August 21, 1852

513684745

Factory in Burlington, Vermont, 19th century

Saturday Aug 21th (sic)  Cousin Harriet came up to see us

this morning and invited us to spend the day

at Mrs Mills but she stopt to dinner there

and we went to Mrs Mills to tea  Miss Ann Clark

and Mr S Mower called. After tea Mrs A Ames

Oakes A & self called at Mrs Mowers and they were

going to the Panorama of the garden of Eden and Mrs Ames

Mrs Stetson and I went with them.  Oakes A returned to Mrs Stetsons

Evelina, Oakes Angier, and Almira Ames woke up in Burlington, Vermont, at the home (or boarding house) of a Mrs. Stetson. Surely they spent the morning unpacking and whisking road-dust off the outfits they had traveled in. Their quiet time was soon interrupted by visitors, however, including their spinster cousin, Harriet Ames.

Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, and even in 1852 was a bustling town. Located on Lake Champlain, it had a railroad line that connected not only with Boston and New York, but also with a steamship company on the lake, making shipping and manufacturing a big part of the local commerce. Like many communities in Massachusetts, the city had attracted a large Irish population that became its dominant work force.

Vermont as a whole struggled through most of the 19th century between the influence of industrialization in its few urban areas and the entrenched rural preferences of its many small towns.* Many would say that the agrarian forces triumphed, for in the 21st century, Vermont remains New England’s most rural state.  Burlington itself is now home to the main campus of the University of Vermont and, more important, the headquarters of Ben and Jerry’s.

All that lay ahead, of course, and would have been beyond the reach of Evelina’s imagination. For her, this 19th century day was full of becoming acquainted with a new city, seeing her eldest son get settled, and finding friends.

 

*Paul M. Searls, Vermont in the Nineteenth Century, http://www.flowofhistory.org

 

August 20, 1852

1024px-1879_CV_map_only

Map of the Central Vermont Railroad, circa 1879

1852

Friday Aug 20th  Left Bellows Falls at 1/2 past 7 and

arrived at Burlington about two. Went

to Mrs Stetsons found the house shut up

At the house opposite they told us she had

gone to Mrs Mills and went there and had

some dinner and all went to Mrs Stetsons to

tea  Mrs S Ames Fred & Helen stopt at Pittsford

Willie Gilmore died this afternoon

Evelina would not learn of it for several days, but her young great-nephew, William Lincoln Gilmore, died today of dysentery. (She added the information later.) Barely a year old, Willie had been ill for several weeks, and Evelina had visited his parents, Augustus and Hannah Gilmore, a few times before she left North Easton. His death was sad news.

Not knowing about it, however, and full of her own worry for her own son, Evelina was open to the journey she and other family members were on. By way of the Vermont Central Railroad, presumably, she, Oakes Angier, and Almira Ames traveled another 100+ miles today from Bellows Falls to Burlington, Vermont, while Sarah Lothrop Ames and her two children, Fred and Helen, got off at Pittsford. Although the map in the illustration above dates from 1879, the line itself was first developed in the 1840’s.

Burlington was Oakes Angier’s destination, the place where he would stay for several weeks to rest and, it was hoped, recuperate from his pulmonary illness. The threesome spent the night with Mrs. Stetson, a friend of the family.

August 19, 1852

PC+Bellows+Falls01VT

Bellows Falls, Vermont, late 19th century

Aug 19th Thursday.  Started with Mrs A L Ames

S Ames Fred Helen & Oakes A for Burlington

Left Boston at 12  Stopt for the night

at Bellows Falls much fatigued & covered

with dust.  It is a very romantic place and […]

very good accommodations at the Island house

Walked out after tea to view the place & falls

Off they went! Half the family, it would seem, exited North Easton to accompany Oakes Angier on his trip to Burlington, Vermont. Obviously, the group traveled first from North Easton to Boston, where they boarded a train, most likely, and departed at noon. Six or so hours and about 100 miles later, “much fatigued and covered with dust,” they disembarked at Bellows Falls, Vermont, a small village on the state line between New Hampshire and Vermont.

The village may have been small, but its location on the Connecticut River and its powerful falls made it a fine industrial site. Two railroads already met there, and a mill industry thrived. The bridge across the water – a later version of which is featured in the postcard illustration above – added to the picturesque quality of the town.  Evelina found it “very romantic.” Today the village is part of the larger town of Rockingham, whose population boasts a little over 5,300.

 

 

August 18, 1852

Trunk

Aug 18th Wednesday. This day has been a busy one

Have fired Susan off to stay at Alsons and

with Orinthia while I am gone. Mrs Stevens

has gone to Alsons just after they left Mr

Jones wife & daughter came in the midst 

of my packing and I had to leave all but

have got all ready this evening

The push was on to finish preparations for the trip Evelina, Oakes Angier and others would be taking the next day. Ten-year-old Susie Ames was “fired off” to stay first with her Uncle Alson Gilmore and later with her teacher, Orinthia Foss. What did she think of all this? Her older brothers, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton, got to stay at home with their father. She may have wondered why she didn’t get to stay home, or she may have been excited to spend a few nights away.

While she was packing her trunk, Evelina was interrupted by the Jones family, but after they left “got all ready this evening.” The Joneses were a family from Foxboro; their purpose in visiting was presumably social, but their timing was awkward. Evelina wasn’t prepared to spend her time with company; she just wanted to get ready for departure. We should remember that not only did she have to pack for herself, she had to get Oakes Angier’s clothes ready, too. A sliver of consolation in all this was that she would have a reason to wear her new traveling dress, the one she worked so hard on earlier in the summer.

August 17, 1852

Flatiron

Aug 17th Tuesday  Starched my clothes and about

eleven Oclock was setting the table to iron

when Mother & Alsons wife came and

I put them by.  Have ironed them this after

noon in the dining room with Mrs Stevens

Henrietta Augusta & Abby sitting around

Mrs Ames & Witherell called

The Ameses had made a decision to send Oakes Angier to Vermont for a rest, and Evelina was to accompany him on the trip. Also accompanying them would be Sarah Lothrop Ames and her two teenaged children, Fred and Helen, as well as the visiting Almira Ames.

Gathered around Evelina in the afternoon were many of her usual companions: her sister-in-law Henrietta Williams Gilmore, her nephew’s wife, Augusta Pool Gilmore, her niece Abigail Williams Torrey, her guest Mrs. Stevens, and her nearest sisters-in-law, Sarah Witherell and Sarah Ames. The looming expedition must have been the topic of conversation among the women as they sat and watched Evelina iron her clothes on the dining room table. (No ironing boards yet!) The conversation might have roamed from concern for Oakes Angier to curiosity about the travel arrangements.

That the travel ahead of Evelina was serious is indisputable; it involved the well-being of her eldest son. Yet there had to be an element of adventure in the plans.  They’d be traveling across Vermont, visiting places that Evelina may never have seen. They’d be seeing relatives and friends, too, which may be the element that enticed Sarah Lothrop Ames and her two children to join the expedition.

August 16, 1852

Washing

Aug 16th Monday  Mrs Stevens is making Oakes A

a vest  I have been puttering about the 

house part of the time and the rest fixing

my things to go to Burlington  Catharine

sews nicely and has been making shirts

&c &c  We have had a large washing to day

Catharine helped until after dinner

Oakes Angier Ames, seriously ill with bleeding at the lungs, was going to Burlington, Vermont, for a rest. His mother, Evelina, was going to accompany him to his destination.  On this start to the week, she was all about “fixing my things to go.”

Everyone seemed to be bustling about with purpose. Evelina had at least one servant, Catharine, who was helpful across the board with sewing, laundry and meal preparation. Too, her houseguest, Mrs. Stevens, was sewing a vest for Oakes Angier, perhaps with the idea of keeping his chest warm against any chill.  The weather, although “fair,” had turned “cool for the season.”* Northern Vermont was likely to be even cooler, and a vest would be good protection.

Busy, Evelina probably had little thought for anything beyond her own immediate purview, yet she did share the same weather and sky as a journalist not too many miles to her north.  On this same day, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal, “At sunset, the glow being confined to the north, it tinges the rails on the causeway lake-color, but behind they are a dead dark blue. I must look for the rudbeckia which Bradford says he found yesterday behind Joe Clark’s.”**

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

** Henry David Thoreau, Journal

 

 

 

August 15, 1852

Bed

August 15th Sunday  Did not sleep much last night

My handbag with bonnet visite & c were missing

found them this morning at Olivers  Helen

carried them home.  Have been to meeting

came home at noon  Mrs Stevens Orinthia &

Lavinia with us.  Called to see Willie

Gilmore found him more comfortable

Evelina often felt poorly right after returning from her shopping forays into Boston; on this occasion, she was unable to sleep. Surely, the seriousness of her son’s pulmonary illness was the larger culprit in her wakefulness than the usual exhaustion from her trip to the city. She was still rattled in the morning, unable to find her handbag, bonnet and
visite which, it turned out, had been mistakenly taken next door by Helen Angier Ames. It would seem that all the women were a little rattled.

The men may have been rattled, too, by Oakes Angier’s illness, but Old Oliver, at least, wasn’t showing it. He kept up his usual weather-related journal entries. Accordingly, today “was a fair warm day with the exception of two slight showers, perhaps 1/8 of an inch in both of them.”*

Somewhere in the course of the day, perhaps after church, Evelina and her husband, Oakes, and Oakes Angier himself, in all likelihood, determined on a course of action for the latter. Oakes Angier would go off to rest in fresher air and, for the journey itself, be accompanied by various family members.  The decision must have offered relief and hope to all. Evelina got outside of her own head enough to call on her nephew, Alson Augustus Gilmore, whose infant son had been so sick with dysentery. Little Willie seemed better. While there, no doubt, Evelina shared the plans to send Oakes Angier away.

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

 

August 14, 1852

440px-Henry_Jacob_Bigelow_c1854

 

Dr. Henry Jacob Bigelow

(1818 – 1890)

Aug 14th

1852 Saturday  Oakes A went to see Dr Bigelow

He agrees with Dr Swan that the blood

comes from the lungs and that he must leave the

shop and be very quiet.  Returned from

Boston to night.  Mrs Stevens came here in

the Cars  Mrs Witherell A L Ames & Mrs

S Ames called

Oakes Angier saw a doctor in Boston today about his bad cough and bloody sputum.  He went to a Dr. Bigelow, who could have been either of two well-regarded medical men: Jacob Bigelow or his son, Henry Jacob Bigelow. The son, only a decade older than Oakes Angier himself, was a Harvard grad who was becoming famous for his role in introducing ether into the operating room. Without the modern diagnostic equipment to which we 21st century readers have become accustomed, Dr. Bigelow was nonetheless able to give an informed opinion about Oakes Angier’s pulmonary condition. If the doctor used the word “consumption,” Evelina didn’t write it down.

The illness was serious and Oakes Angier was ordered to ” leave the shop and be very quiet.” Rest and fresh air, in other words, were the treatment. If diagnostic ability was limited, treatments were even more so. Oakes Angier would have to go away and rest and hope for the best.

Back in Easton, the women of the family gathered in the sitting room or parlor to hear what the Boston physician had said, and perhaps to take a look at Evelina’s new bonnet. We can imagine that each member had a notion of what should happen next: where Oakes Angier should go, how he might travel, and what needed to be done to get him ready. In all likelihood, however, the decision on what to do would be decided by Oakes Angier’s father.

 

August 13, 1852

Chaise

Friday Aug 13th  Went to Boston with Oakes A and

Susan in Mr Whites Buggy chaise

Mrs S Ames went in the Cars. Met her at

12 Oclock at Mr Daniells  Ran around most

all day to get a bonnet  Mrs Norris went

with me in the afternoon and at last just

at night found one such as I wanted

 

Evelina had a bonnet to buy in Boston; Oakes Angier had a medical appointment to make. So, sitting snugly in a chaise borrowed from Col. Guilford White, Evelina, Oakes Angier, and little Susie Ames rode into Boston. Most likely, Oakes Angier drove while the females sat beside him and examined the passing countryside. This trip would have been a big adventure for Susie, who didn’t move beyond Easton very often.

Sarah Lothrop Ames, meanwhile, took the train into town. The two women met up at noon at a familiar haunt, Mr. Daniell’s Dry Goods store on Washington Street. From there they “ran around most all day,” Evelina looking everywhere for the right bonnet – at the right price, no doubt. She secured one at the end of the day and presumably went to the home of Robert and Melinda Orr to spend the night, probably with Susan. Whether Oakes Angier joined her there isn’t recorded.

The Ames family didn’t own a chaise, evidently, though such two-wheeled vehicles were quite common. One hears of chaises, known colloquially as shays, being the definitive carriage for rural doctors and country parsons – men who had to move around frequently to see their patients and parishioners, respectively. In 1858, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. wrote a satirical poem about a well-built chaise entitled the “The Deacon’s Masterpiece or The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay” that was quite popular in its day.

 

 

 

August 12, 1852.

Sow Thursday Aug 12th  I have been very busy and have not

written in this book for a number of days and

have made a mistake  Yesterday it rained and

prevented our going to Boston and it was last

night that Oakes  A bled and prevented our

going to day  Mrs Dorr returned to Boston

this morning  I have been very busy fixing work

for Catharine

Evelina was rattled. She usually kept pretty good track of her days, but this week she was delinquent and confused. She jumbled her activities around. In all probability, she was upset about Oakes Angier’s illness. He had been coughing up blood for a couple of weeks, at least, and wasn’t getting any better. The worry and fatigue was getting to her.

Outside the sickroom, the day was pleasant. The wind was “southerly + pritty warm,” allowing Old Oliver’s crew of outdoor men to sow “grass seed + turnips on one half of the Peckham lott this day.”* Life of the farm and, presumably, at the factory were proceeding as normal. But it wouldn’t have felt normal to Evelina and others. Their lives were threatened by a sinister possibility.

Easton readers and local historians, where was the Peckham lot?

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