March 20, 1851


Shirt bosoms


March 20 This morning at 1/2 past seven commenced 

a fine bleach shirt for one of my sons

and finished it about ten Oclock this evening

Made the whole but stiching the bosom

Mrs Witherell brought the 8th bosom that

she has stiched for me this forenoon and 

sat with me two hours  William left this 

morning.  Clothes dried and ironed.  Cloudy & snowy

A[u]gustus here to dine

Today Old Oliver wrote in his daily journal:

“it is a snowing moderately this morning  William left here this morni[n]g for New Jersey.  It did not snow long but it was cloudy all day wind north west but it thawed some.”

William went back to the family-financed foundry in New Jersey for a final time before making the momentous change of striking west.  He wanted to put distance between himself and the shovel operations in Easton.  With his older brothers Oakes and Oliver Jr. managing the family business, his only chance at success was to find his own niche somewhere beyond their reach. At age 38, he was about to begin a very different life.

As William rode off, Evelina, naturally, was wielding needle and thread.  After so many days of sewing shirts, she was adept enough to sew one entirely in a single day, beginning just after breakfast and finishing up right before bed.  Having her kind sister-in-law Sarah Witherell to sew with for part of the day was a pleasant diversion.  That Sarah contributed so many “bosoms” (detachable shirt fronts also known as dickies, false-fronts, and, in the 20th century, tux fronts) suggests that some of the shirts might have been destined for the men in her care, her father Old Oliver and her son, George Oliver Witherell.

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