August 28, 1852

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Example of Kashmir Shawl Popular at Mid-19th Century*

Sat Aug 28th  Mr Ames called at Mr Orrs this morning said

they were not any of them very well at home.  Went

out to find Mrs S Ames at last met her at

Mr Orrs about noon.  Melinda has not got home

from her journey yet. Bought Mrs Witherell &

self a Cashmere shawl  Have had a pleasant 

visit but am glad to be home again

 

As he usually did on Saturdays, Oakes Ames traveled from North Easton into Boston on business. Instead of going right to his customers, however, he stopped by the Orrs’ where his wife was staying.  Evelina had been away for over a week and he wanted to report that they – meaning he and two of his sons, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton – had fared ill without her. “They were not any of them very well at home,” he complained.

The fact that Evelina didn’t go rushing home to take temperatures or brew beef tea, but spent the day shopping in the city with her sister-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames, suggests that she didn’t take her husband’s report too seriously. If she had, she would have headed home right away. She may have felt that Oakes was just expressing dismay over the disorder that had arisen in her absence, a complaint that wouldn’t have been surprising in an era when the majority of men had no role in, skill at, or inclination for the domestic side of life. Evelina hadn’t been there to tend to the household and probably could have related to the words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragist and mother of seven, who had cause to bemoan “the chaotic conditions into which everything fell without her constant supervision.” Still, Evelina must have been warmed by the thought that she had been missed, and she was glad to get home.

While in Boston, though, Evelina did buy a couple of cashmere shawls, one for herself and one for Sarah Ames Witherell. If the shawls were as beautiful as the one in the illustration, they were two lucky women.  As seen, some shawls during this fashion era were made extra large to fall over the full skirts of the time.

 

 

*Image courtesy of Meg Andrews, “The Girton Curtains,” http://www.meg-andrews.com/articles

August 18, 1852

Trunk

Aug 18th Wednesday. This day has been a busy one

Have fired Susan off to stay at Alsons and

with Orinthia while I am gone. Mrs Stevens

has gone to Alsons just after they left Mr

Jones wife & daughter came in the midst 

of my packing and I had to leave all but

have got all ready this evening

The push was on to finish preparations for the trip Evelina, Oakes Angier and others would be taking the next day. Ten-year-old Susie Ames was “fired off” to stay first with her Uncle Alson Gilmore and later with her teacher, Orinthia Foss. What did she think of all this? Her older brothers, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton, got to stay at home with their father. She may have wondered why she didn’t get to stay home, or she may have been excited to spend a few nights away.

While she was packing her trunk, Evelina was interrupted by the Jones family, but after they left “got all ready this evening.” The Joneses were a family from Foxboro; their purpose in visiting was presumably social, but their timing was awkward. Evelina wasn’t prepared to spend her time with company; she just wanted to get ready for departure. We should remember that not only did she have to pack for herself, she had to get Oakes Angier’s clothes ready, too. A sliver of consolation in all this was that she would have a reason to wear her new traveling dress, the one she worked so hard on earlier in the summer.

August 7, 1852

Wagon

Sat Aug 7th  Was sewing part of the forenoon made

some pies & cake  Went into Olivers about four,

Started to go to Augustus in a waggon and

got caught in a shower turned back at the

school house got completely wet  My sons & Mr Ames

were at tea at Olivers  Edwin & wife Lavinia & Abby

there Catharine & I have done some sewing this week

two nightgowns for self one for Susan & one cotton & 

moire skirt & c &c  Susans waists are finished

 

“[T]he 5, 6 + 7th were pritty warm day[s] + there was some rain,”* wrote Old Oliver in his journal. Evelina was out in that rain and “got completely wet.” Late afternoon showers are part and parcel of August weather in New England. The showers can come up quickly, too, so it’s small wonder that folks moving around the countryside in horse-drawn wagons could get caught in the rain.

While Evelina was getting soaked, her husband Oakes and sons Oakes Angier, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton Ames had tea next door with the Oliver Ames Jr family. How was Oakes Angier feeling, now that he was coughing so much? Perhaps he and his brothers got to hear their cousin Helen play piano again, or perhaps they just ate and conversed. Various Gilmore relatives, including Edwin and Augusta Gilmore, Lavinia Gilmore and Abby Torrey were there as well.  As previously noted, Lavinia and Helen were particularly friendly.

And speaking of friends, fans of Sherlock Holmes might enjoy knowing that August 7, 1852 is the purported birthdate of the fictional Holmes’ steady, tolerant and equally fictional sidekick, Dr. John Watson.

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

 

July 14, 1852

1852

P1070606-X2

High water (flood level) mark in canal in Lowell, Massachusetts

 

Wedns July 14th  Julia came again this morning

but we have not got along very fast

on my dress  Have no trimming for the

sleeves have written for Mrs Stevens to

get me some   There is a great deal to

do to finish my dress  Hannah & Mary 

have both been ironing all day and 

have it all done

Evelina was indoors, sewing a new dress with the help of dressmaker Julia Mahoney. Old Oliver was out haying, “jawing” orders at local men gathering up this year’s meager crop. Oakes Angier, Frank Morton and probably Oliver (3), now that he was home from college, were each posted in some area of the factory, making shovels alongside the workers. Oakes and Oliver Jr. were supervising, perhaps striding around the shovel complex watching the new building go up or sitting in the office looking at accounts.

If we modern readers want to find a day that typifies life in North Easton in the middle of the 19th century, we couldn’t do better than this ordinary summer day in 1852. In other years and in other places, July 14th has hosted more momentous events: the storming of the Bastille, the first ascent of the Matterhorn, the shooting of Billy the Kid, the day Jane Goodall arrived in Tanzania to study chimpanzees. Nonesuch in North Easton; according to Old Oliver’s record, July 14, 1852 was simply a “warm good hay”* day. Routine ruled.

This is not to say that history wasn’t happening. It was. Yet as Evelina noted, “we have not got along very fast,” a phrase that is applicable to so much of history. Change often quietly accumulates, transforming what we know in a stealthy fashion. Evelina’s hand-sewing, Old Oliver’s oxen-driven hay-wagons, Oakes’ and Oliver Jr.’s water-powered shovel machinery: all have since disappeared, replaced by modern equipment invented over time. The life that the Ameses lived was already altering, irrevocably, bit by bit.

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

 

 

July 4, 1852

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July 4 Sunday  Have been to meeting  Orinthia & Lavinia

came home with us at noon  Orinthia had a 

toothache and did not return in the afternoon

Since meeting Alson & wife came up and brought Lavinia

for her to go to Boston tomorrow  Mr Ames called with Orinthia

and self to see the rock they are splitting for the shop and we all

walked down to see the new shop  Mr Clark of Norton preached two

excellent sermons  Oakes A & Helen went to E. Bridgewater

Oakes Ames “came home from N. York”* today, having been there on shovel business; he was the company salesman. After church was over he, Evelina, and her friend, Orinthia Foss, walked down to the shovel shop to see the progress on the new stone building, the Long Shop. They checked out rock that was being split.

“[T]his was a fair cool day wind south west and a drying day…” according to Old Oliver.  It was probably perfect for haying, but it was Sunday, so no one went out to the fields. It was also the Fourth of July, but again, being Sunday, the celebration was postponed.  Fireworks would be held the next day.

Modern historian Jack Larkin describes the importance of the Fourth of July in the American calendar:

“Despite its notably awkward timing for a nation so agricultural – it came in the midst of haying in the North, corn and cotton cultivation elsewhere – Americans made the Fourth their most universal holiday. In ‘fifty thousand cities, towns, villages and hamlets, spread over the surface of America’ citizens observed rituals that varied little, firing cannons, watching parades of prominent citizens and listening to endless orations in town commons and courthouse squares. Americans probably seized their national day with particular relish because it was the only sanctioned way of taking a break from the intensive labor of midsummer…”**

And just as we read yesterday of the beginning of a courtship between Frank Ames and Catharine Copeland, so today we readers may be privy to the genesis of yet another courtship.Evelina writes that Oakes Angier Ames drove his cousin Helen Angier Ames to E. Bridgewater, but doesn’t say why. Perhaps Helen was visiting a friend from school who lived there: Catherine Hobart. This Catherine, too, was destined to become part of the family as Oakes Angier’s wife. Was this their first meeting?

 

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

**Jack Larkin,The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1988, p. 275

 

July 3, 1852

 

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Catharine Hayward Copeland Ames and Frank Morton Ames*

 

July 3d Sat  Was about house the greater part of the 

forenoon.  Made cake Mrs Ames Tumbler rule

After dinner helped do up the work for Hannah

to go to Bridgewater afterwards mending Susans

dresses.  Was expecting Augustus wife here & Orinthia

but they did not come.  About 5 Oclock went

into Mrs Witherells & stoped to tea.  Frank has

gone a ride to Middleboro with Cate Copeland

The bad news today was that “this was a fair cold day wind verry high a verry bad day to git in hay.”** Evelina’s father-in-law, Old Oliver, was clearly not pleased with this year’s haymaking, at least not to date. Not enough rain in the beginning to have the hay grow well and, today, too much cold wind to bring it in properly.

The regular news today included mending and baking. Evelina evidently tried a new cake recipe, using the “Tumbler rule” that she got from Mrs. Ames – probably Almira Ames, who was visiting. A tumbler was a common word for a drinking glass, which suggests that at least one of the cake’s ingredients – flour, perhaps – was measured by filling a tumbler.  Hard to say, but it must have been fun to try a new recipe for an old standard.

We get a peek into the family’s future with Evelina’s notation that her 18-year-old son, Frank Morton, went “a ride” with a girl named Cate Copeland. Cate was Catharine Hayward Copeland, daughter of Hiram Copeland, a farmer, and his wife Lurana – and a future daughter-in-law to Evelina. Cate was all of 15, but not too young to be of interest to Frank. Four years later, the couple would marry. Over the course of their lives together, in North Easton, Canton, and Boston, they would produce seven children, six of whom would survive to adulthood.

* Image of Catharine Hayward Copeland Ames and Frank Morton Ames courtesy of ancestry.com

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

 

June 20, 1852

Lemon

Sunday June 20th  Have been to meeting all day Mother

went this afternoon and returned home  Mr Sanger

of Dover preached  Since meeting have been to 

Alsons with Edwin & wife & Oakes Angier.

Called at Mr Pools  Was treated with strawberries

& ice cream at Alsons and with lemonade

at Mr Pools  Frank went to a sing at Cohassett

Father gave me quite a lecture on cooking stoves

says we have had a dozen and we have had four

 

No Mr. Whitwell at church today. Instead, Rev. Ralph Sanger of the First Church of Dover led the service. Dr. Sanger was an older minister in the area, having graduated from Harvard in 1808, a year before Evelina was born. He had spent his entire ministerial life in Dover where he was well regarded. He also served several terms in the Massachusetts Legislature and was the chaplain for the Massachusetts State Senate.

After church came an afternoon of sweet sensations. Strawberries, ice cream and lemonade were served at two different homes where Evelina, Oakes Angier, and the young Gilmore couple called. The fresh fruit was a seasonal treat, and the ice cream and lemonade no doubt delightful as well.

Not all was sweet at home, however. Old Oliver got cross with his daughter-in-law and gave Evelina “quite a lecture” about her cooking stove. She was about to get a new one in her kitchen, certainly with her husband’s approval, but her father-in-law had no patience for it.  He didn’t see the need to update the kitchen equipment. We might remember that Oliver had grown up watching his own mother cook over a hearth, a style of cooking that had served for generations.  And here was his daughter-in-law planning to install another stove under his roof.

Even the little bit of rain that fell around sunrise didn’t cheer Old Oliver up.

June 9, 1852

 

IMG_0582

 

Example of bonnet frame

 

June 9th  Wednesday  Mr & Mrs Orr  Mr Ames & self dined

in Olivers and Oakes & Frank came to tea

with us.  Mrs Davidson & two daughters there

Mr Ames & Mr Orr rode to Canton

Mrs Orr brought me a frame for a lace

bonnet and I have fitted it to my head ready

for the trimming

With their guests, Robert and Melinda Orr, Evelina and Oakes ate midday dinner next door. It was a rare occasion to be invited to dine at Oliver Jr.’s and Sarah’s, an indication of how important the houseguests were.  At tea time, they were joined by Betsy Davidson, wife of the postmaster, and her little girls Lizzie and Julia. Oakes Angier and Frank Morton Ames joined the group, too, after finishing work at the shovel shops.

Evelina was given a special bonnet frame by Melinda and got right to the pleasant task of creating a new bonnet, “ready for the trimming.” The two friends probably sat and chatted as Evelina worked on it. Perhaps Melinda had brought some lapwork with her, or perhaps Evelina gave her something to sew. Neither woman would have been apt to sit idly while the other worked.

After dinner, Oakes and Robert rode over to Canton, probably to visit the Kinsley iron works. Back at home, Old Oliver Ames was breathing a bit easier after the much-needed rainfall of the previous day and night, reporting that “the plowd land is wett down considerable.” Just what the farmer asked for.

 

 

June 7, 1852

Washing

June 7th

1852 Monday  Mrs Patterson went to Bridgewater

to see about her things that she left

there and returned this afternoon  Jane has

done the washing and I have been very busy

about house all day.  Mr Scott  Holbrook

and another painter have been here painting

the back entry chamber & Franks chamber

Scott has grained the stairway & painted the stairs

 

Dry weather continued, which was bad for the crops but good for the laundry. The white sheets and shirts must have dried quickly in the “midling warm”* sunshine and light southern breeze.  Today would prove to be Jane McHanna’s last turn at washing the Ames family’s clothes.

Old Oliver, meanwhile, spent part of his day, at least, observing someone’s construction project, as “Capt Monk began to move the hous[e] where Tilden lived to day.”* We don’t know who Capt. Monk was, but we do know that a team of oxen had to be assembled for that task. Were any of Oliver’s oxen used?  Did he lend a hand? It’s doubtful that he would have observed in silence, his instinctive leadership and irrefutable expertise too compelling not to use, or be asked for.

The Tilden whose house was being moved was probably Francis Tilden, a teamster who worked for the Ameses. He looked after the oxen. When an Old Colony Railroad line was extended to North Easton a few years later, in 1855, Mr. Tilden would become the expressman.  He would trade in his oxen for a rail car and spend the rest of his life conducting the train back and forth between Boston and North Easton. Oliver Ames Jr. often rode it, calling it “Tilden’s train.”

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

May 22, 1852

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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.