Sat Dec 27th Have put more sugar lemon & ginger to the syrup
of the citron swept and dusted the rooms got
the lining ready to quilt to Susans hood quilted
the lining to Susans bonnet and fixed the collar
to my cloak A[u]gustus Lothrop brought me a
bushel of cranberries. A Augustus called to bring
soap shoes &c that he got me in Boston
The cold temperature continued, Old Oliver noting in his diary that “the thermometer according to the papers was down to 8 in some places.”* Such temperatures wouldn’t have harmed the bushel of cranberries that Evelina received today. As author Mrs. Cornelius advised in her 1846 household guide, “cranberries keep well in a firkin of water. If they freeze, so much the better.”**
Cranberries were common in New England. There is debate over whether they were served at the earliest Thanksgiving dinners, but there’s no debate that both Native Americans and English settlers consumed the fruit in season. Botanist Judith Sumner notes that: “Wild cranberries were originally hand-picked, but efficient New-Englanders soon crafted scoops that could be used to rake the berries from the lax stems. During the nineteenth century, bogs carpeted with wild cranberries transformed into cultivated sites that were raked systematically each fall.”*** Augustus Lothrop, the youngest brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames, evidently cultivated cranberries at his farm in Sharon.
Henry David Thoreau enjoyed cranberries, finding them in the wild and eating them raw. He considered them “a refreshing, cheering, encouraging acid that literally puts the heart in you and sets you on edge for this world’s experiences.”***
*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, 1848-1863
**Mrs. Cornelius, The Young Housekeeper’s Friend, New York, 1846
*** Judith Sumner, American Household Botany, Portland, Oregon, 2004, p. 124
Ed. note: Horace “Augustus” Lothrop was the youngest brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames. He lived in Sharon.
Alson “Augustus” Gilmore was a nephew of Evelina Gilmore Ames, son of her brother Alson. He lived in Easton.