October 5, 1851


Oct 5th Sunday  Mr Whitwell has gone to Philadelphia and

we have no meeting and Mr Ames self & Susan

staid at home  Oakes A & Charles Mitchell went

to N Bridgewater to meeting  Wm & Mr B Scott

came to the other part of the house this morning.

Mrs Latham & Aaron Hobart this afternoon.  I have

been writing most all day  Am not at all well

It has been a beautiful day.

Feeling as poorly as she did, Evelina was probably grateful not to attend church. Her rash was so irritating that she had trouble sitting still, yet lacked the vigor to move around much. Too, she had worked hard the day before putting up fruit preserves and may have felt tired from the effort. She wasn’t “at all well.”

Letter writing occupied her, and probably helped take her mind off her discomfort, just as playing with dolls had distracted little Susie when she was ill. Evelina often corresponded with several female friends and relatives, like Louisa Mower and Orinthia Foss in Maine, cousin Harriet Ames in Vermont and Pauline Dean, whose home address we don’t know. Which friends did she write to today?

Other family members were more active, despite the cancellation of the usual church service. Son Oakes Angier Ames rode over to North Bridgewater with Charles Mitchell (a younger brother-in-law of Harriett Ames Mitchell) to attend meeting there. Old Oliver and Sarah Ames Witherell, in the other part of the house, received several visitors, including Aaron Hobart.  Susan Orr was still visiting there, and may have been the draw for some of the new visitors.

October 4, 1851


Oct 4th Sat.  Preserved 25 pounds of peaches and 16 lbs

barbaries & about 23 lbs Apples with them.  Have

been about sick all day  Expect I have taken

the nettlerash from Susan have been troubled

with it three or four days.  Called this afternoon

at Augustus find them quite comfortably settled

Harriet trimmed my Bonnet with the ribbon I

wore last fall  Charles Mitchell came to see Mrs Mitchell


Evelina hadn’t felt very well for several days and began to feel even worse today. She believed she had “taken the nettlerash from Susan,” meaning that she now had hives, just as her daughter had had a week earlier. It made her feel “about sick” yet she stayed upright and worked in the kitchen most of the day. The fruit they had picked or gathered from friends and family wouldn’t keep, so the cooking had to get done.

In the kitchen, Evelina, probably with significant help from Jane McHanna, put up 64 pounds of fruit. She didn’t make jam, which would have consisted of cooked fruit pulp, nor did she make jelly, which would have been made from fruit juice.  She made preserves, which in this instance were pared peaches and apples, the latter mixed with barberries, that were placed whole or in chunks in sugar – lots of sugar – and then boiled down. And because “ingredients in […] loaf sugar are not always very clean,”* most cookbooks of the day strongly urged that the sugar be clarified.

Mrs. Cornelius, in her 1846 The Young Housekeeper’s Friend,* noted that “[t]he chief art in making nice preserves, and such as will keep, consists in the proper preparation of the syrup.  All sugars are better for being clarified.”* Mary Tyler Peabody Mann, more than ten years later in her cookbook, Christianity in the Kitchen, agreed with the necessity of clarifying the sugar The process was labor intensive; even with the help of Jane McHanna, Evelina would have had hours of work if she followed Mrs. Mann’s “receipt”:

“Put half a pint of water to every pound of sugar.  Stir in the white of an egg for every five pounds of sugar, and let it boil; when it rises, put in half a teacup of water and let it boil again, and repeat this process two or three times.  Set the kettle aside for fifteen minutes, then take the scum from the top.  Pout off the syrup; wash the kettle, and put in the fruit you wish to preserve.”**

After sitting at the kitchen table paring the fruit, or standing over the stove clarifying the sugar, or placing the fruit into the stoneware or glass jars, Evelina needed a break. She took a walk to the village to see her nephew Augustus and his family. Even if she wasn’t feeling well, the fresh air must have felt good after the heat and bustle of the kitchen.



Mary Hooker Cornelius, The Young Housekeeper’s Friend, 1846

** Mary Peabody Mann, Christianity in the Kitchen, 1858

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.


July 23, 1851



Wednesday July 23  Have been sewing before noon to day working on

different articles among the rest have made

Susan a pair of short cuffs of cambric

trimed with a wide insertion and edging

Aaron Hobart & Charles Mitchell came to the other part

of the house & dined When they returned Mrs Witherell

Mitchell, Mrs S Ames & self went to Mr James Mitchells to tea

Met Mr & Mrs Judge Mitchell Mrs & Miss Hyde & Aunt Orr there

Sewing was in the forefront of Evelina’s activities lately while gardening seemed to disappear.  Perhaps the heat and the weeding were too much, perhaps her favorite blooms had gone by and she had lost interest. Then, too, she simply may have neglected to record the time she did spend in the flower beds. Whatever the cause, Evelina was back indoors in the mornings, needle in hand.

Her social life, always a little more active in the summer, continued to thrive. She noted that Charles Mitchell, younger brother-in-law of Harriett Mitchell, and Aaron Hobart dined with Old Oliver and Sarah Witherell. This entry is the first mention of the Hobarts, a family that would become intimately involved with the Ameses in the future.  Aaron was the eldest son and namesake of Judge Hobart, a former congressman, and his wife Maria, who lived in East Bridgewater. Recently returned from working in New Orleans, Aaron became “actively identified” with the local Carver Cotton Gin Company**. His youngest sister, Catherine, was at school with Helen Angier Ames in Dorchester.

It was to East Bridgewater that the ladies went today for tea. Evelina and her sisters-in-law met with Judge Nahum Mitchell, also a former congressman and a contemporary of Old Oliver, his wife Nabby, and others.  The Mitchells were related to the Orr family, and one of their daughters (Mary Orr Mitchell Ames) was married to an Ames cousin in Springfield. Needless to say, many of the long-established families in southeastern Massachusetts had intermarried over time and thus were related in long-distance ways.

*Judge Nahum Mitchell
** Plymouth County Massachusetts Archives



July 1, 1851



Tues July 1st  Worked in the garden a long while

this forenoon weeding & transplanting.

This afternoon trimmed Susan a straw and

horsehair bonnet that I purchased at Boston

Sat  Asa & Charles Mitchell came to 

the other part of the house this morning

Charles left this afternoon  I have not seen

Asa as yet

The wound on Evelina’s finger and thumb seemed better today; she spent most of her morning in the flower garden and, after dinner, trimmed a new bonnet for her daughter, Susan.  Straw bonnets were worn in the summer, naturally, and horsehair was a reinforcing fabric that could be used year round. Evelina had to be an expert by now on using horsehair, so adding ribbon or cloth flowers to it would be pretty easy for her, even with a sore hand.

Old Oliver, who seldom took note of the comings and goings of his children or his in-laws, reported in his journal that “Asa Mitchell came here to day from Sharon Pennsylvania.”  Asa was the husband of his youngest daughter, Harriett, who had been staying in Easton and Bridgewater by herself with her three children since the middle of April.  Asa worked in coal, an occupation that seemed to lead him – and his family – around western Pennsylvania and northern Ohio.

Evelina took note of Asa’s arrival; her curiosity was almost palpable as she awaited her turn to see him.  He and his brother Charles visited with Old Oliver and Sarah Witherell first thing.  What did they discuss?

* Horsehair and straw bonnet, modern construction from 1860s design; blog.historicalfashions.com, June 12, 2010, “Couture Historique” by Lindsey Slaugh