April 28, 1851




April 28th Monday  Have had Mrs Connors here to help

about washing, Janes finger being sore  She came

at half past 6 and left about half past two charged

42 cts.  I helped about the washing  Willard Randall

came this afternoon to work over the earth in the

flower garden.  Frank came from the shop about

five and worked some on the beds.  I have set out

some carraway roots that Alson gave me.  Helen came

home with Cyrus


According to some calculations, the 42 cents that Mrs. Connors was paid to do the Ames’s laundry translates to a labor value of $13.20 today. Mrs. Connors was paid little better than a nickel an hour. Evelina worked on the washing today, too, much as she disliked it.

Once the laundry was set out to dry, Evelina got back to the garden.  Her son Frank Morton helped her when he got home from work; he seemed to enjoy being in the garden as much as she did. That, or helping his mother till the soil was his assigned chore. Willard Randall, another shovel shop employee and member of the extensive Randall clan, came up again to continue working “over the earth.”  Was Willard pleased to walk up to the Ames’s yard to turn over the soil in the boss’s wife’s flower garden? Did he have a garden of his own at home that needing tending?

The caraway roots that Evelina picked up on Saturday at the Gilmore farm went into the ground today, probably in an area close to the kitchen, a time-honored location for every housewife’s herb garden.  The rhubarb and horseradish would go in there too.

Helen Angier Ames, the niece who lived next door, returned home today from boarding school in New Bedford.  Her uncle, Cyrus Lothrop, “carried her” home, as the phrase went.


April 26, 1851


Sat Apr 26th  This morning a man came from the shops 

to spade my flower garden & hoe the currant

bushes Miss Foss Susan & self rode to Edwin Manlys

to speak for some plants and then went to Mothers

got there about half past twelve. Brought

home some Horseradish, Carraway roots & some

few plants Made the skirt to Susans green 

borage Delaine Miss Foss has finished the two shirts.

At last, gardening in earnest. A shovel shop employee was taken off his usual task to go up to the Ames homestead to turn over the soil in Evelina’s flower beds.  He used an Ames shovel, no doubt, and also an Ames hoe to loosen the dirt around the currant bushes behind the house.

Evelina celebrated the spring day with her daughter Susie and boarder Orinthia Foss; the three took a wagon, most likely, north to the home of Edwin Manly.  At the time, Manly lived close to the town line with Stoughton, and was employed at the shovel shop. He was obviously interested in plants and kept an informal nursery on his farm, raising flowers to sell.  His green thumb brought in customers like Evelina. Not too long after this, however, he hurt his hand and had to leave his job at O. Ames & Sons. Fascinated by biology, chemistry and science in general, he studied medicine at Harvard, became a physician and set up an office in North Easton in the early 1860s. Later he moved to Taunton, where he worked as the town librarian for a number of years. Eventually, he moved to California.

Flowers weren’t all that the women brought home in the wagon.  They drove south to the other end of Easton to visit Evelina’s mother, Hannah Gilmore, at the Gilmore farm, where they picked up the horseradish and caraway roots and “some few plants.”   That Evelina and Orinthia had time to sew after all that riding around says a lot about their stamina and work ethic.