Infant wear from Godey’s Lady’s Magazine, 1851
Sat May 22d
1852 Mrs Paterson here again to day and has cleaned
Susans chamber, windows & doors in Franks and
taken up the carpet and cleaned the front
chamber except the floor Lavinia & Orinthia
came about eleven, Edwin & Augusta here to tea
and went home with Lavinia Mrs McHanna stood
godmother for McCabes child
Spring cleaning continued. Mrs. Patterson returned to help Evelina clean, and the two women worked hard. Windows, doors, carpets and more were scrubbed, wiped or beaten, as appropriate.
Jane McHanna, the Ames’s regular servant, must have had time off today. She attended a baptism, presumably at the little Catholic church on Pond Street, to act as a godmother for a child of the McCabes. About this time, there was an Irish family in Easton, Bernard and Hannah McCabe, who had young children. Perhaps Jane became a godmother for three-year old William McCabe or, more likely, a younger sibling. There were several McCabe families in Bristol and Plymouth counties at this time, however, so we can’t be certain who this young child was.
The baptism or christening of infants was an important rite for both Catholics and Protestants. They had different approaches, certainly, but the intent was the same: to bless a child and erase its original sin. Unitarians differed from the Catholics and Calvinist-based Puritanism on this latter issue, as Unitarians didn’t accept the notion that children were born depraved. It was a critical doctrinal point. Jane McHanna would have accepted the more traditional view, and probably considered it an honor to have been selected as godmother.
4 thoughts on “May 22, 1852”
Ah, “original sin.” I will settle for, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” but what else would we expect from the Book of Job? 😉
Human nature, as I have experienced it, could validate both the Unitarians and the Trinitarians, but I suspect the bottom line in North Easton was that Old Oliver did not care for some Bible-thumping Trinitarian telling him that he was going to burn in hell, if he did not do x, y, and z. Hence, Old Oliver told them, “choose the Unitarian” and down the road we get Chaffin, LaFarge, &c.
The Catholics were off in their own world, back then.
I think you’re right, Dwight. Thank you for that thoughtful comment.
Baptism according to the Lutheran tradition is not the “washing away of original sin” but the coming of the Holy Spirit and of God’s welcoming of the child as a child of God. This theological view of baptism would be prevalent in Easton with the immigration of the Swedes many of them arriving like my maternal grandfather, Sander Larsson, in the 1880s. The Swedish Evangelical Libanon Lutheran Church was founded in 1892 and my maternal grandmother, Alma Pettersson Larsson, was one of its new members. Although Sander worked as a shovel maker at the Ames Shovel Works, he was very smart (his father was a civic judge in Sweden) and very civic-minded and was elected in April of 1915 to the first Board of Directors of the Easton Co-operative Bank, now the Bank of Easton, He organized English classes for Swedish immigrants (I learned this fact from Town Historian, Ed Hands), got the Swedes jobs at the Shovel Shop and housing, and helped them with their naturalization papers. He also was the founder of the Swedish “God Templar”, a temperance society, and he ran for State Representative. He died tragically too young at 53 when his daughter, my mother, Enis Larson Almquist, (member Easton Historical Commission for many years) was only 6 years old.
Thank you, Priscilla, for that insight into the Lutheran tradition.