Handwritten Valentine Addressed to Harriet Bartow (1808–1904)
Author unknown, c. 1835/36
Ink on paper, 10 × 8 in.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site Archives, Box 1, Folder 76

This unsigned Valentine is addressed to Harriet Bartow, who lived at Cedar Grove from the 1820s until her death in 1904, and who was the sister to Maria, Thomas Cole’s wife. Though she never married, Harriet led a socially active life that was evidently not devoid of romance. The author, whose name or signature is not visible or evident, writes of Harriet’s “beaming eyes,” “gentle voice,” and “demeanor kind.” On this letter are amusing vignettes of rural daily life and scenes from Cedar Grove and the orchards that are arranged over the period of four seasons. Whoever the admirer may have been, something kept the two apart, as the letter ends: “… though our sympathies may mingle / We may love much […] wish well, / And yet live single.”

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Brooke KrancerHandwritten Valentine Addressed to Harriet Bartow