December 9, 1851

21e3fa70a71cf1a247c917909a88dc2f Dec 9th Tuesday.  Have been painting all day.

Got some putty from Edwins house to stop

the cracks in the hearth and painted that 

and then went to work in the storeroom

chamber finished that and the porch 

and this evening Mr Scott has painted

the floor & stairs.  Have quite a bad

cold felt it first Sunday morning

Mrs Holmes called about her milk has stoped taking

Despite having a “bad cold,” Evelina was up and working.  She walked over to her nephew’s new house and borrowed some putty which she used to fill some cracks on her own hearth. She “went to work in the storeroom chamber,” painting there and on the porch as well. It was a chilly time of year to be working in those areas, and not at all conducive to getting the better of a new cold, but Evelina seemed to have a goal in mind that she was determined to meet.

Mr. Scott was painting in the house as well, going over the floor and stairs. What kind of paint were he and Evelina using? The ingredients would have included pigment and a binding agent, such as milk or animal glue; the paint was meant to last as long as possible. Whitewash had prevailed on the plaster walls of early American homes, but other colors had since become popular. We don’t know what color Evelina picked. Mr. Scott would have mixed the paint up himself; there was no going down to a hardware store to pick up a gallon – at least not yet. Commercial house paint wouldn’t become available until after the Civil War, when Henry Sherwin and Edward Williams began to manufacture and sell ready-mixed paint.

In addition to the painting she did, Evelina mentioned a visit from her neighbor, Harriet Holmes, who came over to discuss “her milk” which “has stopped taking.”  This last sentence doesn’t quite make sense, and may be incomplete; if so, there’s no telling how the thought was intended to conclude. If we only consider what’s written, however, it sounds as if Harriet’s breast milk had just dried up. Yet there’s no commentary anywhere about Harriet Holmes having had a baby recently.  It’s a mystery.

*19th century painter’s caddy, Courtesy of http://www.donalsonantiques.com

2 thoughts on “December 9, 1851

  1. Is it possible that Harriet has been buying milk from the Ames or Gilmores and has decided to stop purchasing it? Where do the Ames get their milk? I assume that Old Oliver has a few dairy cows around somewhere, although I do not specifically recall anything about them.

  2. Good suggestion, Dwight. What I’ve noticed, however, is that Evelina receives or buys her butter and cheese from others. I inferred from the lack of mention that the Ameses did not keep any dairy cows and that, probably, they got such milk as they used from the Gilmore farm. That’s only a guess. But it stands to reason that Harriet Holmes and others in the village might be getting their milk from anyone of several outlying farms.
    Would love to hear from other readers who might have information on the topic.

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