November 21, 1852

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Lady’s Cloak**

Sunday Nov 21st  have been to church and at

intermission went with Mother into Mrs John

Howards.  Have invited Mr & Mrs Whitwells

family to dine here Thanksgiving

After church read & heard Susan practice

her lesson a while  Edwin & wife came

in this evening and I went to Augustus with 

them

 

This Sunday before Thankgiving “was a fair sunny day wind northerly + cool.”* The Ames contingent headed to church as usual and at intermission spread out to different informal gatherings. We don’t know where the men of the family went, or what Susie did, but we do know that Evelina took her elderly mother to the home of John and Caroline Howard, where they would have been offered a cup of tea and a piece of pie or cake.

After church, Evelina heard her daughter practice the piano. Like yesterday, the friction and anxiety between the two over the piano lessons seemed to have dissipated. At least, Evelina doesn’t mention having to force Susan to practice.

Evelina also did a little reading. If she picked up her copy of the November issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book, she would have noticed, among many essays, stories and poems, a short article on women’s cloaks:

Never was there a season in which there was so great a variety of graceful cloaks to choose from. Not the heavy, cumbrous garment that once enshrouded and hid all grace or outline in the female figure, but light, yet ample costumes, that answer every purpose of warmth for walking or driving...**

Cloaks were in. If Evelina needed proof that her sister-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames had a nose for fashion, there it was. Only a week earlier, Sarah had been in Boston buying a cloak for her daughter Helen. There were many styles to be seen, including the one in the illustration, in the Alboni style. Will Evelina get one for herself or her daughter?

 

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

** Godey’s Lady’s Book, , Cloaks and Mantles, November 1852, pp. 476 – 477

November 4, 1852

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Thursday Nov 4th  I was very busy about house this

forenoon making cake & scalding barbaries

&c &c Miss Alger not very well

Mrs John Howard called here & at Olivers

dined with Mrs Witherell  She is having

Julia cut her a dress I have been mending

some this afternoon but do not sew much

The piano teacher, Miss Alger, was staying with the Ames family, and today she was unwell. Evelina had to cope with this, knowing as she did that her daughter Susan resented, in some degree, the presence of Miss Alger. Was Evelina beginning to resent her as well? Miss Alger had been staying with them for quite a while. But perhaps Evelina was too “busy about house” to allow herself any unkind thoughts. Ever domestic, she baked, cooked and mended for most of the day.

Caroline Howard, a fellow Unitarian and Sewing Circle member, made a social call at the Ames compound, visiting Evelina and Sarah Lothrop Ames, then having midday dinner with Sarah Ames Witherell. Mrs. Howard was planning to have a dress made by Julia Mahoney, the Ames women’s favorite dressmaker. Caroline was the wife of John Howard, a laborer (according to the 1850 census) and appeared to have no children. She would far outlive the ladies she was visiting, not dying until age 95 in 1897. Her life span basically covered the whole of the 19th century. What changes she saw!

July 27, 1852

 

Asleep

Tuesday July 27th  Mrs Savage had quite a

comfortable night & I came home a

little before 5 Oclock & went to bed

did not rise untill nearly nine

Elizabeth Pool & Augusta came

in this forenoon with their work

Mrs Whitwell Reed Howard & Miss

Jarvis called on us all & Alsons wife

was here to tea & Mother at Augustus’

Evelina’s all-nighter at the bedside of Mrs. Savage didn’t seem to impinge on her day.  After a catch-up sleep in the early morning, she was back on her feet.  Augusta Gilmore and her young sister Elizabeth came over “with their work,” meaning that they brought some sewing with them, and the women sat, sewed, and visited. Later in the day, several ladies from her Unitarian circle of friends “called on us”.  Her brother Alson’s wife, Henrietta Williams Gilmore, came by for tea. A most sociable day, it was.

In the other part of the house, “Horatio Ames Jun r came here to day.”* Horatio was, obviously, the eldest son of Horatio Ames, who was the brother of Oakes, Oliver Jr., Sarah Witherell, Harriet Mitchell and William Leonard Ames. Repeating previous posts, Horatio ran a forge in Connecticut, far from the shovel shop in Easton, but still connected to it financially and emotionally. He and his son were not on friendly terms, and it’s hard to determine just what had brought Horatio Jr to Easton.  He arrived in the evening and for some reason Evelina didn’t mention it in her diary.

 

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

 

July 25, 1852

 

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Massapoag Pond

July 25th  Have been to meeting and at intermission

went into Mrs John Howards with Mother

Had a very pleasant call met a number 

of ladies carried Miss Jarvis a boquet

of flowers  After meeting rode to Mashpog 

pond with Mr Ames & Susan.  Came home

through Sharon & went by Col Tisdales

a very pleasant ride but feel much fatigued

 

Evelina had a “very pleasant” time at church today. She carried some flowers from her garden with her and gave them to a friend, Miss Jarvis, at intermission. She was worn out by the end of the day, however, because after church, she, her husband, and daughter drove up to Massapoag Pond in Sharon. The day was sunny and warm and the drive along the woods may have been pleasant, especially as they drew near the water. There were old iron works in the area; perhaps they were what interested Oakes in the outing.

On the way home, the threesome drove by the home of the late Col. Israel Tisdale. Frank Mennino, curator at the Easton Historical Society, tells us that:

“The Tisdale family was well known in the area from colonial days, once operating an inn on Bay Road. Later, the family built two farmhouses and ran a large farm on Mountain Road. One of the houses was the house that Oakes and Blanche [Ames] stayed in while Borderland was being built, and was lived in for many years by the Manning and Kent families. It burned in the early 1980’s after being empty for some time. Mountain Road was ‘party central’ back then.”

Oakes, Evelina and Susie did no partying as they ventured home, but they did have “a very pleasant ride,” nonetheless.

 

May 12, 1852

Corpse

Wednesday May 12th  Helped Mrs Witherell make Georges robe

Planted some seeds that Mrs Howard gave me

and African rose sent from Andover.  Have ripped

the skirt from Susans borage delaine to lengthen

it Swept & dusted my chamber &c &c Jane had

finished the ironing  Have not felt very well

have not got over being broken of my rest.  It has

rained since nine Oclock quite fast

A new gardener commenced work today

What sad sewing went on today. Sarah Ames Witherell, a thoughtful, dutiful woman who had sewn so many things for friends and family, now sat and made a shroud for her first-born child, George. Only fourteen years-old, he had died the day before after a painful bout of rheumatic fever. Of the three children Sarah had borne, only her middle child, Emily, was still alive.

The steady rain must have enhanced the gloom. Old Oliver wrote that “it began to rain before noon wind north east and it grew cold and raind all the afternoon.”* Evelina must have done her planting first thing in the morning, after which she helped Sarah with the robe for George. She also worked on a skirt for Susan, and swept and dusted while Jane McHanna ironed. She was probably not the only family member who was recovering from “being broken of my rest.” Everyone was trying to return to a normal routine after the disruption and sorrow of George’s illness, although next door, Helen Angier Ames was still suffering from a case of blisters and facial swelling.

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

 

May 9, 1852

wetsheet

 

Sunday May 9th  Our own family all went to meeting

& Oliver  George is much worse and we fear

will never be any better is very much out of his

head  Helen is quite sick with her face

had the Dr  Went into Mrs John Howards

at noon & carried her some flower seeds.

Mr & Mrs Swain made a long call this afternoon 

after they left I went to sit with George to assist

Sarah  They are laying a wet sheet once an hour

 

George Witherell was getting sicker and sicker. Perhaps to lower his temperature and reduce the involuntary spasms in his limbs and face, his family and physician were “laying a wet sheet once an hour.” They wrapped his body in a cold, wet sheet, and covered him with wool blankets to make him sweat. Everyone was trying to bring down his fever, soothe his nervous system and help him sleep. It was a desperate measure, but in the absence of effective medicines, it was the only option.

A wet-sheet wrap is a form of hydrotherapy, a controversial treatment meant to quiet a violent or agitated person. Opponents of this form of hydrotherapy feel that it’s been misused in certain psychiatric institutions, some patients attesting to being tied up for ten to twelve hours in icy sheets, an application that seems more punitive than restorative. Yet others in the medical profession, such as alternative care-givers in our modern age, tout wet-sheets – if applied properly – as a healthful therapy that induces sleep and calms the nervous system. Its effectiveness seems tied to the intention of the person applying the therapy and the nature of the illness of the person being wrapped.

Helen Angier Ames next door was also “quite sick.”  No wet sheets for her, but she was having her swollen face attended to. It sounds as if she might have had a bad abscess, also a dangerous condition in the era before antibiotics. Dr. Swan, if it was he who was attending the Ameses, was being kept busy.  His little gig would have been pulling up to the Ames compound at all hours of the day and night. Few in the family were getting any rest.  Evelina left the house briefly, to take some flower seeds to Caroline Howard, but returned home to help her sister-in-law.

 

 

May 3, 1852

frontispiece_of_edward_shaw's_'the_modern_architect'_(1854)-141D753C60C6EA2D682

The Modern Architect”*

1852

May 3d Monday Our cook room being painted  Jane

had to wash in the bathing room.  Susan washed

the dishes and I did the rest that was done

about the work which was not much.  Rode

to Mr J Howards to get Rural Architect for Mr

Healy called at Mr Clarks and got some Gladiolus

bulbs and at Jason Howards to see their garden

afternoon planted some sweet peas & lilly seed

Oliver came home to night from Providence

 

More planting, this time of sweet peas and lilies, went on this afternoon. Gardening was preferable to choring on any given day, but it was probably especially true on this Monday. The kitchen, or “cook room” as Evelina called it, was being painted, making the usual chores more difficult. Servant Jane McHanna had to wash the weekly laundry in the bath tub. Evelina must have been pleased to be outdoors in the sunshine, viewing other gardens and planting flowers in her own. She also would have been pleased to greet her son, Oliver (3), home from college on a break.

At some point during the day, Evelina rode south to John and Caroline Howard’s to borrow a book written by Richard Upjohn, a prominent architect. “Upjohn’s Rural Architecture: Designs, working drawings and specifications for a wooden church, and other rural structures” was a popular new publication featuring home designs in the latest styles. Upjohn, who became the first president of the American Institute of Architects, favored Italianate and Gothic style cottages. His book appealed to the up-and-coming middle class as well as to the wealthy. Evelina borrowed it to show her carpenter, Henry Healey. She had something in mind for Healey to build.

 

*Frontispiece from “The Modern Architect,” by Edward Shaw, 1854