While several characters in the movie were based on real victims of the sinking (like the older couple who died cuddling in bed), almost none of the lead characters were. That includes both Jack and his love interest, Rose DeWitt Bukater.
Despite the fact that James Cameron and the movie’s producers have come out and said that Jack and Rose aren’t real, some fans aren’t convinced — partially thanks to a grave for one “J. Dawson.”
For years, fans of the movie have flocked to the gravesite. Some even leave flowers and love notes, believing the “J. Dawson” grave to be the final resting place of Leo’s handsome, tragic character.
“After the movie, I saw fathers with their daughters standing here crying. For two or three years that lasted. Instead of spring break, fathers would bring their daughters here to see J. Dawson,” cemetery tour guide Blair Beed told CBC News.
Not much is known about the real J. Dawson. Historians are pretty sure that he was named Joseph Dawson and that he shoveled coal in the bowels of the ship as a member of the crew, not as a passenger — third-class or otherwise.
According to Encyclopedia Titanica, Joseph was born in Dublin, Ireland, around September 1888 and joined the British Army at age 19. He met a ship’s fireman, John Priest, when on leave around 1911. It was John who encouraged Joseph (by then dating John’s sister, Nellie) to take a job on a transatlantic sea liner.
John and Joseph were both working aboard the Titanic when it sank, but John survived. Joseph would be the 227th corpse recovered by the Mackay-Bennett, a cable ship used for body recovery in the aftermath of the disaster.