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