August 1, 1852

SerffLedger1

 

Example of anonymous, old cash ledger

1852

Sunday Aug 1st  Went to meeting this forenoon

but was very sleepy and had a head

ache came home at noon & did not

return, was writing and looking over my

accounts untill the rest returned from 

meeting, good business for the Sabbath

I think. Mr Ames & self went to see Augustus

since meeting.  Alson & wife came after Mary

Evelina was plagued by a headache, so didn’t return to the afternoon service at the Unitarian church. As she had done before on a Sunday afternoon, she went over her household accounts. Like many a competent householder, she kept a ledger of cash transactions that detailed the weekly or monthly expenses of running the house. It’s highly unlikely that she had any money of her own; everything would have been paid for by her husband, Oakes, who either saw that she had a regular allowance or gave her funds as needed. She would have been careful with every penny, probably more careful than he was.

On this Sunday, she describes the review of her accounts as “good business for the Sabbath,” but in an earlier entry she had hesitated to do it, fearing that it was inappropriate. Accounting was quiet work, certainly, but it was still work, and that was forbidden on Sunday. By defending the activity in her own diary, she shows us that she was still feeling a little guilty for doing it.

Socializing wasn’t forbidden, however, and when her husband, Oakes, came home from church, the two went out to see Evelina’s nephew, Alson Augustus Gilmore, who had been quite sick with fever. Her brother, Alson, and his wife, Henrietta, meanwhile, “came after” the maid, Mary, and, evidently, took her home with them.

 

 

July 4, 1852

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July 4 Sunday  Have been to meeting  Orinthia & Lavinia

came home with us at noon  Orinthia had a 

toothache and did not return in the afternoon

Since meeting Alson & wife came up and brought Lavinia

for her to go to Boston tomorrow  Mr Ames called with Orinthia

and self to see the rock they are splitting for the shop and we all

walked down to see the new shop  Mr Clark of Norton preached two

excellent sermons  Oakes A & Helen went to E. Bridgewater

Oakes Ames “came home from N. York”* today, having been there on shovel business; he was the company salesman. After church was over he, Evelina, and her friend, Orinthia Foss, walked down to the shovel shop to see the progress on the new stone building, the Long Shop. They checked out rock that was being split.

“[T]his was a fair cool day wind south west and a drying day…” according to Old Oliver.  It was probably perfect for haying, but it was Sunday, so no one went out to the fields. It was also the Fourth of July, but again, being Sunday, the celebration was postponed.  Fireworks would be held the next day.

Modern historian Jack Larkin describes the importance of the Fourth of July in the American calendar:

“Despite its notably awkward timing for a nation so agricultural – it came in the midst of haying in the North, corn and cotton cultivation elsewhere – Americans made the Fourth their most universal holiday. In ‘fifty thousand cities, towns, villages and hamlets, spread over the surface of America’ citizens observed rituals that varied little, firing cannons, watching parades of prominent citizens and listening to endless orations in town commons and courthouse squares. Americans probably seized their national day with particular relish because it was the only sanctioned way of taking a break from the intensive labor of midsummer…”**

And just as we read yesterday of the beginning of a courtship between Frank Ames and Catharine Copeland, so today we readers may be privy to the genesis of yet another courtship.Evelina writes that Oakes Angier Ames drove his cousin Helen Angier Ames to E. Bridgewater, but doesn’t say why. Perhaps Helen was visiting a friend from school who lived there: Catherine Hobart. This Catherine, too, was destined to become part of the family as Oakes Angier’s wife. Was this their first meeting?

 

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

**Jack Larkin,The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1988, p. 275

 

June 27, 1852

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Carl Christian Anton Christensen, “Interior of the Carthage Jail”*

1852

Sunday June 27  Have not been to meeting at all

to day on account of having a bad cough

Alson came here at noon with Mr

Ames  Have been reading most all

day  Augusta made a call this morning

to say she should not got to meeting

Made ice cream this afternoon

 

Evelina felt ill today and missed church. Other Ames family members, however, attended the Unitarian meeting. Mr. Whitwell probably led the service in the typically thoughtful but unadorned style of this Protestant sect. Other services around town, such as the Catholic mass at the chapel on Pond Street, would have been more elaborate, with communion being taken, for instance, the service in Latin, and a great focus on Christ, the Virgin Mary, and various ancient saints.

In Salt Lake City, many miles to the west, a different service altogether would have been held at the Church of the Latter Day Saints, known to most of us as the Mormon Church. Believers in Jesus Christ, the Mormons were, and are, a truly modern religious group, having only developed in upstate New York during the 1820s from the sayings and visions of their leader, Joseph Smith. Smith and others tried to lead his followers West to settle with more freedom than they had in the East, but ran into many problems and pockets of persecution along the way.

In fact, on this exact date eight years earlier (June 27, 1844), Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob while in jail in Carthage, Illinois. The illustration above is a folk painting of that murder by a 19th century artist. Smith’s followers recovered from this tragedy and found a new leader in Brigham Young (and others, known as apostles), who led them to the Great Salt Lake in Utah, where they founded Salt Lake City in 1847.  By 1852, the year that Evelina is recording in her diary, the Mormons were well established there.  In August, 1852, in fact, the elders of the church would approve the practice of polygamy, a choice that would bring them certain notoriety.** They were, and are, a sect unto themselves.

In years to come, Oliver Ames Jr. and Oakes Ames would have extensive dealings with Brigham Young over railroad matters.

Image courtesy of the Brigham Young University Museum of Art

** In 1890, the LDS would renounce the practice of polygamy.

June 24, 1852

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Modern image of Mount Hope Cemetery, Boston

 

1852 Thursday

June 24th  Carried Mrs Patterson to Bridgewater.

Helen & Susan went with me. Dined at Mr

Burrells, Orinthias boarding place  got there about

twelve left there about two & went to Dr Washburns

He filed my eyetooth to make it even with the 

others  Went into the cemetery and in Orinthias school

a short time & home by Alsons stoped with Lavinia a 

few moments.  Alsons wife had gone to Boston

 

With her niece, Helen, and daughter, Susie, Evelina drove Mrs. Patterson to her home in Bridgewater. This was the last appearance of Mrs. Patterson in the diary, so we may assume that she didn’t work at the Ames residence any more this year. Most likely, she had been hired for spring-cleaning only, yet her brief tenure with the Ameses had a lasting impact. She was efficient enough to make Evelina dissatisfied or otherwise unhappy with the work of her regular servant, Jane McHanna, the result of which was the latter’s dismissal.

While in Bridgewater, Evelina accomplished various errands, the most pleasant of which was probably dinner at Orinthia’s “boarding place.”  The least pleasant had to be the appointment with Dr. Washburn, where the dentist filed down one of her canine teeth “to make it even with the others.”

Evelina went into the local cemetery, too, perhaps to visit a specific grave. Interesting to note that on this exact same day in the Boston area, another cemetery was receiving attention. In Roslindale, Mount Hope Cemetery – a new, rural-type graveyard in the mold of Mount Auburn – was dedicated.

On the way home, Evelina stopped at the family farm and had a quick chat with her niece Lavinia.

 

June 20, 1852

Lemon

Sunday June 20th  Have been to meeting all day Mother

went this afternoon and returned home  Mr Sanger

of Dover preached  Since meeting have been to 

Alsons with Edwin & wife & Oakes Angier.

Called at Mr Pools  Was treated with strawberries

& ice cream at Alsons and with lemonade

at Mr Pools  Frank went to a sing at Cohassett

Father gave me quite a lecture on cooking stoves

says we have had a dozen and we have had four

 

No Mr. Whitwell at church today. Instead, Rev. Ralph Sanger of the First Church of Dover led the service. Dr. Sanger was an older minister in the area, having graduated from Harvard in 1808, a year before Evelina was born. He had spent his entire ministerial life in Dover where he was well regarded. He also served several terms in the Massachusetts Legislature and was the chaplain for the Massachusetts State Senate.

After church came an afternoon of sweet sensations. Strawberries, ice cream and lemonade were served at two different homes where Evelina, Oakes Angier, and the young Gilmore couple called. The fresh fruit was a seasonal treat, and the ice cream and lemonade no doubt delightful as well.

Not all was sweet at home, however. Old Oliver got cross with his daughter-in-law and gave Evelina “quite a lecture” about her cooking stove. She was about to get a new one in her kitchen, certainly with her husband’s approval, but her father-in-law had no patience for it.  He didn’t see the need to update the kitchen equipment. We might remember that Oliver had grown up watching his own mother cook over a hearth, a style of cooking that had served for generations.  And here was his daughter-in-law planning to install another stove under his roof.

Even the little bit of rain that fell around sunrise didn’t cheer Old Oliver up.

June 10, 1852

 FullSizeRenderOld view of Gilmore house near Foundry and Washington Streets*

June 10th Thursday  This morning worked a few moments

on my bonnet and about half past ten Mr &

Mrs Orr Mr Ames & self went to Alsons to

spend the day  Mr Ames Orr & Alson rode

to W Bridgewater after noon  Mother is most 

sick with a cold  Called at Mr Copelands

to get Susans hat & Lavinia mended it where

it was burned

The Orrs of Boston continued their visit with Evelina and Oakes. The rain showers – too brief to satisfy area farmers – receded and the sunshine returned, along with wind that was “strong and verry dusty.”** The Ameses and the Orrs took to the road, traveling a few miles south to spend the day with Evelina’s mother at the Gilmore farm.

After midday dinner with the Gilmores, Oakes Ames, Robert Orr and Alson Gilmore rode east to West Bridgewater. What was their business? Evelina and Melinda stayed behind with elderly Mrs. Gilmore who was poorly. Evelina managed to go over to the Copelands to pick up a hat she had left there for Susan, which Lavinia proceeded to mend for her little cousin.

Old Oliver, meanwhile, was looking ahead to bringing in the hay, assuming it hadn’t been ruined by the lack of rain.  He “bought a yoke of cattle from Howard Lothrop,”** the latter a well-known man in Easton who, according to a 19th c. history of Plymouth County, “styled himself a farmer, yet did much business of a partially legal character [..] for which work his superior business qualities and excellent judgment especially fitted him.” The Honorable Mr. Lothrop was also a former town clerk, state senator, member of the Governor’s Council, and father of Sarah Lothrop Ames. Between the two strong men, seller Howard and buyer Oliver, who got the best deal?

*Image from Howard Gilmore Papers, Courtesy of Easton Historical Society

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

***usgwarchives.org

May 30, 1852

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Alson Gilmore  (1798 – 1888)*

 1852

May 30  Sunday  Have been to church as usual  Mr Briggs

of Boston gave us two very excellent sermons

Alson mother & Helen came home with us

at noon.  Augusta has gone home on a 

visit and is going to Foxboro before she returns

Have been reading since meeting and 

called in Olivers and on Mrs Witherell

 

Evelina’s older brother, Alson Gilmore, turned 54 years old today. He was a farmer – a good one – in the southeastern section of Easton.  He had inherited the property from his father Joshua, probably when the older man passed away in 1836. By that time, older brothers had moved away or passed on, so even as the fourth of five sons, Alson was the heir who took over from his father.

Other than being a productive farmer, Alson was not the most high-profile man in town,  His eldest son, Alson “Augustus” Gilmore, a perennial moderator for town meetings, was more active in civic matters, and his second son, Edwin Williams Gilmore, matured to become the outstanding entrepreneur of a hinge factory. His third son, Francis E. Gilmore, would, in time, take over the family farm as his father had. Alson’s daughters, Rachel, Lavinia, Helen and Hattie, would live theirs lives in Easton, too, two of them marrying.

Alson did play a civic role now and again. For fifteen years, he served as clerk for the Taunton- North Purchase Company, a complicated affiliation based on a seventeenth century acquisition of land that became the towns of Norton, Easton and Mansfield.** He was a selectman for one term in 1849-1850 and also was one of the last treasurers of a toll road that ran between Boston and Taunton, a road that was close to his property. That turnpike, unpopular at best, had only recently closed down.

On occasion, Alson Gilmore ran up against the Ames clan.  His sister may have been been married to one of its most popular and powerful members, but that didn’t prevent Alson from disagreeing with them in a divisive argument over church politics in the 1830s. Alson had been on the side of preserving the familiar Congregational service and Calvinist beliefs, while the Ameses had argued for Unitarianism. With one or two other parishioners, Alson had been threatened with having to bear the cost of paying the minister, Luther Sheldon, while the controversy wore on. In Chaffin’s words, “the situation was very peculiar,”* and ultimately, it was resolved to no one’s complete satisfaction.

With Evelina, Alson shared the responsibility for looking after their elderly mother. It was a duty they both took seriously. He seems to have been a decent man.

Image of Alson Gilmore courtesy of the Easton Historical Society

** William Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, pp. 19 – 38

**Ibid., p. 354.

May 23, 1852

Preach

Sunday May 23d  Mr Rogers of Canton preached to day

I did not like him any better than Mr Whitwell

Alson Mother & Helen came home with us

at noon.  Oakes A carried Miss Foss to the 

sing and home  Ellen H & Rebecca White went

with them  Mr Ames & self made a long call

at Mr Swains  Mr Rogers made a short call

as he was going to church

Robert P. Rogers, the Unitarian pastor from Canton, led the service in Easton today, presumably switching places with the regular minister, William Whitwell, as the clergy often did in those days. Rogers was only twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old; his post in Canton was his very first.  As yet unmarried, and certainly younger and less seasoned than Mr. Whitwell, Rogers did not impress Evelina. He paid her the compliment of making “a short call” before church, but she was partial to the Whitwells.

Young Mr. Rogers would soon leave Canton for a pulpit in Gloucester where he would serve as minister for the remainder of his ministerial life.  He must have done well there, or they wouldn’t have kept him around for so long. Decades later, however, Mr. Rogers would return to Canton to live out his last days.

Between and after today’s services, folks were moving around town quite a bit. Old Oliver noted that it was “some cloudy” but also “pritty warm,” so it was pleasant to visit.  The dry roadbeds, though dusty, would have been relatively smooth. Evelina brought her brother and mother home after the morning service, Oakes Angier carried three young women to a sing after church, and Evelina and Oakes went over to see John and Ann Swain in the late afternoon. Everyone socialized.

 

May 18, 1852

Dianthus.2474433_std

Pinks

 

1852 Tuesday 18 May  Have accomplished but a very little work

to day  Made a long call in Olivers & the other

part of the house talking over my visit yesterday

Set out some pink slips &c that I got there

About three started for N Bridgewater met

Alson & wife turned about and came back

Spent the rest of the afternoon at Edwins.  called

at Augustus,  her sister Elizabeth there

The visit to the Kinsley family that Evelina had made the day before lingered in her mind. She talked about it with both sisters-in-law, no doubt describing the family, the conversation, and the twelve pots of flowers she got to bring home. Was she bragging or sharing? Were Sarah Ames and Sarah Witherell interested or only tolerant? The Kinsleys were well-to-do, prominent citizens of Canton, so one suspects that both sisters-in-law had some curiosity about them. Yet it had only been a week since George Witherell had died, so Sarah Witherell may have had limited attention for Evelina’s gadding about.

After her “long call” with her relatives, Evelina spent time in her garden planting “some pink slips &c” that she got in Canton.  Pinks are bright little flowers that we know better as carnations and more formally as dianthus.  The name comes from the “pinked” or serrated edge of the petals, as if trimmed with pinking shears. Pinks are a traditional flower for a cottage garden; botanist Joseph Breck declared that “There is no flower more desirable in the flower-garden that the Carnation. A well-grown, superior variety, cannot be surpassed, in elegance, beauty, or odor, by any other flower.”*

The pretty little flowers in Evelina’s garden must have brightened up the yard of a home whose occupants needed cheering up.

 

Joseph Breck, The Flower Garden or Breck’s Book of Flowers, Boston, 1851, p. 111

 

April 26, 1852

ragged-robin

Ragged robin

Monday April 26

1852  Was about house and to work about the

garden all the forenoon  Mr Manly brought

me a Japan Quince Syringa P Lilac Compfre

Ragged robbin Cowslip Fleur de Luce &c  charged

90 cts.  Went this afternoon to Alsons with

Augustus & wife & her sister.  Came home

quite early and set out some plants that

I got there

Edwin Manley, Easton’s resident green thumb, brought Evelina her lilac bush this morning, along with a quince tree, some comfrey, ragged robin, cowslip and “fleur de luce,” which probably was Evelina’s spelling for fleur-de-lis, also known as  iris.  For less than a dollar, she acquired flora that promised to add fragrance and color to her garden. Later in the day she got more plants – for free, most likely – from her brother Alson Gilmore.

The countryside itself was still wanting in color at this mid-spring juncture, something Evelina and her fellow passengers might have noticed on their way to and from the Gilmore farm. Henry David Thoreau wrote about the pale fields and expectant woods in his journal on this date: “The landscape wears a subdued tone, quite soothing to the feelings; no glaring colors.”* Perhaps Evelina’s rush to add more vibrant colors to her yard would have jarred his sensibility.

Even with all the gardening, the day’s housework went on as usual with dusting, sweeping, dishes and laundry. Evelina and Jane McHanna both worked at various tasks, while Thoreau – not that many miles away – responded otherwise:  “It is a dull, rain dropping and threatening afternoon, inclining to drowsiness. I feel as if I could go to sleep under a hedge.”*

The two diarists reacted differently to the awakening pulse of spring.

 

**Henry David Thoreau, Journal