Wednesday April 28 Have been to the ordination of
Mr Ballou of W Bridgewater with Oakes A &
Sister Sarah, Mr H Ballou, Briggs of Plymouth
Brigham [illegible] Ballou of Stoughton &c
Mrs Witherell dined at old Mrs Ames, the
rest of us at Mr Thomas Ames. On my return
stoped at Augustus’. Oakes A came to tea
Miss S Lincoln Rachel Augusta & Abby here
It was the middle of a work week, but the Unitarian ministry was busy. In Bridgewater, (or West Bridgewater) a Mr. Ballou was ordained as minister. The name Ballou was associated with many late 18th and 19th century men of the cloth, particularly with Hosea Ballou, an early leader of the Universalist Church. Today’s Mr. Ballou wasn’t he, but may have been a relative.
Why were the Ameses invited to this ordination? Why did they attend? What was the connection? Were they related to the Ballous? They were distantly related to various Ameses in the area, including Thomas Ames, a 52 years-old farmer, who kindly had them to dine.
On this special occasion, as the Unitarians in Bridgewater were honoring ritual and perpetuating their ilk, a forward-looking and entirely new event took place in Boston. The first electric fire alarm in the world “was rung from what is now Box 1212 for a fire on Causeway Street. Created by Dr. William Channing and Moses Farmer, the system consists of forty miles of wire, forty-five signal boxes, and sixteen alarm bells. Police officers and members of the Boston Night Watch are given keys to the locked boxes to enable them to turn in alarms.”* What’s particularly amazing is that “[p]art of the system is still in use today.”*
*Jim Vrabel, When in Boston, 2004, p. 160