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.