First American Valentine

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.

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About Louis J. Bruno

I studied English and psychology at Columbia College and stayed at Columbia, doing postgraduate work in psychophysiology, then teaching and doing research for several years. To keep the wolf from the door, I migrated into retail sales and management, at first for Radio Shack, briefly for Savemart, and finally for Newmark & Lewis. When N&L collapsed, I went into business for myself, providing sales, service, and maintenance of computer systems; designing, hosting, and maintaining websites; providing custom software, mailers, and database services to the real estate industry; and serving as a business consultant. My interests include writing, traveling, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, gardening, photography, history, art, jazz, swing, country and classical music, investing, management theory, civic activism, sustainability, particularly energy conservation, good government, the environment, and technology. And more to come, I hope.

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