September 24, 1851


Wedns Sept 24th  Susan has had another night of

suffering and has not slept but little if any but this

morning she appeared better and has had a more

comfortable day than I expected she would have  Helen

brought in her doll for her to play with and she

has had three to play with which has taken […] her

mind from her sickness in a great measure.

Francis dined here carried home Mr & Mrs Whitwell


The nettle rash, or hives, that had attacked Susie Ames began to subside this morning, surely bringing relief not only to the little girl, but to her mother and everyone else interested in her welfare. As Susie began to feel better, she became agreeably occupied with an extra doll brought in for her to play with by her older cousin from next door, Helen Angier Ames.

Helen’s mother, Sarah Lothrop Ames, and Harriett Ames Mitchell left Easton today to go into Boston and Cambridge for a night. Perhaps they visited Sarah’s sixteen-year-old son Fred Ames at Harvard, where he was a new sophomore. Fifteen-year-old Francis E. Gilmore, the youngest son of Evelina’s brother Alson Gilmore, came to the Ames’s for midday dinner.  Was he visiting the construction site of his older brother, Edwin Williams Gilmore, who was building a home close to Ames compound? Francis lived down on the family farm, and was able to give a ride south to William and Eliza Whitwell, who had been visiting Sarah Witherell.

Meanwhile, focused and persistent, Old Oliver continued to supervise construction of a new flume from Great Pond near Stoughton south to the waterflow in North Easton. He noted in his daily journal that “this was a fair day with a strong wind from the north west and pritty cold. we got on the top stone to our floom to day.”



September 23, 1851



Tues Sept 23d  Susan has passed a dreadful night has not slept

any at all and this morning we sent for the Doctor

and he pronounces it the nettle rash  She has suffered 

very much to day would not let me leave her for

one moment  Mr & Mrs Whitwell are spending the 

day at the other part of the house  Oakes A & Mrs

H Mitchell called there last evening and visited them

She called in to see Susan

Little Susie Ames was in agony.  She had nettle rash, a 19th century term for hives, an acute, raised rash that erupts from the skin in painful splotches. It can appear in many places on the body; Susie’s landed on her backside and spread from there. Known medically as urticaria, the condition is often symptomatic of an allergic reaction, but it can have viral or idiopathic origins, too. It’s hard to say what might have caused the nine-year old’s sudden breakout.

The poor girl’s skin itched, stung and burned, making her unable to rest or sleep without discomfort. Tending her daughter all night and day, Evelina didn’t get any rest, either, and the regular domestic pattern of the day was disrupted. A quick visit from Harriett Ames Mitchell must have been helpful, at least, in capturing Susie’s attention for a few minutes.

In the house next door, Sarah Lothrop Ames turned 39 years old today. Given the recent death of one of her brothers, it’s doubtful that any great fuss was made over the occasion. Sarah and her immediate family were probably still wearing some form of mourning apparel at this point.





September 17, 1851




Wednesday Sept 17th  Mrs Stevens left for Boston

this morning & sorry I am to have her go

Miss Eddy dined with Mrs Mitchell &

took tea at Olivers  I went in to tea but

went in but a few moments before as I have

been very busy all day.  Made about a dozen

Lbs of peach preserve & some grape jelly

Ruth Swan married to night Oakes A & Mrs H Mitchell

gone to the wedding

The Great Railroad and Steamship Jubilee kicked off in Boston today with the arrival of President Millard Fillmore and other dignitaries from the United States and Canada, all ready to express mutual congratulations over the new railroad and steamboat connection between their countries.

Evelina knew about the events in Boston but stayed focused on domestic responsibilities in North Easton. From fruit she had recently obtained, she made preserves and jelly, a day-long task that kept her “very busy”.

In the evening, her son Oakes Angier Ames and sister-in-law Harriett Ames Mitchell went to the wedding of Ruth Barrell Swan and Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont.  Ruth, a daughter of Dr. Caleb Swan and his first, late wife, was 28 years old and, in the culture of the day, was marrying late. Independent of the affection she must have felt for him, she may also have thought that he was worth the wait. Three years later, Justin Morrill was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served until 1867, when he became a U.S. Senator. He served the state of Vermont until his death in 1898. A founder of the Republican party, he was a leader in establishing the land-grant colleges with his Morrill Land Grant bill in 1862. That same year, he authored the Anti-Polygamy Act which was aimed at the Church of the Latter Day Saints. He was clearly a one-woman man, and that woman was from Easton.

Ruth Ballard Swan of Easton who married Justin Smith Morrill.

September 16, 1851



Tuesday Sept 16th  Mrs Witherell Emily & Cousin H Mitchell

went into Boston this morning and are going to stop the

remainder of the week  I made some cake

this morning & had to be away from Miss Eddy

more than I could wish  Mrs S Ames & Helen &

Oliver here to tea  Harriet came in but did not stop

long  Miss Eddy will stop the night here

A visit from Miss Eddy, a woman who has been staying with various friends – or relatives – in Easton, may have been the impetus for Evelina to bake a cake this morning to serve at tea.  It’s worth noting that despite having collected peaches and grapes during the last few days, Evelina didn’t make a fruit pie or tarts to serve. She was saving that fruit to put up for the winter, and wouldn’t have wanted to waste any of it on a tiny social occasion. Cake it was.

The Ames family from next door, Oliver Jr., Sarah Lothrop Ames, and their daughter Helen came for tea, ate some cake and presumably chatted with Miss Eddy.  Sister-in-law Harriett Ames Mitchell stopped by briefly, too. Not making an appearance in the front parlour, however, was Sarah Witherell and her daughter from the other part of the house. They had departed that morning for a planned week in Boston, traveling with a Mitchell cousin.

Sarah Witherell had headed to Boston in anticipation of a special event, The Great Railroad and Steamship Jubilee. The Jubilee was to be a “celebration commemorative of the opening of railroad communication” to Canada.”*  It recognized the creation of a railroad line from Boston to Burlington, Vermont that connected with a steamship to Canada via Lake Champlain. Travel in the United States had become international. The celebration would go on for three days, and many members of the Ames family would strive to attend some part of it.


*The Railroad Jubilee: an account of the celebration commemorative of the opening of railroad communication between Boston and Canada, Sept. 17th, 18th and 19th, 1851.


September 8, 1851



Monday Sept 8th  Mother Mrs Stevens & self sat down

to work in my chamber  The weather is very

hot  After dinner we went into the other

part of the house awhile it being so much

cooler  Abby came here to tea. Oakes A

Frank & Mrs Mitchell went to a party to Mr

Cushing Mitchells this Evening & are to spend the night

Tea had been on the serving tray very much of late, with or without short biscuits. Evelina served tea to her niece, Abby Torrey, today while yesterday she took tea at the parsonage during intermission. Three days ago, she hosted a small tea party for a guest, Mrs. Latham, her sister-in-law, Sarah Ames Witherell, and others. Evelina’s grandson, Winthrop Ames, described the importance of tea time some eighty years later:

“Supper, always called Tea, at seven was the sociable occasion.  It was usually consisted of cold meats, hot biscuits, preserves and cakes – an easy menu to expand for unexpected guests. Every week at least, and usually oftener, one household would invite the others and their visitors to tea; and the whole Ames family might assemble…”*

Although the Ameses grew and raised much of their own food, tea was a commodity that had to be purchased. Coffee and sugar, too.  As the above advertisement from 1856 indicates, tea and coffee could be purchased in bulk in Boston (not surprisingly, given Boston’s long history of importing tea into its harbor!) Black tea was the general favorite and, as the ad suggests, could be obtained in different grades of excellence.  Did the Ameses order in bulk?  Did they acquire a chest of tea at the family rate? Their careful use of money would imply that whichever Ames did the purchasing got the best product for the lowest price possible.

The weather, meanwhile, continued to be very hot. It didn’t prevent brothers Oakes Angier and Frank Morton and their youngest aunt, Harriett Ames Mitchell, from traveling to Bridgewater for a party and an overnight. Social goings-on continued.  No doubt, tea was served.

*Winthrop Ames, The Ames Family of Easton, Massachusetts, 1938, p. 128

September 6, 1851


Sat Sept 6th  Alson brought Mrs Stevens before we

were up this morning left his carriage here

while he went to Boston.  We went into Olivers

& passed the afternoon with Mrs Latham & Mrs W & Mrs

Mitchell I called on Mrs Peckham while the others

went to Mr Manly’s garden  Mr Ames brought home

some cuff pins for Alsons wife & Mrs Stevens

Evelina was probably pleased today to lapse back into a sociable, summer agenda.  Family friend Mrs. Stevens arrived at dawn, it would seem, delivered by Evelina’s brother Alson Gilmore on his way into Boston. The two women later went next door to call on Sarah Lothrop Ames and were joined by sisters-in-law Sarah Ames Witherell and Harriett Ames Mitchell and the former’s houseguest, Mrs. Latham.  Chat, chat, chat.

As they had done occasionally throughout the summer, many of the women went up to look at the flowers in Edwin Manley’s garden. The blooms they saw would be among the last for this year.  Evelina eschewed that walk (or ride) and went instead to call on Susan Peckham, wife of John Peckham, clerk for the shovel company.  The Peckhams were about to move, so perhaps Evelina went to see what help she could be, or to say goodbye. Susan Peckham must have been packing things up, a chore that would have made Evelina, who was lately familiar with the bustle of departure, feel right at home.

Oakes Ames spent the day in Boston, as he did almost every Saturday.  He went on business for the shovel company, often returning with orders or payments.  Just as often, he carried out particular errands for his wife.  Yet it’s not clear whether she or he or both, perhaps, suggested the purchase of cuff pins (perhaps what we call cuff links) for Mrs. Stevens and Henrietta Williams Gilmore.  Both women had birthdays around this time.

August 26, 1851


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


Tues Aug 26th  Clinton Lothrop died about ten Oclock

last night  Has been sick a long time with

the Typhus fever  Mrs Witherell & I made the

shroud for him  Mrs Mitchell went to Taunton

to get Bonnets &c for Mrs Lothrop

Rebecca White came after Pauline this morning

Alson here to Dinner and tea is drawing stones for

Edwins cellar.  Oakes A and Frank returned this evening


Dewitt Clinton Lothrop finally died.  He had been suffering from typhus, “an acute infectious disease caused by the parasite Rickettsia prowazekii, transmitted by lice and fleas [,and] marked by high fever, stupor alternating with delirium, intense headache and dark red rash.”* It’s not the same disease as typhoid fever, although the two conditions have some similarities. Clinton, as he was known, had probably been bitten by a flea.

One of nine sons of Howard and Sally Lothrop, Clinton was a brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames. While most of his surviving brothers had moved away from Easton in pursuit of their own lives, Clinton was the duty son who had stayed home with his parents. Only 26 years old and married with two small sons, he had tended the family farm.

Evelina and Sarah Witherell quickly prepared a shroud for the body, while Harriett Mitchell rode off to Taunton to find mourning clothes for the young widow, Elizabeth Howard Lothrop (or for the mother, Sally Williams Lothrop.) That no one had purchased the mourning clothes before now suggests that, despite the probability of death, everyone had hoped that Clinton would recover.

It was a busy day for Evelina.  Besides helping sew the shroud, she saw her friend Pauline Dean depart to visit elsewhere in Easton and welcomed her brother Alson to midday dinner. Alson was working nearby, helping his son, Edwin Williams Gilmore, build a house.  Jane McHanna washed clothes, and she and Evelina probably continued to set the house to rights after a weekend of guests. Oakes Angier and Frank Morton returned home from their fishing trip.

* Craig Thornber, Glossary of Medical Terms Used in the 18th and 19th Centuries,

August 21, 1851



Thurs 21st Aug  This morning sat down to work quite early

finished my purple morning dress and 

Susans pink print that was made over

Pauline is not willing that I should work

much  She has had the offer of marriage

from a Mr Stowe of Concord Mass & the same

is an offer from John Reed, an old man of

70 years  She is very fascinating  Mrs Witherell

& Mitchell went to Boston for paper for parlour

Evelina had a houseguest who wasn’t interested in sewing, but that didn’t prevent her from finishing two dresses she’d been working on. She was caught up with the romantic dilemma of her friend, Pauline Dean, who was considering two offers of marriage. Evelina’s daily life was so far from being romantic that she found Pauline’s tales “very fascinating.”

We don’t know much about Pauline Dean, except that she corresponded with Evelina and visited periodically. We don’t know where or how Pauline lived, but we can surmise that she was originally from the Easton area. She was familiar with the town and several of its inhabitants; perhaps she was related to one of the Dean families in the area.

While Evelina and Pauline visited, sisters Sarah Witherell and Harriett Mitchell went into the city in search of wallpaper. Sarah was looking to replace the wallpaper she had only recently put up in her parlour; she didn’t like it or the way it had been hung. The wallpaper in the illustration above is circa 1845 and demonstrates the prevailing ornate taste of the time. 

August 19, 1851




Tues 19th Aug  Sat down quite early to fix some work for

Ellen, about 11 Oclock Mrs Norris and a Mr Young from

Bridgewater came  Dined here and left about three

they wanted the boys to go Fishing Thursday but Clinton Lothrop

is not expected to live through the day and they

thought it best to defer going untill Monday

Mrs Witherell & Mitchell & myself went into

school this afternoon  Very warm

Melinda Orr Norris and a Mr. Young had midday dinner with the Ameses, during which they invited the Ames sons to go fishing. The boys accepted but deferred the trip to the following week.  Clinton Lothrop, their Aunt Sarah Lothrop Ames’s younger brother, was deathly ill and they wanted to wait until after his anticipated passing.

It was a hot summer day, with no such thing as air conditioning or window fans. In their full-skirted dresses, the Ames women surely were hot as they chored around the house or sat with visitors. They possibly opened their parlor windows to let in some air, but would have let in the insects, too, if they did so.  “Wove wire” had appeared here and there on the market as an alternative to horsehair weaves, but wouldn’t be commonplace until the Civil War. Around 1861, Gilbert & Bennet, a sieve-making firm in Georgetown, Connecticut, lost its southern customers and began to manufacture window screens as a way to use its surplus wire mesh cloth. Window screens took off. Before then, how did people cope?

Evelina and her sisters-in-law, Sarah Witherell and Harriett Mitchell, left the closed air of their homes and went to the local school house in the afternoon. Evelina doesn’t explain the purpose of the trip. Surely the hot sun beat down on them outdoors, but their bonnets kept their heads protected, at least.

* Gilbert & Bennet’s Red Mill on the Norwalk River where woven wire cloth was first developed as a commercial substitute for horsehair. Photo from  

August 16, 1851


Sat 16th Aug  Have been to work on my white loose dress

that Julia cut out some time since and it is ready for

the washtub  Frank and Oliver came from Bridgewater about

three and brought home Charles Mitchell & Sister Harriet

Mr Brett two Miss Tolmans from New Bedford Jane & William

Howard & Orinthia came & went to the shop about 5 Oclock

The party at Robbins Pond in Bridgewater may have ended, but the festive mood continued.  Oakes Angier Ames headed into Boston, but his brothers Oliver (3) and Frank Morton returned from Bridgewater with their Aunt Harriett and her brother-in-law, Charles Mitchell and, perhaps, others. At the same time or maybe just a short while later, Orinthia Foss and a spill of friends to whom Evelina had been introduced only a few days earlier arrived and went to the factory.

Why this sociable group visited the shovel factory at the end of the day is a mystery. Were they delivering the Ames brothers back to work? Were they visiting someone else there? Did Oakes or Oliver Jr. find it amusing? Was Old Oliver privy to this after-party?

Evelina, meanwhile, was working on her wardrobe and was ready to put a new dress into the washtub.  She might have looked up from her sewing to see the young people drive by.