September 20, 1852

Hay

 

Monday Sept 20th  Staid at Edwins last night

and slept with Emeline as I did not like

to leave them alone  Augusta rested very

well and is much better to day.  Hannah

left this morning & Louisa McAvoy came

and she & Catherine have washed  I have

worked hard all day  Augustus’ wife called

here this afternoon

 

Worried about her neighbor, Evelina spent the night at the Edwin Gilmore house in case Augusta took a turn for the worse. Also staying there was fourteen-year old Emeline Pool, Augusta’s youngest sibling, who may have been sent up by the Pool family to sit with her ailing sister. Everyone was unnerved by Augusta’s continued illness, but in the morning Evelina was able to report that Augusta had improved.

At the Ames house, of course, and, indeed, all over town, it was washday. Servant Hannah Murphy departed, as anticipated, but the new servant, Louisa McAvoy and the remaining servant, Catharine Middleton, were on task. The washtubs were out. Evelina did her usual Monday choring and tidying, and the house stirred with activity.

Also on task were men who worked for Evelina’s father-in-law, Old Oliver Ames. They were mowing. Old Oliver reported that “this [was] a fair day part of time + cloudy a part wind southerly + midling warm  began to mow second crop to day.”*  The hay that had been sown in early August was being cut, each worker mindful of the importance of the crop. “[T]he most important matter connected with American agriculture,” declared one farming expert a decade later, “the hay crop is of more value than the cotton, the corn, or the wheat crop, or any single article of farm produce upon which the lives of three fourths of all the horses, cattle, and sheep depend from November to April.[…] Farmer! Have you thought how much depends upon the four weeks of haying time?”** Old Oliver could have answered that question with alacrity.

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

** Solon Robinson, Facts for Farmers, January 1865, pp. 772-773

July 21, 1852

Thermometer

July 21st Wednesday  Have been at work on my

borage dress  what time I have sewed

The weather is very hot and I can

work but little  Julia & Elizabeth Pool

are at Edwins having some dresses

made by Julia Mahoney  I called 

to see them carried my work and

stoped awhile  Have been to see

Augustus this evening he is quite feverish

 

“This was a verry warm day and the most scorching sun I ever felt […] it was warm all day and the night following verry,” reported Evelina’s father-in-law, Old Oliver Ames. She, herself, was enervated by the heat; she could “work but little.”  She was alone, too, as Julia Mahoney, her usual dressmaker, was across the street at Edwin and Augusta Pool’s. Augusta had two sisters visiting who were having dresses made. Evelina walked over to join them for a time.

Alson Augustus Gilmore,Evelina’s nephew, was having no fun. He had a fever and in the heat must have felt as if he had landed in Hades. He was indoors, presumably, out of the direct sun at least. Old Oliver and his field hands, on the other hand, may have been outdoors haying in the blasting sunlight, the heat rising in waves around them. We can imagine that they stayed hydrated by drinking water ladled from buckets or a nearby well.  No thermoses or bottled Dasani or Fuji or Poland Spring water for them.

July 16, 1852

FullSizeRender

Traveling dresses*

1852

July 16th  Have been to Boston & Mt Auburn with

Mrs Witherell, S Ames & A L Ames had a 

very pleasant time  Returned from Mt

Auburn about one or two called on Mrs 

Stevens and the rest of the day shopping

bought me a travelling dress &c &c

Did not see any of Mr Orrs family except

Mr Norris  Mrs N is at Newburyport

 

The Ames women went to town today. Apparently they headed first to Mt.  Auburn, probably to take a turn around the cemetery, then on to Boston. It sounds as if the four women rode in a carriage or wagon all the way from Easton. One of the women may have driven the vehicle, but it’s more likely that a man, such as Old Oliver’s coachman Michael Burns, drove. Whoever held the reins guided the horse along what is today’s Route 138.  The carriage would have traveled a short distance east to get out of Easton, then headed straight north through Canton and Milton into the outskirts of the big city. Normally the vehicle would have taken Washington Street as it veered northeast into Boston, but today they went instead via Jamaica Plain to cross the Charles River.

After their tour of Mt. Auburn Cemetery, a popular destination for many pedestrians and riders, the Ames women crossed back across the Charles River into Boston, where they spent “the rest of the day shopping.” Evelina purchased material and a pattern, perhaps, for a “travelling dress,” such as the one in the illustration. She will spend the next few weeks making this new outfit at home.

Back in Easton, meanwhile, Old Oliver reflected on the week going by and noted that “the 14 – 15 + 16th were all warm good hay days + verry drying.”** He was satisfied with the weather.

 

Godey’s Lady’s Journal, November, 1852

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

July 13, 1852

Hay

 

1852

Tuesday July 13  Julia Mahoney came to work this

morning and cut the waist to my borage

dress and went home at noon.  Mr Ames

went to Canton and I begged the chance

to go with him & we called at Mr Kinsleys

Saw the ladies of the family & two Mr Peabodys

of Boston  Called on Mrs Atherton

The first few days of this particular week were proving be “verry warm days. + pritty good hay days.”* Old Oliver had to be pleased.

After a morning of sewing a new barege dress with her dressmaker, Evelina “begged the chance” to ride east and north with her husband to Canton, where they visited Lyman and Louisa Kinsley. The Kinsleys, of course, were business associates but also friends, and they and their twenty-one year-old daughter, Lucy, happened to be entertaining visitors from Boston, “two Mr Peabodys.”

The Peabody brothers had called on the Kinsleys to be sociable, certainly, but one of them had a romantic motive. Francis Howard Peabody, also aged twenty-one, was courting Miss Lucy; the two would wed in 1854. They would have three children, a boy followed by two girls. Their little boy, Frank Everett Peabody, would become a founding member of a famous Boston brokerage firm, Kidder and Peabody.

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

July 12, 1852

Furnace

July 12th Monday  Mary & Hannah both washed and I

was about house most of the forenoon 

Have cut the sleeves & skirt to my borage

dress and cut a waist for Susan

Carried my work into Olivers and stopt

some time  Edwin & Augusta rode to the

furnace & carried my pot to Mr Harveys to

get some butter but it was not ready for me

When Edwin and Augusta Gilmore “rode to the furnace,” they probably went south to an area of Easton known as Furnace Village or Easton Furnace. This was one of the oldest areas in town, its early homes today recognized as a National Historic District. First settled around 1715, it was a site for industry in a landscape that was otherwise quite agrarian. Using Mulberry Brook to turn its wheel, a sawmill was established there well before the American Revolution. Later industries included a tannery and a blast furnace for ironmaking, the latter giving the area its name. Historian Edmund Hands notes, “Once Easton Furnace possessed the highest degree of industrialization in town, but that industry never grew large enough to transform Furnace Village the way the Shovel Shop created the urbanized landscape of North Easton.”*

Back in the urbanized landscape to the north of Furnace Village, Evelina’s servants, Hannah Murphy and a woman named Mary, were doing the weekly laundry. Evelina was choring, sewing and waiting for Edwin and Augusta to return with some butter, which they were unable to do.  In the fields around North Easton, Old Oliver and his men were cutting hay. The agrarian life still held sway despite mills, foundries and factories.

*Edmund C. Hands, Easton’s Neighborhoods, 1995, p. 105

July 3, 1852

 

500

Catharine Hayward Copeland Ames and Frank Morton Ames*

 

July 3d Sat  Was about house the greater part of the 

forenoon.  Made cake Mrs Ames Tumbler rule

After dinner helped do up the work for Hannah

to go to Bridgewater afterwards mending Susans

dresses.  Was expecting Augustus wife here & Orinthia

but they did not come.  About 5 Oclock went

into Mrs Witherells & stoped to tea.  Frank has

gone a ride to Middleboro with Cate Copeland

The bad news today was that “this was a fair cold day wind verry high a verry bad day to git in hay.”** Evelina’s father-in-law, Old Oliver, was clearly not pleased with this year’s haymaking, at least not to date. Not enough rain in the beginning to have the hay grow well and, today, too much cold wind to bring it in properly.

The regular news today included mending and baking. Evelina evidently tried a new cake recipe, using the “Tumbler rule” that she got from Mrs. Ames – probably Almira Ames, who was visiting. A tumbler was a common word for a drinking glass, which suggests that at least one of the cake’s ingredients – flour, perhaps – was measured by filling a tumbler.  Hard to say, but it must have been fun to try a new recipe for an old standard.

We get a peek into the family’s future with Evelina’s notation that her 18-year-old son, Frank Morton, went “a ride” with a girl named Cate Copeland. Cate was Catharine Hayward Copeland, daughter of Hiram Copeland, a farmer, and his wife Lurana – and a future daughter-in-law to Evelina. Cate was all of 15, but not too young to be of interest to Frank. Four years later, the couple would marry. Over the course of their lives together, in North Easton, Canton, and Boston, they would produce seven children, six of whom would survive to adulthood.

* Image of Catharine Hayward Copeland Ames and Frank Morton Ames courtesy of ancestry.com

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

 

June 28, 1852

Haymaking

1852

Monday June 28th  Have been about the house at

work most of the day  Swept most of the 

house except the parlour.  washed the

front stairs and have the house in pretty

good order  Mrs S Ames came in with her 

work and stoped an hour or two something

unusual for her  Hannah came to spend 

the evening but I had gone into Edwins and

she went in to see Mrs Witherell

 

Either Evelina felt better this morning, or her habit of working simply wouldn’t let her be idle. In the course of the morning, she swept most of the rooms and washed the stairs while her servant – Hannah Murphy, most likely- did the laundry and prepared the midday dinner. In the afternoon, Evelina at last sat down. Sarah Lothrop Ames came over – “something unusual for her” – and they visited and sewed together. Evelina was usually the one who went next door, not the other way around. In the evening, Evelina even felt well enough to go across the street to see Edwin and Augusta Gilmore.

The highlight of the day, however, had to be the commencement of haying. Old Oliver reported that “this was a fair warm day wind south west + verry dry We begun haying to day.”*  The calendar may have indicated that summer had barely begun, but everyone knew that fall and winter lay ahead. That hay would be essential. And now that haymaking had begun, perhaps Old Oliver would be less irritable with his family members.

 

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