August 8, 1852


St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River, Massachusetts


Aug 8th  Have been to meeting came home with

Mr Ames at noon, and returned again

Lavinia Williams came home to Joshuas with us […]

Lavinia returned home  Mr Whitwell preached

Since meeting have written a letter to Mrs

Louisa J Mower & Mrs S Stevens


As shovel-making led the industry of Easton in 1852, so textile manufacturing led the commerce of nearby Fall River. Surely, some of the cloth that Evelina cut and sewed came from the busy textile center that lay about 25 miles to her south.

Fall River is situated at the mouth of the Taunton River, the head of Mount Hope Bay, and (before the construction of the modern interstate put it underground) alongside the swiftly flowing Quequechan River, whose steep drop gave Fall River its name as well as the power to run the mills that lined its banks. Considered “the best tidewater privilege in southern New England,”* Fall River was an important industrial entity for much of the 1800’s. Bustling with bales of cotton and bolts of printed cloth, the city was accessed at mid-century by the Old Colony Railroad line and the Fall River Steamship Line, two entities that would soon merge.

The work force employed to support this industry consisted mostly of immigrants, initially Irish and, after the Civil War, Portuguese. They needed a place to live and a place to worship. The former was supplied by triple-decker tenements, the latter by a succession of churches. The Catholics quickly outgrew the first church built for them in 1840 and thus on this date in 1852, a cornerstone was laid for a new, major church for the congregation. By December, 1855, The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption was duly consecrated and opened for worship. In 1983, St Mary’s was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

We might wonder if any Catholics or others from Easton ever visited St. Mary’s. We can be pretty sure that Evelina and her family never darkened its threshold. On this day, of course, they attended their own Unitarian Church and listened to their beloved Reverend Whitwell.


* “Fall River,” Wikipedia, accessed August 5, 2015

November 18, 1851


Horatio, Oakes, and Oliver Ames, Jr.*

Tuesday Nov 18th  Jane is not well at all she has done

the housework and starched the shirts and

ironed a little. I have swept the house most

all over except the parlour and been doing

little here and little there, have not sewed

at all.  I begin to think I never shall.

This evening have cut some more apples to put

to the barberries and picked over the mince pie meat


Evelina’s domestic concerns were disrupted by Jane McHanna’s illness. Although Jane tried to help a little, Evelina did most of the work, and sounded annoyed about it. She wanted to be sewing, not choring.

Today was the birthday of Horatio Ames, second son of Old Oliver and Susannah Ames.  Born in 1805, he had grown up in Easton to become a “towering”** man, yet was considered by most to be less capable than his powerful older brother, Oakes, or his next-youngest brother, Oliver Ames, Jr. Staying close to home, they prospered. Horatio and another brother, William Leonard, on the other hand, left home to find fortune and were less successful.

Horatio’s personality was part of his problem. His behavior could be crass, his attitude pugnacious. Modern historian, Gregory Galer, has noted:

“One obstacle Horatio Ames faced his entire life was others’ negative reaction to him personally.  Horatio was a large man, apparently with a high-pitched voice, and his physical features may have emphasized his irritating tendencies.  However, his direct, aggressive, and often foul-mouthed manner instantly limited his ability to gain supporters.  He seems to have had little tact and poor social skills.”***

As an adult, Horatio married an Easton girl and settled into a house in the village built for him by his father. Soon, however, he and his young family moved away, first to Albany and then to Fall River, Connecticut, where, with others, Horatio established a family-backed ironmaking enterprise.  Over the years, the business would be innovative, the iron it produced would be of better quality than other iron from the area, yet the business would never quite take off. Horatio would strive and struggle, yet never achieve the success of his two brothers back in Easton.

His personal life didn’t fare much better.  In 1853, his wife Sally Hewes Ames divorced him “on grounds of adultery with ‘divers women in New York.'”**** He was estranged from all three of his children, especially his two “miserable boys,” as he described them.  His eldest son, Horatio, Jr., was accused of attempting to murder him. His daughter Susan disobliged him by marrying a physician named Philander P. Humphrey, of whom Horatio didn’t approve. They moved west to Minnesota, where she, her husband and two of their three children were killed in an uprising on a Sioux reservation.

Horatio remarried in 1856. His second wife, Charlotte Langdon Ames, was sharper than his first wife. She tried to help manage the failing company and, after Horatio died from gangrene early in 1871, she maneuvered to keep his assets for herself.  She was bested by Oliver Ames, Jr., however, in a contentious court battle. Horatio’s business had been built with Ames money, and whatever money was left when he died was going to go right back home to Easton.

In her diary, Evelina seldom mentions Horatio or his wife at the time, Sally. Their families were not close.


*Courtesy of the Fall River, Connecticut Historical Society

**William Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, p. 345

***Gregory Galer, Robert Gordon, Frances Kemmish, Connecticut’s Ames Iron Works, New Haven, 1998, p. 157.

****ibid., pp. 158-159