April 13th Sunday. Have been to church all day Frank
staid at home in the morning Mrs G Ames went
with us to meeting all day and liked Mr Whitwell
I staid at noon with Mother most of the time
Called at Mr Whitwells with Louisa Howard
Mrs Dr Deans & Mrs H Pool. Mrs Whitwell
has no help now & is not very well. rather cold
On this cold spring day, the Ames family, minus Frank Morton, went to church with Almira Ames, widow of Oakes’s cousin George Ames. Perhaps Almira joined Evelina and her mother during the midday intermission when many women were welcomed into the parsonage by Eliza Whitwell, wife of the minister. Eliza was under the weather but still was under a social obligation to open her house to fellow Unitarians who could not get home and back during the pause between the morning and afternoon services.
Mrs. Dr. Deans, otherwise known as Hannah (Wheaton) Deans, wife of Dr. Samuel Deans, was also present at the Whitwell’s. The “Dr.” title in front of her name didn’t mean that Hannah was a physician; far from it. It meant that she was married to a physician. She was a daughter of old Daniel Wheaton who lived out on the Bay Road.
Evelina often admired Rev. Whitwell’s sermons but seldom related their content. In these tumultuous months following the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law, did Mr. Whitwell ever speak about slavery or abolition? We know that other Unitarian ministers were quite vocal about abolishing slavery. On this same Sunday in Philadelphia, three hundred miles to the south, Rev. William H. Furness gave a discourse on the Fugitive Slave Law, speaking from the pulpit with all the authority that his robed position could give him. A graduate of Harvard and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Furness was, like William Whitwell, an accomplished theologian. He was also a passionate abolitionist; was Reverend Whitwell?
*First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, ca. 1886