Two oval oil portraits of Sarah Bigelow Sloat and her husband Jacob Sloat;
inventor, manufacturer, builder/designer of Harmony Hall, were long thought
to be lost to history. Circa 1960 press had established that significant items
original to Harmony Hall had ended up in the care of Louise Eastburn whos
last known address was in Nevada over 60 years ago. Louise and her three
sisters were the daughters of Samuel Lloyd Eastburn and Carrie L. Sloat.
Carrie W. Sloat was the second wife of Henry Ransom Sloat and mother of
Carrie L. Sloat. Carrie married Eastburn June 12, 1900. The couple moved to
a home nearby; built by her parents Carrie W. and Henry, as a wedding gift.
They named their home “The Nest”.
After 62 years of remarkable Sloat history at Harmony Hall, personal effects
with provenance to Jacob and Sarah, began their far-flung journey after the
Sloat homestead sold out of the family in 1908.
Recollections by Louise included the double parlor of Harmony Hall during
the late Victorian period, and she makes mention of furniture and " portraits
of Jacob and his wife". Recent discussions with an Eastburn descendant
traced the paintings to Appomattox Virginia.
The portraits of Jacob and Sarah with original frames, likely date to the first
years of Harmony Hall 1846-1850. Numerous itinerant painters on the East
Coast would solicit local patrons in their travels.
Jacob Sloat was a friend of Hudson River School painter Jasper Cropsey;
who documented Harmony Hall in a detailed graphite drawing during this
period, and Jacob was likely an enthusiastic sitter and supporter of other
artists including Jules Arnaut.
Once cleaned, the portraits will be displayed during selected events and
programs at HH. Two other portraits of Jacob Sloat were known of, however
no images of Sarah had been located, making the Sarah Bigelow Sloat
portrait significant both in provenance to Harmony Hall and in capturing the
original matriarch of Harmony Hall. One can surmise that the rather stoic
countenance of Sarah captured in the portrait is attributed to the style of the
time. More likely however is that her pensive gaze in the portrait captures a
mother who had nine children, five of whom died before the age of 4 years,
causing great grief.
Sarah was very close to her daughter Martha E. Sloat who married Newton
Pomeroy Fassett. Sarah spent her later years enjoying travel and a grand
lifestyle with her in-laws.
Sincere thanks to Patricia Boswell and her nephew Andrew Boswell for
entrusting Jacob Sloat descendant Peter Bush with this important piece of
family history made all the more exciting by a trip to historic Richmond
Virginia to receive them!