November 28, 1852



Sunday Nov 28  Went to meeting this forenoon

came home at noon and did not return wrote

some & read and was doing some other things

that perhaps would have been as well to do

another day  Augustus & wife & her sister &c

called and we went into Olivers with them

this evening found quite a party there.

Mr Dows family Cyrus Elizabeth and all of 

our folks except Frank


Evelina spent this Sunday in her usual manner, although she attended only the morning service at church. Once home, she “wrote some” letters to friends or family and read – always a favorite leisure activity – and then probably did a few chores that may or may not have been permissible for the Sabbath. Every so often, Evelina would work on a Sunday and feel guilty about doing so.

She had no guilt about spending a sociable evening next door, however. The high activity that had begun the week before around Thanksgiving continued at the Ames compound as friends and family gathered. The evening seemed to be impromptu, influenced in part by the continued presence of visiting family members. Sarah Lothrop Ames’ bachelor brother, Cyrus, and her widowed sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Mrs. Dewitt Clinton Lothrop), were still on the premises, as was the Dow family. Evelina and her own crew of relatives – nearly “all of our folks” –  found their way to the party, too. Much tea would have been consumed (although the setting would have been minus the samovar in the illustration above.)

It seems only fair that this Sunday was so lively and fun, for bad news would arrive within the week.

*T. Myaghov, Russian, Family Portrait with Samovar, 1844, courtesy of Wikipedia, accessed 11.27.2015


August 27, 1851


Wedns Aug 27th  This morning filled the vases with flowers and worked

some about the house and about nine went to Mr

Lothrops with Mrs S Ames to put on the shrouds

Got home about twelve.  Went to the funeral

and to the cemetery  He is the second one that 

has been laid there.  Mrs Fullerton and Abb[y] Torrey

called this evening & Malvina with her bloomer

hat that I gave her

“[A] fair, cool day,” Old Oliver noted in his journal. “Clinton Lothrop buried.” Brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames, a young husband, father, and farmer, Clinton had died of typhus fever. Evelina helped Sarah, Clinton’s only sister, place a shroud on the corpse. In the afternoon, with her husband and family, Evelina attended the funeral service, which would have been at the Lothrop home, and the burial.  Clinton was buried in the new cemetery.

Despite the somber events of the day, Evelina managed to brighten her home with flowers from her garden.  In the evening, her nieces Abby and Malvina Torrey made a call with their relative, Mrs. Fullerton. Malvina wore a “bloomer hat” that Evelina had given her.

The bloomer costume – seen above in the Currier print –  was a fashion phenomenon in 1851. Originally developed by readers of a health publication called The Water-Cure Journal, “Turkish pants” were touted as a healthful alternative to the heavy-skirted dresses and constrictive bodices that women typically wore. They became known as “bloomers” when Amelia Bloomer of Seneca Falls, New York, told the readership of her temperance periodical, The Lily, that she had adopted the style to wear.  She published instructions for making the outfit, and the curious style became a craze.

Although the bloomer costume was admired at first as being healthful, it soon became politicized as women’s reform became prominent in the headlines. To many, the free-flowing bloomers became symbolic of the suffrage movement. Publications that initially praised bloomers recanted as the outfit became more controversial. The fashion held its own through the decade, however, but disappeared after the Civil War, only to revive in the 1890s.

Evelina, sewing maven that she was, had been following the fashion news, but hadn’t opted to make a bloomer costume for herself. With a nod to the trend, however, she acquired a bloomer hat, probably like the one in the Currier print, to give to her ten-year old niece, Malvina.

*Nathaniel Currier, The Bloomer Costume, 1851

August 26, 1851


Abbott H. Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John Gellatly

Abbott H. Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of John Gellatly


Tues Aug 26th  Clinton Lothrop died about ten Oclock

last night  Has been sick a long time with

the Typhus fever  Mrs Witherell & I made the

shroud for him  Mrs Mitchell went to Taunton

to get Bonnets &c for Mrs Lothrop

Rebecca White came after Pauline this morning

Alson here to Dinner and tea is drawing stones for

Edwins cellar.  Oakes A and Frank returned this evening


Dewitt Clinton Lothrop finally died.  He had been suffering from typhus, “an acute infectious disease caused by the parasite Rickettsia prowazekii, transmitted by lice and fleas [,and] marked by high fever, stupor alternating with delirium, intense headache and dark red rash.”* It’s not the same disease as typhoid fever, although the two conditions have some similarities. Clinton, as he was known, had probably been bitten by a flea.

One of nine sons of Howard and Sally Lothrop, Clinton was a brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames. While most of his surviving brothers had moved away from Easton in pursuit of their own lives, Clinton was the duty son who had stayed home with his parents. Only 26 years old and married with two small sons, he had tended the family farm.

Evelina and Sarah Witherell quickly prepared a shroud for the body, while Harriett Mitchell rode off to Taunton to find mourning clothes for the young widow, Elizabeth Howard Lothrop (or for the mother, Sally Williams Lothrop.) That no one had purchased the mourning clothes before now suggests that, despite the probability of death, everyone had hoped that Clinton would recover.

It was a busy day for Evelina.  Besides helping sew the shroud, she saw her friend Pauline Dean depart to visit elsewhere in Easton and welcomed her brother Alson to midday dinner. Alson was working nearby, helping his son, Edwin Williams Gilmore, build a house.  Jane McHanna washed clothes, and she and Evelina probably continued to set the house to rights after a weekend of guests. Oakes Angier and Frank Morton returned home from their fishing trip.

* Craig Thornber, Glossary of Medical Terms Used in the 18th and 19th Centuries,

August 25, 1851



Monday Aug 25  Did not wash this morning on account 

of having so much company  Warren left in the stage

cousin Jerry went to Mr Thesis with Oakes Angier

and Frank on their way fishing.  Alson dined here.

We Ladies all called at Mr Torreys & on Elisha

at the Boot shop.  Mr & Mrs & Miss Kinsley & Miss

Billings from Canton were here to tea – came

about 6 Oclock went to the shop with them

Another Monday and for the second time that summer, washing day got deferred.  Tidying up from “having so much company” took precedence over routine. The young relatives, Jerry and Warren Lothrop, left in the morning.  Another visitor, Pauline Dean, remained.

Oakes Angier and Frank Morton Ames left to go fishing, a trip they had deferred from last week. They had waited then for the imminent death of Dewitt “Clinton” Lothrop, which hadn’t happened.  Clinton, though deathly ill with typhus, was hanging on. The boys decided to wait no further, and departed.

Evelina and “We Ladies” – which could only mean Pauline and probably niece Lavinia – went to see Col. John Torrey in the village and called on Elisha Andrews at the boot factory. Elisha, who was 27 years old and single, had started up the factory with Augustus Gilmore and Oakes Angier Ames. In recounting the visit to the boot shop in her diary, Evelina underlined Elisha’s name. Why? The visit was significant in some way; perhaps one of the women – Lavinia? – was romantically interested in Elisha.

More socializing continued late in the day when the Kinsley family visited.  Lyman Kinsley, his wife Louisa, daughter Lucy Adelaide and a Miss Billings (a niece of Louisa, most likely) came for tea. Mr. Kinsley ran an iron and machine shop in Canton, an enterprise that the Ameses would eventually own. After tea, they all walked over to the factory.

* Currier and Ives, “Starting Out,” print, ca. 1852

August 19, 1851




Tues 19th Aug  Sat down quite early to fix some work for

Ellen, about 11 Oclock Mrs Norris and a Mr Young from

Bridgewater came  Dined here and left about three

they wanted the boys to go Fishing Thursday but Clinton Lothrop

is not expected to live through the day and they

thought it best to defer going untill Monday

Mrs Witherell & Mitchell & myself went into

school this afternoon  Very warm

Melinda Orr Norris and a Mr. Young had midday dinner with the Ameses, during which they invited the Ames sons to go fishing. The boys accepted but deferred the trip to the following week.  Clinton Lothrop, their Aunt Sarah Lothrop Ames’s younger brother, was deathly ill and they wanted to wait until after his anticipated passing.

It was a hot summer day, with no such thing as air conditioning or window fans. In their full-skirted dresses, the Ames women surely were hot as they chored around the house or sat with visitors. They possibly opened their parlor windows to let in some air, but would have let in the insects, too, if they did so.  “Wove wire” had appeared here and there on the market as an alternative to horsehair weaves, but wouldn’t be commonplace until the Civil War. Around 1861, Gilbert & Bennet, a sieve-making firm in Georgetown, Connecticut, lost its southern customers and began to manufacture window screens as a way to use its surplus wire mesh cloth. Window screens took off. Before then, how did people cope?

Evelina and her sisters-in-law, Sarah Witherell and Harriett Mitchell, left the closed air of their homes and went to the local school house in the afternoon. Evelina doesn’t explain the purpose of the trip. Surely the hot sun beat down on them outdoors, but their bonnets kept their heads protected, at least.

* Gilbert & Bennet’s Red Mill on the Norwalk River where woven wire cloth was first developed as a commercial substitute for horsehair. Photo from  

August 18, 1851


Monday Aug 18th  Jane washed this morning and had Ellen

to assist so I sat down quite early to sewing

cut out a chimise for Ellen to make

This afternoon went to Mr Whitwells to tea

Mr Ames was going to Bridgewater and I

rode there with him.  Called at Mr Harveys

to try to get some butter but she had none

to spare.  Hurried home expecting Pauline she did

not come  Mr & Mrs George Lothrop came to Olivers 

The new servant, Ellen, helped Jane McHanna with the laundry today. Evelina stayed out of the way and concentrated on her sewing, setting work aside for Ellen to do later. She needed another chemise.

In the afternoon Evelina went to the Whitwells’ for tea.  She had just been there the day before during the intermission between church services. Today Oakes accompanied her and the two went on from there to Bridgewater.  Evelina was hoping to buy some butter from a Mr or Mrs Harvey, but had no luck. Evidently no longer producing butter herself, she’s had to travel this summer to find it. Oakes, meanwhile, was on his way to Bridgewater on shovel business – or Whig politics.

Not yet alluded to in Evelina’s diary is the illness of one of Sarah Lothrop Ames’s brothers, Dewitt Clinton Lothrop. Clinton, as he was known, was deathly ill with typhus fever. Another Lothrop brother, George Van Ness Lothrop and his wife, Almira Strong Lothrop, had come back to town from Detroit on Clinton’s account.


June 4, 1851



June 4th Wednesday  This morning Mr Lothrop

brought me a calf head and as Jane was Ironing it has

taken me some time to prepare it  Went in to Olivers

to assist Sarah about making her cake for the sewing

Circle.  It met there this afternoon and they had a

goodly number  I have cut two shirts

for Mr Ames and put them into the sewing circle to

make  We have had a pleasant meeting

Even as cows all around town and country were giving birth, some of their calves were slated for slaughter.  In sheer numerical, if unfortunate, terms, not all calves had a place on a farm. Females, once grown, could breed and produce milk, but the males had less of a role, unless they had the lines and build to become fine steers or oxen.  Male calves in particular had good market value as veal and thus were often culled. The arrival of a calf’s head for the dinner table signaled that some culling was going on.  Mr. Lothrop may have been DeWitt “Clinton” Lothrop, a farming brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames and manager of the Lothrop property.

The cook rooms at both houses on Main Street were bustling today. Not only was Evelina preparing the calf’s head, but Jane McHanna was ironing near the stove, keeping her irons hot and using the kitchen table as the ironing surface. In Sarah Lothrop Ames’s kitchen, there was much preparation for the afternoon meeting of the Sewing Circle. Evelina went next door to help Sarah with a cake.

No memory of her own failed meeting back in February seemed to cloud Evelina’s enjoyment of today’s Sewing Circle, even when her sister-in-law’s parlor welcomed “a goodly number.” She was able to put a couple of shirts into the pile of work and had a pleasant time.