October 10, 1851


Friday Oct 10th  This forenoon made the skirt to my

cashmere dress and sewed some for Harriet.  This 

afternoon Mrs H Mitchell and children left with

William for Erie.  They are to stop a few days in 

Goshen with William and then go on to meet Asa at

Erie  Hannah called with Eddy a few moments when

she returned I went as far as the store & got some

Linings for my sleeves & Susans dress

Back on April 19, Harriett Ames Mitchell and her three children, Frank, John and Anna, had arrived in North Easton from Pittsburgh.  Harriett’s husband, Asa Mitchell, had not arrived with them, although he visited North Easton briefly later in the summer. Harriett and the children had spent six months in North Easton, mostly without Asa, staying off and on with Harriett’s father, Old Oliver, and her sister Sarah Witherell. They had also stayed in Bridgewater, where the Mitchell family lived.  Now, the family was traveling back to Pennsylvania, this time to Erie, where they would meet up with Asa. Harriett’s next oldest brother, William Leonard Ames, who had been visiting Old Oliver, too, “went from here with them.”*

Erie, Pennsylvania had just that year been chartered as a city, and was becoming a thriving manufacturing spot. As one modern historian has noted, “Erie was, of course, aided greatly by its proximity to the coal fields of Pennsylvania.”**  It was that proximity to coal that must have drawn Asa Mitchell to the town; he was a dealer in the coal market. Evelina speaks very little about Asa and from that it’s tempting to infer that Asa didn’t have a strong roll in the Ames family life.  He may have played a part in the business dynamics of the various Ames enterprises, however, but if Evelina knew about that, she didn’t mention it.

What did Evelina think about her sister-in-law moving away again? Evelina had a brother, John, who also had moved away from the area, but most of her family was nearby.  Did she ever think about life beyond eastern Massachusetts?  Did she ever want to board a train to see where it might take her? She doesn’t seem to have suffered from wanderlust.


*Oliver Ames, Journal, courtesy of Stonehill College Archives

** http://www.theeriebook.com, published by Matthew D. Walker Publishing Company, 2014


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 11, 1851



July 11th Friday  Have been to mothers to day with

Mrs Horatio Ames & Mrs Mitchell & Anna.

Called on Miss Foss with her to come home with

us but E Howard & Miss Williams are to visit

her school tomorrow.  It was late when we 

got to mothers, almost dinner time.

With sisters-in-law Sally Ames and Harriett Mitchell Ames in tow, as well as Harriett’s four-year old daughter, Anna, Evelina rode down see her mother on the family farm. The group probably joined the Gilmores for midday dinner.  Orinthia Foss was to have traveled with them, but she had to prepare for an inspection of her schoolroom.

Sally Ames (who some sources list as Sarah Hewes – another sister-in-law named Sarah!) was the wife of Horatio Ames.  She was up from Connecticut for a few days to visit her in-laws in North Easton, a town she had lived in as a bride and young mother.  Her father-in-law, Old Oliver, had built a house for her and Horatio back in the day, but the couple ended up moving to Falls Village, Connecticut, where Horatio, with marginally more success than his younger brother, William Leonard Ames, built an iron furnace operation underwritten by family funds. It was in Falls Village rather than North Easton that Sally and Horatio raised their three children, Susan, Horatio Jr., and Gustavus.  Their marriage was not a happy one; by the end of this year, Sally would be asking Horatio for a divorce.

*“Residence of H Ames Esq, Falls Village,” from Fagan’s map of Salisbury, 1853, “Connecticut’s Ames Iron Works,” Gregory Galer, Robert Gordon, and Frances Kemmish, New Haven, 1998, p. 133

April 19, 1851





April 19  Harriet and her children came from Pittsburgh this

morning, came by the way of Stonington to Mansfield

and got someone to bring them.  It s too bad we did

not send for them, but Father thought the storm

might prevent their coming  Called in to see them this

afternoon.  Harriet does not look near as well

as she did before she went.  Augustus went to Boston

& Mr Ames  Tolerably pleasant


The youngest offspring of Old Oliver and Susannah Ames came back to town today.  Harriett (Ames) Mitchell, all of 31 years old, traveled by rail from Pittsburgh to Easton, finding her own way from the station in nearby Mansfield. (The railroad had not yet been built to North Easton.) In tow were her three children, Frank Ames Mitchell, John Ames Mitchell, and Anna Mitchell, aged 9, 6, and not quite 4, respectively. Given the rigors of traveling a long distance on a train with small children, it’s little wonder that Harriett did “not look near as well as she did before she went.”

Weather and travel conditions aside, the question is why Harriett returned home and left her husband, Asa Mitchell, behind. We know only a little about Asa Mitchell. He was a member of the well-regarded Mitchell family of Bridgewater. A coal dealer, he had recently moved west from Cambridge to Pittsburgh, Erie or someplace in Pennsylvania.  His employment seemed unsettled, and perhaps was driven by the vagaries of the coal industry.

Asa and Harriett had been married for eleven years and, like any of the Ames marriages, we can only conjecture what their relationship was like. We do know that Harriett and their children spent many months away from Asa, eventually staying in a house in Bridgewater that Old Oliver obtained for her. Asa spent some time there, too, but by 1867 he was an inmate at the Taunton Insane Asylum, where his expenses were met by Oliver Jr. We don’t know what his mental illness was; it may have been as debilitating as senility, as sudden as brain trauma or as complicated – and untreatable then – as schizophrenia or bipolar disease.  His condition would erase him from Harriett’s life and, by extension, the lives of his children. He died in June, 1877 in Taunton.

So on this cloudy day, with the “wind north east and cold,” and an uncertain future in front of her, Harriett brought her children home and was made welcome. She and her older sister Sarah Witherell were close and, no doubt, were glad to see each other.

* Leslie’s, 1878