August 19, 1851




Tues 19th Aug  Sat down quite early to fix some work for

Ellen, about 11 Oclock Mrs Norris and a Mr Young from

Bridgewater came  Dined here and left about three

they wanted the boys to go Fishing Thursday but Clinton Lothrop

is not expected to live through the day and they

thought it best to defer going untill Monday

Mrs Witherell & Mitchell & myself went into

school this afternoon  Very warm

Melinda Orr Norris and a Mr. Young had midday dinner with the Ameses, during which they invited the Ames sons to go fishing. The boys accepted but deferred the trip to the following week.  Clinton Lothrop, their Aunt Sarah Lothrop Ames’s younger brother, was deathly ill and they wanted to wait until after his anticipated passing.

It was a hot summer day, with no such thing as air conditioning or window fans. In their full-skirted dresses, the Ames women surely were hot as they chored around the house or sat with visitors. They possibly opened their parlor windows to let in some air, but would have let in the insects, too, if they did so.  “Wove wire” had appeared here and there on the market as an alternative to horsehair weaves, but wouldn’t be commonplace until the Civil War. Around 1861, Gilbert & Bennet, a sieve-making firm in Georgetown, Connecticut, lost its southern customers and began to manufacture window screens as a way to use its surplus wire mesh cloth. Window screens took off. Before then, how did people cope?

Evelina and her sisters-in-law, Sarah Witherell and Harriett Mitchell, left the closed air of their homes and went to the local school house in the afternoon. Evelina doesn’t explain the purpose of the trip. Surely the hot sun beat down on them outdoors, but their bonnets kept their heads protected, at least.

* Gilbert & Bennet’s Red Mill on the Norwalk River where woven wire cloth was first developed as a commercial substitute for horsehair. Photo from  

5 thoughts on “August 19, 1851

  1. This is good stuff. Slows down the pace of my day and reminds me that the “olden days” were, indeed, good days. P. Bascom St. Louis MO

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