1851 March 5th Wednesday Early in the morning worked about
house. About nine Oclock called at Mr Holmes
to see Mrs Wright and to enquire for Miss Eaton
She is comfortable but failing Went into school
and staid until dinner time like the appearance
of the school very much & think Orinthia a good
teacher, calculated to gain the good will of the Scholars
This afternoon working on a shirt for Mr Ames. A[u]gustus here
Abby spent the evening here Very pleasant
A “very pleasant” day pulled Evelina out of doors this morning at a time when she ordinarily would be choring or sewing. Fresh air and sunshine were too welcome to resist. She walked the short distance to the village and called at the Holmes’s to ask after the two invalid women there, Mrs. Wright and Miss Eaton.
This is the last point in the diary when Mrs. Wright is mentioned, which begs the question of whether or not she survived her bout with pleurisy. Probably not, even though Evelina didn’t mention her demise or her funeral. Based on Evelina’s continued, if periodic, interaction with the Holmes household without ever again mentioning the presence of Mrs. Wright, it makes sense that the latter passed away about this time. Additionally, an 1855 census confirms her absence.
Interesting to note that Evelina wrote of calling at “Mr. Holmes”, even though she clearly went by to see the women of the house. The patriarchal culture – and laws – of the day saw men, and men alone, as heads of any household. A house belonged to a husband, not to a wife. Unless Mrs. Holmes were widowed, the proper reference to her abode would acknowledge her husband’s tenancy, not hers. This was a dictate that Evelina almost always practiced; even when she went next door to see her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, she wrote that she had gone to Oliver’s. It was his house, not Sarah’s.
The little schoolhouse where Orinthia Foss taught was also in the village, and it was here that Evelina spent the rest of the morning, watching the young teacher and approving of her way with the children. Meanwhile, back at the house, Jane McHanna was preparing the midday dinner, for which all family members returned at noon. Evelina stayed home after her morning out, and took up the inevitable sewing. Her niece Abby Torrey visited, and may have helped with some of the stitching.
One thought on “March 5, 1851”
It is hard to imagine these days how much the women of the 19th century were “under the thumb” of the men.