Sunday April 11th Mr Whitman of E Bridgewater preached
He gave us two good sermons but he is very dull and
I was very sleepy. Came home at noon Alson & wife
came to Augustus’ After meeting went into Edwins
Augustus & E Andrews came there. Susan staid
at home from everything It has been very pleasant
In the tradition of their Puritan ancestors, Evelina and her family did not celebrate Easter. No hidden eggs or little bunnies or even new bonnets appeared in the Unitarian homes of Easton on Easter Sunday, 1852. Many of the Catholic families in town, however, would have celebrated this significant Christian holiday, further underscoring the strong cultural differences between the new Irish and the old Yankees of Massachusetts.
Other parts of the country celebrated this holiest of Christian remembrances. It was the German community of the mid-Atlantic states, better known as the Pennsylvania Dutch who, some say, introduced the Easter bunny to America in the 1700s. The rabbit and the egg were symbols of the Germanic fertility goddess Eostre, whose pagan festival was eventually taken over by early Christians as a celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection.
It being Sunday, the Ameses went to meeting, at least, for both an afternoon and a morning service. Reverend Whitwell, the usual minister, was replaced today by Mr. Whitman from East Bridgewater who was, unfortunately, “very dull.” Evelina struggled to stay awake.
2 thoughts on “April 11, 1852”
Here is a semi-relevant paragraph from Chaffin’s piece on Old Oliver: After the division of the town church in which the Orthodox members seceded and formed another society, the old church became Unitarian. This was about 1838. The Ames families attended this church even after the Unitarian preaching was begun at N.Easton where they lived. But in 1857 at the resignation of Rev Mr Whitwell at the Centre Church they attended Unitarian services here and always contributed liberally to their support. In fact, although there was nominally a general subscription to support this preaching, sometimes no attempt was made to collect it and the expenses were paid by the Ames people at the Ames office, as though they were regular corporation expenses, a very bad thing for the church which is no longer continued (Chaffin being he current minister of that church). At one of these services the choir was not very well represented and undertook to sing a hymn to a tune unsuited to its –utre” .Having failed once or twice, Mr Ames arose and said, “Let us sing Amsterdam. Everyone knows that tune.”
Love these tales about the Ames family and the meandering path of the Unitarians in Easton. I would add a further note, that Oliver (3), the future Governor, suggested in his 1857 diary that Mr. Whitwell was invited to resign, if that’s the way to phrase it. He doesn’t suggest why.
The pulpit was then supplied, I think, by George Withington and various itinerant preachers, until the advent of William Chaffin. Chaffin stayed in place for a long time, as we know, although Oliver Ames Jr., in his diaries from the late 1860s and early 1870s, found Chaffin dull. Thank goodness Chaffin stayed, however, for his writings have greatly enhanced our understanding of life in Easton during this interesting period.