March 12th Wednesday. This morning commenced the new pattern shirt
but got but very little time to work on it. Miss Eaton
died about eight Oclock Mrs Witherell & Mrs S Ames laid
her out & this evening I went with Mrs Witherell to
help her put on the robe which she made this afternoon
Mrs S Ames & myself went to the sewing circle at
Daniel Reeds There were about twenty of us.
worked on striped shirts. Very pleasant
A[u]gustus here to dine
This must have been an emotional day for Evelina. Miss Eaton, a neighbor, died after a lingering illness. Sarah Ames and Sarah Witherell prepared Miss Eaton’s body, and Evelina helped put a shroud, or robe, on the corpse. For months now, the three sisters-in-law and others had been looking after Miss Eaton. Everyone had anticipated her demise, but still, it must have been hard when she finally passed away.
After the Ames women had prepared Miss Eaton’s corpse for burial, two of them, Sarah Ames and Evelina, rode out to a meeting of the Sewing Circle. This was the first meeting since Evelina’s own ill-attended meeting back in February. The gathering was held at the home of Daniel and Mary Reed and about twenty women attended. If Evelina felt awkward, she didn’t say so in her diary. Perhaps there were women there she had been hurt by, perhaps not. Perhaps people apologized for not having shown up at Evelina’s, perhaps not. Whatever exchanges or pleasantries took place as the ladies worked on striped shirts, the mood of the afternoon must have been tinged with the sorrow of the morning and the loss of Miss Eaton. Death in the neighborhood put things in perspective.
* Abbot H. Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Gift of John Gellatly