December 5, 1852


Sunday Dec 5th  have been to meeting all day

as usual. Staid in the meeting house

at noon with Augustus wife. Was very

sleepy this afternoon could not possibly 

keep awake.  Have been writing John &

wife this evening & Mr Ames has written some

& sent him a check for 86 doll 39 cts and are

to pay Alson 25 doll for him, for butter & cheese

dried apples &c.


“[T]his was a cloudy foggy day wind north east, not cold.”* Evelina doesn’t mention her eldest son today. She went to church and “staid in the meeting house” with a niece-in-law, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, during intermission, which was unusual for her. Most other Sundays she went out and socialized; today, not. Perhaps she was avoiding friends and neighbors who, by now, would have heard about Oakes Angier’s illness, and would have wanted to extend sympathy and advice to her, which perhaps she just couldn’t handle yet. She still didn’t have her own thoughts and feelings in order and was so exhausted that she couldn’t stay awake during the afternoon sermon.

As she had done before during times of stress, Evelina turned her attention to money, in this case settling a domestic financial transaction. She spent time in the evening attempting to reconcile an account between her brother John Gilmore, who lived out of town, and her other brother, Alson, who lived on the family farm. There had been, evidently, a three-way trade of “butter & cheese dried apples &c,” a transaction that involved Oakes Ames writing a couple of sizable checks. Might Oakes Ames have helped support some of Evelina’s relatives from time to time?


November 23, 1852


Tues Nov 23  Catharine & self have been mending

shirts &c all day  It being very stormy I

thought it a good time to mend

Frederick & Helen came home to night

Susan & self have been in to see them

Fred brought me a crumb brush cost 75 cts

Ann has done the housework and cut

squash & apple for tomorrow


“[T]he ground was white with snow this morning, but was a raining + took it all of[f] by noon there was a bout half an inch of water fell”* on this late November day; people in Easton had yet to see a serious snowfall.  Although the storm kept Evelina indoors, the lack of snow was actually a help to travelers like Fred and Helen Ames, who were making their way home for the holiday.

Fred Ames brought his Aunt Evelina a gift. What was better, that she received a crumb brush or that her nephew spent 75 cents on it? That amount would translate to about $17.50 in today’s (2015) market. Either way, she was pleased with the gift, which she would no doubt place with pride on her dining table.

Most of us modern readers probably don’t keep a crumb brush handy at our dinner tables, although we’ve seen modern versions in use in restaurants. But then, most of us probably no longer dine on pressed and laundered tablecloths at home, at least on a regular basis. Placemats are more common. (Readers weigh in here, please.) But in 1852, formal dining on snowy white tablecloths was aspired to as the middle class rose above their agrarian past of eating without linens. The dining room itself became more popular as families found the means to support more servants and rise to a style of living that involved a clear separation between cooking and dining. The notion of today’s open kitchen, where guests sip wine on stools and watch the hostess  – or host! – cook dinner would be absolutely foreign to Evelina. Our lack of damask would shock her and her contemporaries.

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

October 18, 1852



Monday Oct 18th  Ann Shinkwin commenced working

for wages this day, and she does very well

got the washing out with Catharines help

quite early not much past ten. This afternoon

she has been putting some apples to stew

I have been puttering about house and 

sewing some but my work does not amount

to much any way.

The new servant, Ann, was going right to work. She and Catharine Murphy did the laundry, of course, it being Monday. The two women then presumably cooked and served the midday meal, and did the washing up, while Evelina was “puttering about the house.” In the afternoon, Ann began to pare and slice apples to cook.

Evelina says that Ann was going to stew the apples, which sounds like a sensible way to process some of the surfeit of apples that she clearly had on hand. Sarah Josepha Hale, ever ready to advise women on sensible practices in the kitchen, offers the following recipe for stewing fruit:

The best way to stew any kind of fruit is to put the quantity you wish to cook into a wide-mouthed jar, with enough brown sugar to sweeten it; then cover the jar close, set it in a kettle of cold water, and boil it till the fruit is tender. This preserves the flavor of the fruit.

Evelina or her servant may have followed their own recipe for cooking sliced apples. But there’s no question that along with applesauce, apple butter, dried apples and apple pies, stewed apples was one more way that the nineteenth century housewife could serve fruit to her family now and over the winter and spring.

*Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Housekeeper, 1841, p. 91



October 8, 1852


Friday Oct 8th  Have been making barberry sauce

to day only 1 peck but a great many more apples

Julia was here and altered the skirt of my 

Delaine dress.  She scarcely got the skirt

right  Augusta has gone to her fathers this

afternoon to pass a week or so her father came after

her  I have sewed but very little again to day

Why is it that I cannot find more time to sew?


Evelina was spending so much time in the kitchen lately that she had “but very little” time for sewing. So it went during harvest season. Fruits and vegetables came piling into the kitchen in all manner of measures, and Evelina and her servants had to cook and store them, or lose them. She writes today of using up a peck of barberries for sauce and even more apples, though it’s unclear if the apples went into the barberry sauce or were used in something else. A year ago at this time, Evelina was doing exactly the same thing, cooking barberries and other fruit in her kitchen, except that at the time, she was ill with nettle rash.

We get pints, quarts, pecks and bushels from our English heritage. No metric system for them, or us. A peck is a dry measure equivalent to eight quarts; four pecks make up a bushel. Modern grocery shoppers don’t often see food sold in a quantity of one peck in a regular supermarket. This time of year, one can find displays of five-pound paper bags of fresh apples in the produce department; one of those bags is equivalent to half a peck. With that in mind, think of how many pounds of apples, barberries and more Evelina had to process in the fall. She had no choice, either. Even a family as wealthy as the Ameses needed that food for the winter.

A half-bushel, by the way, was once called a kenning.


September 4, 1852


Sat Sept 4th  Made Sponge cake & gingerbread

and about ten Started to go to Mothers

Dined there and after dinner went to 

Raynham after Mrs Stevens.  Stopt at

her brothers awhile and called at the door

at Aunt John Gilmores & Aunt Othniels

found Widow Henry Gilmore there.  Came

back to tea at Alsons. Stopt at Sam Wilbers

and got some cooking apples

After some early morning baking, Evelina traveled south to Raynham, stopping along the way to have midday dinner at the family farm with her mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore.  It was “a fair day + little cooler,”* so a pleasant day to be out for a carriage ride. Evelina rode on to the home of her friend, Mrs. Stevens, whose company she had enjoyed previously over the course of this diary, and picked her up to return to Easton for a visit.

Before driving north, Evelina and her friend visited more relatives. They went to see Mrs. Steven’s brother, then stopped off to see a few Gilmore relatives, all widows. Aunt John Gilmore and Aunt Othniel (Sally Buffington Gilmore) were the elderly, long-time widows of Evelina’s father Joshua’s brothers, while young Mrs. Henry Gilmore (Adaline Bramen Gilmore) had lost her husband unexpectedly only a few months earlier. Members of this Gilmore clan were descendants of James and Thankful Gilmore who had settled in the area in the 1700’s.

The day not through, the ladies rode back to the farm and had tea with Alson and his family. A last stop was made for cooking apples.  It was the start of apple harvest.


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

March 21, 1852



March 21 Sunday  Have all been to meeting except

Susan who is not very well  George carried

Amelia home at noon  I had a very pleasant

visit from her of nearly two weeks.  Orinthia

called with me into Edwins after church & we

helped ourselves to apples from the cellar.  Augusta

sent us one filled with sand and cheese.

Called at Mr Whitwells at noon & at Mrs J Howard a moment

Spring had arrived; Amelia Gilmore left the Ames’s home and hospitality and headed back to her own quarters in southeastern Easton. George Oliver Witherell, 14-year old son of Sarah Ames Witherell, obligingly carried her home in a carriage during the intermission at church. Evelina, meanwhile, visited with the Whitwells and the Howards.

After church Evelina and Orinthia went to the home of Edwin and Augusta Gilmore and helped themselves to “apples from the cellar.” That the young couple still had apples from the previous fall suggests that the harvest had been good and the storage arrangements even better. We presume that Evelina and Orinthia took the apples with the permission of the Gilmores; Augusta sending over a barrel “filled with sand and cheese,” corroborates that. But why is a barrel with cheese also filled with sand? Any thoughts, readers?


November 19, 1851


Wednesday Nov 19th  Jane is not as well  I got the breakfast

this morning and have been scalding my barbaries

and put more apples to them and have been

about house all day  Painted some mustard

boxes &c  Mrs Wales & Williams called

Mr Whitwell called but I was busy up stairs

and he found no one below and he went

away without seeing any one

Evelina made breakfast as Jane McHanna, usually in the kitchen preparing coffee and the morning meal,  was ailing. Evelina stayed in the cook room for much of the day, “scalding my barbaries” to be put away.  Barberry was a common, woody, hedge shrub with a couple of domestic applications. Cultivated in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, the fruit made “an agreeable, refreshing jelly,”** and the stems could also be used to make a yellow dye.  Evelina wouldn’t have needed the dye; she bought all her textiles.  But she used the fruit for jelly and pies.

Once Evelina got out of the kitchen, she picked up a paint brush to freshen up some mustard boxes. These were small to medium-sized wooden boxes for her pantry. Spices and other kitchen ingredients would have been stored in them. Evelina seemed to be getting her kitchen in perfect order for the Thanksgiving rush.

*Image of barberries courtesy of

** Mrs M. Grieve, A Modern Herbal, courtesy of

October 16, 1851




Thurs Oct 16th Lavinia came back with O & F and spent the 

night  Sat with her awhile and sewed some on

the waist of my dress and sewed some buttons on

Franks vest  Went with Augustus with her

about Eleven and stopt an hour.  This afternoon

have been to Augustus Lothrop with Mrs S Ames

He has been sick about a week with the

Typhoid fever.  Bought 3 Bl apples of N Alger

Mrs Swain has a son born this morning

Evelina’s niece, Lavinia Gilmore, stayed the night with the Ameses, having ridden from the Gilmore farm with her cousins Oakes Angier and Frank Morton Ames.  Lavinia often visited with the Ameses in North Easton, evidently enjoying the bustle that the village of North Easton provided, relative to life on the farm. Today she sat and sewed with her aunt, who always enjoyed company while sewing. Somewhere along the way in today’s comings and goings, Evelina purchased three bushels (or barrels) of apples from Mr. N. Alger, a probable neighbor of Lavinia and her family.

In the afternoon, Evelina went with her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, to visit one of Sarah’s many brothers. This youngest brother, Horace “Augustus” Lothrop, lived in nearby Sharon where he ran a cutlery company.  He was quite ill with typhoid fever, a bacterial disease that was all too common in the 19th century. Spread by unsanitary conditions, typhoid fever killed more than 80,000 soldiers during the Civil War. Happily, Augustus Lothrop would survive his bout with the disease.

Another survivor today was Ann Swain, who came safely through the birth of her first child, a son. No doubt the relatives who had gathered to help were thankful and pleased.


Illustration of nursery furniture from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1851

May 13, 1851



Tues May 13  Mrs Witherell heat her oven and I baked

a loaf of brown bread & some cake & tarts with

her  Orinthia made some sifted dried apple pies

Mr Robinson here to paper the dark bedroom

chamber. Mr Pratt called this morning for Orinthia

to go to meet him & Brown for an examination

We went to Mr Pratts this afternoon and

called at Mr Whitwells


Mr. Robinson, all-purpose painter-and-paperer, was back at Evelina and Oakes’s house today to paper one of the bedrooms. It may be the one that Frank Morton Ames had to move out of some days ago while it was being refurbished.

Orinthia Foss, meanwhile, underwent some kind of scholastic examination.  Evidently, she was being considered to teach at the town’s public school system for which she had to undergo at least an interview.  Her interviewer was Amos Pratt, a former school teacher himself, and member of the Easton school superintending committee (the one on which Oakes Angier had hoped to serve, but had missed by one vote.)  Her other interviewer was Erastus Brown, a butcher by trade who also served on the school committee and taught. Not unlike today, some folks from 160 years ago had to pursue more than one trade to make ends meet. Pratt, who lived in the Furnace Village area of Easton, some miles south and west of North Easton, eventually gave up his teaching career to run a mill.

Before being escorted by Mr. Pratt to her interview, Orinthia helped Evelina and Sarah Witherell with baking.  Evelina made brown bread, cake and tarts; Orinthia made an unseasonal apple pie from dried apples. The apples were remnants of last fall’s harvest, and ordinarily Orinthia would have had to plump them up with hot water or cider or some other liquid in order to form the pie.  How the apples would have been “sifted” is a puzzle; did this mean that the apples were in powder form?  All you cooks out there: what is a sifted dried apple pie?



April 3, 1851



April 3  This morning went quite early to baking in the brick

oven made mince & dried apple pies two custards brown

bread three large pork pies & ginger snaps. Alson here

to dine.  Henrietta & the two little girls dined at Mr Torreys

& were all here to tea  This Evening we all went to the 

dancing school.  Mr Whitwell called a few minutes

this afternoon & Mrs S Ames  Quite Pleasant

Small wonder that pork pies were on the menu, after Evelina and Jane McHanna spent all of yesterday processing a freshly-“kild” pig. Once again in the kitchen with her apron on, Evelina turned today to baking. As usual, she baked a large quantity of goods in the brick oven that she shared with her sister-in-law, Sarah Witherell. About every ten days or two weeks – or every fortnight, as they might describe it – one or both women would bake up a storm of pies, cakes, bread and cookies, enough to last until the next big baking.

Mince meat pies, brown bread and ginger snaps regularly featured in Evelina’s baking. These are the first pork pies to appear, however.  New, too, are the dried apple pies. Gone by now are the apples in the barrel that was delivered in January from the Gilmore farm, the one that was kept locked in the cellar so that the sons of the house wouldn’t eat up the fruit. Any apples that remained were from a group that must have been dried the previous fall for just this purpose, to provide a little fruit in an otherwise barren season.  By this time of year, housewives had to rely on preserves and dried fruit for variety in the family diet.

The Ames had company for tea: another sister-in-law, Henrietta Gilmore, and her two youngest children, little Henrietta and little Helen, made a rare visit from the Gilmore farm. These two youngest nieces of Evelina are about the same age as little Susie, yet they don’t get much mention in the diary.  They probably lived too far away for regular play time. Mr. Whitwell, the highly-regarded Unitarian minister, paid a call today, too.  Pleasant spring weather was bringing people out of the houses to visit.