June 20, 1852


Sunday June 20th  Have been to meeting all day Mother

went this afternoon and returned home  Mr Sanger

of Dover preached  Since meeting have been to 

Alsons with Edwin & wife & Oakes Angier.

Called at Mr Pools  Was treated with strawberries

& ice cream at Alsons and with lemonade

at Mr Pools  Frank went to a sing at Cohassett

Father gave me quite a lecture on cooking stoves

says we have had a dozen and we have had four


No Mr. Whitwell at church today. Instead, Rev. Ralph Sanger of the First Church of Dover led the service. Dr. Sanger was an older minister in the area, having graduated from Harvard in 1808, a year before Evelina was born. He had spent his entire ministerial life in Dover where he was well regarded. He also served several terms in the Massachusetts Legislature and was the chaplain for the Massachusetts State Senate.

After church came an afternoon of sweet sensations. Strawberries, ice cream and lemonade were served at two different homes where Evelina, Oakes Angier, and the young Gilmore couple called. The fresh fruit was a seasonal treat, and the ice cream and lemonade no doubt delightful as well.

Not all was sweet at home, however. Old Oliver got cross with his daughter-in-law and gave Evelina “quite a lecture” about her cooking stove. She was about to get a new one in her kitchen, certainly with her husband’s approval, but her father-in-law had no patience for it.  He didn’t see the need to update the kitchen equipment. We might remember that Oliver had grown up watching his own mother cook over a hearth, a style of cooking that had served for generations.  And here was his daughter-in-law planning to install another stove under his roof.

Even the little bit of rain that fell around sunrise didn’t cheer Old Oliver up.

June 8, 1852



Patent drawing for Nancy Johnson’s Hand-cranked Ice Cream Machine, 1843


June 8th Tuesday  Baked in the brick oven pies

cake & brown bread and have been to work

about the house all day untill the stage

came and brought Mr & Mrs Orr  It rains

quite hard and I did not expect them

Mrs S Ames & Mrs Witherell called this

evening  Had some ice cream frozen in 

the new freezer

Evelina baked and did indoor chores all day, but as active as she was she must have been attentive to the arrival of much-needed rain.  Old Oliver certainly was, recording that “towards night there was considerable rain, wind south west.”* It was so rainy, in fact, that Evelina imagined that her expected houseguests wouldn’t come.  But Robert and Melinda Orr braved the elements and arrived from Boston via stagecoach.

The Orrs were the couple with whom Evelina often stayed when she went into the city.  She and Melinda were good friends, but the connection between the two families ran even deeper, all the way back to Bridgewater and the days of ironwork there when Robert Orr’s ancestor, also named Robert, was a maker of scythes and other tools. The Ameses and the Orrs had often crossed paths.

Evelina was ready to welcome Robert and Melinda to her home and had prepared ice cream for the occasion. The ice cream would have been made in a hand-cranked freezer and probably kept cold in the new ice closet. Although it was a specialty that took time and elbow-grease to prepare, it was not quite the novelty that we might imagine.

Ice cream had been around since Colonial days, brought in by the Quakers and quickly adopted by the likes of Ben Franklin and George Washington.  By 1813, it was served at the inauguration of James Madison. In 1836, an African-American and former White House chef named Augustus Jackson – also known as the Father of Ice Cream – created a variety of ingredients and improved the over-all techniques. Less than ten years later, in 1843, a Philadelphian named Nancy Johnson received the first patent for a hand-cranked ice cream freezer. Americans took to it in droves, and the frozen dessert only got better as time went by.

When did someone think to serve ice cream with pie? Did Evelina?


December 21, 1851

Toasted rice blancmange


Sunday Dec 21st  My cough and cold is much better but not

well enough for me to go to meeting  Oliver is sick

with the rheumatism there was no one to meeting

from there  All the rest went.  I spent the forenoon

in making ice cream, blanc mange &c  have written

a letter to Brother John & wife.  About 8 Oclock went

into the office with Mr Ames   Mr Swains brother came 

in awhile  Checked over our account since May

A “pritty cold,” quiet Sunday, which Evelina spent productively. She missed church; her cold was better, but her cough wasn’t.  Next door, her brother-in-law Oliver Ames, Jr., was ill with rheumatism.

Evelina had some milk or cream on hand that she needed to use up, so she made not one but two dairy desserts: Ice cream, which seems ill-calculated to please on such a cold day, and blancmange, which was also served chilled.  Blancmange is a traditional, simple dessert made with milk, flour and sugar, poured into a mold to set. Sometimes used medicinally for sore throats, it was a popular treat in the 19th century.

Once the desserts were put away in the coldest area of the house (the shed? the buttery?), Evelina went to her desk and wrote a letter to her oldest brother, John Gilmore, and his wife, Eliza.  She hadn’t seen them since their brief visit back in June.

In the evening, Evelina walked across the yard to the office, where her husband and his brother usually met in the evening to go over the day’s business. On this occasion, however, with Oliver, Jr., under the weather, Oakes Ames was likely there by himself. Husband and wife sat together in rare, private companionship before being joined by an acquaintance.