Jan 25 Sunday Have had a lovely day although it is somewhat
cold. The first pleasant sabbath we have had for
a long while We have all been to church except
Mrs Witherell who still stays at home on account
of her teeth being out. Mother came with us
from church to night. We have had fine sleighing
for a long time Mr Whitwell gave us a fine
sermon this afternoon
Old Oliver, too, appreciated today’s weather: “this is a fair pleasant day wind south west + thaws some it is the first fair Sunday we had for a long time…” He also noted with satisfaction that “we began to fill our new ice hous yesterday,”* much of it with the ice that his grandsons Oliver (3) and Fred Ames had harvested on Friday.
The ice house was built right next to the pond** from which the ice was harvested. It was probably lined with sawdust for insulation; when the ice was removed, block by block, the sawdust absorbed some of the moisture and kept the building cool. Even if the temperature outside rose, the temperature inside stayed relatively low. The ice was crucial to the storage and preservation of food in those days before refrigeration.
Today’s fair weather enticed everyone to church except Sarah Ames Witherell, who preferred to remain somewhat hidden while she recovered from recent dentistry. The group drove the sleigh (or sleighs) to the meeting house, which was a couple of miles south of their family compound. Evelina sat in the family pew and enjoyed herself; she always liked hearing what Reverend Whitwell had to say. She and her family brought her mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore, home for a visit.
*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection
** Thanks to information from James Carlino, Dwight MacKerron and John Ames, we believe the ice pond in question may be Monte Pond, on the north side of Elm Street, just east of Rte. 138 in the northeastern corner of Easton. John also remembers an ice house next to French Pond on Union Street, also just east of Rte. 138, north of and parallel to Elm Street. He bought some old ice tools there in the 1970s that he used in making sculpture.
2 thoughts on “January 25, 1852”
I really would like to know where this ice house was, but I don’t think that Old Oliver was talking about Monte’s because the Ames had ponds that were closer (the Great Pond, Flyaway, and Shovel Shop (2); not sure if Langwater Pond existed then) and around which the Ames owned the land. I’m pretty sure that one could find the location of this ice house SOMEWHERE in all the Ames records and Easton maps. We need people like Ed Hands, Hazel Varella, and Frank Menino to chime in, but I don’t know how much time they spend on the internets. 😉
Additional thoughts are always welcome! Are there readers out there who know about old ice houses in Easton?