You know Oyster Bay is famous for oysters and Theodore Roosevelt. But do you know that Raynham Hall, the family seat of the Townsends, Oyster Bay’s “first family”, is also the home of the first Valentine?
It seems Sarah “Sally” Townsend, sister of the Revolutionary War spy, Robert Townsend — Culper Jr. of the Culper Spy Ring — was a mighty popular young lady. One officer, who signed himself James McGill, showed his appreciation by etching “The adorable Miss Sally Townsend” into a handy window pane! Another, Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe of the Queens Rangers, while quartered at the Townsend family home, sent Sally the first documented American Valentine on February 14, 1779.
You can read the Valentine and the etched glass tributes for yourself by visiting the Museum in person.