July 20, 1851




Sunday July 20th  Have been to church all day  Mr Whitwell

preached felt very sleepy and heard but a

little of the sermon  After meeting went over

to the Methodist meetinghouse to a sing.  There are

some fine singers there.  Oakes A & Orinthia called

for Louisa Swan and brought her to the sing & Orinthia

went back to Mr. Howards

The Ames family was Unitarian. Three generations of them, from Old Oliver to little Susie, dutifully attended church almost every Sunday, just as Evelina did today. Their attachment to the Unitarian service, however, didn’t preclude tolerance of other Protestant congregations in town. The Ameses and others were generally friendly with the Methodists who, like the Unitarians, had broken with the “dark and hopeless Calvinism”* that once prevailed in the meeting houses of New England.

The Methodists had a long history in Easton, the first near-one-hundred years of which were recounted in chatty detail by Unitarian minister and town historian, William Chaffin, in his 1886 History of Easton.*  As the Methodists, founded by Wesley brothers John and Charles, gained adherents in the late 18th and early 19th century, the sect took hold in Easton, too, shortly after the demise of the local Baptist Society. In addition to their welcoming services and missionary zeal, Methodists offered something special to congregations everywhere: Music.

The “sing” that Evelina went to today at the Methodist meeting house was a gathering to sing hymns, many of which were written by the Wesley brothers themselves. Also in attendance was at least one Ames son, and probably the other two as well.  The boys enjoyed the sings, both for the music and for the chance to socialize with other young people.  Oliver (3), who was very musical, was particularly fond of the gatherings.

* William Chaffin, History of Easton, 1886.


2 thoughts on “July 20, 1851

  1. The Methodist church was “Old Squaretop” on the left corner across from the cemetery where Elm St, meets 138. Reading about all the sings that young folks of that day attended, reminds me how much those sings have been replaced by so many ways in which we can listen to music without participating ourselves. I am not prepared to draw a moral lesson here, but this phenomenon must certainly have changed us in some way(s).

  2. Ed Hands’ descriptive research in his book, Easton’s Neighborhoods, indicates that “Old Squaretop” was located in Unionville, the northeast corner of Easton that was closely associated with Stoughton. It was close enough to the village of North Easton to make it within easy reach for the young people to get to.

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