April 18, 1852




April 18 Sunday.  Another unpleasant sabbath but we have

all been to meeting.  Oliver & wife staid at home

this afternoon.  Mr Whitwell gave us two short but

good sermons of about 20 minutes  At intermission

went into Mrs J Howards with Mrs E Howard

Mrs L Howard & Mrs Dr. Deans    called a few moments

on Mrs Whitwell.  Have finished Night & Morning

As was their custom, the Ameses attended church today en masse, at least in the morning. They drove separate carriages to the meeting house through the “cloudy, cold + misty”* morning. Oliver Jr. and his wife Sarah Lothrop Ames rode home at noon, but Evelina and her family, presumably, busied themselves at intermission with various opportunities to socialize.

Oakes Ames most likely slept through the sermons, even though they were “short.” Evelina, however, liked Reverend Whitwell’s sermons today, as she often did. Would he have made any allusion to the historic date?  April 18 was the anniversary of the 1775 ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn “every Middlesex village and farm” of the approach of British forces.  It was a date that American schoolchildren once had to memorize.

Less than a decade later, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would immortalize the historic date in Paul Revere’s Ride:

Listen my children and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April in Seventy-Five;

Hardly a man is now alive

Who remembers that famous day and year…

Longfellow, one of the most popular American poets of the 19th century, wrote Paul Revere’s Ride some eighty-five years after the dramatic events in Concord and Lexington that opened the Revolutionary War. It was published in The Atlantic Monthly in January, 1861, on the eve of the Civil War.  Many believe that the poet, an adamant abolitionist, wrote the piece to remind American citizens of the historic principles and great bravery that shaped the formation of the United States.


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


April 13, 1851




April 13th Sunday.  Have been to church all day Frank

staid at home in the morning Mrs G Ames went

with us to meeting all day and liked Mr Whitwell

I staid at noon with Mother most of the time

Called at Mr Whitwells with Louisa Howard

Mrs Dr Deans & Mrs H Pool. Mrs Whitwell

has no help now & is not very well. rather cold

On this cold spring day, the Ames family, minus Frank Morton, went to church with Almira Ames, widow of Oakes’s cousin George Ames.  Perhaps Almira joined Evelina and her mother during the midday intermission when many women were welcomed into the parsonage by Eliza Whitwell, wife of the minister. Eliza was under the weather but still was under a social obligation to open her house to fellow Unitarians who could not get home and back during the pause between the morning and afternoon services.

Mrs. Dr. Deans, otherwise known as Hannah (Wheaton) Deans, wife of Dr. Samuel Deans, was also present at the Whitwell’s.  The “Dr.” title in front of her name didn’t mean that Hannah was a physician; far from it. It meant that she was married to a physician.  She was a daughter of old Daniel Wheaton who lived out on the Bay Road.

Evelina often admired Rev. Whitwell’s sermons but seldom related their content. In these tumultuous months following the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law, did Mr. Whitwell ever speak about slavery or abolition? We know that other Unitarian ministers were quite vocal about abolishing slavery.  On this same Sunday in Philadelphia, three hundred miles to the south, Rev. William H. Furness gave a discourse on the Fugitive Slave Law, speaking from the pulpit with all the authority that his robed position could give him.  A graduate of Harvard and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Furness was, like William Whitwell, an accomplished theologian.  He was also a passionate abolitionist; was Reverend Whitwell?


*First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, ca. 1886