January 22, 1851

Chillblains

Chillblains

1851 Jan 22 Wednesday  Commenced working on the sack again this

morning quite early.  Went to Elisas about ten

to get her to make a dress for Susans doll staid

untill twelve and left her to finish it

Got ready to go to the sewing Circle at Mr Whitwells

But it commenced snowing very fast which prevented

our going.  This evening have finished Susans sack

Oliver poor fellow sits here almost crying with the chillblains

Evelina finished sewing a sack (a kind of apron) for her daughter that she’d been working on for several days, and turned to another ongoing project, doll clothes.  At mid-morning she left the house and went to Elisa and Patric Quinn’s home along Stoughton Road (today’s Elm Street).  Elisa was a dressmaker while Patric was employed at the shovel factory.  Like so many employees in that period, they had emigrated from Ireland.  Elisa was going to help Evelina finish two dresses for Susie’s new doll.

Leaving the little dresses in Elisa’s capable hands, Evelina returned home for midday dinner, just before snow began to fall.  She and her sisters-in-law had planned to go to the monthly meeting of the Sewing Circle, held this afternoon at the parsonage where the Whitwells lived, but poor visibility put an end to their travel.  The ladies stayed home.

Oliver Ames (3), Evelina and Oakes’ middle son, was suffering from chillblains, an unsightly and uncomfortable affliction of extremities: toes, fingers and ears.  Cousin to frostbite, chillblains are an itchy, painful inflammation brought on by exposure to moist cold air.  Some say it’s caused by too-rapid warming of skin and tissue after exposure to cold.  Different treatments were offered: poultices, soaking or rubbing with salt.  Lydia Maria Child, author of The American Frugal Housewife, offered a specific remedy:

“The thin white skin, which comes from suet, is excellent to bind upon the feet for chillblains.  Rubbing with Castille soap, and afterwards with honey, is likewise highly recommended.  But, to cure the chillblains effectually, they must be attended to often, and for a long time.”

It appears that Oliver (3) was in for several days of discomfort.

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