Fairly took away my breath

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but love goes on forever. A letter recently received with the Keller family archive evokes both the holiday and the lasting power of love.Mary Barbara Monteith Smith, a young Scots woman, had been studying art in Paris when she met an American architect named George Keller. They fell in love and decided to get married. When Mary’s father got the word from his daughter, he wrote in reply:

Your letter last night fairly took away my breath. Now & then, oh precious one, I half wondered at your referring so often to Mr. Keller, but put away the thought as absurd, & therefore I was no where prepared for what you tell me. My dear child, it is very clear that something has entered into your life which will change it all, & I trust that God has guided you in your choice. Of course I am very anxious to know Mr. K, & can not say a word till I am able to judge for myself what kind of man he is.

George Keller, you may know, was the architect of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in Hartford, among other public buildings. Mary Monteith Keller was a watercolor artist, a Red Cross organizer, and chairman of the Hartford Women’s Democratic Town Committee. She obviously new her own mind in 1887 when she decided to marry George Keller and kept that trait throughout her life. She sounds like someone it would have been fun to know.

The Keller Family Archive, which is rich in research potential, particularly about strong, active women, can be accessed through the Waterman Research Center by requesting Ms 101847.

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