June 29, 1852

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Henry Clay

(1777 – 1852)

1852

Tuesday June 29th  Have had a quiet […] sick day  have

a bad cold & cough and sick head ache

A gentleman here from Pennsylvania

to dine but I did not go to the table

Mr Bartlett here to tea from Maine

Augusta came in and cut her out a

visite & I have written to Melinda to

get some trimming for it  Ottomans came

from Boston

Evelina was sick and probably spent most of the day in bed. She didn’t eat much, missing midday dinner – with company – and possibly skipping tea, too. Perhaps she took a tray of food in her room. She must have begun to feel a bit better, however, as she eventually roused herself to cut out a “visite” for Augusta Gilmore, who came over at the end of the day.  She even wrote to her friend Melinda Orr, in Boston, to find some trim. She could get animated about a sewing project, though not much else appealed to her today.

It was “a fair warm day + verry dry,”* and probably “verry” good for the haying that was underway. Old Oliver and a team of hands would have been outdoors from sunup to sundown.

In the world beyond North Easton, a consummate, outspoken and controversial politician passed away today: Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, aged 75, died in Washington D. C., of consumption. The Ameses wouldn’t have known this, however, until they read the next day’s newspapers. But most likely they admired Clay, the “Star of the West,” and the founder of the Whig Party. Clay’s biggest opponent back in the day had been Andrew Jackson, who called Clay “the Judas of the West.”  One imagines that Oakes Ames had probably been on the side of Clay’s admirers.

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

May 27, 1851

 

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1851

Tues May 27th  My beadstead was brought this

forenoon  It is very pretty but much to large shall

have it made shorter.  Have had the center table

lowered & new castors put on it.  Put straw carpet in

Franks chamber and it is ready for him to come back

into.  Have not sewed any to day I seem to have been

busy but have not accomplished much for a long while

Pleasant weather  Mr Ames went to Canton this 

afternoon

Redecorating continued.  Not only had things been cleaned and painted or papered, but new furniture was being brought in, and old furniture reconfigured.  Casters, beloved of Victorian housewives, were put in place so that furniture could be rolled for better cleaning.

What prompted Evelina’s burst of refurbishment? New wallpaper, new carpet, new furniture. Did she do some redecorating every spring or was this a departure from the norm? It may be that the new expenditures were relatively recent and stemmed from the increasing prosperity of the Ames shovel business as well as a contemporaneous, burgeoning access to material goods that had once been scarce. In other words, with American manufacturing on the rise,  Evelina and Oakes – and Sarah Lothrop and Oliver Jr. – could now afford and obtain desirable textiles, furnishings and decorative items for their homes.  They went to Bridgewater, Boston and New York, and bought.

One thing was certain. Evelina wouldn’t have proceeded with any of this without Oakes’s approval.  Implicit in her purchases was his consent, tacit or enthused.  For a man who spent nothing on his personal appearance, it’s interesting to understand that he would spend money on decorating his house. It’s also curious to wonder what Old Oliver might have thought about the upgrading at the old family homestead.