Example of Kashmir Shawl Popular at Mid-19th Century*
Sat Aug 28th Mr Ames called at Mr Orrs this morning said
they were not any of them very well at home. Went
out to find Mrs S Ames at last met her at
Mr Orrs about noon. Melinda has not got home
from her journey yet. Bought Mrs Witherell &
self a Cashmere shawl Have had a pleasant
visit but am glad to be home again
As he usually did on Saturdays, Oakes Ames traveled from North Easton into Boston on business. Instead of going right to his customers, however, he stopped by the Orrs’ where his wife was staying. Evelina had been away for over a week and he wanted to report that they – meaning he and two of his sons, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton – had fared ill without her. “They were not any of them very well at home,” he complained.
The fact that Evelina didn’t go rushing home to take temperatures or brew beef tea, but spent the day shopping in the city with her sister-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames, suggests that she didn’t take her husband’s report too seriously. If she had, she would have headed home right away. She may have felt that Oakes was just expressing dismay over the disorder that had arisen in her absence, a complaint that wouldn’t have been surprising in an era when the majority of men had no role in, skill at, or inclination for the domestic side of life. Evelina hadn’t been there to tend to the household and probably could have related to the words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragist and mother of seven, who had cause to bemoan “the chaotic conditions into which everything fell without her constant supervision.” Still, Evelina must have been warmed by the thought that she had been missed, and she was glad to get home.
While in Boston, though, Evelina did buy a couple of cashmere shawls, one for herself and one for Sarah Ames Witherell. If the shawls were as beautiful as the one in the illustration, they were two lucky women. As seen, some shawls during this fashion era were made extra large to fall over the full skirts of the time.
*Image courtesy of Meg Andrews, “The Girton Curtains,” http://www.meg-andrews.com/articles