January 20, 1852


Jan 20th Tuesday  Have made Susan two pr of fur cuffs

one pair for school and one for best.  Hannah called

for me to go with her to call upon Augusta, went

with her found Julia Pool there stoped but a few

moments. This evening Mrs Witherell Emily & Mrs

S Ames brought in their work and passed the evening

They say I never give them the credit of coming here

at all. I certainly will this time

In what Evelina considered to be a rare occurrence, her two sisters-in-law, Sarah Witherell and Sarah Ames, “passed the evening” at Evelina’s. The women brought their work boxes or baskets and sewed together, young Emily and perhaps young Susie with them. Usually, Evelina went over to one of their sitting rooms.

On this same date in 1865, when Evelina’s life had changed, and she and Oakes were in Washington, D.C. while Oakes served as U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts, Oakes was called to the White House.  Winthrop Ames, who once possessed the diary in which Evelina recorded her days in Washington, tells us that Evelina wrote “today Mr. Lincoln sent for Oakes to come to the White House.  He went immediately after dinner and talked with the President until after midnight.’ ”

Winthrop went on to add, in his own words:

“Ames reported that the President said to him then, and in later conferences, ‘Ames, you take hold of this. If the subsidies provided are not enough to build the road ask double and you shall have it. Take hold of it yourself.’ And he added,’by building the Union Pacific, you will become the remembered man of your generation,’ The President said further that if the railroad could be so far completed that he might take a trip over it when he retired from the Presidency it might be the most memorable occasion in his life. Alas! his next railroad trip was to be in the funeral car that bore him to his grave in Springfield, Illinois.”*

*Winthrop Ames, The Ames Family of Easton, Massachusetts, 1937, p.


4 thoughts on “January 20, 1852

  1. I made some effort to find that diary and I am sure that you have tried even harder. At one point I suspected that it might be among all the books in the library room at Borderland, but apparently not.

    • I’m still looking! And I hope any Ames family members – especially in the Winthrop Ames line – who follow this bog will look in their personal holdings. The papers of Winthrop Ames are held at the New York Public Library, but no such ledger or journal is listed in the inventory. Borderland holdings are in a state of flux as the property is being transferred to the guardianship of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so I haven’t gone through them personally. Sounds as if you have, Dwight, so I’m sorry to hear you had no luck. Nicole Casper at the Stonehill College Archives has been helpful in looking for the diary, too. The hunt continues.

  2. No, I haven’t actually gone through them personally, just talked to those responsible for them, who claimed that it was not there. I cannot remember how they were catalogued.
    In any case, the story of Oakes’s leaving the water to freeze and Evalina’s harrumphing about it have stayed with me over the years.

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