Mourning Card, Samuel Strutt; 1904; 2014.01
Mourning Card, Samuel StruttAbout this object
This slightly faded card mourns the death of Samuel Strutt aged 40 years. Strutt drowned in the Hastings River near Port Macquarie in April 1904 whilst trying to save the life of a young girl, Jacqueline Stewart. A trip on a log punt intended as an outing during the school holidays for Strutt’s wife, her friend Mrs Stewart and the Stewart children became a great community and personal tragedy. The card is printed and etched on black card in gold lettering.
Samuel Strutt was firing the furnace on a log punt when the child fell overboard and he immediately dived into the river to save her. Initially it appeared he had done so, but for some reason he began to flounder with the girl in his arms and both sunk below the surface and did not reappear. Their bodies were retrieved and it is believed that Strutt drowned while still holding the girl.
Samuel’s wife and the mother of the girl witnessed their drowning. Samuel Strutt and Jacqueline Stewart were buried together. The Coroner found that Strutt was accidentally drowned whilst endeavouring to save the life of Jacqueline Stewart.
This mourning card is an enduring reminder of Samuel Strutt’s heroic efforts in trying the save the life of a young girl. It is also an enduring reminder of the tragic accident that took Samuel Strutt’s life and the impact of that loss on his wife Louisa. The poem on the card is an expression of her loss.
The mourning card is also a reminder of the dangers of our rivers and river transport. Log punts were made flat with minimal sides to easily load and unload timber, making them particularly dangerous for passengers. By all accounts Samuel Strutt was a strong swimmer but this skill did not save him on that fateful day.
This mourning card is typical of mourning cards of the era. Few such cards appear to be held in public collections probably because they hold special significance to family members. Perhaps because Strutt’s widow Louisa did not remarry there were no close family members to hand the card down to as a family keepsake, its existence marking the finality of Strutt’s drowning.
29 March 2014
1904Medium and Materials
Paper, inkInscription and Marks
The card reads:
My Dear Husband Samuel Strutt
Accidentally drowned, April 5, 1904
Aged 40 Years
A precious one from us is gone,
A voice we loved is stilled,
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled.
God in His wisdom has recalled
The boon His love had given;
And though the body lingers here,
The soul is safe in heaven.
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