June 1, 1852


Franklin Pierce (1804-1869)

Photograph by Matthew Brady


Tuesday June 1st  Have been to Boston with

Mrs Witherell Mrs S Ames Helen & Emily

Called at Mr Orrs the first place met

the other ladies at half past nine at Mr

Daniells & Co.  Was trying to get a bonnet

most all day at last got materials for a lace 

one  Went to Doe & Hasletons about my consol

Mrs Norris met us at half past two

Most of the Ames females decamped North Easton today and went into the city.  Even Sarah Witherell, dressed in black, rode into Boston to go shopping. Were her sisters-in-law hoping to cheer her up with an outing?

While Evelina and “the other ladies” went about Boston “most all day” in earnest pursuit of bonnets, furniture and more, a group of politicians was gathered in Baltimore some 400 miles south. The Democrats were holding their national convention for the nomination of their next presidential candidate.  Among the ten to twelve gentlemen in the running were Senators Lewis Cass of Michigan, Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, Henry Dodge of Wisconsin, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and Sam Houston of Texas, Governor Philip Allen of Rhode Island, former Secretary of State James Buchanan, and former Senator Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire. The latter, a dark horse candidate, was chosen.

Franklin Pierce would win the next election and serve as President from 1853 through 1857. Known as “Handsome Frank,” a sociable fellow with a difficult personal life and a probable addiction to alcohol, Pierce was an accomplished politician and fierce opponent of abolition. Once in office, he signed the inflammatory Kansas-Nebraska Act, then failed to be renominated for a second term. His purported response was “There’s nothing left to do but get drunk.”

After the Democrats’ gathering, another presidential convention would shortly be held in the same Baltimore hall, the Maryland Institute for the Mechanical Arts.  This time, the Whig Party would meet and nominate Gen.Winfield Scott, hero of the Mexican-American War.  Scott was the candidate that the Ames men would support.  The Ames women couldn’t vote, of course.

February 11, 1852


Feb 11th Wednesday  Returned from Boston to night very

much fatigued  It has rained poringly all

day and I was out shopping and most horrible

walking in the streets  Went to Doe & Hazleton

and bargained for a looking glass  bought an

all wool Delaine of Mr Norris  Mrs Witherell

was here some time this morning

Boston in February is subject to terrible weather, as Beantown residents in 2015 know all too well from recent record-breaking snow.  In 1852, heavy precipitation was also the rule, although on this particular day it didn’t snow, but “rained poringly.” Shopping suddenly wasn’t as much fun as it had been the past two days. Evelina found the going “most horrible,” but still managed to chase down some good buys.

She treked to an area of the city known as Cornhill – not Cornhill Street, or Lane, or Road, but just plain Cornhill.  This area of the city is now irrevocably altered, having been turned into Government Center, a modernistic architectural complex, in the 1970s.  Only a small portion of the original Cornhill known as Sears Crescent now remains. In the 1840s and 1850s, Cornhill was known as a center for Boston’s intelligentsia. Writers, poets, and book publishers gathered there.

In 1852, at number 42 to 48 Cornhill, there were also several retail shops, including one called Doe & Hazleton. Owned by Joseph Doe and J. M. Hazleton, the store specialized in “Decorative Furniture.” It was there that Evelina went and “bargained for” a mirror, to be delivered to North Easton in the near future.  She also bought some wool cloth from another Orr son-in-law, Caleb Norris, and probably had that delivered, as well.

By day’s end, Evelina was back in North Easton, “much fatigued” from her shopping.