March 9, 1852


19th century oil lantern


March 9th  Tuesday  This morning finished putting

the sitting room chamber in order

Mrs Witherell came in with her work

for an hour or two. I sent for Hannah

Augusta & Abby this afternoon.  Abby

came in this evening  Augustus called  his

wife has the canker and was not able to come


Today “was a fair good day + pritty warm,” * accommodating weather for the carpenters working on the shovel shops. According to modern town historian, Ed Hands, the repair would be rapid enough to allow a resumption of manufacturing “in less than three weeks.” But what happened to the shovel makers during the hiatus? Were they kept on payroll? Or were they given unpaid furlough?

What happened to Patric Quinn? An Irish immigrant with a young wife and two small children, he was the watchman who had dropped his lantern into the varnish on the night of March 2d. He started the fire. Was he injured? Was he held accountable?  Did he stay on payroll? He and his wife Elisa, who sometimes did sewing for Evelina, remained in North Easton. They lived on Elm Street in one of the workers’s houses.

At the Ames compound, Evelina put the sitting room and parlor back in order. She and her sister-in-law, Amelia Gilmore sat and sewed.  They were joined for a time by Sarah Ames Witherell who was followed by young Abbey Torry and Augusta Pool Gilmore. Hannah Lincoln Gilmore was too sick to attend.


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

**Edmund C. Hands, Easton’s Neighborhoods, 1995, p. 163

January 6, 1851


/51 Monday Jan 6

Jane commenced washing this morning but was taken sick

and had to leave it.  And I had to do the housework again

Father killed two oxen & gave us the tripe  Went to North

Bridgewater this afternoon in a sleigh with S A, Helen 

and E Quinn.  A A Gilmore here to tea had business in

the office  Bought patch for a quilt for Susans bed   run

it together this evening  Received a letter from 

O Foss  She says Roland A has come from California

Jane McHanna was under the weather this Monday morning – perhaps from yesterday’s drive in the frigid air – and unable to manage the laundry and housework.  In the kitchen, something had to be done with the fresh tripe that arrived from Evelina’s father-in-law. Considered a delicacy, the tripe would soon be served at the midday dinner table.

As was typical for this time of year, Old Oliver slaughtered a yoke of oxen and distributed the meat and offal among the family. As he described it, “we kilt a yoke of oxen to day I had of Charles Gurney the off one weighed 1475 and the other 1330.”  Now 71 and retired from the shovel business, Old Oliver spent much of his time raising oxen. (Farming, too, as we’ll see later.)  He was evidently quite fond of them, and they were extremely useful in the family business for transporting raw material and finished shovels.  Oxen were a common sight in North Easton in 1851; anyone inside the Ames house would have heard ox carts rumbling by on the road.

The weather had improved and  housework couldn’t keep Evelina at home this afternoon.  Off in a sleigh to North Bridgewater she went with Sarah Ames, Sarah’s daughter Helen and a neighborhood dressmaker, Elisa Quinn.  The women were most likely on the hunt for fabric.  Evelina found quilting material, and after tea was over that night, began to put together a quilt for her daughter, Susan.