December 31, 1852

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Evelina Orville Gilmore Ames 

(1809 – 1882)

Thursday Dec 31st  This the last day of the year

and the last that I shall write in this 

book  Mrs Witherell Emily Mrs Ames

& Oliver & wife dined here & spent the

afternoon  father is not well and did

not come  This evening we have all

been to the lecture at the meeting house

Mr Pierpont recited a poem  The Scholars hope

and it was very fine  We have a box from Burlington

filled with presents I had a basket

of moss in a leather frame from Mrs

Mills & a ribbon from cousin Harriet

Susan an emery and she is disappointed

says they always send an emery

Thus ends the second year

that I have written in this book of nonsense

 

This is the last day of Evelina’s diary, and aren’t we sorry! No more sifting through the pages and peeking through the keyhole at the domestic life of the Ames family in the 1850’s. Although we know that Evelina kept other diaries in other years, specifically during the 1860’s, we don’t know if she wrote steadily. No other diaries by her are extant.

We do know something about the remaining trajectory of Evelina’s life, however. After she closed the cover on her so-called “book of nonsense,” she lived another thirty years. By the end of the 1850’s, her sons Oakes Angier and Frank Morton had married and begun to have children (see below). Frank would move to Canton (and Boston) but would stay in close contact with his brothers, who stayed in North Easton. Middle son Oliver (3), the last of her sons to leave home, would marry in the spring of 1860, build a home nearby (since razed) and raise a large family. Daughter Susan would marry wool merchant Henry W. French in January 1861, but the couple would have no issue. That must have been a disappointment to them and to Evelina.

Over the years left to them, Evelina and Oakes would enjoy the arrival of and periodic proximity to 19 grandchildren (three of whom would not survive childhood). In birth order, those grandchildren were:

Maria Hobart Ames Harte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Hobart Ames (Mrs. Richard Hickman Harte, 1856 – 1918), first daughter of Oakes Angier and Catharine Hobart Ames

 

Frank Angier Ames

Frank Angier Ames (1857 – 1918), first son of Frank Morton and Catherine Copeland Ames

 

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Oakes Ames (1858 – 1859), first son of Oakes Angier and Catharine Hobart Ames

 

Alice Lurana Ames

Alice Lurana Ames (Mrs. Edward Crosby Morris, Mrs. George Frederick Chapman, 1859 – 1934), first daughter of Frank Morton and Catherine Copeland Ames

 

No image available

Oakes Angier Ames (1861 – 1862), second son of Oakes Angier and Catharine Hobart Ames

 

Charlie Oakes Ames

Charles Oakes Ames (1861 – 1864), second son of Frank Morton and Catherine Copeland Ames

 

William Hadwen Ames

William Hadwen Ames (1861 – 1918), first son of Oliver Third and Anna C. Ray Ames

 

Oakes Ames

Oakes Ames (1863 – 1914), third son of Frank Morton and Catherine Copeland Ames

 

Evelina "Lena" Orville Ames Hall

Evelina Orville Ames (Mrs. Frederick Garrison Hall, 1863 – 1940), first daughter of Oliver Third and Anna C. Ray Ames

 

No image available

Anna Lee Ames (Mrs. George Manning Nowell, 1864 – 1934), second daughter of Oliver Third and Anna C. Ray Ames

 

Hobart Ames

Hobart Ames (1865 – 1945), third son of Oakes Angier and Catharine Hobart Ames

 

No image available

Susan Evelyn Ames (Mrs. Thomas Taylor, 1867 – 1949), third daughter of Oliver Third and Anna C. Ray Ames

 

Lilian Ames Chatman

Lilian Ames (Mrs. Harry Lorenzo Chapman, 1870 – 1925), fourth daughter of Oliver Third and Anna C. Ray Ames

 

Winthrop Ames

Winthrop Ames (1870 – 1937), fourth son of Oakes Angier and Catharine Hobart Ames

 

Anna Copeland Ames Hall

Anna Copeland Ames (Mrs. George Edward Hall, 1870 – 1908), second daughter of Frank Morton and Catherine Copeland Ames

 

Katie Eveline "Eva" Ames Royce

Katie Evelyn Ames (Mrs. Frederick Page Royce, 1872 – 1944), third daughter of Frank Morton and Catherine Copeland Ames

 

Harriet Elizabeth Ames Hall

Harriet Elizabeth Ames (Mrs. George Edward Hall, 1873 – 1948), fourth daughter of Frank Morton and Catherine Copeland Ames

 

Katharine "Kitty" Hobart Ames Spalding

Katharine “Kitty” Hobart Ames (Mrs. Philip Leffingwell Spalding, 1874 – 1949), second daughter of Oakes Angier and Catharine Hobart Ames

 

Oakes Ames

Oakes Ames (1874 – 1950), second son of Oliver Third and Anna C. Ray Ames^

 

In 1863, Oakes Ames was elected to the U.S. Congress as Representative for Massachusetts Second District. He would serve five consecutive terms, much of it effectively and actively, being especially involved in the building of the transcontinental railroad. He served during the critical era of the Civil War and the ensuing Reconstruction, and voted in favor of the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. He lived much of the time in Washington, D.C. in modest quarters. Evelina also spent at least some of her time with him, keeping house and attending appropriate social functions. During her time in the capitol, she would have gone to the White House for at least some of the many receptions there, and met the Lincolns, the Andrew Johnsons, and perhaps the Grants. When her brother-in-law Oliver Jr visited, as he had occasion to do on railroad business, they would attend church together.

Yet Evelina also maintained the family residence in North Easton, which Susan and Henry French moved into on an undetermined date. Matters changed when, in 1870, Evelina suffered a stroke while in Washington. She was partially paralyzed, and in July of that year Oakes brought her back home on the train where her brother-in-law noted that Evelina “has had a Paralytic Shock which has crippled her very much walking with great difficulty.”**

Trouble with paralysis would hinder Evelina’s mobility for the remainder of her days, and probably prevented her returning to Washington for the remainder of Oakes’s service there. She wasn’t with him when he went through the great difficulties spawned by his work on the Union Pacific and the ensuing Credit Mobilier scandal. The two corresponded, however, and one intimate letter from Oakes to Evelina was saved. On January 18, 1873, he wrote:

Dear Wife:

I sent you a telegram today that all will come out right. Don’t feel uneasy on my account, as there will be no stain on my reputation, whatever others may do. Am sorry that you feel so badly. Remember the scriptures say that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” You must see by that passage that I am in high favor in the right quarter. The committee are in session this evening, and I must close. Good night! Borrow no trouble on my account. My health is good. – Yours, Oakes***

Family lore has it that Evelina waited for the arrival of that telegram – and others, possibly – by sitting at the window in her corner bedroom watching out for the telegraph boy. When Oakes finally returned to North Easton for good in February 1873, he only lived for a few more months.

IMG_2946

After Oakes died, Evelina continued to live in the old family house, built by Old Oliver back in the day, and made additional, modernizing improvements to it. Sarah and Emily Witherell had departed their part of the house some years earlier and were living at the Hotel Hamilton in Boston, but daughter Susan and her husband Henry lived in the house with her. Evelina continued to see all her children and grandchildren, giving and receiving gifts on birthdays and (finally won over to the holiday) at Christmas. Her health declined, however.

The very last we hear of Evelina is via a memory of her youngest grandchild, botanist Oakes Ames:

I remember my grandmother (paternal) in connection with a birthday afternoon when I was led, half afraid, to the driveway end of our verandah to receive from her hand a box of peppermints and a silver dollar. My grandmother died when I was eight years old. As I see her now in my mind’s eye, she was very much like her portrait. I am sure that at this time, except for a white cap and a white lace at her wrists and throat, she wore no other color than black.***

That Evelina suffered ill health in the decade-plus after her stroke is underscored by her grandson’s second memory of her:

I have only two mental pictures of my grandmother. One, when she was in her phaeton and handed to me my birthday gift. The other when she was in the large livingroom at Martha’s Vineyard where we used to spend the summers. At this time she was in her rocking chair stamping her feet violently on the floor. She was suffering from a nervous tantrum or from pain, I know not which, but I remember being hastily removed from the room by one of my elders. All this must have been before I was eight years old.****

On July 20, 1882, Evelina died at home of “paralysis.” She was buried in the Village Cemetery next to her husband.

 

 

*Genealogy of the Ames Family of North Easton, Massachusetts, ed. Chilton Moseley Ames and William Motley Ames, 1998

**Oliver Ames, Jr., Journal, July 17, 1870, Private collection.

***Ames Papers, Frank Morton Ames scrapbook, Baker Library, Harvard University

****Oakes Ames: Jottings of a Harvard Botanist, ed. Pauline Ames Plimpton, Cambridge, 1979, pp. 37-38

^Photographs of grandchildren courtesy of Stonehill College Archives

 

 

September 5, 1852

books

Illustration from Godey’s Lady’s Book*

Sunday Sept 5th  1852 Went to meeting and came home

at noon with Mr Ames & Mrs Stevens.

Was very sleepy this forenoon and did

not hear much of the sermon but thought

it good what I did hear. Had an excellent

sermon this afternoon  Mr Whitwell preached

After meeting Mr Ames & Mrs Stevens & self

walked to the new shops called at Edwins.

Finished a letter to Harriet Ames

Reverend William Whitwell delivered two good sermons today, even if Evelina slept through parts of the first one. Were she and Oakes both nodding off in the Ames pew? Hopefully their sons, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton, and their guest, Mrs. Stevens, stayed upright as Mr. Whitwell spoke.

A walk “to the new shops” was the exercise they took after church. Construction work on the factory building must have been well along, if not finished on the exterior. Stopping in to see Edwin and Augusta Gilmore afterwards would have been easy, as the young couple lived right across the street from the new Long Shop and its grounds .

Letter writing, and probably a little reading, filled the remaining quiet hours of Evelina’s Sunday, As a subscriber, she would have had this month’s Godey’s Lady’s Book to look at. The September issue included fiction in the form of stories and poems, as well as prose articles on the Crusades, the printing of calico, a history of boots and shoes, archery, the employment of women in cities (in this issue focusing on the Philadelphia School of Design), and “Lingerie: Caps for the Chamber and Sick-Room.” * Evelina had been in various sick rooms enough lately to make this article of particular interest to her – although we cannot know whether she read it or not, or whether any of the women she helped nurse had adorned themselves with such headgear. We can know, however, that this particular article took credit for introducing the word “lingerie” to America, whose readers who were “doubtless […] unfamiliar” with it.

*Godey’s Lady’s Book, September, 1852, p. 287

August 23, 1852

 

panoram

Victorian Panorama Picture

Monday Aug 23st (sic)  Spent this day at Mrs Stetsons.  Cousin

Harriet called in the morning and I went out 

with her into some of the stores  Oakes A

went with her to the Panorama this afternoon

Mrs Mills came in awhile and Ann Clark

called and staid to tea and Mrs Ames & self

went home with her to make a call

Evelina really was on vacation.  Here it was Monday, laundry day back home, and she wasn’t choring, or sewing, or washing the breakfast dishes.  She was out shopping and socializing for most of the day.

Oakes Angier went out, too, in the afternoon. He and Cousin Harriet Ames went to a special display, one that Evelina had visited the first day they arrived. It was a Panorama of the Garden of Eden, perhaps on temporary display in the town’s new Lyceum.

Panoramas, a popular art form in the 19th century, were large, horizontal paintings of popular subjects. In a manner of speaking, panoramas and its later cousins, cycloramas, were the installation art of their time. Usually depicting a single grand subject, like the Garden of Eden, or a famous battle (i.e. Gettysburg), the paintings were designed to be displayed in a consecutive or circular fashion, so that a viewer like Evelina or Oakes Angier could essentially walk into a display area and be surrounded by the subject matter.

British historian Jonathan Potter has written extensively on panoramas, citing a 19th century “desire to see all” as the impetus behind the art form. “The Victorian Panorama was one of many attempts to embrace the world in a single glance,” he writes.  Among the most famous American examples was a Panorama of the Mississippi, painted in 1847 by John Banvard. It covered three miles of canvas and depicted a compacted view of 1,200 miles of river, from the mouth of the Missouri River south to New Orleans. Published in Boston by J. Putnam, it was advertised as “being by far the largest picture ever executed by man.”** Other panoramas were much smaller; some were reproduced as framed engravings suitable for parlor walls.

 

*Example of 19th century Panorama/

**Jonathan Potter, University of Leicester, www2.le.ac.uk 

August 21, 1852

513684745

Factory in Burlington, Vermont, 19th century

Saturday Aug 21th (sic)  Cousin Harriet came up to see us

this morning and invited us to spend the day

at Mrs Mills but she stopt to dinner there

and we went to Mrs Mills to tea  Miss Ann Clark

and Mr S Mower called. After tea Mrs A Ames

Oakes A & self called at Mrs Mowers and they were

going to the Panorama of the garden of Eden and Mrs Ames

Mrs Stetson and I went with them.  Oakes A returned to Mrs Stetsons

Evelina, Oakes Angier, and Almira Ames woke up in Burlington, Vermont, at the home (or boarding house) of a Mrs. Stetson. Surely they spent the morning unpacking and whisking road-dust off the outfits they had traveled in. Their quiet time was soon interrupted by visitors, however, including their spinster cousin, Harriet Ames.

Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, and even in 1852 was a bustling town. Located on Lake Champlain, it had a railroad line that connected not only with Boston and New York, but also with a steamship company on the lake, making shipping and manufacturing a big part of the local commerce. Like many communities in Massachusetts, the city had attracted a large Irish population that became its dominant work force.

Vermont as a whole struggled through most of the 19th century between the influence of industrialization in its few urban areas and the entrenched rural preferences of its many small towns.* Many would say that the agrarian forces triumphed, for in the 21st century, Vermont remains New England’s most rural state.  Burlington itself is now home to the main campus of the University of Vermont and, more important, the headquarters of Ben and Jerry’s.

All that lay ahead, of course, and would have been beyond the reach of Evelina’s imagination. For her, this 19th century day was full of becoming acquainted with a new city, seeing her eldest son get settled, and finding friends.

 

*Paul M. Searls, Vermont in the Nineteenth Century, http://www.flowofhistory.org

 

March 5, 1852

charred-wood-texture_61-1902

Charred Wood

1852

March 5th Friday  Have been mending pants most all

day that were worn at the fire  Lavinia

went to Augustus’ this forenoon and Augusta

went this afternoon.  Mr Scott & Holbrook have 

finished painting the entry and chamber

got through about four Oclock.  I was in

Olivers about an hour this afternoon.  This 

evening received another letter from Harriet Ames

 

The women of Easton had work to do, too, in recovering from the factory fire.  Surely Evelina wasn’t the only housewife in North Easton who had to repair or clean clothes worn by their husbands, brothers or sons the night of March 2. Needles were out and laps were full as women all over town tended to the rips, tears and soot. Conversation probably centered on the fire as they worked.

The day itself was cloudy and cold, the smell of the charred buildings dampened by a light snow that fell overnight. Yet the cleanup continued. As the men worked at the site, hauling timbers and shoveling up debris, their blackened soles left ashy footprints in the snow, footprints that quickly turned into grime. Many a man was made to wipe or remove his shoes before entering his house for midday dinner.

Evelina stayed focused on her domestic responsibilities. Mr. Scott and Mr. Holbrook were back on task in her parlor, painting and papering, and finished up at the end of the afternoon. Evelina spent some time next door with Sarah Lothrop Ames, and got a letter from cousin Harriet Ames, with whom she had been corresponding lately. And perhaps under her direction, her niece Lavinia and niece-in-law Augusta were looking after their sister-in-law, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, who was laid low with a mouth infection and a weaning baby. Fire or no fire, life was moving forward.

 

February 29, 1852

Ink

Feb 29

1852 Sunday  It was quite windy and mother

was unable to attend meeting all day so

I staid at home with her this morning.

This afternoon have been with mother & Augusta

& mother returned home. Since meeting

have written a letter to cousin Harriet Ames

but feel rather doubtful about sending it

1852 happened to be a leap year, which, as most of us know, is so named because the addition of the extra day of February 29 causes days of the week, which normally advance by a single weekday from one year to the next, to “leap” ahead by two.

Leap year is known in more scientific circles as a bissextile or intercalary year. Charles Dickens knew that.  He also knew about a tradition that allowed ladies to propose marriage during Leap Year, a custom otherwise accorded to the male of the species. In 1840, when Queen Victoria announced her “intention” to marry Prince Albert , he commented – tongue-in-very-British-cheek – accordingly:

“That the present is Bissextile, or Leap Year, in which it is held and considered lawful for any lady to offer and submit proposals of marriage to any gentleman, and to enforce and insist upon acceptance of the same, under pain of a certain fine or penalty; to wit, one silk or satin dress of the first quality, to be chosen by the lady and paid (or owed) for, by the gentleman.

“That these and other horrors and dangers with which the said Bissextile, or Leap Year, threatens the gentlemen of England on every occasion of its periodical return, have been greatly aggravated and augmented by the terms of Her Majesty’s said Most Gracious communication, which have filled the heads of divers young ladies in this Realm with certain new ideas destructive to the peace of mankind, that never entered their imagination before.

“That a case has occurred in Camberwell, in which a young lady informed her Papa that ’she intended to ally herself in marriage’ with Mr. Smith of Stepney; and that another, and a very distressing case, has occurred at Tottenham, in which a young lady not only stated her intention of allying herself in marriage with her cousin John, but, taking violent possession of her said cousin, actually married him.

That similar outrages are of constant occurrence, not only in the capital and its neighbourhood, but throughout the kingdom, and that unless the excited female populace be speedily checked and restrained in their lawless proceedings, most deplorable results must ensue therefrom; among which may be anticipated a most alarming increase in the population of the country, with which no efforts of the agricultural or manufacturing interest can possibly keep pace…”

Evelina may have read Dickens’ playful screed on the dangers of Leap Year, probably without taking offense.  She had her own letter to write today to a cousin, one that seemed to trouble her.

 

* Charles Dickens, Sketches of Young Couples, courtesy of http://www.authorama.com

 

 

January 29, 1852

Teeth

1852

Jan 29th Thursday  Mrs Witherell Oliver 3rd & Fred & George went

to Bridgewater this morning for Mrs Witherells temporary

set of teeth.  Father & Mrs S Ames & Emily here to dine

Mrs S Ames came about half past eleven and spent

the rest of the day.  Have written a letter to Harriet

Ames [of] Burlington.  Went after mother in a sleigh to night

Augustus & wife spent the evening Three evenings this week

 

Sarah Ames Witherell traveled to Bridgewater today to pick up a “temporary set of teeth” to replace the real ones that had been pulled out earlier this month. It turned out that they weren’t ready, so she had to return home without them. As before, she was accompanied by several family members including her son George Oliver Witherell and two of her nephews, first cousins and good friends Oliver (3) and Frederick Lothrop Ames, who were still home on a recess from college.

Evelina, meanwhile, fed midday dinner to all the family members who stayed behind in Easton.  Sarah’s daughter, Emily, didn’t go with her mother this time; unlike Oliver and Fred, she and Susie Ames may well have been back in school. Evelina may have been feeling the strain of so much company.  She notes that her nephew Augustus and his wife, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, had come to call “Three evenings this week.” Augustus, who did a lot of work for Oakes and Oliver Jr., often made himself at home at the Ames’s.

Harriet Ames of Burlington, Vermont, to whom Evelina wrote today, was a spinster cousin. Her mother was the widow of Old Oliver’s brother, John.*

*not the same John Ames who manufactured paper in Springfield