October 15, 1851


Wednesday Oct 15.  Julia has been here again to day and fitted

the waist to Susans dress and got my dress so

that I can finish it  Have been to the sewing

Circle to Mrs Elijah Howards.  Lavinia came

home with us and went back with Oakes A.

and Frank to spend the evening   Mrs J Willis

buried in the new cemetery funeral in the 

meeting house  I did not attend it


In Worcester today, some fifty miles north and west of Easton, the National Women’s Rights Convention opened in the same Brinley Hall that it had been held in the previous year. A roster of high profile figures, including Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott and Pauline Kellogg Wright Davis, oversaw the two-day event which covered such topics as suffrage, equal pay and marriage reform. Guest speakers included abolitionists Wendell Phillips and Lloyd Garrison, and feminist Ernestine Rose, who spoke passionately against the secondary legal and emotional status of married women:

“At marriage she loses her entire identity, and her being is said to have become merged in her husband. Has nature thus merged it? Has she ceased to exist and feel pleasure and pain? When she violates the laws of her being, does her husband pay the penalty? When she breaks the moral law does he suffer the punishment? When he satisfies his wants, is it enough to satisfy her nature?…What an inconsistency that from the moment she enters the compact in which she assumes the high responsibility of wife and mother, she ceases legally to exist and becomes a purely submissive being. Blind submission in women is considered a virtue, while submission to wrong is itself wrong, and resistance to wrong is virtue alike in women as in man.”*

Was Evelina aware of this potent gathering in Worcester? Did she have any interest in the issues being debated? Did she ever resent her secondary legal status, or wish to vote? At no point in her diary did she write about women’s rights; she made no mention of the convention. She was not a feminist and yet, by participating in the monthly Sewing Circle, which she did today, she and others inadvertently proved the point that women could meet independent of men and, on their own accord, do work that addressed existing social concerns. In her generation, she was doing something her mother never would have done. In a modest way, she helped strike a path for women to move outside their strict, domestic realm. As modern historian Carolyn Lawes has stated, “Through the sewing circle women laid claim to the right to participate in the political and social development of the community, the nation, and the world.” **

Meanwhile, far from the foment in Worcester, Old Oliver “finisht the dam to day at the great pond.”


Brandeis University. Women’s Studies Research Center.Ernestine Rose’s speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts in October 15, 1851. Retrieved on April 1, 2009. 

**Carolyn Lawes, Women and Reform in a New England Community 1815 – 1860, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 1999

October 11, 1851




Sat Oct 11th  Baked in the brick oven  brown bread cake & seed

cakes Squash & apple pies  Miss S. Orr, Mrs Witherell

and her children here to tea  Helen came home last

night and Julia is at Olivers making her silk dress.

Mrs Elizabeth Lothrop is there assisting them.  I have

mended Mr Ames a vest and made the skirt

to Susans striped Delaine dress


Today many baked goods came out of the brick oven that Sarah Witherell and Evelina shared. It was getting to be pie season, so Evelina made squash and apple pies, along with more usual fare like brown bread and cake. Special on the menu was seed cake, something that Evelina hasn’t mentioned baking before.  She probably used caraway seeds from some roots she “set out” last April.

Next door Helen Angier Ames, briefly home from boarding school, met with the family’s favorite dressmaker, Julia Mahoney. Only fourteen, Helen was having a silk dress made; perhaps it was a party dress she might use in Boston. Helping Helen and her mother, Sarah Lothrop Ames, was Sarah’s young sister-in-law, Elizabeth Howard Lothrop. Only 22-years-old, Elizabeth was the mother of two very young sons and the recent widow of Sarah’s brother Clinton.

Old Oliver had to be pleased with life at this particular time. Only the day before, “Mr Phillips finisht his work at the great pond,” meaning that the new flume at Great Pond was in place. This was a good achievement for the shovel business which relied on water power to run the factory. Old Oliver was still active in the business he had started and passed on to his sons, yet never took his eye off of the family farm, either. Today he “bought 12 pigs that weighd 1330 pound at 6 ½ cents a lb average weight 112 pounds – cost $86:45.” He would raise those pigs, eventually selling some and slaughtering others to feed his large family. The factory and the farm continued to engage Old Oliver as he grew old.




September 20, 1851


Sat Sept 20th  Was out shopping all day purchased a number

of articles among the rest a Cashmere & french print

dress paper for my parlour brought home two chairs

from Bigelowes  We all returned home this evening

Frank came to Stoughton after us & rode back

on the stage.  Went into Olivers awhile this evening.

Have had a great deal of trouble with my feet while

I have bee[n] gone & to night they are very sore.

The Boston spree continued for most of the day as Evelina walked and shopped for everything from fabric to wallpaper to furniture.  She and Oakes brought their purchases home on the train (or “in the cars” as they might have said) to Stoughton. It was, finally, time to return to North Easton.  Son Frank Morton Ames met them at the depot with a carriage – or wagon –  but rode home by himself on the local stagecoach. The conveyance he brought to the group getting off the train was, perhaps, too crowded with goods from town to fit everyone in.

Perhaps not wanting to let go of the many sensations that three exciting days in the city had produced, Evelina went next door to Oliver Jr and Sarah Lothrop Ames’s house. They had returned the day before, and so missed the fireworks. Surely they compared notes on their experiences at various events at the Railroad and Steamship Jubilee.  They may have compared blisters and sore shanks, too.  They did much walking and standing during their junket, and Evelina at least was feeling the effects. Her feet hurt.

Meanwhile, never having bothered to go into town for the celebration, Old Oliver was moving ahead on improvements for the shovel shop.  In his journal he noted that “this was a fair day wind south west and quite warm we put in the bottom stone for the floom at the great pond to day and the 5 foot one on the east side of it.” A flume for the factory was going in at Great Pond.