June 15, 1852

LongShop

Recent image of Long Shop 

June 15th  Tuesday  Julia here and I have been sewing

some but have not had much time […] I

t’s very hot weather mother spent the

day at Edwins I called there awhile and 

ripped my green gingham dress to have 

it made over.  had quite a heavy shower 

this morning which was needed very much

Everyone agreed that this day was “verry warm” and that rain was needed.* Evelina, looking up from her sewing, reported that they had “quite a heavy shower.” Her father-in-law, however, described the rain as “a small shower in the forenoon about an eighth of an inch.” Her glass was half-full, his was half-empty when it came to considering the benefit bestowed by this particular rainfall.

Such quick rain wouldn’t have been enough to interfere with the building of the new stone shops at the factory. Workers had begun to arrive on Saturday and, surely, some initial construction was already underway.  Old Oliver would have made sure of that. This first building on the new site, which was much closer to where the Ames family lived, was dubbed the Long Shop.

Industrial historian Greg Galer describes the Long Shop as “a simple, narrow, gable-roofed, two story building 525 feet long and 35 feet wide with a 60 by 50 foot ell and an additional 30 by 10 foot engine house. “**  This sturdy, less flammable facility would be up and running by the end of the year, and soon include a 60 hp steam engine.

Residents of North Easton today know the Long Shop as one of several shovel factory buildings repurposed for residential use. Along with others, Mr. Galer was instrumental in the successful effort to preserve the historic character of the Long Shop as the site was developed.

* Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, 2002, p. 150

June 13, 1852

Lobster

June 13

1852 Sunday  Went to meeting this morning & returned

at noon and mother came with me to make

a visit  Did not go back this afternoon on

account of getting tea  Mr Patterson is here

came last night  Edwin & wife stoped to 

tea from meeting had lobster.  Read to

mother in  [entry incomplete]

 

The Sabbath was another “fair day + pritty warm + verry dry.”* Old Oliver had to be getting edgy about the prospects for this year’s hay crop, not to mention the potentially poor output from the cornfields and the crop gardens all around town.

The family all trooped to church for the morning service, but Evelina, bringing her eighty-year old mother home with her, skipped the afternoon sermon “on account of getting tea.” She had to prepare lobster for Edwin and Augusta Gilmore. We might assume that on the previous day, Oakes Ames picked up a lobster (probably quite fresh, although cooked and canned were available) in Boston on his usual Saturday visit. Lobsters were plentiful, inexpensive and, as a rule, larger than those we dine on today. He was probably familiar enough with the crustacean to buy one that was fresh.

The well-known household advisor Lydia Maria Church approved of lobsters, and offered advice on buying them:

‘A female lobster is not considered so good as a male.  In the female, the sides of the head, or what look like cheeks, are much larger, and jut out more than those of the male. The end of the lobster is surrounded with what children call ‘purses,’ edged with a little fringe.  If you put your hand under these to raise it, and find it springs back hard and firm, it is a sign the lobster is fresh; if they move flabbily, it is not a good omen.’

Moving flabbily could never be considered a good omen.

 

 

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

** Lydia Maria Church, The American Frugal Housewife 

 

May 22, 1852

large-1057

Infant wear from Godey’s Lady’s Magazine, 1851

Sat May 22d

1852  Mrs Paterson here again to day and has cleaned 

Susans chamber, windows & doors in Franks and

taken up the carpet and cleaned the front

chamber except the floor  Lavinia & Orinthia

came about eleven,  Edwin & Augusta here to tea

and went home with Lavinia  Mrs McHanna stood

godmother for McCabes child

 

Spring cleaning continued.  Mrs. Patterson returned to help Evelina clean, and the two women worked hard. Windows, doors, carpets and more were scrubbed, wiped or beaten, as appropriate.

Jane McHanna, the Ames’s regular servant, must have had time off today. She attended a baptism, presumably at the little Catholic church on Pond Street, to act as a godmother for a child of the McCabes. About this time, there was an Irish family in Easton, Bernard and Hannah McCabe, who had young children. Perhaps Jane became a godmother for three-year old William McCabe or, more likely, a younger sibling. There were several McCabe families in Bristol and Plymouth counties at this time, however, so we can’t be certain who this young child was.

The baptism or christening of infants was an important rite for both Catholics and Protestants. They had different approaches, certainly, but the intent was the same: to bless a child and erase its original sin. Unitarians differed from the Catholics and Calvinist-based Puritanism on this latter issue, as Unitarians didn’t accept the notion that children were born depraved. It was a critical doctrinal point. Jane McHanna would have accepted the more traditional view, and probably considered it an honor to have been selected as godmother.

May 20, 1852

 

Mattress

1852

Thursday May 20th  Went to Bridgewater quite early this

morning and did not get back until

after four Oclock  Bought an oilcloth

carpet for the dining room,  Straw carpet

for O Angiers chamber and engaged some

husk mattress  Called into Edwins after 

I returned  Have a bad head ache.  Very pleasant

Today’s shopping objective: new floor coverings for the dining room and a bedroom, as well as “some husk mattress.”  At least one of the mattresses of the house was due to be restuffed or entirely made over.

By the mid-nineteenth century, mattresses were stuffed with various materials, including cotton batting, wool, horsehair or corn husks. As they had been for centuries, mattresses were placed within a wooden bed frame and set atop a latticed support of rope or leather or wire. The box-spring that we use today would come along a few decades later.

It’s a little curious that Evelina “engaged some husk” for a mattress, when she could have selected cotton or something finer, like down. Feathers would have required poultry, however, which the Ameses didn’t keep, and were expensive to purchase. The husks, probably harvested the previous fall from a corn harvest and dried over the winter, would have been less expensive.

By the end of the day, Evelina had a headache. Perhaps her long day of shopping or a bumpy ride to and from Bridgewater set her off.  With so much time spent outside, a high pollen count could have been the culprit, too, and might also account for Susie Ames’s recent nose bleeds.

May 18, 1852

Dianthus.2474433_std

Pinks

 

1852 Tuesday 18 May  Have accomplished but a very little work

to day  Made a long call in Olivers & the other

part of the house talking over my visit yesterday

Set out some pink slips &c that I got there

About three started for N Bridgewater met

Alson & wife turned about and came back

Spent the rest of the afternoon at Edwins.  called

at Augustus,  her sister Elizabeth there

The visit to the Kinsley family that Evelina had made the day before lingered in her mind. She talked about it with both sisters-in-law, no doubt describing the family, the conversation, and the twelve pots of flowers she got to bring home. Was she bragging or sharing? Were Sarah Ames and Sarah Witherell interested or only tolerant? The Kinsleys were well-to-do, prominent citizens of Canton, so one suspects that both sisters-in-law had some curiosity about them. Yet it had only been a week since George Witherell had died, so Sarah Witherell may have had limited attention for Evelina’s gadding about.

After her “long call” with her relatives, Evelina spent time in her garden planting “some pink slips &c” that she got in Canton.  Pinks are bright little flowers that we know better as carnations and more formally as dianthus.  The name comes from the “pinked” or serrated edge of the petals, as if trimmed with pinking shears. Pinks are a traditional flower for a cottage garden; botanist Joseph Breck declared that “There is no flower more desirable in the flower-garden that the Carnation. A well-grown, superior variety, cannot be surpassed, in elegance, beauty, or odor, by any other flower.”*

The pretty little flowers in Evelina’s garden must have brightened up the yard of a home whose occupants needed cheering up.

 

Joseph Breck, The Flower Garden or Breck’s Book of Flowers, Boston, 1851, p. 111

 

May 17, 1852

180px-Beekman_greenhouse

Mid-19th century American Greenhouse*

1852

Monday May 17  Finished planting my flower seeds

Mr Blodget here to dine from Boston

This afternoon have been to Mr Kinsley with

Mr Ames.  Miss Nevill there from Salisbury.

Brought home twelve pots of flowers from

their green house.  The grapes & flowers look

finely  Had a very pleasant visit got home

about dark

Evelina enjoyed herself today. It was lovely outside, for “the sun shined about half the day + was pritty warm wind west + south west.”** She gardened for much of the morning and in the afternoon, rode with her husband, Oakes, to Canton to call on the Kinsley family.

Lyman and Louisa Kinsley, whom we’ve heard of before in Evelina’s diary, were about the same age as Oakes and Evelina. They had two children, Lucy Adelaide and Edgar Lyman, who were twelve years apart, suggesting that there may have been other children born between the two. Lucy was close in age to Oakes Angier, and Edgar was a year or so younger than Susie.

The Kinsleys were prosperous; Mr. Kinsley ran an iron business that had been started by his father and had long supplied material for Ames shovels. The Kinsley Iron and Machine Company would eventually be bought by the Ameses and managed by Frank Morton Ames. That being some years in the future, the Ameses could sit and admire the Kinsley place with little thought of acquisition – perhaps. Certainly, Evelina was much taken with the Kinsley greenhouse and the “twelve pots of flowers” she got to take home.

Greenhouses such as Mr. Kinsley’s were becoming more popular in the mid-19th century, particularly in England after the government there did away with the heavy tax on window glass. Hothouses had been known previously on this size of the Atlantic, also, appearing in the colonies as early as 1737, when wealthy Bostonian Andrew Faneuil built one. George Washington, too, had one built at Mt. Vernon to grow pineapple. Greenhouses would increase in size, status, and grandeur as the century progressed. Easton would see its share when the next generation of wealthy men reached maturity. Frederick Lothrop Ames, Edwin Williams Gilmore and probably others would raise orchids and more in the glass-walled wonders.

*Greenhouse from Beekman Estate in Manhattan, circa 1850

**Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

May 6, 1852

images-1

Queen of the Prairie

1852 May

Thursday 6th Worked in the garden a short time and

about nine went to the shovel shops with Hannah

and her sister  They spent the afternoon here and

Augusta.  Edwin came to tea  Mr Brown,

Olivers room mate, came to night.  We ladies rode

to Mr Clapps, bought Queen of the Prairie for 37 cts

Warm sunshine sent Evelina outdoors for much of the day. She gardened after breakfast, then broke away at nine a.m. to go over to the shovel shops with her niece, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, and Hannah’s sister, Sarah Lincoln. What were the ladies doing at the factory? Evelina wouldn’t have gone there on her own volition.

The Lincoln sisters, originally from Hingham, spent much of the day with Evelina.  They were joined by Augusta Pool Gilmore, whose husband Edwin Williams Gilmore later came to tea. “We ladies” traveled to the home of Lucius Clapp, another fine gardener with plants to sell, where Evelina purchased a Filipendula rubra, or Queen of the Prairie. Clapp was a well-respected citizen of Stoughton, described by a contemporary historian as “one of the representative farmers of this progressive age.” *

Oliver (3), meanwhile, was briefly home from Brown University.  His roommate, a Mr. Brown, came to North Easton for a visit. It was a full table at tea time.

D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, pp. 424-425

 

May 1, 1852

Wreath

1852

Sat May 1st  The children were hoping to have a fine

time maying this morning had their wreaths

all made but it rained which prevented

their taking a walk but they had a nice time

in the old tool house. I dined in Edwins

John came there last night  Lavinia & Helen

here.  They were all here to tea to night

S E Williams called at Olivers  I gave her some plants

 

Rain spoiled the annual outing that Susan, Emily and other children had planned for May Day. They had made special wreaths for the occasion, probably to deliver to the homes of friends. To get out of the weather and save the pleasure of the day, they gathered instead in the “old tool house,” which seemed to make for an agreeable substitute.  Readers from the Easton area, does anyone know the probable whereabouts of this building?

Rain may have spoiled the children’s walk, but it helped soften the ground in the garden.  Old Oliver reported that today the garden was “spaded up and manured.”  He was most likely describing the family vegetable and herb garden, as opposed to Evelina’s flower beds, which were already under cultivation and probably out of Old Oliver’s immediate purview as well as beneath his notice.

Evelina, meanwhile, had her midday meal at Edwin’s and Augusta’s house, seemingly while the rest of the family ate at home. She went over to visit their mutual relative, her brother John Gilmore, who rarely came to town.

 

 

April 30, 1852

135555850

1852

Friday April 30th  Worked in the garden awhile this

morning  Mr Scott has grained the cook

room  Rachel dined here & was intending to 

spend the day but Mrs Packard came to Edwins

and she went back there  Mrs Lincoln

passed the afternoon & Augustus to tea  Abby

spent the day, was away awhile with Mrs

Clapp after some flowers.  Hannah gone to Boston

 

The last day of the month was “a fair day + the warmest we have had this spring …,”* according to Old Oliver Ames, who also noted that he “killed 4 shoats to day.”

A shoat is a newly weaned pig that typically  weighs in at about thirty pounds. It wasn’t unusual to find a farmer thinning a litter of pigs (also known as a drift of pigs) at this time of year, for different reasons. Many farmers bought shoats at this time of year to fatten up over the summer and slaughter in the fall. For reasons known only to himself, Old Oliver chose to slaughter four of his young pigs rather than sell them. Perhaps the shoats in question were unpromising specimens, or perhaps the Ames family was ready for a little fresh pork.

In the first part of the 19th century, the word “shoat” was also used as a pejorative slang term, intended to describe someone as fairly useless. To call someone a shoat was to say that he or she was dispensable and unimportant.

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

April 22, 1852

Cobbler

1852

Thursday April 22  Worked a very little in the garden

not very pleasant but looks more like fair weather

Sewed a little on my black silk dress

Called with Augusta on Hannah & her sister

Sarah, Abby and at Willard Lothrop, Sampsons

A Pratts Holmes and at the store.  afterwards at

Olivers & Edwins carried a pr shoes to mend

A little sewing, a little gardening, and a great deal of socializing filled the hours of Evelina’s day today. After being pretty well pent up by several days of stormy weather, Evelina was ready to go out.

With her niece-in-law, Augusta Pool Gilmore, she called on another niece-in-law, Hannah Williams Gilmore. There they met Hannah’s sister, Sarah Lincoln, who was visiting from Hingham. They went on to see yet another niece, Abby Torrey, then to the homes of Willard Lothrop (one of Easton’s most active spiritualists), Joel and Martha Sampson, and others.

The Sampsons were a younger couple from Maine with five little children aged eight and under, including three-year-old twins. Joel Sampson worked at the shovel shop and was evidently devoted to Oakes Ames. Twenty years later, on hearing of Oakes’ death, “Joel Sampson, teamster and farmer of the company came home when he heard the sad news, threw himself upon his sofa and announced to his wife that the head and soul of the business was dead, that every thing would go to smash now, and told her to make ready to go back to their old farm and home in Maine, as it was no use to live here any more.”**

Throughout her travels today, Evelina carried a pair of shoes to be mended. In an area of the country well known for its shoe manufacturing, there must have been a good cobbler somewhere in town.

 

* Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

**William Chaffin, “Oakes Ames,” p. 2