April 28, 1852

Unitarian Church, Bridgewater, Mass


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

5 thoughts on “April 28, 1852

  1. For whatever it is worth here is a letter from Stoughton’s Massena to Hosea in 1861. It established that you could make the 48 miles from Lancaster to Stoughton via horse and buggy in 9 hours. 😉

    To Rev. Hoseah F. Ballou Postmarked Stoughton, MA Aug. 9,
    Willmington, MA
    Stoughton, August 8, 1861
    Dear Brother
    We arrived last evening and found all our own family in the enjoyment of good health for which we feel very thankful and we hope you and yours are blessed in the same manner, without this we cannot enjoy very much of this world although we may in the bright anticipation of the future amid all our sickness and misfortunes. Up to yesterday we had encountered the hottest weather of the season so that we were made uncomfortable on our journey home, but all seemed forgotten in the beautifulness of yesterday, and we traveled from Bro. Whittemores in Lancaster to Stoughton and were not at all uncomfortable in about 9 hours, a distance of 48 miles.
    Little Jenny held out well on the journey, and gained flesh so the boys think. I hear that we have had another slight brush with the secessionists out in Missouri but of this I have no means as yet knowing as it is only reported. I am told that everyone this way holds the same opinion we entertained of the Baltimore fight_ it was a most shameful affair and our army has no business there. But what is in reserve for us there is but one who knows. May the good Lord Save us from another such like defeat.
    Our nephew George Waldo was reported among the missing, but was afterward discovered returning to camp in almost a starving condition but was cared for & is probably at home by this time. He was in the 2nd. Regmt. of (?????). I understand Maturin’s Son has returned to College. Alfred, is with some regiment encamped near Boston, the other two boys are with Webster’s. Re(giment)_Col. Wright I am told is in Boston. I do not hear of his doing anything in particular. Mrs. Ballou says, the Col. Is engaged in supplying the Government. I shall be in the city before long and know more of what is going on. I have no news to send-very dull times some weight on bringing about results.
    I had nothing importance to write. When I commenced and I only wanted to let you know of our safe arrival and our health which has been somewhat improved by our journey. And I will assure you and yours that we feel very grateful for the attention we received while with you. We hope sometime to make a suitable return in the same way, May the time soon come.
    All join in sending love to you, Mrs. Ballou, Fanny, David & his good wife and hope the time will never come when they will have to look upon their little cherub boy as a rebel. May the good Lord bless and keep you all as in the hollow of his hand. Keep cool and wait patiently for the results of the great contest in which the Country-once so peaceful, happy & prosperous is involved.

    What peaceful hours I once enjoyed,
    How sweet there memory still,
    But they have left an aching void,
    This world can never fill.

    From your affectionate brother
    M. B. Ballou
    (Messena B. Ballou)
    PS Let me hear from you when Convenient.

  2. The Bridgewaters eventually formed into several towns including Bridgewater, East Bridgewater, and West Bridgewater, where Captain John Ames began the production of shovels. North Bridgewater became the City of Brockton. The Ames family still had business ventures in West Bridgewater, and I believe they were closely connected with each other. An 1857 map of the area clearly shows several buildings marked O. Ames, and others as T. Ames very nearby.

  3. For many years Oliver owned and/or was responsible for the operation in West Bridgewater. I suspect that he “owed” his other siblings that portion of his father’s inheritance, which is what I suspect is part of his obligation to set up his brother John with the knife shop at Picker. He also owed money to David, his oldest brother, who co-signed, or signed period, some of the early notes. In any case, it would be interesting to know when the West B operation stopped. It is now a nice park with neat stone-lined waterways. Many moons ago, I got a tour of the Captain John Ames house from its current (or at least then) appreciative owner, and I have a few pictures, somewhere on an old computer.

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