October 27, 1852

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Wednesday Oct 27  Miss Alger has given the

girls the seventh lesson and Susan

makes hard work of practicing and 

I am sorry that she is so unwilling

Mrs S. Ames, Miss Alger Oakes A and

self have passed the afternoon at Mr

Nahum Williams  Mrs Rollins is at

her fathers  Mrs H & C Lothrop were there

 

“[T]his was a mild day & little hazy wind southerly.”* Once night fell, a full moon shone down on the rooftops, dooryards and unpaved streets of North Easton, lighting the byways even after curfew. The day itself was unremarkable, although Susan Ames grudgingly endured yet another piano lesson. Evelina bemoaned her daughter’s intransigence.

Evelina did pay a rare visit to Nahum Williams, “a farmer at Easton.”**Accompanying her were the ever-present piano teacher, Miss Alger, as well as Sarah Lothrop Ames and Oakes Angier Ames, the latter an unusual participant in the women’s sociable errand. They visited not only Nahum but his wife Amanda (nee Lothrop) and their daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Rollins. Also present were some Lothrop women – possibly Mrs. Henry Lothrop and Mrs. Clinton Lothrop. Sarah Lothrop Ames was probably related to Amanda.

We have met Nahum Williams before in Evelina’s pages; some time back, he lost his father, Seth, and various Ames family members had attended the funeral. Sarah Rollins was his recently married daughter; she and her husband had moved to Vermont and were expecting their first child. By 1860, she would return to her parents homes in Easton, possibly widowed, with three children: Ellen, George and Jennie.

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

**Hyde Family Geneaology

October 2, 1852

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Oct 2d Saturday  Have had quite a party this after 

noon  Mrs Norris, Mrs Mower, Miss Foss, Linscott

& Lavinia here to dine & Hannah Augusta Abby

& Malvina here to tea  Carried Augusta out to

ride the first that she has been out for a long time

We have been to the shops and making calls

and I have done no sewing to day  Mrs Mower

went home with Lavinia  Made my peach preserves

Mr Ames came home from New York

 

 

Friends of Evelina descended on the house today, some for dinner and some for tea. Carriages full of females trotted along Main Street, coming or going to the Ames residence. Evelina’s friend, Orinthia Foss and her fellow school teacher, Frances Linscott, came from Bridgewater and spent the night. Niece Lavinia Gilmore arrived to help with house guests Melinda Norris and Louisa Mower, the latter from Maine. At tea time, Evelina’s sister-in-law Hannah Lincoln Gilmore and two nieces, Abby and Melvina Torrey, joined the group. For the second time this week, many women filled the parlor. We might imagine that Evelina was really enjoying herself.

What did the men of the family do to cope with all the socializing? Join the crowd or disappear into the office next door? What must Oakes Ames have thought when he walked in, home from his business trip?

Augusta Pool Gilmore, who had been ailing for many weeks now, was on the mend. She, too, came for tea and later was taken out for a drive. Like yesterday, the weather was mild and sunny and Augusta must have felt reborn to finally get out of her sick room and back with the living.

Even with a big midday meal and many for tea, the servants – and perhaps Evelina herself – still managed to put up some peach preserves. What a busy kitchen!

 

September 21, 1852

Funeral

Tuesday Sept 21st  Have been almost sick to day and

not able to do much  Got a quilt into the

new chamber for Catharine to work upon

Went to the funeral of Mrs Savage at

one Oclock.  Called with Mrs Witherell at

Augustus,  Mr Swains & on Mrs Wales.  She

is confined to her bet yet and has been for weeks

It appears to have been Evelina’s turn to be ill, as she describes herself as unable “to do much.”  We readers know how hard she usually worked, so not doing much might mean that she only accomplished four or five tasks today instead of a dozen. Despite feeling “almost sick,” Evelina managed to arrange sewing for her servant Catharine, attend the funeral of Hannah Savage and, with her sister-in-law, Sarah Ames Witherell, call on several households in the village. It’s hard to know if Evelina was spreading germs or picking them up as she went along, but she meant well.

According to Old Oliver Ames, “this was a fair day + pritty warm wind northerly,”* in other words a pleasant day to be out and about. Yet, in two of the homes that Evelina and Sarah visited, people were ailing. At the Swains’, their infant son was teething and fussy. At the home of Ephraim and Maria Wales, the latter was “confined to her bed yet,” an expression which hints at a recent or impending childbirth. Mrs. Wales was of childbearing age, yet census records show no children for this young couple. Perhaps Maria would lose or had lost an infant, or was simply ill with any one of a myriad of possible ailments.

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

September 6, 1852

 

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Floating Island

 

Monday Sept 6th  Hannah & Catharine washed

and I had to be about house most of the 

forenoon  made floating island &c &c Mr

Plymton & another man here from Walpole

to dine  Sewed some on shirts  Called

with Mrs S Ames & Mrs Stevens on Abby &

Hannah.  Called on Mrs Wales Sampson Holmes &c

 

“Oeufs a la Neige” is the French name for this lovely dessert, but Americans took their floating island from its Italian name, “Ile flottante.” Whatever one might call it, the basic recipe for the soft custard filled with floating ovals of poached meringue requires milk or cream and eggs.  It would have been a special occasion for Evelina to serve it, which suggests that she wanted to impress the gentlemen from Walpole who came to dinner. It also tells us that she had eggs to spare in her kitchen, which was unusual.

Recipes for this dish are varied, as one might expect. One 19th century “receipt,” printed in the 1870’s in Godey’s Lady’s Book of Receipts and Household Hints*,  tells us that making the dish was quite time consuming, especially when we remember that all that beating, stirring and frothing was done by hand.

Take six eggs, separate them; beat the yolks, and stir into a quart of milk; sweeten to taste; flavor with lemon or nutmeg. Put this mixture in a pan. Put some water in a saucepan, and set it on fire. When boiling, put in your pan, which ought to be half immersed. Keep stirring it until the custard gets thick, which will be in about thirty minutes. Whip the whites of the eggs to a strong froth. When the custard is done, put into a deep dish, and heap the frothed eggs upon it. Serve cold.*

No doubt Evelina’s dessert was a success at the dinner table. She could spend the afternoon in peace of mind, sewing and socializing. She, her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, and her guest, Mrs. Stevens, made a number of calls.

* Godey’s Lady’s Book of Receipts and Household Hints, 1870s, Recorded by Sarah Annie Frost, p. 237

 

August 10, 1852

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Ames Machine Shop, built in1857

 

Aug 10th Tuesday Was sewing & puttering about one thing

and another untill about four Oclock

Mrs Witherell Mrs A L Ames & self spent the 

afternoon at Mrs Sheldons.  Mrs Johnson Swan

Williams, Howard and their brother Thomas were

there had a very pleasant visit.  On our return

found Mrs Dorr at Fathers and called to see her

 

“Sewing & puttering” filled Evelina’s hours up until near tea-time, at which point she, Sarah Ames Witherell, and Almira Ames went out to see some friends. They called on Sarah Sheldon, wife of the Congregational minister, where they saw several members of the Johnson family, including Louisa Johnson Swan, Nancy Johnson Howard, Ann Johnson and Thomas Johnson. It was “a very pleasant visit.”

Families often visited in groups, as we see in this entry and as we have seen from previous visits made by the Ames women. The Ameses went to see the Gilmores, or the Kinsleys, or the Howards, and vice versa. Families in the same town knew one another, or knew of one another, and had much in common. Whether or not everyone agreed about everything (which they didn’t – witness the old division between the Congregationalists and the Unitarians,) there was nonetheless a level of familiarity among long-established families in a given area.

Families worked in groups, too, most obviously on the numerous farms that still dominated the landscape. Yet as industrialization began to replace, or at least compete with, the agrarian lifestyle, members of the same family (at least those members who didn’t move away) often opted to work in the same trade. The Ames family is a prime example. Old Oliver developed an artisanal business that became a commercial factory. By the middle of the 19th century, artisanal businesses that were to thrive – such as the Ames Shovel Company – were becoming industrialized. Products were developed and produced, workers were hired and trained on the job, and the whole outfit was managed by members from one family. In Old Oliver’s case, he appointed certain sons and certain grandsons to take leadership roles.

Industrial historian Greg Galer has studied this work pattern. He writes, “kinship was a critical aspect of early industrial development. As manufacturers faced a growing national market in which to sell their products and acquire their raw materials they also found an increasingly unfamiliar body of people from whom they required trustworthy relationships. By using kin in some of these roles Ames eased the transition to these anonymous markets. Kin also played an important part in the management of the main shovel-making operation and affiliated enterprises located elsewhere…”

Family was everything.

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

** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, MIT, 2001, p. 5

 

 

July 13, 1852

Hay

 

1852

Tuesday July 13  Julia Mahoney came to work this

morning and cut the waist to my borage

dress and went home at noon.  Mr Ames

went to Canton and I begged the chance

to go with him & we called at Mr Kinsleys

Saw the ladies of the family & two Mr Peabodys

of Boston  Called on Mrs Atherton

The first few days of this particular week were proving be “verry warm days. + pritty good hay days.”* Old Oliver had to be pleased.

After a morning of sewing a new barege dress with her dressmaker, Evelina “begged the chance” to ride east and north with her husband to Canton, where they visited Lyman and Louisa Kinsley. The Kinsleys, of course, were business associates but also friends, and they and their twenty-one year-old daughter, Lucy, happened to be entertaining visitors from Boston, “two Mr Peabodys.”

The Peabody brothers had called on the Kinsleys to be sociable, certainly, but one of them had a romantic motive. Francis Howard Peabody, also aged twenty-one, was courting Miss Lucy; the two would wed in 1854. They would have three children, a boy followed by two girls. Their little boy, Frank Everett Peabody, would become a founding member of a famous Boston brokerage firm, Kidder and Peabody.

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

April 22, 1852

Cobbler

1852

Thursday April 22  Worked a very little in the garden

not very pleasant but looks more like fair weather

Sewed a little on my black silk dress

Called with Augusta on Hannah & her sister

Sarah, Abby and at Willard Lothrop, Sampsons

A Pratts Holmes and at the store.  afterwards at

Olivers & Edwins carried a pr shoes to mend

A little sewing, a little gardening, and a great deal of socializing filled the hours of Evelina’s day today. After being pretty well pent up by several days of stormy weather, Evelina was ready to go out.

With her niece-in-law, Augusta Pool Gilmore, she called on another niece-in-law, Hannah Williams Gilmore. There they met Hannah’s sister, Sarah Lincoln, who was visiting from Hingham. They went on to see yet another niece, Abby Torrey, then to the homes of Willard Lothrop (one of Easton’s most active spiritualists), Joel and Martha Sampson, and others.

The Sampsons were a younger couple from Maine with five little children aged eight and under, including three-year-old twins. Joel Sampson worked at the shovel shop and was evidently devoted to Oakes Ames. Twenty years later, on hearing of Oakes’ death, “Joel Sampson, teamster and farmer of the company came home when he heard the sad news, threw himself upon his sofa and announced to his wife that the head and soul of the business was dead, that every thing would go to smash now, and told her to make ready to go back to their old farm and home in Maine, as it was no use to live here any more.”**

Throughout her travels today, Evelina carried a pair of shoes to be mended. In an area of the country well known for its shoe manufacturing, there must have been a good cobbler somewhere in town.

 

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

**William Chaffin, “Oakes Ames,” p. 2