Handwritten Valentine sent to Harriet Bartow (1808–1904)
Maker: Once known
c. 1835/36


Ink on paper, 10 × 8 in.
Thomas Cole National Historic Site Archives, Box 1, Folder 76.
Items in the TCNHS archive come from the Greene County Historical Society, The Vedder Research Library, Raymond Beecher, the artist’s family, private donors, and other sources.

This anonymously penned Valentine was sent 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 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 author 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 sent to Harriet Bartow