July 31, 1852

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Women making potash soap, circa 1900*

1852 July 31st  Saturday  Have made two barrels

of potash soap and have had very good luck  This 

afternoon have been mending  Catharine Murphy came

this afternoon to sew for me and Im sure I hope she

will be worth something for it  Mary has been to work

on her own dress this afternoon   Susan &

self have been to Augustus this evening

and staid until ten  He is getting quite smart

This was a full Saturday for Evelina. She made a large batch of soap and was quite pleased with the result. Soap-making is an art, and Evelina was good at it. She knew enough about it, indeed, to be grateful for her own success. Of course, she could have purchased soap in the city or, perhaps, even in the Ames’s general store, but the farm girl in her resisted spending money on something she could make herself.

Lydia Maria Child, author of The American Frugal Housewife, devotes a whole page of her slim volume to making soap. “In the country,” she states unequivocally, “I am certain, it is good economy to make one’s own soap.” She offers various measures of ingredients: “To make a barrel of soap, it will require about five or six bushels of ashes, with at least four quarts of unslacked stone lime,” after which “[t]hree pounds of grease should be put into a pailful of lye.”** The trick to making soap depended on the sequence in which the ingredients were mixed, and at what temperature. It was a backyard chemistry experiment.

After the hard work of soap-making, in which Evelina was no doubt assisted by a servant, and an afternoon of mending, Evelina and her daughter Susan went to see her nephew. Augustus had fallen quite ill two weeks earlier with fever, but was now on the mend.

 

Image courtesy of http://www.wildernessarena.com

** Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife, 1841

July 30, 1852

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July 30th  Friday  Came home from Dr Wales at half

past four and slept untill half past

eight left her quite comfortable

Have cut out another sack night dress

and Susan a waist  Alson & Lavinia Edwin

and wife were here to tea  Mr & Mrs Kinsley

called just at night for a few moments.  We

all went into the other part of the house for

ice cream this evening   Horatio here to dine

When Evelina came home at 4:30 in the morning, was the moon still up? Did she realize that this night would offer the second full moon of the month, familiarly known as a blue moon? She would be able to see it, too, as the skies were clear.

We use the term blue moon to identify a second full moon within a calendar month.  An earlier definition – one that may have been in effect when Evelina could gaze at the night sky – was that of being the third full moon within a season that has four full moons. So say various almanacs. Tracking the lunar cycle to define the passage of time has gone on as far back as human history can record. The Christian ecclesiastical calendar, for one, is built around moon phases. According to one modern source,

Some years have an extra full moon—13 instead of 12. Since the identity of the moons was important in the ecclesiastical calendar (the Paschal Moon, for example, used to be crucial for determining the date of Easter), a year with a 13th moon skewed the calendar, since there were names for only 12 moons. By identifying the extra, 13th moon as a blue moon, the ecclesiastical calendar was able to stay on track.”*

The terrestrial events of Evelina’s day included sewing (of course), her nephew Horatio Jr as a guest at lunch, company for tea and, as a special treat at the end of the day, ice cream. Despite her lack of sleep, a pleasant day overall.

*Courtesy of http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bluemoon (accessed July 26, 2015)

 

 

 

July 29, 1852

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Thursday July 29th  Julia has been here again

to day worked for me untill about

three and cut Mary a dress  Mrs G

Ames Mrs S Ames Helen Emily & self

have passed the afternoon at Mr B

Algers coming home  Dr Wales stoped

the carriage & asked me to go there and watch with his wife

Evelina and her dressmaker sewed for hours today, presumably working on Evelina’s new traveling outfit but also cutting out a dress for the maid, Mary. In the late afternoon, Evelina joined the visiting Almira Ames, sister-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames and two nieces, Helen Angier Ames and Sarah Emily Witherell at the home of the Algers in Easton.

Ephraim Wales, a young doctor in town, evidently crossed paths with Evelina as she, and probably some of the other ladies, traveled home after their call on the Algers. Dr. Wales wanted Evelina to watch with his wife, Maria. Maria must have been ill or possibly even in labor.  Subsequent records don’t reveal why a doctor wanted Evelina to tend to his wife. But it does seem that Evelina was becoming the go-to care-giver in various homes. She was clearly generous with her time, and her bedside skills must have been excellent.

July 28, 1852

Sharps

Sharp’s Pistol, 1848-1850

 

July 28th, 1852

Wednesday Julia Mahoney has been here

to work to day on my travelling dress

but I have sewed but very little

Was about house all the forenoon 

making cake & pies &c &c  Mrs Ames &

Witherell have been to Dover  Horatio

Ames Jr came last night & I expected

him & father to dine but they went to

Olivers  Horatio went with Mr Ames

to Canton this afternoon & was here to tea

Horatio Ames Jr., a grandson of Old Oliver and nephew of Oakes, had come to the other part of the house for a short visit. By contemporary accounts, he was a troubled young man. The second child of Horatio and Sally Ames, he was born in Albany when his father was working there, but grew up in Connecticut.  In 1849 and 1850, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, but evidently left after just one year.

Early in 1853, Horatio Jr. was in Boston where he married Sophronia Eliot Hill of Salem. He worked as an iron monger at that time, but by 1858 was working as a clerk. On October 27, 1858, he killed himself.

What happened between his year in college and his suicide less than a decade later may pivot on the scandalous divorce of his parents, proceedings for which got underway late in 1852. His mother cited her husband’s multiple infidelities and harsh treatment to herself and her children. Horatio Jr. sided with his mother during and after the breakup. A 20th century account reports that Horatio Jr:

left home shortly after his parents’ divorce and so was out of touch with his father for some years. But he returned home in 1856 following his father’s remarriage. During an argument, he fired at his father in an attempt to kill him. Newspaper accounts of the incident, based on Horatio Sr.’s version of the events, depict him winning a heroic struggle for his life, but then magnanimously letting his son leave. Only after further warnings from his younger son, Gustavus, did Horatio finally have his son arrested. Horatio called his son ‘the worst hardened villain I have ever seen’, but then dropped the charges once Horatio Jnr. became contrite, begging forgiveness.*

The newspaper accounts on which this summation is based present only Horatio Sr.’s side of the story. We simply can’t know exactly what transpired between father and son, but we can know that the son eventually took his own life.  According to some 19th century records, Horatio Jr. is buried in Salem.

*John Mortimer, Zerah Colburn the Spirit of Darkness,2007

 

 

 

July 27, 1852

 

Asleep

Tuesday July 27th  Mrs Savage had quite a

comfortable night & I came home a

little before 5 Oclock & went to bed

did not rise untill nearly nine

Elizabeth Pool & Augusta came

in this forenoon with their work

Mrs Whitwell Reed Howard & Miss

Jarvis called on us all & Alsons wife

was here to tea & Mother at Augustus’

Evelina’s all-nighter at the bedside of Mrs. Savage didn’t seem to impinge on her day.  After a catch-up sleep in the early morning, she was back on her feet.  Augusta Gilmore and her young sister Elizabeth came over “with their work,” meaning that they brought some sewing with them, and the women sat, sewed, and visited. Later in the day, several ladies from her Unitarian circle of friends “called on us”.  Her brother Alson’s wife, Henrietta Williams Gilmore, came by for tea. A most sociable day, it was.

In the other part of the house, “Horatio Ames Jun r came here to day.”* Horatio was, obviously, the eldest son of Horatio Ames, who was the brother of Oakes, Oliver Jr., Sarah Witherell, Harriet Mitchell and William Leonard Ames. Repeating previous posts, Horatio ran a forge in Connecticut, far from the shovel shop in Easton, but still connected to it financially and emotionally. He and his son were not on friendly terms, and it’s hard to determine just what had brought Horatio Jr to Easton.  He arrived in the evening and for some reason Evelina didn’t mention it in her diary.

 

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

 

July 26, 1852

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Monday July 26th  Hannah & Mary washed and I

have been sewing most of the day but have

a head ache  Have engaged to watch with

Mrs Savage, but do not feel like sitting 

up all night  We have had a rainy

day which was very much needed and

I hope it will make my garden look

better

“[I]t was cloudy this morning wind south east and it raind during the day half an inch or more,” reported daily chronicler Oliver Ames. He had been looking for rain all summer and hadn’t seen enough of it. Today’s rain was most welcome; parlor gardens would be perkier and vegetable patches here and there would be improved.  Evelina hoped her garden would “look better.”

What was blooming in Evelina’s garden at this time of year? So many flowers had gone by by this point in the summer, having peaked between May and early July, yet perennials like Black-eyed Susans and Coneflowers would be in full presentation. If Evelina had geraniums, or other annuals, they too might still be stretching toward the sun – and grateful for the day’s rain. The fact that Evelina was able to gather a “boquet” to take to a friend at church the day before proves that flowers were alive and well in her garden.

Evelina, unfortunately, wasn’t feeling at the top of her game. Nonetheless, she agreed to sit up over night with her ailing neighbor, Hannah Savage. Perhaps Evelina was conscious that her acute headache couldn’t compare with Mrs. Savage’s ongoing battle with tuberculosis. Evelina would get over her ailment but Hannah would die from hers.

July 25, 1852

 

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Massapoag Pond

July 25th  Have been to meeting and at intermission

went into Mrs John Howards with Mother

Had a very pleasant call met a number 

of ladies carried Miss Jarvis a boquet

of flowers  After meeting rode to Mashpog 

pond with Mr Ames & Susan.  Came home

through Sharon & went by Col Tisdales

a very pleasant ride but feel much fatigued

 

Evelina had a “very pleasant” time at church today. She carried some flowers from her garden with her and gave them to a friend, Miss Jarvis, at intermission. She was worn out by the end of the day, however, because after church, she, her husband, and daughter drove up to Massapoag Pond in Sharon. The day was sunny and warm and the drive along the woods may have been pleasant, especially as they drew near the water. There were old iron works in the area; perhaps they were what interested Oakes in the outing.

On the way home, the threesome drove by the home of the late Col. Israel Tisdale. Frank Mennino, curator at the Easton Historical Society, tells us that:

“The Tisdale family was well known in the area from colonial days, once operating an inn on Bay Road. Later, the family built two farmhouses and ran a large farm on Mountain Road. One of the houses was the house that Oakes and Blanche [Ames] stayed in while Borderland was being built, and was lived in for many years by the Manning and Kent families. It burned in the early 1980’s after being empty for some time. Mountain Road was ‘party central’ back then.”

Oakes, Evelina and Susie did no partying as they ventured home, but they did have “a very pleasant ride,” nonetheless.