August 4, 1851


[No entry]

Evelina made no entry today in her diary, for reasons we’ll never know.  Too hot? Too cross? Too busy? Too much laundry? We can only guess.

Instead of commentary, we’ve posted an image of the Ames family tree familiar to many Ames descendants, especially those who own copies of Winthrop Ames’s 1937 family history, The Ames Family of Easton, which includes a fold-out version of this illustration.  The tree features the lineage of the two Ames brothers who stayed in North Easton: Oakes and Oliver Jr., but doesn’t include the other sons and daughters of Old Oliver and Susannah who also produced issue: Horatio, William Leonard, Sarah Witherell and Harriett Mitchell.

Some readers have asked for clarification on who was who within the family. What follows is a list of the children and grandchildren of Old Oliver and Susannah.  More information about this group and their descendants can be found in a detailed family geneaology produced by William Motley Ames and Chilton Mosely Ames in the late 1980s.

Old Oliver and Susannah’s children and their children in birth order:

Oakes Ames and Evelina Gilmore Ames had five children:

Oakes Angier, Oliver (3), Frank Morton, Henry Gilmore (d. young) and Susan Eveline Ames

Horatio Ames and Sally Hewes Ames had three children:

Susan Angier, Horatio Jr., and Gustavus Ames

Oliver Jr. and Sarah Lothrop Ames had two children:

Frederick Lothrop and Helen Angier Ames

William Leonard Ames and Amelia Hall Ames had seven children:

William Leonard Jr., Angier, Oliver, John Hall, Amelia Hall, Fisher, and Herbert M. Ames

William Leonard Ames and Anna Pratt Hines had one child:

Oakes Keene Ames

Sarah Angier Ames and Nathaniel Witherell, Jr. had three children:

George Oliver, Sarah Emily, and Channing Witherell (d. young)

Harriett Ames and Asa Mitchell had three children:

Frank Ames, John Ames, and Anna Mitchell

Two other children of Old Oliver and Susannah, Angier Ames and John Ames, died without issue.

July 9, 1851


1851 July 9th  Julia is here again to day and my dress

not finished yet  it will take me two hours

or more to get it done  I think it will suit 

me pretty well when it is finished  Mrs Horatio

Ames & Gustavus came to Father Ames this 

afternoon  Frank and Gustavus went to Mr Algers

to get some butter

William Leonard Ames, fifth child and youngest surviving son of Old Oliver and Susannah Angier Ames, was born on this day in 1812, less than a month after the United States declared war against Great Britain. He came along at an unsettled moment in Old Oliver’s life; the latter was attempting to establish a textile factory in Easton, an enterprise that would fail when “peace came along and spoilt the business.”*

William grew up having to compete with his older brothers, Oakes, Horatio and Oliver Jr.  In 1851, he was still vying for his place in the sun, so far without much success. Several years earlier, William had undertaken the management of two separate iron furnace operations in New Jersey, both of which were underwritten by Ames money from Easton. He was not successful, and blamed his lack of success on his brother Oakes. William believed that Oakes, referred to by one historian as “the emperor of New Jersey operations,”** was selfishly working against him.  “Oakes sole object […] is to make everything as unpleasant for me as it can be.”**

The enterprise may have been unlikely to succeed all along. William was focused quite specifically on operational issues while Oakes was looking at the profits to be made from various land deals on the properties in question.  The two brothers had different goals.

William began to close down his affairs in the east and, with his young family, prepared to move west to Minnesota. There, in the St. Paul area, he found success in cattle ranching and lumber. Credited with introducing the first Shorthorn cattle into the territory, “[h]is large and successful farm […] was a practical advertisement for Minnesota as an agricultural region”*** Despite the distance between him and the family in Easton, William made periodic trips back east to see his father, bringing some of his children along.  His only daughter, Amelia, eventually returned to the east to live.

Of all the offspring of Old Oliver and Susannah, William was the most married and had the most children.  His wives, the first two of whom died before he did, were Emily Louise Brown, Amelia Hall, and Anna Pratt Hines.  He and Amelia had six boys and one girl. He and Anna, too, had one son not long before William died, in 1873.

* Oliver Ames, journal

** Gregory J. Galer, Forging Ahead, Brown University




February 10, 1851


Feb 10th Monday  Warm this morning but not pleasant  Jane 

put her clothes out but the wind commenced blowing quite

hard with some rain, so that the clothes had to be taken

in & were dried over the registers  Cut Susan a Chemise

out of the width of  1  1/4 yd wide cloth and partly made it

Worked about house as usual on washing days in 

the forenoon  Wind blows quite hard this eve.

What a jungle of white linens the Ames house featured this Monday, with Jane McHanna having to drape dripping laundry around the heat registers.  So much for Evelina’s cleaning the floors the other day.  Miserable winter weather – snow, rain, ice, wind and rain again – was wreaking havoc with the domestic schedule.

One person in the Ames household celebrated her 12th birthday today: Sarah “Emily” Witherell.  Emily was born in New Jersey where her parents had lived while her father, Nathaniel Witherell, Jr., worked with William Leonard Ames, her mother’s brother, at various Ames enterprises.  Tragedy had struck in recent years, though, with the death of her father and the subsequent “drounding” of her two year old brother, Channing.  Emily was stricken with loss at an early age.

With her mother, Sarah; older brother, George Oliver Witherell; and grandfather Old Oliver Ames,  Emily now lived in North Easton, Massachusetts in “the other part of the house”.  She probably still attended school, but she and Susie Ames were too far apart in age at this point to be close friends, although they would soon find themselves sharing  piano lessons.  Her cousin Oliver (3) found Emily to be outspoken and opinionated; she was, evidently, unafraid of speaking her mind at a time when candor in women was not prized.

Emily never married.  After Old Oliver died in 1863, when she was about twenty-four, Emily and her mother moved into Boston, eventually taking up residence in Back Bay at the Hotel Hamilton and living off of distributions from investments managed by her male cousins.  A spinster cousin, Amelia Hall Ames, the only daughter of William Leonard Ames, eventually moved in with Emily.  These two cousins, in turn, may have undertaken to raise yet another cousin, Eleanor Ames, a granddaughter of William Leonard Ames. All that is in the future; on this day in 1851, we can hope that Emily had a special birthday despite the weather. She deserved a happy moment.