July 25, 1851

Wine glass

Friday 25th July  Was expecting to go to Boston with

Mr Ames & Susan in the wagon but it was

misty & cloudy and we gave up going.  It cleared

up very pleasant about nine  I pick[ed] some 

currants for some wine.  Jane strained them

About ten Oclock Augustus carried me up to

see his new heir, found mother & babe comfortable

Evelina was disappointed not to travel into Boston today; the possibility of bad weather put her off the jaunt. However, she got to see William Gilmore, her new great-nephew.  Her niece-in-law, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, and the baby seemed to be doing well, which must have been a relief. In an era when childbirth could be dangerous for mother and infant, Hannah and Willie were doing fine.

But what was going on in the kitchen at the Ames house? Evelina and servant Jane McHanna were making wine from the currants off the bushes in the back yard. Why did they do this? Alcohol was never served at the Ames house. As Sarah Josepha Hale, author of The Good Housekeeper, a popular cook book, stated emphatically, “t]here is one rule for drinks which no woman should violate – never make any preparation of which alcohol forms a part for family use!”

Yet here was alcohol being prepared in Evelina’s own kitchen.  Rather than being made to be served as a beverage, however, it was being prepared for culinary and medicinal purposes and, for such cases, it was evidently permissible. In cooking, wine or cider could be used as a preservative in mincemeat pies, for instance.  An even more viable use was as medicine for the sick.  In Little Women, Mr. March stores away some wine bottles for his invalid daughter, Beth. In Evelina’s kitchen, the homemade wine would probably be served to someone who became ill and needed a tonic. A drink called wine whey, made from strained wine and milk, was a common treatment for fever and other ailments. Wine had its uses; distilled liquors did not.

* Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Housekeeper, 1841



5 thoughts on “July 25, 1851

  1. Strained wine and milk?! One would get better just to not have to drink it.

  2. LOL John. Sarah, am reading Margaret Fuller by Megan Marshall, a book just out last year that I found in Maine. Am reading it firstly because the woman interests me, and secondly because my geneology-oriented brother tells me we are related….Lucy Fuller married Winthrop Ames. This comes down through Timothy Fuller b.1739/Frederick Timothy Fuller b.1850/Lucy Fuller b.1879/Catherine Hobart Ames b.1919. Margaret Fuller was born of Timothy Fuller in 1810 in Cambridgeport, MA. This is clearly a different Timothy Fuller. I believe Lucy was given to fantasy: she herself told me she was related to Margaret. But Lucy was born in South Dakota, and made her way back to MA. They might be cousins? What do you know?

    Anyway, I picked up on a note in the 5th chapter – a domestic magazine called The Frugal Housewife published by Lydia Maria Child. I wondered if this was the same publication that you had mentioned once in one of E’s Diaries?

  3. Aah….Jacob Fuller III is the progenitor of Margaret Fuller and Rev. Timothy Fuller (Lucy)…so, I need to see the whole line of Jacob Fuller III and dates.

  4. Someone else mentioned the possibility of the connection to Margaret Fuller which would certainly be wonderful. I haven’t pursued the line (yet) so can’t confirm one way or the other. Megan Marshall’s book is good, as I’m sure you’re discovering. She also wrote one about the Peabody sisters that was fine. And, yes! Lydia Maria Child wrote The Frugal Housewife, and I refer to it often. Child was a quintessential Yankee housewife, spending effort to save money anywhere she could. Child is one of the sources with a recipe for wine whey. I can’t help but believe that Evelina knew her book, as the two women had much in common.

  5. Fascinating stuff, isn’t it? Turns out that the Margaret Fuller (as well as Buckminster Fuller) connection does indeed come down through Jacob II and Jacob III to both Timothy’s – the Rev. and the attorney, the Rev. being Lucy Fuller and the attorney being Margaret Fuller. I guess the Rev. left MA and took his missionary zeal to N.Dakota, thus Lucy being born there yet made haste to get back to MA.

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