October 30, 1852

Nurse

Sat Oct 30th Mr Dawes & Miss A[l]ger left for

Boston this morning  Mrs S Ames watched 

last night with Mr Swains child and Mrs Witherell

is there to day  I have been very busy about

house to day and wish I was able to do

a great deal more as it is much out of order

Yesterday the Ames women visited Ann and John Swain’s house to see their ailing infant son. Today Sarah Lothrop Ames and Sarah Ames Witherell were back, taking turns watching. The outlook for the one-year old wasn’t good, evidently. Evelina would go over to the Swains for the night, being too busy during the day to help.

Evelina was straightening up her house after the departure of the latest houseguests, Mr. Dawes and Miss M. J. Alger. It was the first time in days that her home was back to normal, with only family in residence.  She found everything to be “much out of order,” and no doubt she and her servants bustled about choring and setting things to rights. She seemed too busy even to worry about whether or not her daughter Susie was practicing the piano.

In unrelated news from the Pacific Northwest, this 1852 date marks the first time that the name “Seattle” appeared in print, in a pair of advertisements in The Columbian, a nascent newspaper in Olympia. The city we know today, then just a small settlement, had been known informally as Duwamps, but had been recently renamed after Chief Seattle, a leader of the local Suquamish tribe. How remote and unconnected Evelina would have considered the beginnings of a city so far from her kin and beyond her ken.

 

 

October 4, 1852

searchsearch                                             weal_03_img0569

                       Roger B. Taney                                                                   Benjamin Robbins Curtis                

(1777 – 1864)                                                                       (1809 – 1874)

Oct 4th Monday  Catharine Middleton & C Murphy washed

Mrs Norris and all of us dined with Mrs Witherell

and staid there untill about four and then

Mrs Norris and self went to Augustus’ to tea and

passed the evening  Mrs Lincoln is there

intends spending the winter  I do but very

little sewing have made a pr of plain cambric sleeves to day

 

 

It was the first Monday in October which in North Easton meant another washday. At the Ames compound, the Irish servant girls, Catharine Middleton and Catharine Murphy, tied their aprons on, filled the wash tubs and went to work. The slight rain did not interfere.

In Washington D.C., on this first Monday in October, nine white male justices put on their black robes and also went to work. A new session of the U.S. Supreme Court got underway. Led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney of Maryland, the 1852-1853 term would deal with, among others, the case of Cooley vs. Board of Wardens of the Port of Philadelphia. That decision would confirm the right of states to regulate commerce within their own boundaries. We might imagine that this decision had an impact on businesses such as the shovel works that shipped merchandise.

Taney and three other members of the court – John McLean of Ohio (the longest-serving), James Moor Wayne of Georgia, and John Catron of Tennessee – had been appointed by Andrew Jackson in the 1830’s. Two other justices, John McKinley of Alabama and Peter Vivian Daniel of Virginia, had been appointed by Martin Van Buren and had served almost as long. Newer to the bench were Samuel Nelson of New York, appointed by John Tyler in 1845, and Benjamin Robbins Curtis of Massachusetts, appointed by Millard Fillmore the previous year, 1851.

Associate Justice Curtis was the first and only Whig ever to serve on the Supreme Court. A graduate of Harvard, he was also the first justice to have a formal law degree. The justices up until that time had either “read law” as apprentices or attended law school without getting their degree.  Curtis would further distinguish himself in 1857 when the Taney Court handed down the infamous Dred Scott decision that determined that a black man had no rights of citizenship. Curtis and John McLean dissented from that majority decision, with Curtis so upset that he resigned from the court. He is the only justice to date to resign from the Supreme Court on a matter of principle.

 

 

September 28, 1852

Pillows

Tuesday Sept 28th  Have two girls and yet Im

about house a great deal of my time

I fear I do not manage right  To day

I have sewed but very little have been

preparing for the sewing circle and have

cut out 6 prs of pillow cases & put them

out to whiten and 5 sheets.  This evening

have written to Mr Norris about our piannos

 

Evelina struggled to manage the servant girls. Was it her fault or theirs? Was Evelina too lenient, or demanding, or unappreciative? Were the young women ill trained, or naturally inept, or uncertain about their responsibilities? Evelina was inclined to blame herself.

She needed their help today, too, as she was getting ready to host this month’s meeting of the Unitarian Sewing Circle. Evelina hadn’t held a meeting of the Circle at her house for nineteen months, since her unsuccessful attempt back on February 12, 1851. On that occasion, bad weather and disinclination or indifference on the part of other Circle members had resulted in a no show of anyone except the immediate family. She had given a party that no one came to. She had been mortified, but soon recovered.

Did the memory of that embarrassment surface today as she was cleaned house, prepared food, and cut out pillow cases to be sewn? She doesn’t say. She had moved on, perhaps, and was more interested in thinking about the new pianos to come than revisiting an old grievance.

But would her fellow needlewomen show up tomorrow?

September 24, 1852

Giffard1852

Henri Giffard’s Dirigible  

Friday Sept 24th  Mr Ames & Oakes Angier went

to Boston and are going to New York for New

Jersey to night  I have been to work again about

house all day ironing and this that & tother

Catharine got my quilt out and has been

mending some stockings  Mr Rathbourne

returned to P[rovidence] this afternoon  Oliver carried him

to Mansfield  They went to Canton this afternoon

 

Today Evelina saw her husband and eldest son depart for New York and New Jersey, by way of Boston; that helps explain the extra laundry day yesterday. The men were off on shovel business and the fact that Oakes Angier went along suggests that he was enjoying good health. He was also learning the family trade.

Back at the house in North Easton, domesticity reigned, as usual. Even Evelina couldn’t quite keep track of all the little tasks she was addressing. It was simply “this that & tother.” Mending, ironing, quilting went on. Her son Oliver was riding here and there with his houseguest, Mr. Rathbourne.  It looks like the only son who was present at the shovel works was the youngest, Frank Morton.

Miles away from anyplace that any Ameses were traveling today, a steam-powered dirigible, lifted by hydrogen, rose in the air for the very first time. Hot air balloons had already ascended the skies in various places and for various lengths of time. The airship was new and different by virtue of its shape, design, and engine. Created by a Frenchman, Henri Giffard, the airship made its maiden voyage from Paris to Elancourt. It traveled 17 miles. The winds were too strong for it to return to Paris, as planned, but Giffard was nonetheless able to steer and turn the airship in its course. It was the shape of things to come.

 

 

 

August 29, 1852

300px-1852_Atlantic_hurricane_season_summary_map

Map of 1852 Hurricane Season, 21st century imagery*

Sunday Aug 29

1852  Has rained powerfully all day  Not one

of the family been to meeting  Mr Ames &

self laid down about twelve and when

we went downstairs found Edwin & wife

among the missing  Made them come back

to tea and spend the night  I have

felt tired & lazy and have read but

very little

The unofficial hurricane season of 1852 opened about ten days before today’s diary entry with a storm now classified as the Great Mobile Hurricane of 1852. According to modern meteorologist Christopher Landsea (great name for a weatherman!)*, the unnamed storm hit the Florida Keys, made landfall near Pascagoula, Mississippi and broke back out into the Atlantic in South Carolina, destroying lighthouses, homes, trees, bridges and crops in its way. It surged northward toward Cape Cod, where it still had enough energy to be felt in New England. Thus could Old Oliver report today that “the wind changed to northeast last night and there was an inch + a half of rain fell and it is a raining this morning and it raind all day + the wind blew hard”**

While this weather event of hemispheric proportions pounded its way across the eastern United States, a quite different vignette unfolded inside the Ames’s home. Eveline writes that the family skipped going to church, naturally, given the weather. She and her husband, from whom she had been absent for ten days or so, went upstairs to their bedroom and lay down – and closed the door, presumably. We can’t know the details, nor should we. But we can be grateful for this rare and tiny glimpse of intimacy between Evelina and Oakes, and smile at the Victorian discretion exercised by Evelina as she recorded the event.

*Information courtesy of Wikipedia, “1852 Atlantic hurricane season,” accessed 8.26.2015

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

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 9, 1852

06_01_002623.LARGE

Map of Bristol County, Massachusetts, 1852*

1852

Aug 9th Monday  Part of the forenoon was working

about the house & cut out some work.

This afternoon started to go to Taunton

and got as far as brother Alsons when it rained

poringly and we were obliged to ride into

the barn untill it slacked a little so that we

could get into the house  Spent the afternoon 

there.  It was quite pleasant when we came 

home.  Mrs Witherell A L Ames & S Ames were with me

 

On the 1852 map of Bristol County, illustrated above, the town of Easton sits at the very top. Its eastern border abuts Plymouth County, which was the home of Bridgewater (today’s Brockton), West Bridgewater, and more. On Easton’s northern line sits Stoughton in Norfolk County. To its immediate south lies Raynham, home of many Gilmore cousins. We often read of Evelina traveling to these three vicinities – Bridgewater, Stoughton and Raynham –  to see family, friends, and vendors.

To the west of Easton lies Mansfield – where Oakes and Oliver (3) caught the stagecoach for Providence – and Norton. Further south, on a NNW/SSE axis, is the somewhat bow-tie-shaped town of Taunton. Taunton in the 19th century was known locally as “Silver City,” for its silver manufacturing, being the home of Reed & Barton, F. B. Rogers and others. We seldom hear of Evelina heading there, but for some reason, she and her sisters-in-law were traveling there this afternoon.

The ladies never got to Taunton, however, as an abrupt rain shower came down “poringly” while they were en route. “Good showers,”**too, according to Old Oliver, the kind of showers he’d been looking for most of the summer. When the rain commenced, the women drove their vehicle into Alson Gilmore’s barn and waited, then hurried into the house when “it slacked a little.” And there they sat, visiting with the Gilmores.

With the notable exception of Boston, to which Evelina traveled several times a year, this map pretty well represents the geographic scope of Evelina’s life to date. The northern portion of Bristol County and its abutting towns constituted her largest neighborhood, her network of friends and family, her travel pattern, her home. That was her world. It would soon get larger.

 

*Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public LIbrary

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