May 23, 1851


May 23d Friday  Have finished putting the sitting room in

order and it looks very much better with my new

carpet  About 11 Oclock Mrs S Ames & I started

for North Bridgewater & returned at four.  Called

at Susan Copeland to get her to sew over my straw

bonnet.  It looks like a fright but I shall have

to wear it two weeks more as she cannot do it any

sooner  Mr Whitwell called.  Last night it rained very hard

Various members of the Ames family were on the road today.  Evelina and her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, rode to North Bridgewater on errands.  Sarah seemed to be feeling better after being sick for much of the spring, and Evelina seemed still to be focused on finding a summer bonnet.  She’d have to content herself with looking “like a fright” for a while longer.

Old Oliver Ames, meanwhile, rode home from Plymouth, where he had been since Wednesday on a court matter.  He wrote, “I went as evidence, in a case betwen thomas Ames and Dwelly [illegible]*.” Thomas Ames was a distant cousin, but what the case was about and what Oliver’s role in it isn’t known. Whatever Oliver’s testimony, people on both sides of the case would have paid attention to him. Old Oliver wasn’t known to prevaricate or equivocate.  What he saw or thought, he said.

The rain of which Evelina spoke was probably part of a front that had moved across from the midwest, depositing heavy rain in its path.  Des Moines, Iowa, in fact, was suffering from “The Great Flood of 1851,” an historic deluge that would go on for days. Today anyone can turn on a television or check an app to see what the weather is, but citizens in 1851 could only learn about flooding as it arrived in their area or, if it happened elsewhere, by reading about it a few days later in the newspapers.  We might think we are still at the mercy of the weather, and we are, but at least nowadays we can generally anticipate what might be coming our way in the immediate future.  Not so in 1851.

* Possibly “Goward”

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