January 30, 1851

Flames

Jan 30th  Thursday  Mended Mr Ames pants which

took me most of the forenoon, read some to Mother.

Spent this afternoon at Olivers with mother & Mr

Whitwell.  They sent the carriage for Mrs Whitwell

but it was so cold that she did not come.  Mr Ames

took tea with us & Mr Ames Oliver Jr C Lothrop & 

Helen played cards I commenced a stocking of the yarn

Mrs Foss gave me.  A bitter cold day & quite windy.

A great fire in Taunton

“A verry bad day to go out in,” noted Old Oliver in his journal today.  Eliza Whitwell refused to leave her home several miles away to join the Ames ladies in the afternoon, even though her husband was there.  The carriage – did it belong to Old Oliver, or Oliver Jr, or to the family in general?  Whoever owned it, its likely driver was Michael Burns, an employee of Old Oliver who looked after the horses and carriages.

While Michael drove to and from the parsonage in the howling cold, various family members gathered next door at Oliver and Sarah Lothrop Ames’s house for tea. Oakes and his son Oliver (or possibly his brother Oliver – unclear) played cards – probably whist – with Cyrus Lothrop and Helen Ames.  Cyrus was an unmarried brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames who lived with Sarah and Oliver, Jr. for many years. Helen was their only daughter; their son, Fred, was probably away at Phillips Exeter Academy on this occasion.  Evelina knitted and kept her mother company.

In nearby Taunton, Massachusetts, Evelina reported, the furious wind contributed to a “great fire.”  The histories of that period don’t mention this fire, so perhaps it was not as great as Evelina thought.  That, or it paled in comparison to the larger fires that Taunton suffered in 1838 and 1859.*  Fire, naturally, was the dread of every homeowner and municipality; towns and cities in the 19th century (and before) were pock-marked by periodic burnings, its citizens haunted by the loss of life and property that fires engendered. The fire on this day in Taunton would have been made especially difficult by the frigid air and icy wind.

*Information obtained from Old Colony Historical Society, Taunton, Massachusetts

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