April 2, 1851


1851 Wednesday

April 2nd  Jane & myself have been taking care of a hog

that was killed yesterday.  Have the lard tried

sausages made  fat back & hams salted and the whole

hog already for cooking.  This afternoon Jane ironed

seven fine bosom shirts.  This evening have been reading

being to[o] much fatigued to work.  Augustus went to 


It was a busy day in the Ames kitchen as Evelina and her servant, Jane McHanna, set about preserving one of the pigs that Evelina’s father-in-law, Old Oliver, had slaughtered the day before.  He sold some of the pork, but held back at least one of the animals for his own household.  Evelina and Jane had a long day’s work processing the animal, which had weighed about 300 pounds when slaughtered.

As the women broke the animal down into workable pieces, they “tried the lard,” which meant that they boiled much of the pork fat in water on the top of the stove, taking care to avoid the spattering as the fat popped and the water drew down. The resulting lard was cooled and stored, probably in stoneware jars, for future household use.

Also to be cooked in the future were the big hams, ribs, hocks and more.  The large hams were salted and hung in a safe place like the cellar or a smokehouse until ready to be baked or boiled and eaten, while smaller pieces like the ham hocks would have gone into glass jars or stoneware. Everything got prepared, even sausages, which was a process unto itself, what with grinding the meat, mixing in the herbs and spices, and packing the mixture into the intestinal casing.

In addition to all this, Jane found both time and energy to iron “seven fine bosom shirts.” The cookstove, which had been heated for trying the lard, must have been hot enough to heat up the flatirons.  Perhaps not wanting to waste that good energy, Jane set up the table to iron.

Those two women must have slept well this night.


One thought on “April 2, 1851

  1. My goodness! I am tired just thinking about the amount of work these women did.

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