Horse-drawn hearse a museum piece

Looking back at long history

An old horse-drawn hearse which served right at the beginning of what would be the Russell and Son funeral business for decades to come, has survived for 100 years and is now a valuable asset to the Queenstown and Frontier Museum.

It is a fitting piece contributing to the rich legacy of Russell and Son as one of the oldest companies in Komani, which this month has reached a century milestone.

The old artefact, has a story of existence of generations before car engines ruled the road.

It was used as a means of transport to take those who had departed this world to their final resting place.

Queenstown and Frontier Museum curator Thobile Mdlela said when there were no cars people used stage carts.

Mdlela said the item was donated by the late well-known Edric Russell in 2016, just a year before he died.

The late Russell was the chairman of the Queenstown Historic Association at the time  came with two other members of the association with the horse-drawn hearse and two boxes of books containing the history of Komani dating back from 1824 to 1994 to be archived at the museum.

Russell said I should continue adding more aspects of the legacy of black people in the museum because [the association] knew more about western cultural history.

He said I should do so for the sake of the heritage of young African generations and also prioritise the township history of places like Mlungisi. His vision was for the history of black culture to be merged with western culture’s in the museum.”

Part of his conversation with Russell had been about the development of his hearse, which was one of the oldest in the company, he said.

Mdlela added: ”I have requested the company to arrange a red carpet for the hearse drawer so it has a more visible role in the museum. It would make a more attractive display for visitors to view.”

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