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