Alson Gilmore (1798 – 1888)*
May 30 Sunday Have been to church as usual Mr Briggs
of Boston gave us two very excellent sermons
Alson mother & Helen came home with us
at noon. Augusta has gone home on a
visit and is going to Foxboro before she returns
Have been reading since meeting and
called in Olivers and on Mrs Witherell
Evelina’s older brother, Alson Gilmore, turned 54 years old today. He was a farmer – a good one – in the southeastern section of Easton. He had inherited the property from his father Joshua, probably when the older man passed away in 1836. By that time, older brothers had moved away or passed on, so even as the fourth of five sons, Alson was the heir who took over from his father.
Other than being a productive farmer, Alson was not the most high-profile man in town, His eldest son, Alson “Augustus” Gilmore, a perennial moderator for town meetings, was more active in civic matters, and his second son, Edwin Williams Gilmore, matured to become the outstanding entrepreneur of a hinge factory. His third son, Francis E. Gilmore, would, in time, take over the family farm as his father had. Alson’s daughters, Rachel, Lavinia, Helen and Hattie, would live theirs lives in Easton, too, two of them marrying.
Alson did play a civic role now and again. For fifteen years, he served as clerk for the Taunton- North Purchase Company, a complicated affiliation based on a seventeenth century acquisition of land that became the towns of Norton, Easton and Mansfield.** He was a selectman for one term in 1849-1850 and also was one of the last treasurers of a toll road that ran between Boston and Taunton, a road that was close to his property. That turnpike, unpopular at best, had only recently closed down.
On occasion, Alson Gilmore ran up against the Ames clan. His sister may have been been married to one of its most popular and powerful members, but that didn’t prevent Alson from disagreeing with them in a divisive argument over church politics in the 1830s. Alson had been on the side of preserving the familiar Congregational service and Calvinist beliefs, while the Ameses had argued for Unitarianism. With one or two other parishioners, Alson had been threatened with having to bear the cost of paying the minister, Luther Sheldon, while the controversy wore on. In Chaffin’s words, “the situation was very peculiar,”* and ultimately, it was resolved to no one’s complete satisfaction.
With Evelina, Alson shared the responsibility for looking after their elderly mother. It was a duty they both took seriously. He seems to have been a decent man.
* Image of Alson Gilmore courtesy of the Easton Historical Society
** William Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, pp. 19 – 38
**Ibid., p. 354.