February 10, 1851


Feb 10th Monday  Warm this morning but not pleasant  Jane 

put her clothes out but the wind commenced blowing quite

hard with some rain, so that the clothes had to be taken

in & were dried over the registers  Cut Susan a Chemise

out of the width of  1  1/4 yd wide cloth and partly made it

Worked about house as usual on washing days in 

the forenoon  Wind blows quite hard this eve.

What a jungle of white linens the Ames house featured this Monday, with Jane McHanna having to drape dripping laundry around the heat registers.  So much for Evelina’s cleaning the floors the other day.  Miserable winter weather – snow, rain, ice, wind and rain again – was wreaking havoc with the domestic schedule.

One person in the Ames household celebrated her 12th birthday today: Sarah “Emily” Witherell.  Emily was born in New Jersey where her parents had lived while her father, Nathaniel Witherell, Jr., worked with William Leonard Ames, her mother’s brother, at various Ames enterprises.  Tragedy had struck in recent years, though, with the death of her father and the subsequent “drounding” of her two year old brother, Channing.  Emily was stricken with loss at an early age.

With her mother, Sarah; older brother, George Oliver Witherell; and grandfather Old Oliver Ames,  Emily now lived in North Easton, Massachusetts in “the other part of the house”.  She probably still attended school, but she and Susie Ames were too far apart in age at this point to be close friends, although they would soon find themselves sharing  piano lessons.  Her cousin Oliver (3) found Emily to be outspoken and opinionated; she was, evidently, unafraid of speaking her mind at a time when candor in women was not prized.

Emily never married.  After Old Oliver died in 1863, when she was about twenty-four, Emily and her mother moved into Boston, eventually taking up residence in Back Bay at the Hotel Hamilton and living off of distributions from investments managed by her male cousins.  A spinster cousin, Amelia Hall Ames, the only daughter of William Leonard Ames, eventually moved in with Emily.  These two cousins, in turn, may have undertaken to raise yet another cousin, Eleanor Ames, a granddaughter of William Leonard Ames. All that is in the future; on this day in 1851, we can hope that Emily had a special birthday despite the weather. She deserved a happy moment.

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