August 26, 1852

Champlain-02

The Steamboat Oakes Ames, ca. 1868*

Thursday 26th Aug  This morning Mrs Mills got a hack and

carried us all out to ride.  We had a fine view

of the Lake and town, was riding over an hour

and returned to Mrs Stetsons and all dined there

Called into a shop to see stone ware made

Passed the afternoon at Mrs Mowers and there

we had a very pleasant time  Charades & Tableaux

got home about twelve

Evelina filled her last full day in Burlington with social activity. She and a group – Almira Ames, Sarah Lothrop Ames, Fred and Helen, and Oakes Angier, too, presumably – were “carried” out for a ride, during which they admired the “fine view” they got of Lake Champlain and the town itself. It was a pretty place. But no amount of imagination in the mind of anyone in the hired carriage could have foretold that one day a steamboat named for Oakes Ames would be plying the waters they were gazing at.

In 1868, in fact, the 244′ Oakes Ames, built in the Napoleon B. Proctor Shipyard, would be launched from Burlington. Designed to ferry railroad cars from Burlington across the lake to Plattsburgh, New York, the steamship was commissioned by the Rutland Railroad, for whom Oakes Ames was a director and one of the line’s “firmest friends.”** In 1874, the ship would be renamed and repurposed for passenger service. Yet the newly christened Champlain II would last in service only until running aground in July, 1875. Although the incident produced no fatalities, the ship’s hull would be dashed beyond repair. Today, the boat is a famous wreck in the water.

Steamship and railroad deals being in the future, Evelina and the group continued to enjoy themselves on this pleasant day. They dined at a friend’s house and visited a stoneware shop. In the evening they all played charades and tableaux, popular parlor games in which participants acted out words or situations, or created still scenes of familiar subject matter, respectively. Such games were particularly popular at Christmastime.

*Image courtesy of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

** Burlington Free Press, August 20,1868, p.4.  For an exhaustive narrative about the Champlain II, ex-Oakes Ames, please see a thesis by Elizabeth Robinson Baldwin, May 1997, Texas A & M

August 25, 1852

Letter

Wednesday Aug 25th  We were invited to dine again at

Mrs Mills to day.  Fred & Helen called at Mrs

Stetsons and we went home with them to Mrs

Mills. Afternoon went to Mrs Footes had a 

large & pleasant party and quite a treat

In the evening they acted charades and

we had a merry time  Oakes A bears

the excitement pretty well  Received a letter from 

home saying that Willie Gilmore died last Friday

Evelina heard from the folks at home today and found out that her great-nephew had died. This news was unfortunate, but perhaps not entirely a surprise.  She had been concerned about the little boy before she left on her trip; infant mortality was high in those days. Despite the bad news, surely Evelina was glad from her family, even if the tidings were sad.  We can pretty well assume that she had not been so far from home before, and she may have been missing her family and friends. Who wrote her, do you suppose? Her husband? Her nephew? One of her nieces? Oliver (3) or Frank Morton? Or perhaps Sarah Witherell wrote, knowing that Evelina would want to know about little Willie.

Evelina probably learned of other Easton goings-on as well. Even the weather would have been a topic of some interest. Old Oliver was, as ever, keeping an eye on the sky and tracking rainfall. As she opened her letter, he might have been making note that on this Wednesday, it “was cloudy most of the day + one small shower.”*

A game of charades filled the evening – fun for all including Oakes Angier, who seemed to be feeling well.

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