ….

and we still stand STEADFAST, in our quest and determination to
present the TRUTH to all, disclosed in the volume of documentation
we have so very carefully dedicated ourselves
to compiling, these past two years.

Unfortunately such DNA evidence is very compelling unless you can prove the testing was wrong or the samples used improper. Setting that aside, you have to prove she actually survived the sinking. Checking the list of Titanic survivors is easier these days and can be viewed at places like Encyclopedia Titanica. There is no James Hyde on the list but there is a Leo James Hyland, age 19, who was a steward. Even if James Hyde used an alias and saved Loraine that night, why did he not turn her over to proper authorities? She had family in Canada and a brother (Trevor) who survived. It would have been the right thing to do. Otherwise what he did can be construed as kidnapping since he unlawfully took a child into his custody without any legal right to do so. If the story is true, he dumped her in British boarding schools for most of her young life. Hardly a kind thing to do.

And then there is the Thomas Andrews angle. Kramer claimed he was aboard Carpathia and in her cabin no less. With newspaper reporters swarming the Carpathia in New York, he would be hard to hide. Or did Andrews become James Hyde? Kramer’s fantasy, if that is what it was, was really soaring on this. Again this is just sheer nonsense. No one believes Thomas Andrews survived and became James Hyde. His body was never found and no witnesses in any of the lifeboats state he was there.

What we are left with is this: DNA that says Helen Loriane Kramer was not related to Bessie Allison and thus not her daughter. There is little documentary evidence that has been provided to substantiate Kramer’s claim put in the public record and the DNA results makes the claim unproven.

Hat tip and thanks to Paul Lee.

1. Loraine Allison(Encyclopedia Titanica)
2. The Last Titanic Mystery-The True Story of the Helen Loriane Allison
A website run by Kramer’s granddaughter that supports her grandmother’s claim.
3. thingsthatannoymethescum
A blog that looked into some aspects of Kramer’s claims
4. Loraine Allison Identification Project
A rival site of the granddaughter and disclosed the DNA information that testing was negative.
5. Kramer Claim Discussion on Encyclopedia Titanica
Debrina Woods,the granddaughter of Helen Kramer,started a discussion about her grandmother being Lorraine Allison. Some interesting bits of information that cut Kramer’s story to shreds are to be found there.

8 thoughts on “The Titanic Mystery Files: The Case of Loraine Allison/Helen Loriane Kramer”

  1. Mark, I think you’ve done a fine analysis of the Kramer/Allison controversy. As you’ve said, the DNA evidence pretty much puts an end to this long-standing mystery, since the current Kramer descendant’s claim about having access to “closer genetic participants” is meaningless; mitochondrial DNA is passed down directly through female members of a family and is the same for all members of that family no matter how “close” or “distant” they might be.

    Speaking strictly or myself, I think Mr. Hyde (aka “Thomas Andrews”) made up his wild story about the Titanic in order to conceal some awkward truth about Mrs. Kramer’s true origins. Mrs. Kramer had no reason to disbelieve Hyde’s story, and her current descendants are unable or unwilling to acknowledge the likelihood that their grandmother was the innocent victim of a deception. In any case, the notion that Thomas Andrews survived the Titanic disaster and abandoned his family in Ireland is so ludicrous that it requires no further comment, so I’ll let the matter rest.

  2. It’s a good question whether Mrs. Kramer was innocent or implicit in her activities. For me, I think it is naive to suggest Mrs. Kramer did not realize her true origins. I say this as when she gave birth to her first child, Lester Walsh, July 27, 1922 she gives her maiden name as Irene Evangeline Schultz, born Russia age as 20 years old. She would have been 10 years old when the Titanic sank and easily of an age know her whereabouts at that point in time. The reference to the birth can be found here.

  3. Mark, I agree with George; well done on the analysis. This is just another one of those Titanic myths that unfortunately refuses to die. My opinion is that Loriane Kramer wanted to be related to the Allison family for whatever reason and created this fantasy. However, its so far out in left field that it is not even worth considering for a second – there are far too many holes in this story for it to be fact. There is simply no way that Loriane Allison could have survived. Loriane Kramer’s family namely Debrina Woods, has refused to accept that it was more than likely a mistake and has refused to accept the DNA results, but DNA does not lie – there is no harder evidence.

    I’m not going to comment on the possibility that Thomas Andrews survived the disaster and abandoned his family for Loriane, as it is a waste of time and downright ridiculous.

  4. Thank you for sharing that information with us, Tracy. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their motives, but your documentation showing how Mrs. Kramer’s story differed so starkly from reality is pretty damning and makes it very unlikely she was an innocent victim in this charade.

    Tracy, I hope you’ll keep us posted about where and when your magazine article documenting the Kramer/Allison/Hyde/Titanic hoax will be published.

  5. Interesting documentation. As we learn more about her, we peel back some of the mystery and get more questions as well. As George points out, it makes it hard to believe she was a victim although psychologists might argue fantasy prone people are easily manipulated. We will likely never know the truth on that point.

  6. For the record, I am not Tracy Oost. George, I’m sure she would respond to you on her web site. I did notice your struggle debating with Ms. Woods last spring on the THS blog. You might find this book entitled ‘The Sociopath Next Door” by Harvard psychologist Martha Stout interesting. You might have an ‘ah ha’ moment. The author explains sociopaths are common in our society with 4 percent of ordinary people (one in twenty five) having this undetected mental disorder. The chief symptom is ‘no conscience’ or the ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt or remorse. To quote Ms. Woods from the THS blog on Feb 14, 2013. “So What, if there was bad judgement or behavior on anyones part back in the day….who does it hurt now? NO ONE!!!!” Sociopaths are deceptive, manipulative and display a righteous indignation when challenged. They get angry. They can be charming ‘talk a good story’ and thus convincing. The author recommends anyone targeted by a sociopath not open a direct dialogue.

    In my opinion, the Titanic and the Titanic community seems to attract its’ fair share of fantasy prone people. Those who act on their fantasies to hurt, discredit or make financial gains from the otherwise innocent people, borders on sociopathic behavior. It is particularly disturbing if this person has a higher status or is a trusted person in the community.

    Their was no fantasy going on in the year 1940.

  7. I gave Kramer, and her granddaughter, Ms. Woods, the benefit of doubt. Even if their claims were unlikely to be true, I thought they were sincere in their beliefs. I was rooting for her.

    However, as has been discussed, Mrs. Kramer consciously omitted her first child’s existence, because, his birth would put her age in the preteen category. Subsequently, Debrina Woods, also stated she had five children, and when she was confronted about also omitting his existence, came up with a story about how he died as a child, so, she never really knew him.

    He died in his late 50s, and since he was her uncle, she had to have known he existed.

    Someone pointed out key points about sociopathy. A hallmark of liars is over-explaining. For instance, Debrina Woods said her grandmother died in the early 80s. But, then, someone pointed out she was actually alive until 92…. and her response could have been innocuous, such as, ”duh, that’s what I meant…”

    Instead, she stated, that ”oh yea, but… i was out of the country, but, so and so attended her funeral….” It was similar to how when confronted with how Irene had six children, she came up with the story about how he was killed as a child, so no one noticed him… As incriminating as a lie detector marking signs such as heart pounding, blood pressure rising, temperature increasing, someone who lies, will over-explain, and then deflect. Consciousness of guilt.

    She does this again and again in her posts. Someone will ask a very basic straightforward question, and she’ll ramble on and on, but, not answer the question. THAT is the hallmark of a con artist.

    She didn’t need to state any details about obtaining her own DNA analysis, but, she did so from the first few posts, stating in April of 2012, that it would be done by the summer of 2012. Then, it moved down the line, until finally, by the summer of 2013, people were understandably dubious.

    Instead of being humble, knowing she didn’t have squat, she railed about how people were ”kooks” and ”fanatics”… To fortify her tactic of obfuscation, she incorporated phantom associates who ”warned her” that there were 12 super creepy over-fanaticized members of the Titanic forums, who, were not to be trusted, as if they would undermine any genuine attempt at resolving a century old riddle, as it’s raison d’etre.

    What was distasteful for me, a true outsider, looking in, is I saw, ONLY the nicest people imaginable, excited to make her acquaintance, when she popped in in the Spring of 2012, holding out a friendly hand, and offering to help.

    She was the one who promised them DNA, and spectacular proof, only to give them only a grainy photo of granny and a blown up picture of Hudson Allison, as if this were 1940, and all there was to go with, in familial genetics, were those common features, as a sign.

    She couldn’t even come up with any reason why the DNA test which was always forthcoming, never came, and never will.

    I was particularly incensed, when Mr.Behe, so gentle, gracious, eloquent and kind, was first given this shpeil about how he was her ”inspiration” and then, when he wasn’t entirely onboard with the facts, she threw him under the bus.

    In her indignation, she informed him, haughtily, at first, that her website had 200,000 visitors, and when she was even more defensive, when he confronted her, after she misrepresented what he had told her, in private, she reminded him that she had over 300,000 visitors, not even a week later.

    Even Justin Bieber posting porn wouldn’t get that many new visitors in a week.

    THAT is the classic sign of narcissism, as has been pointed out, to respond and react, with exaggerated indignation, when, a little humility goes a long way, but, it never occurs to some people, because, they are operating under a false agenda, in the first place.
    She makes it up as she goes along. Like my dad always told me, ”when you tell the truth, you don’t have to have a good memory.”

    In a natural yearning to know more about her, I googled her, and learned she was both a world class real estate agent, from the sound of her website on real estate, and a world class master chef, from the sound of her chefy website.

    On one hand, she makes it sound like she’s a jet-setter, living in ”Palm Beach”, and always having been out of the country, or going out of the country… But, intermittently, and when it suits her, she whines about being poor, thereby justifying her need to charge for her revelations about the Titanic magical mystery tour.

    Then, the reddest flag popped up on both her culinary and real estate websites, and that was her Titanic legacy, explaining how she didn’t really have time to really cook your meals, or even find you a castle, because, she’s in the midst of this important historical mission to right a wrong, and would be writing a screenplay, novel,
    lecturing, curing cancer, ….


    I found it EXTRAORDINARY, that a semi-retired chef and real estate entrepreneur would find the need to construct virtually new websites, ostensibly, it seemed, to primarily lend credibility to her personal substance, in regard to anyone googling her in connection with Titanic lore, as I did, and I am certain y’all did, too. There’s Debrina…oh wow, she’s a master chef. OMG, she’s a world class real estate maven. AND she is stunning.

    She got increasingly hostile to one and all, except, a few pet lackeys who posted five minutes before, or five minutes after she posted, with their ”oh wows”….
    When she caught wind of the Lorraine Project team, she began besmirching them preemptively.

    Now, why would she harbor such antipathy to reputable people, who had university and academic standing, unless, she knew that they were going to cook her proverbial goose…?

    When the results were in, from entirely reputable sources, whose chain of command was impeccable, and procedure was established as reliable, she acted like it was just another attack from the enemy, or even worse, as if it meant nothing…ho-hum, well, that’s their opinion.

    With the cooperation of her own sister, and nephew, enraged, she found it expedient to imply her sister was a creep who always had it in for her, her granny, her mom, and made it sound like she’s been waiting all her life just to have a chance to get even with them all for some lifelong grudge.

    She also shrugged off the entire team assembled to set things straight, all independent researchers, with no dog in the race.

    She nonchalantly explained how it was to be expected that it was to be expected from, ”the enemy camp,” like one existed, other than people who love the truth, and who honor the memory of a dead 3 year old who died in her mama’s arms 102 years ago.

    But, Debrina’s spin is that these people are all confederates, and were in league with the seminal villains, who murdered her granny’s 18 year old brother, her 1940’s lawyer, and burned down granny’s home in 1940, and who would cheat and lie about a DNA test, too.

    She tethered herself to one of the Allison’s poor cousins, and using her own words, and unique syntax, histrionic style, spelling, and hyperbolic punctuation, to put words into this poor cousin’s virtual online mouth, made it sound like this one good Allison cousin wasn’t surprised either, because, she had inside knowledge of the treachery and deceit of her own family. As she stated, ”Is there anything good in the Allison family..”


    What anyone else would have done, in her shoes, unless they had no conscience, would be to acknowledge her disappointment in the results, and humbly suggest that she would like to have the details, chain of command, and would prefer if the same people, or anyone of her choice, who qualified, could resubmit their DNA, for another comparison, at her expense.

    That’s what I would have done, in my dismay, but, she already knew the results were honest and true. She found it necessary to besmirch the people involved in this effort, including her own mother’s other daughter, and the people who volunteered their time and efforts, and at their own expense undertook this project, out of respect for the Allisons, who, were being hounded and misrepresented, in the way she chose to portray them, both the modern family, and their ancestors.

    I have to also say, that not knowing these people, personally, it’s a testament to how many admire and love these Allisons, for them to empathize with their plight, and to assist them in this endeavor. It sounds like they are very good people, and the best of Canada. Hardly the cloak and dagger assassins and liars that this world class con-artist painted them to be.

    What would make a good story, however, is the fact that there is a generational fraud being perpetrated across a century between these two families. The first Allisons were taken by surprise with these claims, and when things got too hot for her, Lorraine Kramer, aka Evangeline Irene Schulz Kramer, claimed all her proof burned up, and she slinked away…

    80 years later, Debrina claims that nothing burned, but, was in suitcases ready for her to take up the mantle, 100 years after the Titanic went down.

    I wouldn’t doubt she has the original 1940 files, and decided to spin the wheel, with the same fraud, this time, literally persecuting the poor latter generational Allisons, accusing them of blasphemous things, even murder and collusion. She stated on public forums, and on her website, that there’s nothing good about their family, a family that suffered greatly, and have lived quietly for 100 years, without profiting from their misfortune, until she burst in, planning to profit and burn them, in the process, even knowing that her claims were not substantiated.

    I wanted to believe her, though, as did many people did. I was caught up.

    Poor Mr. Percival Allison, who lost his brother and his neice, only to lose his beloved little nephew at 18, accused of murder, sabotage, and treachery.

    People are naive, but, she picked on the wrong group. Scientists and the scholars involved with Titanic history are very special with the academic credentials to super-sleuth this mystery to it’s ultimate conclusion.

    In the end, this is where the greatest storyline rested, with a would-be con, over a century, and the ability of this modern age to solve it within a few weeks with the magic of the Internet, and DNA.

    Not to mention, a dozen of the smartest, kindest, and most savvy Titanic ”kooks” on the planet. My hat’s off to you all for all you’ve done to help the Allisons, and honor the memory of a little girl lost, who died in her young mother’s arms 102 years ago, may they finally RIP.

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