April 30, 1851



April 30 Wednesday  Hannah came with Augustus in the stage

and Eddy came with them  I fear she did not 

have a pleasant visit Eddy was not well and very

troublesome. We called at the shoe shop and

at Mr. Torreys.  Abby came home with us to tea

I have sewed some on Susans borage dress but

have not been able to do much. The weather is

pleasant but rather windy


The reason for Augustus Gilmore’s continued presence at the Ames home became clearer today. The boot factory (or shoe shop, as Evelina called it) that Augustus had been working to establish was now up and running. Oakes Angier was an original partner, according to Chaffin’s History of Easton:

“In 1851 there was organized in North Easton the firm of A.A. Gilmore & Co., the other members of the firm being Elisha T. Andrews and Oakes A. Ames. They manufactured fine calf-skin boots in a building owned by Cyrus Lothrop. Oakes Ames succeeded to the interest first owned by Oakes A. Ames. In 1870, Messrs Gilmore and Andrews bought out Oakes Ames. This firm, which for some time did quite an extensive business, gave up the manufacture of boots in 1879; but the firm did not dissolve until death broke up the long partnership, Mr. Andrews dying in 1883.” *

The manufacture of shoes was an important industry in southeastern Massachusetts, particularly in the nearby towns of Randolph and North Bridgewater (soon to be known as Brockton). One theory is that shoe-making grew out of a cottage industry begun in the late 18th century, a thrifty, small, household-by-household effort to augment the meager income from subsistence farming by making shoes. It was one way to use the leather from the farm animals who were slaughtered.

New England as a whole was a major producer of shoes throughout the nineteenth century, “with Massachusetts alone responsible for over 50% of the nation’s total shoe production through most of the period.”** The trade continued well into the 20th century, with organizations such as the New England Shoe and Leather Association and the Boston Boot and Shoe Club championing the industry. Some leather manufacturing continues today in the region.

It only made sense that Easton, bustling as it was with the manufacture of goods such as shovels, mathematical instruments and, soon, hinges, would participate in the regional trade of shoe-making. That members of the Ames family were involved seemed to make sense, too.


* p.598





April 29, 1851


April 29 Tuesday  Frank has finished the beds in the flower

garden and I have set out some plants that Henrietta

gave me and some that I bought of Edwin Manly paid

him one dollar Julia here finishing the dresses for

Susan & my blue Delaine dress.  Mrs George Ames

& I went to Sharon and spent the afternoon

Had a pleasant ride with Dominic


Three spheres of activity informed Evelina’s day. First was gardening, made possible by Frank Morton Ames finally finishing tilling the soil in the flower beds.  He and others had been loosening the soil off and on for several days, which raises the question of how many flower beds Evelina had, and how large they were, and where they were situated relative to the house. Evelina “set out” some plants that she got on Saturday. One group came from her sister-in-law, Henrietta Lincoln Gilmore, at the Gilmore farm; she probably got those for free.  The other group from Edwin Manley, however, she had to pay one dollar for.

The second sphere of action was sewing, of course, which always seemed to be going on in center ring at the Ames house. Today Julia Mahoney, the dressmaker of choice, worked on a dress for Susan and a blue delaine, or light wool, dress for Evelina. The warm weather would soon arrive and the lighter dresses would be needed.

The last sphere was a nice change of pace – literally – for Evelina and her cousin-in-law, Almira Ames. With Dominic, a horse, pulling them along, the two women drove the carriage (or were driven) to nearby Sharon. Whom did they visit? Did they shop in the town?  The ride was pleasant, whatever the errand.


April 28, 1851




April 28th Monday  Have had Mrs Connors here to help

about washing, Janes finger being sore  She came

at half past 6 and left about half past two charged

42 cts.  I helped about the washing  Willard Randall

came this afternoon to work over the earth in the

flower garden.  Frank came from the shop about

five and worked some on the beds.  I have set out

some carraway roots that Alson gave me.  Helen came

home with Cyrus


According to some calculations, the 42 cents that Mrs. Connors was paid to do the Ames’s laundry translates to a labor value of $13.20 today. Mrs. Connors was paid little better than a nickel an hour. Evelina worked on the washing today, too, much as she disliked it.

Once the laundry was set out to dry, Evelina got back to the garden.  Her son Frank Morton helped her when he got home from work; he seemed to enjoy being in the garden as much as she did. That, or helping his mother till the soil was his assigned chore. Willard Randall, another shovel shop employee and member of the extensive Randall clan, came up again to continue working “over the earth.”  Was Willard pleased to walk up to the Ames’s yard to turn over the soil in the boss’s wife’s flower garden? Did he have a garden of his own at home that needing tending?

The caraway roots that Evelina picked up on Saturday at the Gilmore farm went into the ground today, probably in an area close to the kitchen, a time-honored location for every housewife’s herb garden.  The rhubarb and horseradish would go in there too.

Helen Angier Ames, the niece who lived next door, returned home today from boarding school in New Bedford.  Her uncle, Cyrus Lothrop, “carried her” home, as the phrase went.


April 27, 1851



Sunday April 27th  Have had a bad head ache all day and

was not able to attend church Laid down and

slept until about two Oclock which relieved

me very much After church Miss Foss & self

called into Olivers and met Harriet there.

Sarah Lothrop spent the day there. This

evening commenced a letter to Pauline C Dean

It has been a very pleasant day


Perhaps all that riding around Easton yesterday was responsible for Evelina’s headache today. She had pushed herself on Saturday, and the jostling along the washboard roads in bright sunlight may have been a factor in her feeling ill today. That, or she was catching what Sarah Lothrop Ames had. She felt so poorly that she didn’t even try reading, which was often her refuge on a Sunday. Her remedy, just to lie down and sleep, made her feel much better. Sleep was probably a better cure than the Wistar’s Balsam she took a few weeks ago.

Evelina felt well enough in the afternoon to call next door to check on Sarah Ames. There, she and Orinthia bumped into Harriet Mitchell. Harriett was hopefully feeling more settled after her first week back in North Easton. Who was watching her children? Sarah Witherell?

Who is the Sarah Lothrop that Evelina mentioned as spending the day next door?  She must have been a relative – a niece or cousin – of Sarah Lothrop Ames, who was still ailing.




April 26, 1851


Sat Apr 26th  This morning a man came from the shops 

to spade my flower garden & hoe the currant

bushes Miss Foss Susan & self rode to Edwin Manlys

to speak for some plants and then went to Mothers

got there about half past twelve. Brought

home some Horseradish, Carraway roots & some

few plants Made the skirt to Susans green 

borage Delaine Miss Foss has finished the two shirts.

At last, gardening in earnest. A shovel shop employee was taken off his usual task to go up to the Ames homestead to turn over the soil in Evelina’s flower beds.  He used an Ames shovel, no doubt, and also an Ames hoe to loosen the dirt around the currant bushes behind the house.

Evelina celebrated the spring day with her daughter Susie and boarder Orinthia Foss; the three took a wagon, most likely, north to the home of Edwin Manly.  At the time, Manly lived close to the town line with Stoughton, and was employed at the shovel shop. He was obviously interested in plants and kept an informal nursery on his farm, raising flowers to sell.  His green thumb brought in customers like Evelina. Not too long after this, however, he hurt his hand and had to leave his job at O. Ames & Sons. Fascinated by biology, chemistry and science in general, he studied medicine at Harvard, became a physician and set up an office in North Easton in the early 1860s. Later he moved to Taunton, where he worked as the town librarian for a number of years. Eventually, he moved to California.

Flowers weren’t all that the women brought home in the wagon.  They drove south to the other end of Easton to visit Evelina’s mother, Hannah Gilmore, at the Gilmore farm, where they picked up the horseradish and caraway roots and “some few plants.”   That Evelina and Orinthia had time to sew after all that riding around says a lot about their stamina and work ethic.

April 25, 1851



Friday April 25  Have done some mending and been putting

things in order about the house Made Mrs

S Ames bed and stoped with her awhile

This afternoon mended Oakes Angier two coats.

dirty things they were! Met Mis[s] Foss coming from

school and called with her at Mrs Holmes & Mrs 

Connors spent the evening with Mrs S Ames

Mr Harrison Pool & wife & Mrs Horace Pool called

Sarah Lothrop Ames was still sick and unable to get up and around. Once again, Evelina went next door to visit and helped out by making Sarah’s bed up fresh.  Later in the day, Sarah had a companion, Mrs. Connors, sit with her. Was she being “watched” or was she on the mend? Who made the decision to have someone sit with her?  Her husband or her female relatives?

Mending and housework otherwise took up Evelina’s time today. She and Jane McHanna were still carrying on with spring cleaning, but the effort was sporadic lately, with mending taking over much of Evelina’s time. In the transition from cold to warm weather, all the spring and summer wardrobes had to be brought up to snuff, “dirty things” that some of them were.

The Pools came to call this evening.  Harrison and Horace Pool were brothers, fifteen years apart in age, who lived in the south eastern section of Easton, near the Raynham line and the Gilmore farm.  They made mathematical instruments: surveyors’ tools, levels, compasses and thermometers, among other items. Harrison’s wife was Mary J Pool, a young wife close in age to Oakes Angier.  Horace’s wife was Abby A. Pool, identical in age (43) to Evelina.  Mary and Abby were members of Evelina’s Sewing Circle, two of the women who didn’t attend the meeting that Evelina held back in February. Evelina would have grown up knowing the Pool (also sometimes spelled Poole) family.

April 24, 1851


1851 Thursday  April 24th  Julia here to finish Susans dresses

She is very slow We have got the waist done

to her Delaine & finished the print dress & cut

the lining to my dress This afternoon called 

at Augustus’ & Mr Whitwell with Mrs Peckham

A[u]gustus returned from New York this morning

and is here again to dine Hannah went to

Alsons while he was gone Pleasant weather


Evelina and Julia Mahoney sewed today, perhaps trying to make up for time lost yesterday. Evelina’s nephew, Augustus, returned to the Ames’s dinner table after a business trip to New York. Meanwhile, his expectant wife, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, and son Eddie were staying out at the Gilmore farm with his parents, Alson and Henrietta.

Had Augustus run into any abolitionist fervor while in New York?  Probably not as great as in Boston, where controversy continued in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Act and the capture and rescue of Shadrach Minkins. While some of the most prominent abolitionists of the day, like William Lloyd Garrison, lived in Boston, the city was nonetheless home to many citizens who were less adamant about the issue.  They might not have liked slavery, but they feared the radicalism of the anti-slavery rhetoric more.  They were law-abiding, and the law said that slaves were property and had to be returned to their owners. Daniel Webster had decreed it, and they supported the law accordingly. The controversy pulled at everyone.

When another escaped slave, Thomas Simms, was caught in Boston, the Mayor of Boston, John P. Bigelow, ordered him sent back south. The aldermen and the police supported the move, and the black population of the city became even more nervous than before, as the poster above illustrates. Have TOP EYE Open!

April 23, 1851



Wednesday April 23d  Julila Mahoney here again to day making

Susans dark plaid print & borage delaine dresses.  I have

been sewing with her but have had many interruptions

Mr Whitwell called, Jane has cut her thumb very

bad, the nail is most off  have done it up in

borax  Carried my work awhile & sat with Mrs S Ames

Susans print dress most done It is quite pleasant

after so much bad weather

Abraham Lincoln coined an adjective that didn’t outlast his use of it, but it seems apt for the kind of day that Evelina had: “interruptious.”  While wanting only to sew, Evelina had to cope with unanticipated diversions throughout the morning. Julia Mahoney, the dressmaker, sat in a chair and sewed, surrounded by various cuts of cloth from two different dresses. Jane McHanna, probably while in the kitchen preparing food, almost cut the nail off her thumb, causing bleeding that would not have been easy to stop, and putting her out of commission for the day, at least. Reverend Whitwell called – probably instantly wishing he had chosen a different day to pay a visit.  The scene would be farcical were it not for the pain Jane obviously suffered with her thumb.

Evelina treated Jane’s thumb with borax, a mineral that we might think more properly used in detergent. To Evelina, borax was evidently a familiar way to stop bleeding and bind a cut.  Other home remedies for cuts, according to Lydia Maria Child, respected author and consummate advisor on household concerns, suggested treatment with an application of salt or molasses. In her book, The American Frugal Housewife, Child also recommended “Balm-of-Gilead buds bottled up in N.E. rum” as “the best cure in the world for fresh cuts and wounds. Every family should have a bottle of it.”

After the domestic drama of the morning, Evelina had a quieter afternoon. She spent some time with her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, who was still quite sick.  She probably took a deep breath of sweet spring air as she walked next door to see the invalid, welcoming the sunny change from all the recent rain.

April 22, 1851




Tuesday April 22d  This morning it is quite pleasant & I went

to the store & got the print for Susans dress

that I returned last week have made the 

skirt & cut the sleeves called into the other part

of the house awhile & have staid three or four

hours in Olivers, she is quite sick so that

she does not sit up at all.  Mary Middleton buried

in Canton 17 carriages went to the grave

A[u]gustus went to New York last night with Henry Gilmore

Evelina spent several hours today in the bed chamber of Sarah Lothrop Ames, who was so sick in bed that she did “not sit up at all.”  That kind of illness was worrisome, especially as Sarah had been sick for several days and wasn’t getting better.

Sewing wasn’t forgotten amid her concern for her sister-in-law.  Evelina picked out some printed cloth for a new dress for Susie, the same print or dress at the company store that she had rejected previously.  She began cutting and sewing and had the skirt finished and the sleeves underway while otherwise occupied with checking in on both sisters-in-law. She was speedy with the needle.

Meanwhile, a local woman named Mary Middleton was buried in Canton.  Evelina was quite impressed at the number of carriages that followed the casket to the cemetery.  Miss or Mrs. Middleton must have been a personage of some importance, or someone with countless relatives. Evelina could have no way of knowing that when her own husband Oakes would die in 1873, a crowd of 3,000 people would attend his funeral. How many carriages would he draw to his service?


April 21, 1851




Monday April 21st  I have ripped my blue & orange

Delaine dress & washed & ironed it ready to make over

It was quite pleasant this morning & Jane got her

clothes all dried but this afternoon & evening it storms

again. Frank has been unwell for a few days

with his throat & headache.  Dr Swan called & I paid

him 50 cts.  Mrs S Ames sick and had the Doctor

Frank helped me set out some rhubarb roots

A sunny morning sent Evelina out of doors and into her garden, which must have been muddy after all the recent rain. With the help of son Frank Morton, she put in some rhubarb.  Nearby, Jane McHanna hung the Monday wash and managed to get it dry before more wet weather arrived in the afternoon.

Frank had been unwell, as had Sarah Lothrop Ames next door and each had a call from a doctor. In those days, doctors would typically call on patients in their homes. Physicians kept offices, of course (usually in their own homes,) but generally treated people by traveling to them rather than the other way around. This practice was commonplace well into the 20th century.

Dr. Caleb Swan was Evelina’s physician of choice.  Besides being generally considered quite competent, Swan was “suave, genial and agreeable.”*  His bedside manner must have been calm and attentive. He had studied at Harvard and then apprenticed under a practicing physician, apprenticeships being standard training regimen at that time. A popular man in town, he was involved occasionally with local and state politics.  “Intensely opposed to the Know Nothing” party, he was a “pronounced anti-slavery man.”* He had a large family, and four of his sons became physicians like him.

Elsewhere in the world of shovels, Old Oliver oversaw work on a shop they kept in Bridgewater, where men were “sleighting the roof.”  Slate was the preferred roof material for owners who were concerned with the possibility of fire.

*William Chaffin, History of Easton, 1886