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

September 19, 1852

Abbott H. Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John Gellatly

Abbott H. Thayer, Angel, 1887, oil
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of John Gellatly

 

Sunday 19th Sept  Have been to meeting as usual, rode

home at noon alone with Alson  Rode in

our new carriage for the first time & like it

very well  Mr Dawes & Miss M J Alger called

since meeting  Augusta is more unwell again

and is in great pain and sick to her stomach

Edwin came in after me and I have been there

since Mr Dawes went away

The new carriage took various Ameses to church this morning, and the ride went “very well.” Was it Oakes’s horse Kate who pulled the reins? Evelina herself came home at noon with her brother; perhaps they had something about their mother to attend to. Perhaps Evelina was preparing for company later in the day, or was tending to serious matters in the village.

Hannah Savage, a neighbor, died today after months of illness. Surely, those who knew her were grateful that she was finally out of her misery. Her slow decline from tuberculosis had taxed not only her body and soul, but the goodwill and resources of her family and friends. Consumption was truly a wasting disease.

There was more illness nearby. Augusta Pool Gilmore still hadn’t gotten the best of a gastrointestinal disorder that had kept her in bed for almost three weeks, and today she had a serious relapse. She was in her second trimester of pregnancy, too, which had to have everyone worried. As soon as Evelina said goodbye to her guests, she hurried over to tend to poor Augusta.

September 17, 1852

Brig

*

Friday Sept 17  Mrs Stevens has done some ironing to

day and I have been busy about house ironing

and one thing and another & have seen but very

little of her since she came  It has been hurry

burly all the time  We were at tea at Olivers

Abby came here but as we were there she

stopt & in the evening Mr Torrey came

Mrs S Ames has gone to watch with Mrs Savage

With the help of Mrs. Stevens, a houseguest, ironing continued, along with Evelina’s usual choring and “one thing and another.” According to Evelina’s misspelled expression, the household was all hurly-burly, full of commotion and tumult.  Later in the day, the two women – and other family members, presumably – enjoyed tea next door with Sarah Lothrop and Oliver Ames Jr. And even later, Col. Torrey stopped in for another visit.

In a California newspaper, there was an article about a missing ship, the Schooner Penelope. The vessel bore no direct relation to the Ames family (although an Ames relative, Cyrus Lothrop, would eventually own ships, including one named for Helen Angier Ames), but the article’s conclusion that the ship had been lost at sea was very much indicative of the perils of travel at the time. The Penelope had last been seen the year before by a sister ship as both headed into a bad storm.

Newspapers in coastal cities like San Francisco or Boston often carried such reports of ships that set sail and were never heard of again, much as our modern television and internet news sources carry coverage of airline disasters like the Malaysian flight that went missing over the Pacific. We may have our own disasters in the air and at sea, but the latter hazards were naturally more common in the 19th century, and the means of discovering, much less communicating, the fates of the vessels that disappeared were limited. After a certain amount of time had passed with no word of a particular ship, people had to assume the worst, and know that their sailor sons or husbands, or passengers for whom they waited, had drowned. The following from the Daly Alta California in San Francisco conveys the demise of the Penelope:

The American schooner Penelope, Capt. Austin K. Dodge, cleared from this port on the 14th of October, 1851, for San Juan del Sud, with 40 passengers. It is believed that she sailed the next day. Capt. Mann, of the brig Lowell, which sailed from this port on the same day, reports having seen the Penelope about the 5th of November, off Cape St. Lucas, just previous to a terrific hurricane, which lasted but a quarter of an hour. After the driving mist which accompanied the gale had lighted up, the Penelope was not visible. Capt Mann felt confident at the time that the vessel had foundered.

After arriving at San Juan he remained there some weeks, but received no tidings as to her fate. As nothing has yet been heard of her there is every reason to apprehend that she was lost at that time, and every soul on board perished. […]

Both the Penelope and Lowell were fitted out and sailed from Pacitic Wharf. Captain A. K. Dodge, of Beverly, Mass.; 1st mate, F. H. Choate; 2d mate, Thomas J. Fisher; the first mate from Salem, Mass., and the second from Boston. W. H. Nicolsen’ cook, from New York, aud James Brickley, John Smith, Manuel Silva, Joseph Frank and George Covell, seamen.**

The relatives of anyone who went to sea always had to worry.

 

*A brigantine is a type of schooner, distinguished by its sail configuration.

 

**http://www.maritimeheritage.org/ships/Schooner-Penelope-1852

 

September 16, 1852

Flatiron

1852

Thursday Sept 16  Watched with Mrs Savage last night

came home at half past five went to bed

and laid untill past eight  Starched some

more shirts that were washed yesterday  We

have 20 fine shirts this week in the wash

Miss Elizabeth Capen called & Mrs Stevens was

with Mrs Witherell to tea  I was ironing & did not go

Oakes A went to carry Helen & C Hobart to Bridgewater

Today we have proof positive that Oakes Angier Ames, back from his recuperative rest in Vermont, was spending time with Catherine Hobart, the girl who would become his wife. For several days, Catherine had been staying next door with her classmate, Helen Angier Ames, but the time had come to return home to Bridgewater. Whether Oakes Angier volunteered to carry the girls or was assigned the duty, we don’t know, but we can believe that he enjoyed the trip. Was Evelina aware of their mutual attraction? Did Helen stay for a visit with Catherine, or did she return to Easton? Did the two girls discuss Oakes Angier after he left them off?

Evelina may have been too busy with all the shirts that needed starching and ironing to attend to her eldest son’s romantic inclination. Having spent most of the night before sitting up with Hannah Savage, she was only operating on three hours sleep. She positioned herself at the kitchen or dining table and covered it with a protective blanket and sheet, kept “on purpose for ironing.”* Using thick cloth to protect her hand from the hot handle, she lifted and pushed the heavy implement across each one of those new cotton shirts. Back and forth, back and forth, putting away one iron when it cooled to pick up another one that had heated up. It was hot, heavy work. She didn’t break her stride, either, not even for tea in the other part of the house.

* Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife, 1832, p. 11

September 9, 1852

Sarah Ames Witherell

Sarah Ames Witherell  (Mrs. Nathaniel Witherell, Jr.)

(1814 – 1886)

Thursday Sept 9th  This has been a very warm day indeed

and not much air stirring  We went in to see

Augusta awhile this forenoon and found her

rather more comfortable  This afternoon have

been sitting in the parlour chamber sewing it

being the coolest place  Mrs Witherell & Mrs

S Ames came in awhile  Mrs W watched with Mrs

Savage last night

Evelina and her father-in-law agreed that this day and the one before “were fair days + […] verry warm indeed.” Oppressively hot for September, we might think.  Evelina, her mother Hannah Lothrop Gilmore and her friend Mrs. Stevens went across the street early in the day to check on the ailing Augusta Pool Gilmore and must have been pleased to find her “rather more comfortable.” Back to the house it was, where the three ladies moved into the parlor to sew. Usually they would work in the less formal sitting room, but the parlor perhaps offered less direct sunlight. It was “the coolest place.”

Evelina’s sisters-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames and Sarah Ames Witherell, paid a call. It was Sarah Witherell’s 38th birthday. A widow for only four years, her most recent year hadn’t been a happy one: she had burned her foot badly, had all her teeth pulled, lost her elderly father-in-law and, most awful of all, lost her fourteen year old son, George, to rheumatic fever. Yet she was moving through the proscribed stages of real mourning in a seemingly graceful way. She was still taking care of her father, Old Oliver, and her one remaining child, Emily, and was ever helpful around the family compound. As we see from the diary entry, Sarah had spent the previous night watching over the dying Hannah Savage. “Dignified,” is how one family friend described her, and we readers might add “dutiful” and “kind” as well.

In another decade, after her father had passed on, Sarah and her daughter Emily would move into Boston and take up residence there at the Hotel Hamilton. Sarah would continue in a quiet way to participate in both family and city life, and would enjoy traveling with her sister Harriet. Her brother Oliver Jr would make it a point to look after her.

September 3, 1852

stock-illustration-20625662-woman-on-death-bed-friend-at-bedside-1862-magazine

 

Friday Sept 3d  Watched with Mrs Savage last night

She is very low but had a pretty comfortable

night I came home about 5 Oclock and

went to bed got up at nine  Went over to

Edwins to see how she was found her some

better  Have sewed on Shirts  Have

got six cut out and some partly made

 

Evelina was the nurse of the day, tending to two sick women in the neighborhood. She spent the night at the Savage’s home to watch over the ailing Hannah Savage. Hannah had been dying of tuberculosis for months and, in this final stage, many women in the neighborhood were taking turns keeping vigil at night. It wouldn’t be long now.

Getting home at dawn, Evelina was able to sleep in only until about nine, whereupon she rose and bustled right into her day.  She walked across the street to check on her young neighbor, Augusta Gilmore, who had been taken ill with cholera morbus the day before. Augusta was “some better,” which good news enabled Evelina to go home and attend to her sewing. In production was a big batch of shirts for husband Oakes and sons Oliver (3), Frank Morton and, probably, Oakes Angier, despite his absence.  Her preference seemed to be to sew many at once, rather than singly. Helping her, too, must have been at least one of the Irish maids who worked for her.

July 27, 1852

 

Asleep

Tuesday July 27th  Mrs Savage had quite a

comfortable night & I came home a

little before 5 Oclock & went to bed

did not rise untill nearly nine

Elizabeth Pool & Augusta came

in this forenoon with their work

Mrs Whitwell Reed Howard & Miss

Jarvis called on us all & Alsons wife

was here to tea & Mother at Augustus’

Evelina’s all-nighter at the bedside of Mrs. Savage didn’t seem to impinge on her day.  After a catch-up sleep in the early morning, she was back on her feet.  Augusta Gilmore and her young sister Elizabeth came over “with their work,” meaning that they brought some sewing with them, and the women sat, sewed, and visited. Later in the day, several ladies from her Unitarian circle of friends “called on us”.  Her brother Alson’s wife, Henrietta Williams Gilmore, came by for tea. A most sociable day, it was.

In the other part of the house, “Horatio Ames Jun r came here to day.”* Horatio was, obviously, the eldest son of Horatio Ames, who was the brother of Oakes, Oliver Jr., Sarah Witherell, Harriet Mitchell and William Leonard Ames. Repeating previous posts, Horatio ran a forge in Connecticut, far from the shovel shop in Easton, but still connected to it financially and emotionally. He and his son were not on friendly terms, and it’s hard to determine just what had brought Horatio Jr to Easton.  He arrived in the evening and for some reason Evelina didn’t mention it in her diary.

 

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