January 4, 1851

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1851 Saturday Jan 4th

Mr Ames went to Boston this morning and I had to 

get breakfast pretty early.  My housework kept me busy

most all day  Francis came & brought a barrel of apples

Mr Foster came in the evening to get his watch that Mr

Ames brought from Boston.  After doing my tea dishes

read the papers  Mr A bought Ladys Book & Grahams,

of Jan 1st & a number of Harpers  I do not like this

doing my housework it makes my hands chap

Evelina may not have enjoyed housework, but she dearly loved to read.  The magazines that her husband, Oakes, brought home to North Easton that wintry Saturday probably more than made up for her chapped hands. She sat that very evening by her oil lamp, leafing through Graham’s American Monthly Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Magazine and Book, both of which were marketed to readers just like her.  Both periodicals were published in Philadelphia, yet Godey’s was always more popular and successful and had a longer run, from 1830 to 1878.

Godey’s was edited by Sarah Josepha Hale, an accomplished writer whose legacy includes – but is not limited to – authorship of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” as well as credit for convincing Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  Her counterpart at Graham’s included, at one time, a man of antithetical sensibility.  Edgar Allan Poe,  author of “Murder in the Rue Morgue,” The Telltale Heart,”  and other gothic classics was the short-lived editor at Graham’s in the early 1840s.

Harper’s is the only periodical in the stack in the Ames’s sitting room that’s still in publication today.  In 1851, it was embryonic and carried mostly reprints of topical and political articles from English magazines.  It soon found its own American voice, however, and became a noteworthy magazine covering national issues, as Oakes Ames would learn many years later when elected to Congress.  On this cold, unremarkable evening, however, years away from fame, he and his wife were ignorant of such eventualities as they sat and discussed the day.

No doubt Evelina informed Oakes that her nephew, Francis Gilmore, had brought another barrel of apples from the Gilmore family farm.  It was  probably already safely stowed in the cellar, toted down the stairs by one of their sons.  Did she lock this barrel up, as she did the other day?

Images of Graham’s Magazine credited to Wikipedia.

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