Thursday May 20th Went to Bridgewater quite early this
morning and did not get back until
after four Oclock Bought an oilcloth
carpet for the dining room, Straw carpet
for O Angiers chamber and engaged some
husk mattress Called into Edwins after
I returned Have a bad head ache. Very pleasant
Today’s shopping objective: new floor coverings for the dining room and a bedroom, as well as “some husk mattress.” At least one of the mattresses of the house was due to be restuffed or entirely made over.
By the mid-nineteenth century, mattresses were stuffed with various materials, including cotton batting, wool, horsehair or corn husks. As they had been for centuries, mattresses were placed within a wooden bed frame and set atop a latticed support of rope or leather or wire. The box-spring that we use today would come along a few decades later.
It’s a little curious that Evelina “engaged some husk” for a mattress, when she could have selected cotton or something finer, like down. Feathers would have required poultry, however, which the Ameses didn’t keep, and were expensive to purchase. The husks, probably harvested the previous fall from a corn harvest and dried over the winter, would have been less expensive.
By the end of the day, Evelina had a headache. Perhaps her long day of shopping or a bumpy ride to and from Bridgewater set her off. With so much time spent outside, a high pollen count could have been the culprit, too, and might also account for Susie Ames’s recent nose bleeds.