August 5, 1852



Thursday Aug 5th  Have had a rainy day which was

very much needed.  Was intending to go to

Boston with Oakes A in a carriage  Am most

affraid to have him drive Caty as he has been

raising blood of late and has a hacking cough

Lavinia is at Edwins has had Julia

cut her a dress to day  I went there and 

carried my work awhile this afternoon 

Put a new breadth into Susans Borage Delaine

where she tore it

Caty (or Katy), one of the Ames’s horses, was famous in Easton for her willful – and fast-paced – ways. Evelina has complained about her in previous diary entries. Today, however, Evelina had another reason entirely to be “most affraid” to let her son, Oakes Angier, drive the horse. Oakes Angier Ames was coughing up blood.

In an age when consumption, which we know as tuberculosis, was rampant and usually fatal, any person “raising” bloody sputum was immediately suspected of having the disease. TB wasn’t restricted to the lungs, actually; it could attack other parts of the body, such as the spine, but its most common manifestation was pulmonary. Blood coughed into a handkerchief was bad news.

How frightening this development must have been for Oakes Angier, and indeed for the entire Ames family.  Oakes Angier was the eldest grandson, the heir, the star cousin and nephew in whom many expectations were placed. He was beloved, and suddenly he was evincing signs of a potentially fatal illness. Old Oliver makes no mention of this in his journal, however, and Evelina herself had taken a few days to record the news. She may not have wanted to see such words in writing. We may suspect that Oakes Ames knew about his son’s condition earlier, but we can’t know for certain, of course. We can only follow the family as it copes with this huge development.

On this day, Evelina seemed to cope as she always did, by sewing. She took her work across the way to visit Augusta Pool Gilmore, the young bride who was now in the family way. Dressmaker Julia Mahoney was there, as was Lavinia Gilmore, so the women were able to sit and sew and talk in their usual fashion. The touch of normalcy must have been somewhat soothing for Evelina.


July 16, 1852


Traveling dresses*


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

April 9, 1852


April 9th Friday  Have made the skirt of my Delaine

dress and Orinthia has been sewing on her own

clothes most of the day  I have done but very

little sewing this spring.  Have had some one staying

here for the last few weeks and have been upon the

go a great deal of the time.  Abby came about four

this afternoon and spent the evening

Evelina was trying to catch up on her sewing today, admitting that she had been distracted by “someone staying” at the house for several weeks. She had been “upon the go” with visits from her sister-in-law Amelia Gilmore, her mother, and her former boarder, Orinthia Foss. As a consequence, her sewing had suffered. It was time to get busy.

Her father-in-law, Old Oliver, was busy, too. After noting that“it was cloudy all day wind north east + snowd a little,” he went on to report the purchase of several animals.  “[W]e bought 12 pigs to day that weighd 2041 lb at 7 ½ cents a lb – paid 143=00 cents for them [and] we bought a black hors[e] to day of Mr Feild of North Bridgewater which he cald 5 years old for 125$ if he proves good we are to pay 25$ more for him”

A few days ago it was oxen, today it was pigs and a horse.  Old Oliver was filling the barn.


September 12, 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

Friday Sept 12th  Mrs Stevens Susan & self have been to

Foxboro and a sad visit we have had.  Mr Edson

Carpenter buried this afternoon his only daughter

and we attended the funeral at the meeting 

house. Called there this morning & then

went to Mr Jones found Mrs Jones very unwell

and no help & Mr Jones away but about twelve

he returned & put up our horse.  Very hot

In 1851, an eight-mile road, give or take, ran north and west from North Easton to Foxborough by way of Mansfield. It was on that road that Evelina, her daughter Susan and guest Mrs Stevens traveled on this date to attend the funeral of a child, the only daughter of Edson and Mrs. Carpenter. After the hot journey, their horse – was it the speedy mare Kate? – needed to be stabled, and watered, presumably, while they attended the service.

Why they went and what the Ames’s attachment to Edson Carpenter was we don’t know.  Mr. Carpenter was a store-keeper in Foxborough, where he had built his own commercial block only four years earlier. Like other merchants in the town, he was affiliated with the straw industry, straw being a popular commodity for summer bonnets and the like. In fact, beginning in the 1840s, his store was “where straw braid and bonnets were received in payment for goods.”*

But as Evelina noted, he buried a child today, and it was “a sad visit” for all. The continuing hot weather wouldn’t have helped anyone’s spirits. The women must have had a solemn, hot drive back to Easton.

* Foxborough’s Centennial Records, 1878, p. 75

July 3, 1851



July 3d Thursday  About 5 Oclock this morning Oakes A

& Frank started for their ride to Middleboro

& I fixed their boquets with Oilcloth & Ribbon

They might have had the politeness to give

their ladies some boquet holders.

I worked in the garden sometime this forenoon

my finger being to sore to work  About four

went to carry Oliver to North B to take the

cars for Boston  Mrs Peckham & Mrs Swain called.

As the crow flies, Middleboro, Massachusetts is about 14.5 miles from Easton.  By the navigable roads that crossed the countryside, however, the traveling distance was actually about 18 miles, maybe more.  Oakes Angier Ames and Frank Morton Ames borrowed a chaise to make the trip; how long might it have taken the boys to get where they were going?  A horse at a walk goes about three to four miles per hour; the same horse at a trot can manage eight to ten; and a canter or gallop – unlikely in someone else’s chaise – can cover ten to seventeen miles per hour.  We might imagine that a sensible trot was the gait they urged their horse to, but then, they were eager young men.

What was the occasion?  Was it related to a Fourth of July celebration? Who were the “ladies” whose company promised such pleasure that the brothers were on the road at dawn?  How did those bouquets hold up during the trip?  No doubt the oilcloth and ribbon was carefully and skillfully applied to the flowers, but the lack of bouquet holders was, evidently, a serious faux pas. Evelina bemoaned her sons’ lapse of manners.

Evelina took a carriage ride of her own today, escorting Oliver (her other son, most likely, as opposed to her brother-in-law) to North Bridgewater to catch the train to Boston.  Where was he going?  Why wasn’t he traveling with Oakes Angier and Frank? For the three boys, the social scene was beginning to spread further afield than familiar old Easton.


May 29, 1851




May 29th Thursday  Worked in the garden upon weeds untill about

eleven Oclock & then put clean curtains up in the

sitting room & dining room.  have taken up the 

carpet & had the dining room cleaned

Early this afternoon changed my dress and sit down

to sewing which I have not done before for a long

while  worked on Susans dresses that Julia cut.

It has rained all the afternoon had fire in furnace


Today was an anniversary of sorts.  According to Old Oliver Ames, exactly one year earlier, Sarah Witherell and Sarah Ames had been injured in a carriage accident: “Sarah + Olivers wife went to Foxborough today and they got hove out of the carriage + hurt some.”  Fortunately, no lasting harm seems to have occurred to either woman.

What had happened?  Had their horse taken a fright and tried to run away? Carriage accidents were usually the result of horses bolting, spooking or crashing.*  Sudden noises – a dog barking, a wave crashing, a flock of birds lifting off, a train whistle – could startle a horse and make it run. Some statistics suggest that horse travel was more dangerous than today’s car travel. For a time, in cities like New York and Chicago, more people per capita were killed in horse-related accidents than are killed now in automobiles.  Travel, then as now, was risky.

Probably oblivious to any recollection of last year’s accident, Evelina managed to spend several hours weeding in her flower garden before rain arrived. In the afternoon she bent to some sewing and worked on dresses for Susan.  Given how fast children grow, Susie’s dresses needed to be completed sooner rather than later.  No doubt Evelina put tucks into these newest clothes for her daughter, intending to make them last.


March 15, 1851



March 15th Saturday  This morning Orinthia & myself gave the sitting

room &c a thourough cleaning & afterwards sat down to 

sewing.  Mended a number of articles  Orinthia put some

new sleeves into an old shirt of Franks that were small

This afternoon Orinthia Susan & I went down to Mothers with Charley,

called at Mr Guilds & Howards to see about her school and at Major Sebas & Mrs R

Howards.  Mr Ames brought from Boston Velvet chalk.  Pleasant

Charley was a horse, one of several that the Ames family owned.  Today Charley was put to work pulling Evelina, her daughter Susan and the new teacher, Orinthia Foss, in a carriage along the rough road from North Easton to the Gilmore farm near the Raynham town line. This, after Evelina’s mentioning only the day before the “bad traveling” on the local roads. They must have had a bumpy ride.  The weather was nice, though, so on they went.

Coming back from the Gilmore farm, they made several calls, the first two at Mr. Guild’s and at Elijah and Nancy Howard’s on school matters.  Evelina continued to act with or for Orinthia Foss “about her school.”  The ladies were on a roll with their visiting and stopped in at Seba and Eleuthera Howard’s farm.  Their last stop was a visit to Mrs. Roland Howard, a widow who was also a member of the Sewing Circle.

Evelina, Orinthia and Susan weren’t the only travelers out this day.  Oakes Ames made his usual Saturday trip into Boston on shovel business and brought back some “Velvet chalk” for dressmaking.