October 31, 1851



Friday 31st  Have taken up the bedroom and stair carpets

and Bridget has cleaned the front entry

I have been very busy all day about the house

Mrs Hubbell, Ames, and Mrs S Ames have been

to Sharon  Mrs Witherell called at Mrs Swains

this afternoon but I was so busy that I could 

not accompany her.  Passed the evening in

the other part of the house.  Mr Scott painting

Mr Hawkins lectured at the methodist meeting house


Evelina’s autumn version of spring cleaning continued today as she tackled the upstairs carpets. Mr. Scott was still in the house, painting, and servant Bridget O’Neill cleaned the front entry which had also undergone repainting. “Very busy all day about the house,” Evelina evidently didn’t even venture out of doors.

Others did go outside. Sarah Ames Witherell paid a call on new mother Ann Swain, while Sarah Ames, Almira Ames and Mrs. Hubbel rode to nearby Sharon. Old Oliver noted in his journal that “this was a fair day + some cooler wind north west +considerable of it.”

Some miles northward, in Concord, Henry David Thoreau noted in his journal that “The wild apples are now getting palatable. I find a few left on distant trees, that the farmer thinks it not worth his while to gather. He thinks that he has better in his barrels, but he is mistaken, unless he has a walker’s appetite and imagination, neither of which can he have.”**  Two farmers in Evelina’s life, her father-in-law, Old Oliver, and her brother, Alson Gilmore, might take exception to Thoreau’s characterization of them as men without imagination.

In the evening, a Mr. Hawkins gave a lecture at the Methodist meeting house, right in the village.

* Barrel of apples, http://nbarnett2.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/the-importance-of-good-packing/

**Henry David Thoreau, Journal, http://hdt.typepad.com/henrys_blog/2004/10/october_31_1851.ht

October 30, 1851



Thursday Oct 30th  Mr Scott finished papering the 

parlour this morning and has painted some drawers

to be grained, and has drawn some of the windows

in the parlour  I have been doing a little of every

thing but cannot tell what.  Have got the carpet

down in the sitting room and the dishes into the

closet and we begin to look more comfortable


The redecorating of the downstairs began to wind down and the house became “more comfortable.” Getting the sitting room back in order was a big deal, for that was Evelina’s main domain for her daily sewing. It was her office, so to speak, more so than the kitchen.  She surely had missed her sewing routine while the house was disordered.

Putting the dishes back into the sitting room closet was also an accomplishment.  Jane Nylander, modern historian of 19th century domestic life, has written of the role of that closet:

“In most substantial households, parlors, sitting rooms, and dining rooms were furnished with a closet in which were stored cups and saucers, decanters of wines, glassware, and loaves of rich fruitcake, which was prized for its lasting quality as well as its flavor.  The shelves of these closets were grooved so that the small serving plates called ‘twifflers’ could be stood against the back wall and make a handsome show when the door was opened. ”  Twifflers – great name! – were about 9 1/2″ in diameter.

While Evelina set her house to rights, her father-in-law was busy about the factory. “began to work on the Flyaway Dam to day I went to Bridgewater + caried Clark + Keith to help Mr Phillips about fixing th bellows”** What had happened to the bellows? They were key to the manufacturing process.


*Jane Nylander, Our Own Snug Fireside, New York, 1993,  pp. 236 – 237.

**Oliver Ames Journal, Courtesy of Stonehill College Archives


October 29, 1851



Wednesday Oct 29.  I have been what I call puttering

about house most all day and have accomplished

but very little.  papered the fireboard and pasted

the loose places in Franks chamber  Mr Scott

has painted the sitting room & closet

Mrs Hubbel & Ames came from New York this morning

H O A Orr came for Susan this afternoon  Mr

Walton is there. Mrs Holmes and Abby called

Mr Ames came home from Boston to night

Many comings and goings in North Easton today, under a cloudy sky.  Almira Ames, widow of George, an Ames cousin, arrived from New York with a Mrs. Hubbel in tow. They came for a visit with the obliging Sarah Witherell and Old Oliver Ames in the other part of the house.

Susan Orr, meanwhile, who had been staying with Sarah Witherell and her father for almost a month, was picked up this afternoon by her brother, Hector Oakes Orr. Susan, age 53, and Hector, age 51, were first cousins of Sarah Witherell and her siblings on the Angier side of the family.  Susan and Hector were two of five children of Susanna Angier Ames’s sister, Mary and her husband, Dr. Hector Orr, of Bridgewater. Their shared grandparents were Oakes and Susanna (Howard) Angier.

Evelina’s niece on the Gilmore side, Abigail Williams Torrey, paid a call with Harriet Holmes (the neighbor who had been so ill back in August). A Mr. Walton floated somewhere in the picture; Evelina’s inclusion of his name is a bit vague. And chugging along in the background of the various calls was Mr. Scott painting the woodwork in the sitting room. Evelina concentrated on papering a fireboard when she wasn’t attending to the influx of visitors. For readers who don’t have fireplaces, a fireboard was a piece of wood, textile or ironwork fitted to the opening of a fireplace for periods when the fireplace wasn’t being used.  Fireboards made from wood, most common in the countryside, were often decorated with wallpaper or painting.


* 19th century papered fireboard, Pennsylvania, courtesy of 1stdibs.com.


October 28, 1851



Tuesday Oct 28.  Have been assisting Mr Scott about papering

again to day and have painted over some things

and places about the house. Finished papering the

sitting room and little entry just after dinner

Hannah called with Eddy a few moments

Mr Ames is still in Boston passed last

night there.  I spent the evening in the other

part of the house.


Yesterday’s unseasonable snow storm departed and left behind “a fair day**”  Evelina seemed not to notice the difference, focused as she was on the repapering and repainting of the downstairs of her part of the house. She was helping with the actual papering. Her husband, Oakes, was away in Boston, so her only responsibility was making sure that meals were on the table for sons Oakes Angier and Frank Morton and daughter Susan Eveline, a task she typically delegated to her servants.

Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, who was married to Evelina’s nephew, Alson “Augustus” Gilmore, paid a call with her older son Eddy. Edward Alger Gilmore was a toddler who had fidgeted more than once in his great-aunt’s parlor. He was only two years old, and probably couldn’t yet pronounce his name.

Eddy’s middle name came from his maternal grandmother, Rachel Howard Alger (1802-1823), the first wife of Alson Gilmore and mother of Hannah’s husband, Augustus.  Rachel died less than a year after Augustus was born; Augustus couldn’t have remembered her, but he clearly wished to honor her by naming his own first-born after her. The Alger family was settled in Bridgewater, Taunton, and Easton, all descendants of a Thomas Alger in the 17th century. Both Evelina and Sarah Lothrop Ames were among the hundreds of descendants in the Thomas Alger line.


* Illustration in “Scientific American”, ca. 1880, of machine production of wallpaper, New York, Courtesy of National Park Service, http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/tpsd/wallpaper.

** Oliver Ames Journal, courtesy of Stonehill College Archives




October 27, 1851


Monday Oct 27th  Mr Scott came this morning about nine

It being very stormy he could not get here before

Mr Smiley came just before and worked about

three hours.  After dinner went to Mansfield.

I have been helping Mr Scott paper the sitting

room  Have been busy all day about the 

papering.  Mr Ames went to Boston this afternoon

was also gone Thurs & Friday of last week


Snow! At least that’s what Old Oliver reported in his journal: “this morning the ground was coverd with snow and it snowd about all the forenoon, and was cold. wind north west + blowd hard, at night the fields are coverd with snow 2 or 3 inches deep – there has bin 1 ¼ inches of rain this time”  Evelina only reported that the weather was “stormy.”

Not only did the weather interfere with the travel of the workmen; it also surely challenged servant Jane McHanna as she attempted to wash and dry the weekly laundry. Yet it didn’t seem to prevent Oakes Ames from heading to Boston in the afternoon.  He had been there often of late.  Indoors, Mr. Scott continued to put up new wallpaper in the downstairs.  The redecorating and attendant removal of much of the furniture had been going for a week.

It was the 300th day of the year.

October 26, 1851



Sunday Oct 26.  John Ames from Springfield is here at

fathers came last night.  We have all been

to meeting  Mr Whitwell preached two

excellent sermons.  Went at intermission

into Mr John R Howards with Mother and several

others  The first time I have called since

they moved.  It has rained since eleven this

morning, quite hard.

For the first time since September 21, Evelina attended church; even the “hard” rain couldn’t keep her away. She surely was pleased to be back in the family pew, head tilted up to listen to Reverend Whitwell’s “excellent” sermons, happy to visit with friends and acquaintances at intermission. The opportunity to congregate at church was central to Evelina’s social life, and she was quick to catch up.  Her visit at intermission with John and Caroline Howard was her first visit to their new home.

A cousin from Springfield, John Ames, was visiting in the other part of the house. There were several relatives named John Ames with close ties to Old Oliver, including his father and a brother. This John Ames was, most likely, a nephew of Old Oliver, the son of Old Oliver’s much older brother David. His dates were 1800-1890. He was famous for certain inventions pertaining to the manufacture of paper and with a brother, also named David, ran the Ames Paper Company in Springfield. According to one 20th century historian, “[f]rom the outset the firm, which became known as D. and J. Ames, prospered wonderfully, making money rapidly and growing until it was one of the largest and most powerful in the country.”**

A life-long bachelor, John Ames lived with a sister, Mary, and the two managed the family farm well into their old age. Oliver Jr. writes of visiting them in Springfield in 1871. The families stayed in touch.Yet Old Oliver made no mention of his nephew’s visit.  Instead, in his journal, he noted only that “it was cloudy all day to day + raind some in the day time + in the evening + night ther was considerable.” He was more interested in the rain which, given the fact that rain meant more water and more water meant more power for the factory, was perhaps understandable.

Image courtesy Benjamin L. Clark, Massachusetts Book Trade

**Lyman Horace Weeks, The History of Paper-manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916, New York, 1916, p. 125

October 25, 1851




Sat Oct 25th  Mr Scott & Holbrook have been to work

all day papering the parlour and they have got

it papered only from the little entry door

around to that corner of the mantlepiece.

Mr Smiley worked here about two hours to day

put on the border in the parlour as far as it [was]

papered and some paint on top of the closet

shelves.  I have trimmed the paper and &c.


The wallpaper in the illustration above is an example of a mid-19th century pattern that might have been available in Boston, where Evelina purchased her new paper for the parlor. Two men, Mr. Scott and Mr. Holbrook, did some papering today, but not fast enough to suit Evelina. She was so eager to have the paper up that she helped by trimming some of it herself.  What did the workmen think about that? Mr. Smiley, who only seemed to work a few hours at a time, applied a border to what paper had been put up and painted a few shelves.

Oakes Ames was probably absent today, as Saturday was his usual day to be in Boston taking orders for shovels. Sons Oakes Angier and Frank Morton would have been at the factory across the street, honing their skills in the manufacture of shovels. Little Susie was probably at school.


*Example of mid-19th century wallpaper, courtesy of adelphiapaperhanging.com

October 24, 1851



Friday Oct 24th  Jane & Bridget have cleaned the buttery

and I have had some paint put on the 

shelves  Mr Smiley worked here about three

hours, he went to Mansfield and came here 

about two Oclock.  Scott & Holbrook have finished

the first coat to the sitting room & parlour

I have been about house most of the day.  Sit awhile

with Susan Orr.  Capt Isaac Lothrops wife buried this P. M.

Much cleaning was going on at the Ames’s house in tandem with major redecorating. Evelina the housewife was impelled to tidy everything up before and after various workmen came through to scrape, dismantle, build, paint and/or paper the downstairs rooms. Her servants, Jane McHanna and Bridget O’Neil, scurried around with her, clearing shelves so that the men could follow and do their work.

The buttery that Evelina mentions was, in fact, a shelved area off her kitchen that served pretty much as a pantry.  She had food storage “down cellar”, of course, but the buttery, being close by and on the same floor as the kitchen, would have been more accessible for daily use.  She would have stored everyday items like coffee or tea there, for instance. If the Ameses had kept dairy cows, milk would have been poured into pans there, to be skimmed for cream.  Yet the term buttery derives not from its use for dairy products, but from an archaic British term for the room where large caskets of wine, known as butts, were stored. (One butt was the equivalent of two hogsheads or four barrels of wine.) There was no storing caskets of wine at the Ames’s.

Oakes Ames was away during yesterday and today’s disruption, though sons Oakes Angier and Frank Morton and daughter Susan Eveline were home and had to sidestep the disarray. Oakes was away on shovel business, most likely.  No one from Evelina’s household appeared to attend the funeral of Isaac Lothrop’s wife.


* 19th century pantry, courtesy of http://www.oldhouseonline.com, photo by Gross & Delaney


October 23, 1851


Thursday Oct 23rd   Mr Smiley Scot & Holbrook came

to paint to day.  Mr Smiley whitewashed

the parlour & sitting room & painted two

windows in the sitting room  has been to work

all day  Hannah & Eddy called this morning

Augustus & wife & self have been to the funeral

of aunt Alger this afternoon  Have passed

the evening in Olivers  Bridget ONeal came this


Contractors filled the old house again today to paint and continue the refurbishment of the downstairs.  The parlor, where company met, and the sitting room, where Evelina sewed, were both being redecorated. We don’t know who Mr. Smiley and Mr. Scott were, but we believe that Mr. Holbrook’s first name was Randall; of the three men, Mr. Scott and Mr. Holbrook would continue off and on to paint various rooms at the Ames’s from this date until June, 1852.

New to this bustle of repainting was Bridget O’Neil, a servant who only arrived in the morning. She was probably taking the place of the recently departed Ellen. She was also the same Bridget who had worked for the family earlier in the year.  Where had she gone in the interim?

On a sad note, Evelina attended a funeral today for a Gilmore relative, an aunt in the Alger family. She went with her nephew and his wife, Hannah.  Later, she went next door to visit with Sarah Lothrop Ames.  Those post-tea evenings were beginning to take place after dark . Very soon tea itself would be served after the sun had gone down.  Daylight and warmth would diminish.  As Old Oliver noted in his journal , “this was a fair day wind north west and grew cold towards night.”

October 22, 1851


1851 Wedns Oct 22d  have been taking care of Hannahs

babe to day  He has been pretty good

but would not be turned off at all have

had to hold him most of the time

George Randall came about eleven

to scrape the walls has got the paper

from the parlour and part of the sitting

room  It has been raining most all day

have written to Louisa J Mower


Evelina made good on her promise to watch Hannah Lincoln Gilmore’s baby son while Hannah went into Boston.  Little William Lincoln Gilmore was only three months old, still nursing and not yet able to sit up. No wonder he “would not be turned off at all.”  Had Evelina forgotten what it was to care for an infant? She “had to hold him” most of the time, probably walking around with Willie in her arms, or rocking him in one of her rocking chairs – except that the furniture was in disarray from the redecorating. She couldn’t take him outside, either, as the day was cold and rainy.

A local man, George Randall, came to scrape wallpaper, a task that Evelina had, evidently, finally given up on. She had spent much of the last two days scraping and was ready now to pay someone to finish the job she had started. Mr. Randall was able to complete the scraping in the parlor and start it in the sitting room.

When Evelina was able to lay young Willie down, or perhaps after Hannah returned and picked him up – happy baby – she sat to write a letter to her friend in Maine, Louisa J. Mower. She may have written a thank you note for the cheese and butter that arrived a few days back.