Thursday Nov 18th Catharine & Ann have cleaned
the buttery and it has taken them both all
day and I see to putting most of the dishes
back Mixed my meat for mince pies
Wrote a note to Mrs Ames to send by
Mr Swain tomorrow with a gold thimble
Called in Olivers Augusta there this evening
For all the sewing that Evelina did, this is the first entry where she mentions a thimble. The approximate particulars seem to be that Evelina asked her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, to get a gold thimble to be sent – as a gift? – to Ann Swain. Sarah Ames must have been planning to go to Boston the next day. Readers, your interpretation?
Whatever the circumstances were around this gold thimble, there’s no question that women used thimbles to sew. A thimble was worn on the tip of the finger to push the needle through the fabric. Simple enough, and time-honored. Thimbles have been found dating from BC, the earliest ones made of metal or leather or wood. Brass eventually became a standard material, although versions made of glass, ceramic, or even whalebone were made as well. Silver and gold, of course, were at the high end of the spectrum and often became heirlooms. Although the sewing machine would soon enter the market and alter the sewing habits of most women, thimbles would remain a tool for anyone using a needle and thread.
Not all the day was spent on sewing concerns. Evelina and her servants cleaned the buttery (or pantry) and made mincemeat. Old Oliver and his men were still outside where, in a “chilly” wind, they “finisht geting the manure of[f] our hog yard.” Surely everyone was pleased to finish that noisome task.
9 thoughts on “November 18, 1852”
You’re speaking of thimbles in a past tense, but they’re still very much in use today for all kinds of hand sewing and embroidery:)
Yes, thimbles are still useful and still beautiful, too, I believe.
You have done such a great job making Evelin come alive.
Were the Swains the couple who had just lost a child? If so, it could have been a gift relating to that loss.
Yes, John and Ann Swain lost their firstborn on Oct 31, so your guess is a good one.
I have since gone back and checked a few entries and got reminded that the Swains had given them all those quinces, in repayment for their kindness, which included purchasing the burial garb.
The friendly relationship between the Oakes Ameses and the Swains would continue as long as they lived. I believe that Chaffin touches on this in his piece about Oakes when he quotes from Ann Swain, the last survivor of the two couples – as you might remember, having done all of us the great service of transcribing that document (yes?).
Not to take credit where it is not due, I transcribed the Chaffin piece on Old Oliver, not the one on Oakes.
Oops, Dwight, sorry for my confusion! Thanks to any and all who take the time to transcribe old documents.