A Blast From The Past: Palmyra’s Titanic barber

Palmyra resident August Weikman was a survivor of the Titanic, returning to his hometown in April 1912 after the shipwreck. (Special to The Sun)

Editor’s note: This is a new column about Palmyra nostalgia by local Will Valentino.

By WILL VALENTINO
Special to The Sun

Did you know that Palmyra was home to a dapper gentleman by the name of August Weikman? Weikman wore many hats as a Palmyra resident including farmer, inventor and breeder, but as Commodore Barber on a famous little ship called the Titanic, he returned to Palmyra in April of 1912, a folk hero and famous survivor of the most talked about shipwreck in history.

Weikman had been the only American crew member to serve aboard the ship. As a survivor, he returned on the train and was given a hero’s welcome and wheeled across Broad Street to his home on Leconey Avenue.

Not surprisingly, you can still get your hair cut in the town that was home to the most famous barber who ever sailed the seven seas; in fact, there are a lot of barbershops and hair salons in Palmyra. You count ‘em!

Old “Salty Aughie” Weikman continued to work in the town as a merchant and sign painter after he recovered from the near paralyzing frostbite he endured when he was pulled into a lifeboat from the icy Atlantic on the morning of April 15,1912.

When I spoke to his great grandson a few years ago, he told me it was a poultice made from chicken manure that brought the circulation back to his legs. The barber who once walked the decks of the Titanic died in 1924 after returning to the sea and serving time on another ill-fated steamship, The Lusitania!

You can find Weikman’s grave in Morgan Cemetery on Cinnaminson Avenue just outside Palmyra.

MORE TO EXPLORE: More details about Weikman’s Titanic journey can be found online, including my own account in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.