November 3, 1852

Thread

Wednesday Nov 3d  The girls took their eigth

lesson this forenoon and I sat with

Susan to see her take hers so that I 

could assist her some if required

We have been to the funeral and 

then Mrs S Ames and self went to the sewing

circle at Mr Clarkes,  Miss Alger took

tea with Witherell.  Lavina Wms called

Susie Ames and Emily Witherell took another piano lesson this morning. Evelina, still determined that her reluctant daughter was going to learn to play the new instrument, “sat with Susan” in the parlor as she had her lesson. Miss Alger, the teacher, had tea with Sarah Witherell later in the day. The two women might have discussed how the girls were faring with their lessons; with Evelina out of the house, it would have been easier to discuss the fact that Emily was the stronger student.

Evelina and Oakes, presumably, and other Ameses attended the funeral of the Swain baby. John H. Swain Jr. had died on Sunday from “Teething,” much to his parents’ sorrow. Today, the sun was out, though the wind blew, as folks gathered around the little grave.

Afterwards, Evelina and her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, rode to the monthly Sewing Circle at the home of “Mr Clarke.”  He may have been Daniel Clark, a carpenter, whose wife was Elvira Clark and whose daughter, Elizabeth, had played the piano at the meeting house the summer before last. The piano again! Evelina couldn’t get away from other mothers whose daughters did well at the piano. How frustrated she must have felt about her own daughter.

 

October 29, 1852

255px-Daniel_Webster_-_circa_1847

Daniel Webster

(1782 – 1852)

1852 Friday Oct 29th  Mr Dawes came from Boston

about ten Oclock  Miss Alger expected

him before and began to feel uneasy

They went to the shops after dinner

Helen Susan & Emily went to the shop

& then rode to call at Mr Roachs

They were all in here this evening to

hear Mr Dawes play on the guitar  Mrs S

Ames & self called Swains, to see their child

Mrs Lothrop & Brett called with her babe

 

Old Oliver must have been an admirer of Daniel Webster, else why would he mention the man in his daily weather journal? He wrote, “the 29th was a verry plesant warm day. it clouded up some toward night – Daniel Webster was buried to day”.

Daniel Webster, lawyer, diplomat, statesman, orator and Whig leader, was indeed buried on this day. He had died three days earlier after a fall from a horse and was buried with “impressive ceremonies”* at Marshfield, about 35 miles east of Easton. Considered by many to be one of the finest senators ever, Webster had also been a Secretary of State, U.S. representative, constitutional lawyer par excellence, and a devoted preservationist of the union. To the latter end, he co-authored and spoke eloquently on behalf of the Compromise of 1850, which included the controversial Fugitive Slave Act. As a result, he lost the support of many New Englanders; abolitionists washed their hands of him.

On this day in Boston, however, it would have been hard to find his enemies. According to a newspaper account the next day, a united citizenry mourned:

Boston never before presented – probably never will present – such a funeral aspect as was worn in her streets yesterday. Most of the stores and shops were closed, as well as the institutions, offices, and markets, and a large proportion of the city was dressed in the habiliments of wo. [sic] Though the work was only voluntarily the act of individuals, it was very general – Washington, Hanover, and many other streets being covered in black, interspersed with mottoes, flags, portraits, and other mementoes, as the taste of each led him to adopt and carry out.  It was one of the last acts which Boston can perform to express her sorrow for the loss of the great statesman, and it is praise enough to say that it was well and appropriately done. The streets were thronged nearly all the day, crowds of people being present from other places, – and our young men wore the insignia of mourning which had been adopted, and grieved countenances were observed at every turn of the street…*

 

*New York Times, October 28, 1852

 

September 21, 1852

Funeral

Tuesday Sept 21st  Have been almost sick to day and

not able to do much  Got a quilt into the

new chamber for Catharine to work upon

Went to the funeral of Mrs Savage at

one Oclock.  Called with Mrs Witherell at

Augustus,  Mr Swains & on Mrs Wales.  She

is confined to her bet yet and has been for weeks

It appears to have been Evelina’s turn to be ill, as she describes herself as unable “to do much.”  We readers know how hard she usually worked, so not doing much might mean that she only accomplished four or five tasks today instead of a dozen. Despite feeling “almost sick,” Evelina managed to arrange sewing for her servant Catharine, attend the funeral of Hannah Savage and, with her sister-in-law, Sarah Ames Witherell, call on several households in the village. It’s hard to know if Evelina was spreading germs or picking them up as she went along, but she meant well.

According to Old Oliver Ames, “this was a fair day + pritty warm wind northerly,”* in other words a pleasant day to be out and about. Yet, in two of the homes that Evelina and Sarah visited, people were ailing. At the Swains’, their infant son was teething and fussy. At the home of Ephraim and Maria Wales, the latter was “confined to her bed yet,” an expression which hints at a recent or impending childbirth. Mrs. Wales was of childbearing age, yet census records show no children for this young couple. Perhaps Maria would lose or had lost an infant, or was simply ill with any one of a myriad of possible ailments.

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

July 7, 1852

Funeral

1852

July 7th Wednesday  Made some muslin bands and 

partialy made a pair of sleeves to wear

with them  This afternoon have attended the 

funeral of H Gilmore  Mr Carver baptized

their child Helen. Mr Sanford made some

remarks and not very good in my opinion.

We returned from the grave to aunt Gilmores

and stopt to tea  Adoniram & wife & Mr & Mrs

Whitwell were there, Mr Carpenter & Jones called

there

Wearing black armbands, Evelina and her family attended the funeral of her cousin, Henry Tisdale Gilmore. Just shy of 36, he had died the day before of the “fits.” We might imagine that Henry was epileptic and died from a sudden seizure. He left behind a 30-year-old widow, Chloe, and a young daughter, Helen.

This branch of the Gilmores lived in Raynham, a town to the south of Easton. Cassander Gilmore, Henry’s older brother, manufactured shoes; Henry had been his partner. Now Cassander’s son, Othniel (one of many with that name), took Henry’s place. Cassander was well-known and well respected in the area, having served as state representative and state senator. He was a first cousin to Evelina on her father’s side, and it was he who summoned the Ames family to the funeral.

Evelina saw various relatives at the funeral, naturally, including her widowed aunt, Sally Gilmore. Reverend William Whitwell and his wife, Eliza, too, attended the funeral, but didn’t participate in the service. The local minister, Robert Carver, baptized the young Helen while another minister, Mr. Sanford, read a eulogy. Ever loyal to her own minister, Evelina found the latter’s remarks were “not very good.”

 

January 31, 1852

500

Jan 31st  1852

Saturday  have been choring about house & mending most

all day.  Made a robe for Mitchell Willis child with

Mrs S Ames assistance  Edwin & wife here to tea  Mrs S

Ames has been here about three hours with her work

Mrs Witherell here awhile this afternoon.  Mr Frank

Russell was buried this afternoon.  My three sons went

to the funeral.  Quite a hard snow storm  Mr Ames to Boston

Inclement weather didn’t keep the Ames men from moving around today. Oakes Ames traveled into Boston on business, as he usually did on Saturdays. His sons, Oakes Angier, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton, rode to Easton Center for the funeral of Frank Russell, a 67-year-old blacksmith and veteran of the War of 1812. Russell had died two days earlier from pleurisy, and, despite the “hard snow storm,” he was buried at the Seth Pratt Cemetery with friends and family in attendance.  What had been his connection to the Ames’s sons? Had he worked for the shovel company?

Evelina, too, was tending to a death outside the family.  She and her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, sewed a burial robe for Luella Willis, the two-year old daughter of Mitchell and Amanda Willis.  Like Frank Russell, little Luella would have to be buried in cold ground during snowy weather. Once the services were over, the living would carry on with their chores, their commitments and their lives.  Evelina would turn to “mending most all day.”

December 28, 1851

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Sunday Dec 28th A very stormy day but all went to meeting

except Oakes A & self, came home at noon so few

there that Mr Whitwell thought best not to have one in the afternoon.

Mr Swains brother went with them  Capt Johnathan Pratts wife

was buried this afternoon  Have written to Miss Foss and

partly written a letter to Lucy Norris

 

The “stormy day” kept most folks home from church; it had snowed overnight and the snow had turned to rain.  According to the family’s indefatigable weather man, Old Oliver, it “raind by spells all day but there was not more than ½ an inch fell.”

It was dreadful weather for a burial, but the frozen ground and cold precipitation didn’t prevent the funeral of Sophia Pratt, who had died the day before of consumption. Fifty-seven years old, she was the mother of four sons and the wife of Capt. Jonathan Pratt, a farmer and former member of the local militia. The Pratt family had been settled in Easton for several generations; their farm was not very far from the Gilmore spread in the southeastern section of town.

In common with any human community, the people of Easton had ceremonies for dealing with death. Protestant or Catholic, a dead person’s body was placed in a coffin and buried as soon as practicable, for reasons of hygiene, convenience and respect. As historian Drew Gilpin Faust explains: “Redemption and resurrection of the body were understood as physical, not just metaphysical realities, and therefore the body, even in death and dissolution, preserved ‘a surviving identity.’ […][T]he body and its place in the universe mandated attention even when life had fled; it required what always seemed to be called ‘decent’ burial, as well as rituals fitting for the dead.”*

As her coffin was lowered into a plot in Pine Grove Cemetery, Sophia Pratt would have received a fitting funeral.

 

*Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering, New York, 2008, p. 62

 

 

November 17, 1851

Hoof

Monday Nov 17th  Jane has not been at all well to day

but she has done the washing and went to

bed early in the evening  I did the housework

to day and was about all this forenoon  This

afternoon have been to Mr Nahum Williams

with Mrs S Ames  Mr Seth Williams died

Friday night and is to be buried tomorrow at

ten Oclock.  We drive the new horse for the first.

 

The stalwart Jane McHanna, now the only house servant at the Ames’s, did the Monday washing today despite feeling not “at all well.” By evening she was in bed. Evelina picked up the slack and did the rest of the housework herself, something she was fully capable of doing.

Despite the extra choring that she did, Evelina and her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, found time to ride out of the village to call on Nahum and Amanda Williams.  Nahum, who lived in Furnace Village, was most likely the son of the Seth Williams who had just died. As was customary, the Ames wives helped tend the dead, the dying, and their families in their community.

A little more than twenty years later, on September 1, 1873, Nahum Williams himself died, and Sarah Lothrop Ames and her husband, Oliver Ames, Jr. along with her brother, George Van Ness Lothrop and his wife, Almira Strong Lothrop, would attend his funeral. Clearly, Nahum had a long-standing relationship with the Lothrop family, if not the Ameses, too.