January 25, 1852

Ice

1852

Jan 25  Sunday  Have had a lovely day although it is somewhat

cold.  The first pleasant sabbath we have had for

a long while  We have all been to church except

Mrs Witherell who still stays at home on account

of her teeth being out. Mother came with us

from church to night. We have had fine sleighing

for a long time  Mr Whitwell gave us a fine 

sermon this afternoon

Old Oliver, too, appreciated today’s weather: “this is a fair pleasant day wind south west + thaws some   it is the first fair Sunday we had for a long time…” He also noted with satisfaction that “we began to fill our new ice hous yesterday,”* much of it with the ice that his grandsons Oliver (3) and Fred Ames had harvested on Friday.

The ice house was built right next to the pond** from which the ice was harvested. It was probably lined with sawdust for insulation; when the ice was removed, block by block, the sawdust absorbed some of the moisture and kept the building cool.  Even if the temperature outside rose, the temperature inside stayed relatively low. The ice was crucial to the storage and preservation of food in those days before refrigeration.

Today’s fair weather enticed everyone to church except Sarah Ames Witherell, who preferred to remain somewhat hidden while she recovered from recent dentistry.  The group drove the sleigh (or sleighs) to the meeting house, which was a couple of miles south of their family compound. Evelina sat in the family pew and enjoyed herself; she always liked hearing what Reverend Whitwell had to say.  She and her family brought her mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore, home for a visit.

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

** Thanks to information from James Carlino, Dwight MacKerron and John Ames, we believe the ice pond in question may be Monte Pond, on the north side of Elm Street, just east of Rte. 138 in the northeastern corner of Easton. John also remembers an ice house next to French Pond on Union Street, also just east of Rte. 138, north of and parallel to Elm Street.  He bought some old ice tools there in the 1970s that he used in making sculpture.

January 23, 1852

 

 

images-1

Currier & Ives, Winter in the Country: Getting the Ice1864

1852

Jan 23d Friday  Have had a hard days work.  Heat the

brick oven 4 times.  Baked mince & dried apple

pies brown bread cup cake & ginger snaps.

Had quite a fright about Oliver & Fred being

away at tea time was affraid they had got into the

pond where they had been cutting ice for the ice house

found them at Edwins.  Mrs S Ames went with me

about 8 Oclock into Edwins

 

There are few things scarier for a parent than having a child – whatever the age – not come home when expected. Evelina and her sister-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames had “quite a fright” when their sons, Oliver (3) and Fred Ames, respectively, didn’t return home from a day spent outside, harvesting ice at a family pond. The pond was some distance from the family compound, out of earshot. At tea time, no one was able to report on their whereabouts. The boys might have fallen in.

The worried mothers went out after dark to search for their sons and found them practically next door. They were fine. Oliver and Fred had stopped to call on Oliver’s cousin, Edwin Gilmore, and were presumably unaware that their absence had alarmed anyone. How relieved Evelina and Sarah must have been.

For the young men, the day spent working outdoors in the cold sunshine must have been an invigorating change from their college studies, and for their grandfather, Old Oliver, their participation in the important annual harvest of ice must have been gratifying.