June 14, 1852


June 14th

1852 Monday  Am 43 this day quite an old woman

Julia Mahoney came to work on my dresses

Hannah Murphy commenced working for me

this day & Mrs Patterson is here and it

has been about as much as I can attend to

to wait upon the rest  If I had two or 

three more it would be all I could attend to


Hannah Murphy, replacing the departed Jane McHanna, donned an apron this morning and “commenced working.”  Mrs. Patterson was still on the premises and the three women proceeded with the Monday chores, laundry included. Evelina was very busy tending to it all.

Yet today was Evelina’s birthday and she felt old.  We in the U.S. might scoff at the notion that 43 feels old; our current life expectancy for females is 81.  In Massachusetts in 1850, however, it was no more than 45. Who knew how long Evelina would live?  While she had the hopeful example of her hardy, octogenarian mother to emulate, she also would have remembered her two older sisters, both dead in their thirties. She may have considered the possibility that, like her mother, she could live to an advanced age. In fact, she would live to be 73; on this birthday, she had thirty more years in front of her.

At the shovel factory, Oliver Ames took his mind off his concern for the crops and focused instead on the arrival of Clark S. Manchester, who “came here to day from Fall River to build our stone shop.”* Mr. Manchester, 37 years old, was a native of Little Compton, Rhode Island, who had only recently moved to Fall River with his wife and two children. His expertise with stone work had led him to the Ameses, or they to him.

So the new building began, on the west side of Shovel Shop Pond. This location was different from the original and recently rebuilt factory, which sat at a lower edge of the pond in order to maximize the drop in water level. Water still powered the factory machines, and the new location to the west would still rely on water power from “just above where the Queset entered Shovel Shop Pond.”** But different from the old factory, this new Long Shop would accommodate a modern steam engine, a huge advance in technology. A new era in production was waiting to begin, and the stone buildings would reflect the change.

Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, 2002, p. 250



13 thoughts on “June 14, 1852

  1. Julia Mahoney? How very bizarre. I am quite sure that a Julia Mahoney was the cook in the family Queset house for my grandmother, Lucy Ames, the Winthrop Ames household when I was a child, that being 1953 era. Mary Slavin, who had come from Ireland age 18, raised my mother, Catherine (Judy), and Aunt Joan, and was still with the family when my grandmother died in her eighties.

    • Interesting! Of whom did the Winthrop Ames household consist? My newsletter from the Easton Historical Society tells me that there is a program at Queset House this afternoon. Frank Meninno will read from the letters of Winthrop Ames and Hazel Varella will lead a tour of the house.

      • Oh my, I wish I could hear, or get copies of those letters? When I was in Queset House in the early ’50s, the household was myself, my sister, Alexandra, Julia Mahoney, Mary Slavin, Tom Mahoney (gardener), and I believe another gardener (whose name I don’t remember). I think I have a picture of Julia and of Tom. My grandmother, of course, Lucy Ames

  2. I, too, wish I could hear Frank’s talk and take Hazel’s tour; no doubt both will be excellent. We’re in Maine for the next few weeks, however. The name of Julia Mahoney was not uncommon in the mid-19th century, as I discovered when I tried to get more information about Evelina’s dressmaker. She came over from Ireland along with many others with that same last name. Hard to know if your grandmother’s cook was a relation.

  3. Hello! My name is Whitney Brown and I am an employee at the Ames Free Library. I just heard Frank talk, and took Hazel’s tour, both were very informative! I have the absolute pleasure of working in Queset House at least twice a week!

    • Lucky you, Whitney, to work at the Ames Free Library. I bet that Frank’s talk and Hazel’s tour were super, and was sorry to be too far away to attend. Thanks!

  4. Happy Birthday, Elvina Ames! Just took the tour with Hazel. Wonderful and very informative as always. I work at the Ames Free Library and get to work in Queset House at least once a week!

  5. Sure wish some of the family could have attended. Had a good turnout, and the talk was taped. I will let you know when I have a few dvd’s that I can send you. Winthrop was certainly the leading person in restoring the New York theatre scene to a world class environment. He deserves more recognition than he is given.

    • Hello Frank…am clear out here in New Mexico. Wish I could have heard the talk. Would love to have copies of my grandfather’s letters, especially a DVD of your talk. Winthrop Ames is my grandfather and I lived in Queset house a short time in my early teens. It and the gardens have changed a lot, but am so glad it is being cared for and honored.

  6. Frank – I would welcome a dvd. In fact, once we get back to Boston I’ll come pick it up, if I may. Thanks.

    • Sarah, can you pick up two and mail me one? xxoo Pretty please?

  7. I am also sorry that I missed it, but it was a busy day between grandchildren’s lacrosse play-offs and Sunday family dinner. Did Hazel do one tour or a series of them? I know Winthrop mostly through the history that he wrote, but am interested to learn a little of his wife/wives/whatever and children. Was his life as dramatic/eccentric as his career choice might suggest? 😉

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