October 2, 1852


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 26, 1852


A Phaeton owned by a Boston family, ca. 1850


Sunday Sept 26th  Stormy to day and only one carriage

has been to church  I was not well and staid

at home  Susan Went  It has cleared off pleasant

Frank Susan & self have been to mothers and

called to see Miss Alger about giving lessons

Have written a letter this evening to

Mrs Mower  Have not read at all to day


Old Oliver reported that “there was a little sprinklin[g] of rain to day.”* Evelina said it was “stormy.” The weather was in the eye of the beholder, it would appear. But Evelina wasn’t feeling well, so perhaps her condition affected her view out the window as she watched the lone carriage head south to the meeting house. She was feeling so poorly that she didn’t even read.

Both the weather and her spirits seemed to improve in the afternoon. With son Frank and daughter Susan, Evelina rode south to see her mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore, at the family farm.  While in the vicinity, she “called to see Miss Alger about giving lessons.’ Piano lessons, she meant; Susie was going to play an instrument. The new piano had been bought primarily for Susan’s benefit, just as the one bought by Sarah Witherell – and Old Oliver, presumably – was primarily for the benefit of Emily Witherell. Under the paid guidance of Miss Alger (probably the M J Alger who had visited the house earlier in the month), the young cousins would learn to play.

Evelina and Sarah Witherell must have been delighted to see their daughters getting music lessons, something that neither of them had likely access to when they were growing up.


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


September 14, 1852


Tuesday Sept 14th  Alson came this forenoon and carried

mother home  I have ironed 13 fine shirts made

grape jelly and have been hard at work all

day  Mr Torrey came and staid a long while

talking over the news of the neighborhood

Mrs Stevens & self called on Augustus & wife and

went over [to] Mr Carrs where they have commenced

mowing  Mr Torrey & Abby were away, door fastened

New carriage & Buggy chaise came to night


Evelina didn’t stop moving today. She saw her mother depart for home, ironed a baker’s dozen of shirts, made grape jelly, did her usual picking up around the house, entertained guests, and paid a call on her nephew and others. It’s hard to imagine that her kitchen could accommodate the ironing of white shirts and the boiling of purple jelly at the same time, yet we read that this was so.

We readers should also note that for once, it’s Evelina, and not her father-in-law, who tells us that there is mowing going on in the neighborhood. The men were working quickly, one imagines, as “there was Some frost last night.”* Officially, it was still summer, but winter was on the far horizon, and preparations were underway.

And there was new equipage! A carriage and a buggy or chaise arrived. Who had just bought them?  Old Oliver?  Oakes or Oliver, Jr., or one of the sons, or all of the above? How, exactly, might the ownership of the vehicles have worked?


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


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

June 17, 1852


June 17th Thursday  Have cut Susan a mantilla this

morning and basted it ready to make and 

have been mending some.  Mother is at Mr

Torreys to day staid there last night  It

is rather cooler to day and this afternoon

had a fine shower  Catharine Middleton

here but she is not worth much to sew

A new servant, Catharine Middleton, was proving a disappointment to Evelina. Catharine’s sewing skills were “not worth much;” Evelina wanted someone with more ability.  Evelina was hard to satisfy in the sewing arena. She was so very good at it herself that most young women of average ability would have fallen short, unable to survive the scrutiny of a woman famous for her buttonholes.

Outside the busy house, construction ran apace. Men moved stones for the new Long Shop across the street, and even closer to home, “Mr Arnold finishd sleighting the cariage hous to day.”* This new building would soon be ready to house the three or so carriages belonging to Ames family members.

The best news of all was the lowered temperature and arrival of a little rain “towards night when we had a shower of about a quarter of an inch .”* Every drop of water was needed.

May 31, 1852



May 31st Monday  Mrs Patterson & Jane have done

the washing and I have been about house

all day  Mr Scott has painted the dining

room over the second time  Jane will

go against the door in spite of all that I

can do  Shall I ever get settled again so that

I can sew some  Have got an Ice closet in the 

wood house

Spring cleaning was almost finished, and Evelina sounded ready to have it be done. Mr Scott had to paint a second coat in the dining room, perhaps because Jane McHanna kept banging the door against the wall. Evelina was irritated with Jane and longed to get back to her sewing.

The weather had been dry for some time.  Old Oliver, uncharacteristically, hadn’t written in his daily journal for nine days.  When he finally picked up his pen, he noted that the fair skies had been “verry drying.” Being without rain at the start of the growing season endangered the crops and put him in an ill humor.  Perhaps Evelina was feeling some of that, too.  And, perhaps, she was still grieving.

One thing that pleased Evelina, though, was getting a new ice closet at the back of the house, in the wood shed. And one thing that pleased Old Oliver was that “Mr Seve began to frame the Cariage hous”* on this day.  This building was going up on Ames property off of Main Street, on land behind the residence of Oliver Ames Jr and his wife, Sarah Lothrop Ames.

Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives


November 15, 1851




Sat Nov 15th  Another day I have been about house all

day, this morning helped the gardener weigh out

a box of sugar that we bought in Boston

got my bags of cloth of different kinds

in order in the shed chamber  It has been

very stormy all day Mr Ames and Oliver Jr

in Boston Oliver went yesterday He looked 

at carriages but did not purchase one

Bridget gone to housekeeping

At the rate Evelina used sugar in her fruit preserves, she needed many loaves of it. Unable to purchase it at the family store in the village, she bought what they needed in Boston at Faneuil Hall.  On this day, she appeared to be breaking at least part of a sugar loaf into usable bits for her kitchen.  The family gardener helped her, perhaps because the sugar loaf was so heavy to hold.

Sugar wasn’t the only commodity that Boston had to offer.  Evelina’s husband, Oakes, and his brother, Oliver Ames Jr., had gone to the city, the latter in search of a new carriage. He – or they – didn’t purchase anything, just looked.  Oliver Jr. would have been very careful about the cost and quality of such a big item.  Both men would have admired the various coaches, chaises, gigs and traps they must have seen.

It’s worth noting that Evelina reveals today where she kept her “bags of cloth,” when not working on them: in the shed. As she organized them today, folding cloth and perhaps tossing any textiles that couldn’t be used, she would have heard steady rain on the roof.




August 16, 1851


Sat 16th Aug  Have been to work on my white loose dress

that Julia cut out some time since and it is ready for

the washtub  Frank and Oliver came from Bridgewater about

three and brought home Charles Mitchell & Sister Harriet

Mr Brett two Miss Tolmans from New Bedford Jane & William

Howard & Orinthia came & went to the shop about 5 Oclock

The party at Robbins Pond in Bridgewater may have ended, but the festive mood continued.  Oakes Angier Ames headed into Boston, but his brothers Oliver (3) and Frank Morton returned from Bridgewater with their Aunt Harriett and her brother-in-law, Charles Mitchell and, perhaps, others. At the same time or maybe just a short while later, Orinthia Foss and a spill of friends to whom Evelina had been introduced only a few days earlier arrived and went to the factory.

Why this sociable group visited the shovel factory at the end of the day is a mystery. Were they delivering the Ames brothers back to work? Were they visiting someone else there? Did Oakes or Oliver Jr. find it amusing? Was Old Oliver privy to this after-party?

Evelina, meanwhile, was working on her wardrobe and was ready to put a new dress into the washtub.  She might have looked up from her sewing to see the young people drive by.


May 29, 1851




May 29th Thursday  Worked in the garden upon weeds untill about

eleven Oclock & then put clean curtains up in the

sitting room & dining room.  have taken up the 

carpet & had the dining room cleaned

Early this afternoon changed my dress and sit down

to sewing which I have not done before for a long

while  worked on Susans dresses that Julia cut.

It has rained all the afternoon had fire in furnace


Today was an anniversary of sorts.  According to Old Oliver Ames, exactly one year earlier, Sarah Witherell and Sarah Ames had been injured in a carriage accident: “Sarah + Olivers wife went to Foxborough today and they got hove out of the carriage + hurt some.”  Fortunately, no lasting harm seems to have occurred to either woman.

What had happened?  Had their horse taken a fright and tried to run away? Carriage accidents were usually the result of horses bolting, spooking or crashing.*  Sudden noises – a dog barking, a wave crashing, a flock of birds lifting off, a train whistle – could startle a horse and make it run. Some statistics suggest that horse travel was more dangerous than today’s car travel. For a time, in cities like New York and Chicago, more people per capita were killed in horse-related accidents than are killed now in automobiles.  Travel, then as now, was risky.

Probably oblivious to any recollection of last year’s accident, Evelina managed to spend several hours weeding in her flower garden before rain arrived. In the afternoon she bent to some sewing and worked on dresses for Susan.  Given how fast children grow, Susie’s dresses needed to be completed sooner rather than later.  No doubt Evelina put tucks into these newest clothes for her daughter, intending to make them last.


April 29, 1851


April 29 Tuesday  Frank has finished the beds in the flower

garden and I have set out some plants that Henrietta

gave me and some that I bought of Edwin Manly paid

him one dollar Julia here finishing the dresses for

Susan & my blue Delaine dress.  Mrs George Ames

& I went to Sharon and spent the afternoon

Had a pleasant ride with Dominic


Three spheres of activity informed Evelina’s day. First was gardening, made possible by Frank Morton Ames finally finishing tilling the soil in the flower beds.  He and others had been loosening the soil off and on for several days, which raises the question of how many flower beds Evelina had, and how large they were, and where they were situated relative to the house. Evelina “set out” some plants that she got on Saturday. One group came from her sister-in-law, Henrietta Lincoln Gilmore, at the Gilmore farm; she probably got those for free.  The other group from Edwin Manley, however, she had to pay one dollar for.

The second sphere of action was sewing, of course, which always seemed to be going on in center ring at the Ames house. Today Julia Mahoney, the dressmaker of choice, worked on a dress for Susan and a blue delaine, or light wool, dress for Evelina. The warm weather would soon arrive and the lighter dresses would be needed.

The last sphere was a nice change of pace – literally – for Evelina and her cousin-in-law, Almira Ames. With Dominic, a horse, pulling them along, the two women drove the carriage (or were driven) to nearby Sharon. Whom did they visit? Did they shop in the town?  The ride was pleasant, whatever the errand.