January 23, 1852

 

 

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Currier & Ives, Winter in the Country: Getting the Ice1864

1852

Jan 23d Friday  Have had a hard days work.  Heat the

brick oven 4 times.  Baked mince & dried apple

pies brown bread cup cake & ginger snaps.

Had quite a fright about Oliver & Fred being

away at tea time was affraid they had got into the

pond where they had been cutting ice for the ice house

found them at Edwins.  Mrs S Ames went with me

about 8 Oclock into Edwins

 

There are few things scarier for a parent than having a child – whatever the age – not come home when expected. Evelina and her sister-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames had “quite a fright” when their sons, Oliver (3) and Fred Ames, respectively, didn’t return home from a day spent outside, harvesting ice at a family pond. The pond was some distance from the family compound, out of earshot. At tea time, no one was able to report on their whereabouts. The boys might have fallen in.

The worried mothers went out after dark to search for their sons and found them practically next door. They were fine. Oliver and Fred had stopped to call on Oliver’s cousin, Edwin Gilmore, and were presumably unaware that their absence had alarmed anyone. How relieved Evelina and Sarah must have been.

For the young men, the day spent working outdoors in the cold sunshine must have been an invigorating change from their college studies, and for their grandfather, Old Oliver, their participation in the important annual harvest of ice must have been gratifying.

December 23, 1851

4-currier-ives-winter-scene-granger

 

Tuesday Dec 23  Julia has been here to day to make Susans cotton

& wool Delaine  I have not sewed much with her

was choring about the house most all the forenoon

painted over some boxes for Mr Scott to grain.  made

the skirt & cuffs to Susans dress then went to knitting

on my hood which I commenced last evening.  Julia

cut and made and gathered the skirt and basted 

it on to the waist, the sleeves are not made

 

Old Oliver’s wintry weather report for this day suggests a scene worthy of Currier & Ives:”[T]his was a cloudy day + a verry little fine snow. wind north west it cleard of[f] about sunsett. what snow fell to day + last night was 1 ½ inch.” The countryside was covered with snow, appropriate enough for the first full day of winter.  And winter was a season much illustrated by the 19th century printmakers, Nathaniel Currier and James Ives.  Working out of New York, the firm produced enormously popular hand-colored lithographs of mostly American scenes. Currier began the prints in 1835 and was joined by Ives, who had been the firm’s bookkeeper, in 1856. The men soon developed a stable of artists and produced prints through the rest of the 19th century and into the early 20th. Evelina would have been familiar with Currier & Ives images, in the same way that many mid-20th century Americans were familiar with the illustrations of Norman Rockwell. The images were everywhere.

Many, if not most, Currier & Ives prints were scenes of the outdoors. On this day at the Ames’s, however, the action was all indoors, as the women chored, painted, sewed and knitted. Dressmaker Julia Mahoney was at the house to sew a wool dress for nine-year-old Susan Ames. That a child Susie’s age was having a dress made by a “professional” rather than her own mother was certainly a sign of the Ames’s wealth. Helen Ames, Susie’s fifteen-year-old cousin next door, often had her dresses made by Julia. Evelina was keeping up with her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, in providing the best for her daughter.

 

June 25, 1851

14 Fanny Palmer (American artist, 1812-1876) Published by N Currier American Farm Scenes 3 1853

*

1851

June 25th Wednesday  Worked awhile in the garden and 

then sit down to sewing with mother

After dinner Francis came after mother […]

John & wife and Miss Wait (Otis Howards lady)

arrived there about nine  I went home with

mother and Mr Ames came after me Had

a very pleasant visit  By what they say I 

should judge the west point students had rather

a hard time

 

Beyond today’s normal work load of gardening and sewing lay a very special event. Evelina traveled south to the family farm where she had grown up, something she often did.  The farm was now owned and worked by her older brother, Alson; it was there that her mother usually resided.  But today, another brother, John, came to visit and joined her there.  The three siblings, John, Alson, and Evelina, were the only survivors of a brood of eight. It was a rare family reunion for them and their mother.

Most historical accounts place John and his wife, Huldah Alger Gilmore, in South Leeds, Maine.  This was probably accurate, as no evidence exists otherwise. Gilmore is not an uncommon name, however, and the postmaster John Gilmore in Leeds, Maine may not be Evelina’s brother.  Evelina’s reference to a discussion about West Point suggests a possibility that John and his wife could have lived there.

Regardless, Evelina seemed very happy to see her two brothers.  Her husband, Oakes, came along eventually to see his in-laws and fetch his wife back home to North Easton.

* Currier & Ives, Farm Yard, ca. 1853