August 14, 1852

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Dr. Henry Jacob Bigelow

(1818 – 1890)

Aug 14th

1852 Saturday  Oakes A went to see Dr Bigelow

He agrees with Dr Swan that the blood

comes from the lungs and that he must leave the

shop and be very quiet.  Returned from

Boston to night.  Mrs Stevens came here in

the Cars  Mrs Witherell A L Ames & Mrs

S Ames called

Oakes Angier saw a doctor in Boston today about his bad cough and bloody sputum.  He went to a Dr. Bigelow, who could have been either of two well-regarded medical men: Jacob Bigelow or his son, Henry Jacob Bigelow. The son, only a decade older than Oakes Angier himself, was a Harvard grad who was becoming famous for his role in introducing ether into the operating room. Without the modern diagnostic equipment to which we 21st century readers have become accustomed, Dr. Bigelow was nonetheless able to give an informed opinion about Oakes Angier’s pulmonary condition. If the doctor used the word “consumption,” Evelina didn’t write it down.

The illness was serious and Oakes Angier was ordered to ” leave the shop and be very quiet.” Rest and fresh air, in other words, were the treatment. If diagnostic ability was limited, treatments were even more so. Oakes Angier would have to go away and rest and hope for the best.

Back in Easton, the women of the family gathered in the sitting room or parlor to hear what the Boston physician had said, and perhaps to take a look at Evelina’s new bonnet. We can imagine that each member had a notion of what should happen next: where Oakes Angier should go, how he might travel, and what needed to be done to get him ready. In all likelihood, however, the decision on what to do would be decided by Oakes Angier’s father.

 

July 30, 1851

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Wedns 30 July  Went to Boston with Cate & waggon had

a fine ride got to Mr Orrs about ten, went out

shopping untill dinner time  After dinner took Mrs

Orr with us to Mt Auburn and we rode & walked most

all over the grounds & went into the chapel  As we were

going through Brookline we stoped at the reservoir

and saw some fine situations in & about Brookline

Finally, Evelina got to go into Boston, a trip she had been trying to make for days now. She and Oakes rode into town in a wagon behind his horse Cate.  They trotted up today’s Route 138, past farms, fields and woods, through Stoughton, along Canton, into Milton and on into the city, approaching it by way of Washington Street. It was “a fine ride.”

After a little shopping and midday dinner with the Orrs, Evelina, Oakes and Melinda Orr drove to Mt. Auburn Cemetery, a new-style burial ground on the Cambridge side of the Charles River. Fashioned somewhat after the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, the twenty-year old cemetery had been the brain child of, among others, a Boston physician named Jacob Bigelow who felt that the practice of burying the dead under and right next to churches and meeting houses was unhealthy.  With the encouragement of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and a designation of 70 acres from the Massachusetts legislature, Mt. Auburn Cemetery was created.

By carriage and on foot, Oakes, Evelina and their friend Melinda were able to go “most all over the grounds,” seeing paths, plantings, monuments and the Bigelow Chapel. They saw other landscapes of greater Boston today as well, including the brand new Brookline Reservoir.

*Pilgrim’s Path, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 1851.