Happy Valentine’s Day!

But when thou art near me

Sorrow seems to fly

And then I feel as well I may

That on this earth there dwells not one

So blest as I.

You’d think this was some sort of Victorian or Edwardian Valentine’s card with a verse like that.

It’s postmarked Dover 1909 and was sent to my great aunt Edith Smith.

There is no signature but the message on the reverse of the postcard reads:

Dear E.

In answer to your card I received a few years ago sorry to hear you have been poorly, sick and sad, dear heart. I hope you have bucked up a bit by now. We expect arriving home Thursday worse luck, another festival sending love to all good and bad. Yours respectfully

How intriguing is that?

Searching through all the family history records I can find, I’ve never managed to work out the meaning of that cryptic message.

Edith Smith was born on March 2nd 1878. She was the first child of Joseph and Eliza Smith who lived at 51, Old Mill Wharf, Barnsley, Yorkshire where Joseph was employed as a canal labourer on the Barnsley Canal. From 1871, the Barnsley Canal was subsumed into the much larger Aire and Calder Navigation.

In my family archives I have Edith’s original birth certificate. Not a copy purchased from the Government Records Office but the actual, handwritten copy of the register that was given to Joseph and Eliza in 1878. It has a one penny stamp stuck onto the paper underneath the Deputy Registrar’s beautiful copperplate handwriting.

Aged thirty seven years, Edith was married in 1915. Whether this card from 1909 has any romantic connotations relating to her future husband, I don’t know.

Unfortunately, Edith was a victim of the so called “Spanish Flu” pandemic that occurred at the end of World War One. She died in 1919. On her special funerary bookmark was printed:

Gentle in manner, patient in pain

One dear one left us, Heaven to gain

With a nature so gentle and actions so kind

Hard in this world is her equal to find.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, hope you have a lovely time.

By Catherine Murray

For over thirty years I worked in British primary education as a class teacher and then as head teacher of four different schools. I retired early about ten years ago and have developed an interest in e-publishing as well as writing. In addition to my own books, I've published several novels written by my husband, Michael Murray. These include the best selling detective novel "A Single To Filey: a DCI Tony Forward novel". When not writing and e-publishing I enjoy family history, reading, gardening, country walks, music, films etc. A diagnosis of advanced colorectal cancer in mid-2017 was followed by 30 months of chemotherapy and two major operations in 2020. Our wonderful NHS has put me well on the road to recovery and I'm hoping to be cancer free for many years to come. I'm everlastingly grateful to my family and friends, especially my husband Michael, for their love and support.