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