June 11, 1851


June [11]  Wednesday  Mended

Oakes Angiers coat put on new

buttons  Then made the button holes in 

the waist of Mrs Sarah Ames dress. Cooked

a calfs head for dinner  This afternoon

about three Mrs Witherell, Mitchell & Miss

Eaton & self went to call on Mrs Whitwell.

Called at Mr Wm Reeds  Mrs Reed was from

home.  Called at Dr Swans.  Bridget here.

A[u]ugustus gone to Boston.


Evelina’s activities today were quintessentially nineteenth-century.  She mended her son’s coat, made button holes for her sister-in-law, rode out in the carriage with her other sisters-in-law to call on the parson’s wife, and served a calf’s head for dinner.

Perhaps there is a reader out there who has been served calf’s head, or cooked it.  Most 19th century cook books carried a “receipt” for it, right next to recipes for calf’s feet, sheep’s head, and roasted sweetbreads.  Calf’s head could be roasted or boiled; the recipe below from Mary Peabody Mann’s 1858 Christianity in the Kitchen opts for the latter.  What follows is not for the squeamish:

To Dress a Calf’s Head

Soak the head for ten minutes in lukewarm water, powder it well with rosin, dip it into a large quantity of scalding water, and holding it by the ear, scrape off the hair with the back of a knife.  When clean, take out the eyes, cut out the tongue, remove the jawbone with teeth, saw lengthwise through the skull without injuring the brains, which must be carefully taken out, and put for a few hours into lukewarm water, to disgorge, [that is, to rinse out the blood.]

Make a stock by putting into the brazing pan two or three carrots and onions, six cloves, a pint of cream, a bouquet of parsley, thyme, and bay-leaves, and after stirring this together for twenty minutes over the fire, add a pint of water.  When this is warm, mix a quarter of a pound of flour with a gallon of water, slice a lemon, add a quarter of a pound of salt, and lay the calf’s head into the stock.  Let it be entirely covered, else the uncovered part will have a dark look, and simmer it gently till it is tender.




June 4, 1851



June 4th Wednesday  This morning Mr Lothrop

brought me a calf head and as Jane was Ironing it has

taken me some time to prepare it  Went in to Olivers

to assist Sarah about making her cake for the sewing

Circle.  It met there this afternoon and they had a

goodly number  I have cut two shirts

for Mr Ames and put them into the sewing circle to

make  We have had a pleasant meeting

Even as cows all around town and country were giving birth, some of their calves were slated for slaughter.  In sheer numerical, if unfortunate, terms, not all calves had a place on a farm. Females, once grown, could breed and produce milk, but the males had less of a role, unless they had the lines and build to become fine steers or oxen.  Male calves in particular had good market value as veal and thus were often culled. The arrival of a calf’s head for the dinner table signaled that some culling was going on.  Mr. Lothrop may have been DeWitt “Clinton” Lothrop, a farming brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames and manager of the Lothrop property.

The cook rooms at both houses on Main Street were bustling today. Not only was Evelina preparing the calf’s head, but Jane McHanna was ironing near the stove, keeping her irons hot and using the kitchen table as the ironing surface. In Sarah Lothrop Ames’s kitchen, there was much preparation for the afternoon meeting of the Sewing Circle. Evelina went next door to help Sarah with a cake.

No memory of her own failed meeting back in February seemed to cloud Evelina’s enjoyment of today’s Sewing Circle, even when her sister-in-law’s parlor welcomed “a goodly number.” She was able to put a couple of shirts into the pile of work and had a pleasant time.