March 2, 1852


March 2nd Tuesday

1852 March  Have been assisting Mr Scott paper[ing]

again to day  Worked untill past nine

and feel very tired.  The paper is all on

except a patch or two here & there  Francis brought

Lavinia up to Edwins this afternoon  Mr Holbrook

has finished the first coat of paint in 

the sitting room chamber

To begin with, the day was normal. Winter weather continued: “there was a little mist this morning + it froze as it fell and the ground was slipery, wind north East. it was cloudy and a little stormy all day – it cleard of[f] in the evening.”* Evelina was not tempted to go out.  She stayed indoors, focused on redecorating the downstairs.

With Mr. Scott in the lead, Evelina helped put wallpaper up in her parlour.  She must have had to take down the framed prints and new looking-glass in order to do this. The sitting room, too, was being repainted.

Evelina stayed up late, becoming “very tired,” and evidently ready to go to bed as she wrote this entry.  Yet a good night’s sleep would elude her. Indeed, few people in the village of North Easton would be able to sleep through the night of March 2, 1852.

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

November 29, 1851


Nov 29th  Sat.  This forenoon have been mending

Olivers (3) clothes and putting them in order to 

carry back Monday.  Have been with Oliver

to spend the afternoon at Mothers. Came

home by Mr Lothrops to bring Sarah Lothrop

Fred & Helen home  Alson has been quite 

unwell a week or more & is not able to work

Evelina was enjoying the company of her middle son, Oliver (3), today. Like many a modern child, he had brought his clothes home from college to be put “in order” (but not washed – it wasn’t laundry day.) Evelina mended what she could and then the two of them rode south to visit old Mrs. Gilmore and the family on the farm. They found that Alson Gilmore, Evelina’s brother, had been “quite unwell.” He was evidently bed-ridden, which suggests that their Thanksgiving had been less celebratory than the Ames’s.

Unlike the shovel laborers in the village, Alson did work that didn’t follow a schedule set by a bell.  He labored according to the demands of the season, weather and livestock. How had he managed to run his farm this past week when he was too ill to work? Most likely his fifteen-year-old son, Francis, took over responsibility for any livestock. And if the Gilmores had any dairy cows, it was typically the women of the house – in this case, daughter Lavinia or wife Henrietta – who would typically have done the milking. Because it was November, and after the harvest, there was otherwise not much work that demanded attention.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, seen above, would have been full of advice for Alson and other farmers. We don’t know if Alson consulted it. (Like Old Oliver Ames, he might have consulted instead an agricultural newspaper called The Massachusetts Ploughman.)  The almanac was just featuring its new “Four Seasons” cover, first used in October of 1851 and still in use in 2014. It was designed by Hammatt Billings, a Boston architect and artist who also did the original illustrations for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and engraved by Henry Nichols of Cambridge, who name appears on the lower right.  The editor was Robert B. Thomas, whose portrait is featured on the right side of the cover, opposite Benjamin Franklin.

September 24, 1851


Wedns Sept 24th  Susan has had another night of

suffering and has not slept but little if any but this

morning she appeared better and has had a more

comfortable day than I expected she would have  Helen

brought in her doll for her to play with and she

has had three to play with which has taken […] her

mind from her sickness in a great measure.

Francis dined here carried home Mr & Mrs Whitwell


The nettle rash, or hives, that had attacked Susie Ames began to subside this morning, surely bringing relief not only to the little girl, but to her mother and everyone else interested in her welfare. As Susie began to feel better, she became agreeably occupied with an extra doll brought in for her to play with by her older cousin from next door, Helen Angier Ames.

Helen’s mother, Sarah Lothrop Ames, and Harriett Ames Mitchell left Easton today to go into Boston and Cambridge for a night. Perhaps they visited Sarah’s sixteen-year-old son Fred Ames at Harvard, where he was a new sophomore. Fifteen-year-old Francis E. Gilmore, the youngest son of Evelina’s brother Alson Gilmore, came to the Ames’s for midday dinner.  Was he visiting the construction site of his older brother, Edwin Williams Gilmore, who was building a home close to Ames compound? Francis lived down on the family farm, and was able to give a ride south to William and Eliza Whitwell, who had been visiting Sarah Witherell.

Meanwhile, focused and persistent, Old Oliver continued to supervise construction of a new flume from Great Pond near Stoughton south to the waterflow in North Easton. He noted in his daily journal that “this was a fair day with a strong wind from the north west and pritty cold. we got on the top stone to our floom to day.”



June 25, 1851

14 Fanny Palmer (American artist, 1812-1876) Published by N Currier American Farm Scenes 3 1853



June 25th Wednesday  Worked awhile in the garden and 

then sit down to sewing with mother

After dinner Francis came after mother […]

John & wife and Miss Wait (Otis Howards lady)

arrived there about nine  I went home with

mother and Mr Ames came after me Had

a very pleasant visit  By what they say I 

should judge the west point students had rather

a hard time


Beyond today’s normal work load of gardening and sewing lay a very special event. Evelina traveled south to the family farm where she had grown up, something she often did.  The farm was now owned and worked by her older brother, Alson; it was there that her mother usually resided.  But today, another brother, John, came to visit and joined her there.  The three siblings, John, Alson, and Evelina, were the only survivors of a brood of eight. It was a rare family reunion for them and their mother.

Most historical accounts place John and his wife, Huldah Alger Gilmore, in South Leeds, Maine.  This was probably accurate, as no evidence exists otherwise. Gilmore is not an uncommon name, however, and the postmaster John Gilmore in Leeds, Maine may not be Evelina’s brother.  Evelina’s reference to a discussion about West Point suggests a possibility that John and his wife could have lived there.

Regardless, Evelina seemed very happy to see her two brothers.  Her husband, Oakes, came along eventually to see his in-laws and fetch his wife back home to North Easton.

* Currier & Ives, Farm Yard, ca. 1853



January 4, 1851


1851 Saturday Jan 4th

Mr Ames went to Boston this morning and I had to 

get breakfast pretty early.  My housework kept me busy

most all day  Francis came & brought a barrel of apples

Mr Foster came in the evening to get his watch that Mr

Ames brought from Boston.  After doing my tea dishes

read the papers  Mr A bought Ladys Book & Grahams,

of Jan 1st & a number of Harpers  I do not like this

doing my housework it makes my hands chap

Evelina may not have enjoyed housework, but she dearly loved to read.  The magazines that her husband, Oakes, brought home to North Easton that wintry Saturday probably more than made up for her chapped hands. She sat that very evening by her oil lamp, leafing through Graham’s American Monthly Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Magazine and Book, both of which were marketed to readers just like her.  Both periodicals were published in Philadelphia, yet Godey’s was always more popular and successful and had a longer run, from 1830 to 1878.

Godey’s was edited by Sarah Josepha Hale, an accomplished writer whose legacy includes – but is not limited to – authorship of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” as well as credit for convincing Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  Her counterpart at Graham’s included, at one time, a man of antithetical sensibility.  Edgar Allan Poe,  author of “Murder in the Rue Morgue,” The Telltale Heart,”  and other gothic classics was the short-lived editor at Graham’s in the early 1840s.

Harper’s is the only periodical in the stack in the Ames’s sitting room that’s still in publication today.  In 1851, it was embryonic and carried mostly reprints of topical and political articles from English magazines.  It soon found its own American voice, however, and became a noteworthy magazine covering national issues, as Oakes Ames would learn many years later when elected to Congress.  On this cold, unremarkable evening, however, years away from fame, he and his wife were ignorant of such eventualities as they sat and discussed the day.

No doubt Evelina informed Oakes that her nephew, Francis Gilmore, had brought another barrel of apples from the Gilmore family farm.  It was  probably already safely stowed in the cellar, toted down the stairs by one of their sons.  Did she lock this barrel up, as she did the other day?

Images of Graham’s Magazine credited to Wikipedia.