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Sloat Matriarch Returns…

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

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!

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