September 26, 1851

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Friday 26th  Mrs S Ames & Mrs Mitchell went into Boston & Cambridge

Wednesday & returned last night  Julia is to work

for Helen to day  they talk of sending her to Boston

to school  I have been to work on my dresses some

to day and have varnished my desk & beaureau

& some other things, taken up some plants 

from the garden  It is very cold and we had 

some frost last night

It had been a week ago today that Evelina, Oakes, and other Ameses had stood in Boston for hours watching a grand parade celebrating the railroad.  Since that time, Evelina had returned home, rearranged furniture and nursed her daughter through an uncomfortable spell of sickness.  She must have finally felt that her life was getting back to normal.

Evelina sewed a bit today, of course, and continued to redecorate, varnishing two pieces of furniture. Even more pressing, however, was her garden. She brought some plants into the house in hopes that they would winter over and, most likely, pulled out other annuals that she had planted months earlier.  She was feeling the cold and noted the frost, although her father-in-law, Old Oliver, contradicted her in his assessment of today’s weather as “cloudy most of the day but not cold.”

Old Oliver also noted that “Horatio was here to day, ” something that Evelina neglected to mention. Horatio and Oakes Ames didn’t get along, so the men would have avoided one another if possible. Perhaps Evelina didn’t see Horatio, although, given his great size and odd voice, he would have been hard to miss. As described by Winthrop Ames, Horatio “was an enormous man, so large that when he walked beside his father he made the latter appear of almost ordinary stature; but with a piping voice which seemed especially incongruous with his great frame.”**

Evelina did quickly see sisters-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames and Harriett Ames Mitchell who returned from an overnight in the city. Sarah may have been scouting boarding schools for her daughter, Helen.

 

* Courtesy of cherrycroft.blogspot.com

** Winthrop Ames, The Ames Family of Easton, Massachusetts, 1937, p.107

September 24, 1851

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Wedns Sept 24th  Susan has had another night of

suffering and has not slept but little if any but this

morning she appeared better and has had a more

comfortable day than I expected she would have  Helen

brought in her doll for her to play with and she

has had three to play with which has taken […] her

mind from her sickness in a great measure.

Francis dined here carried home Mr & Mrs Whitwell

 

The nettle rash, or hives, that had attacked Susie Ames began to subside this morning, surely bringing relief not only to the little girl, but to her mother and everyone else interested in her welfare. As Susie began to feel better, she became agreeably occupied with an extra doll brought in for her to play with by her older cousin from next door, Helen Angier Ames.

Helen’s mother, Sarah Lothrop Ames, and Harriett Ames Mitchell left Easton today to go into Boston and Cambridge for a night. Perhaps they visited Sarah’s sixteen-year-old son Fred Ames at Harvard, where he was a new sophomore. Fifteen-year-old Francis E. Gilmore, the youngest son of Evelina’s brother Alson Gilmore, came to the Ames’s for midday dinner.  Was he visiting the construction site of his older brother, Edwin Williams Gilmore, who was building a home close to Ames compound? Francis lived down on the family farm, and was able to give a ride south to William and Eliza Whitwell, who had been visiting Sarah Witherell.

Meanwhile, focused and persistent, Old Oliver continued to supervise construction of a new flume from Great Pond near Stoughton south to the waterflow in North Easton. He noted in his daily journal that “this was a fair day with a strong wind from the north west and pritty cold. we got on the top stone to our floom to day.”

 

 

August 29, 1851

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Friday Aug 29th  Alson & Mr Hall came early this

morning and were here to dinner & tea, brought Pauline

with them  Have been mending for Oliver getting his

clothes ready for school  Went with Pauline to Edwins

garden he has not many pretty flowers in blossom has

some fine Dahlias  got 5 lbs of butter at Mr Marshalls

after we came back went into Olivers to hear Pauline

play.  George & wife & Sarah gone to her fathers

The day after Clinton Lothrop’s funeral, Sarah Lothrop Ames, her brother George Van Ness Lothrop and his wife Almira spent the day, at least, at the Lothrop farm with their parents, Howard and Sally Lothrop. They would have had to make long-term plans for the property, now that Clinton wouldn’t be there to tend the family farm.

Alson Gilmore, Evelina’s brother, took his meals at the Ames’s today.  He was working nearby, perhaps with Mr. Hall, helping his son, Edwin Williams Gilmore, build a house. They were putting in the cellar.  Pauline Dean, who must have been staying with or near the Gilmores, returned for a visit. She probably got roped into helping Evelina with the mending.

Evelina had a lot of mending to do, as Oliver (3) was preparing to go off to school.  Like his cousin Fred Ames, he was going to attend an Ivy League college, but in Providence, not Cambridge.  Oliver (3) would be going to Brown, and his mother had to get his clothes ready. Shirt fronts, collars and hose weren’t her only business today, however.  She and Pauline took a break from domesticity and went to Edwin Manley’s to see his garden. There they saw “some fine dahlias.”

Dahlias, which had been introduced in the United States early in the 1800s, had quickly became popular, although not yet listed in Joseph Breck’s Book of Flowers. So successful were they that over the course of the century more than 10,000 varieties were developed or identified and sold. Today, dahlias are still much admired by flower gardeners, yet less than a dozen of those 19th century heirloom examples still exist in cultivation.* The earliest known, White Aster (above) dates from 1879.

*oldhousegardens.com

July 17, 1851

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1851

July 17  Mother & myself have had a very quiet forenoon

Some expected Cassander Gilmore here but they

have set so many times that Im thinking they will 

not come at all.  About 4 Oclock I went to N. Bridge

water with Mrs Sarah Ames & Mrs Mitchell to carry

Fred to the cars for Cambridge to be examined for

the Sophomore year

Cassander Gilmore, the relative who was mentioned as a “no-show” visitor today, was a prominent shoe manufacturer in Raynham, Massachusetts.  His failed visit was incidental to the bigger news of the day: Frederick Lothrop Ames’s departure for Cambridge.

Barely sixteen years old, Fred Ames visited Harvard College today “to be examined” for acceptance. He had just completed a year (or more) at Phillips Exeter Academy and, despite his young age, was seeking entrance to college.  Harvard was the place for just such a bright fellow.

Fred seemed both prepared and motivated for college, and his parents, Sarah Lothrop Ames and Oliver Ames Jr., supported the idea of higher education for him, perhaps for a variety of reasons. This was an age, according to Henry Adams, when parents “began sending their children to Harvard for the sake of its social advantages.”* Sarah and Oliver Jr. were ambitious for their only son, but the question remains why they – or he – requested entry for the sophomore rather than the freshman year.

With his future riding on the examination ahead of him, Fred must have been at least a little anxious about the trip. His mother and  Aunts Evelina and Harriett may have sensed some apprehension on his part, and tried to bolster his spirits as they rode along to the train station in North Bridgewater. They may also have simply been exercising their right to behave as many fond relatives behave when their young ones leave for school: with overt affection. Fred may have been relieved, actually, to wave goodbye to them at the depot.

* Ronald Story, The Forging of an Aristocracy: Harvard and the Boston Upper Class, 1800-1870, Wesleyan University Press, 1980.