Stephen F. Austin State University

The History of Valentines Day in Panola County (February 2013)

The History of Valentines Day in Panola County (February 2013)
By Vina Lee

Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. Esther Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America in the 1800's and is known as the "Mother of the Valentine". She made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and pictures. Today, I made a Valentine card for my sister who lives in Alaska. Although Valentine's Day is most often thought of as a day for lovers and sweethearts, we also recognize February the fourteenth as a special day for the people in our lives that we love.

In Panola County, the first Valentines might have been given in the late 1700's, made of colored paper and trimmed with cotton scraps, eyelet, ribbon and lace. Some were hand-stitched, embroidered dollies with red and pink hearts. Cotton was the main crop and the fields were full. Carthage was known for its cotton and Panola is the Choctaw word for cotton. Greenville, Texas, the Cotton Capitol of the world meant cotton was available and used for many things that was made.
The history of the Valentine's Day patron saint is somewhat of a mystery though. Valentine's Day, as we know it, contains elements of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with our Valentine's Day?

According to one legend, an imprisoned soldier named Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him in prison. Before his death, he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine". The Valentine legends all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.