November 16, 1852

 

november-star-map

November sky, Northern Hemisphere**

Tuesday Nov 16th  We have cleaned the sitting

room and closets and got the carpet back

and the room in order again except

washing the pictures  Catharine

is very slow about cleaning & it takes

Ann all the time to do the house

work and we accomplish but very little

More deep cleaning of the house today, although not accomplished as expeditiously as Evelina would have liked. Not for the first time, she expresses discontent about her servants, a complaint that we have heard since the days of Jane McHanna. Were her servants really as slow as she suggests, or was she simply more efficient than they?

“[T]his was a fair cold day with a high west wind,”* wrote Old Oliver in his journal. The sun would have set early, naturally, and the sky would have been bright with stars, brighter and clearer than most of us can see them today. It was probably too cold tonight for star-gazing, but we might wonder if the Ameses ever studied the night sky, for that was a favorite pastime in many families. Stories of various constellations were told and great myths about Greek gods and goddesses were passed along to new generations.

In fact, in England, on this very date, there was an astronomer named John Russell Hind who was studying the night sky, though not for the old narratives tucked around the constellations. He was interested in what we now know is a belt of asteroids that circles the earth. Hind was one of the first discoverers of asteroids. Over time, he identified ten of them (along with a few stars) and gave them female names: Iris, Flora, Victoria, Irene, Melpomene, Fortuna, Kalliope, Thalia, Euterpe and Urania. On this occasion, Kalliope – known more formally as 22 Kalliope – was the large, bright asteroid that he located. Because of his respected work, Hind was appointed president of the Royal Astrological Society in 1880.

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives

** Image courtesy of http://www.outerspaceuniverse.org 

 

 

 

September 25, 1852

Music stool

 

Sat Sept 25th Louisa has a swelling on the back of

her hand which troubles her & she left this

morning and I have got Catharine Middleton

to stay untill next Wednesday when I expect

a new girl  Catharine made some squash

pies and finished the ironing. It has been about

most all the week  Helen & I have been to N Bridgewater

She had a tooth extracted  I got a Piano stool

Evelina was still spending money. In North Bridgewater (today’s Brockton) she bought a music stool to go with the new piano that was coming soon to her parlor. With her was niece Helen Angier Ames; the fifteen-year-old had a less enjoyable errand to accomplish: getting a tooth pulled. It’s interesting that Helen’s aunt, Evelina, and not her mother, Sarah Lothrop Ames, accompanied the girl to the dentist.

In the servant department, the new girl, Louisa McAvoy, departed today, having not even worked a full week. Evelina was really struggling to keep a household staff together. Catherine Middleton agreed to stay on and was helpful with the baking and ironing, the latter of which had taken “most all the week” to complete. We might wonder if Evelina ever missed Jane McHanna, the one servant who had been steady, if occasionally ill – the one whom Evelina had fired in June. Evelina had yet to really settle on a dependable replacement.

 

August 3, 1852

Hpr HaravrdTraining-s

Harvard Crew Training on the Charles River, ca. 1869*

August 3d 1852

Tuesday  Cut out a linen & moire skirt for Catharine

to make and Susan a night gown  I have

at last got my travelling dress done  I believe

cape and all.  How provoking it is to have

to alter so much  Julia Mahoney has been

to work for Mrs Witherell making a Borage Delaine

Augusta & Mrs McHanna were here this afternoon

For Evelina, this was a fairly ordinary day of sewing and socializing. Her big news was that she “at last” completed her new traveling outfit.

In the annals of American sports, however, this was no ordinary day.  In a two-mile regatta on Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, under a bright blue sky, Harvard beat Yale in the very first intercollegiate athletic competition ever held in the U.S.A. Harvard’s  Oneida beat both of Yale’s boats, Shawmut and Undine. The first prize, a pair of black walnut oars, was presented to the Crimson team by one of the six judges, soon-to-be-president Franklin Pierce. Today, those oars are the oldest intercollegiate athletic prize in North America**. The contest itself has since moved to New London, Connecticut. It recently celebrated its 150th anniversary (not having been held in consecutive years in its earliest iteration.)

The contest was initiated by Yale, who “issued a challenge to Harvard ‘to test the superiority of the oarsmen of the two colleges.'”* According to the written recollection of James Morris Whiton, Yale Class of 1853 and bow oar of Undine, “[t]he race was supposed to be a frolic, and no idea was entertained of establishing a precedent.”*** The enthusiasm of the participants and the entertainment of the spectators, however, insured that a tradition had been born. Anticipation for the event had been high, so much so that the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad footed the bill for the event, believing it would attract visitors to the area. The excursion trains it set up arrived loaded with visitors.

The oarsmen themselves were so enthused about the occasion that they tried to arrange a dance at the inn where they were staying. According to Whiton, “Many of the College boys stayed at the Pemigewasset House, Plymouth, and it occurred to them it would be pleasant to give a ‘hop’, and invite the rural beauties of the town to the festivities. With this end in view, they applied to the landlord of the hostelry and received this reply: ‘Ye can hav the hall, young men, if ye want a gander dance, but ye won’t get no gal timber there, I tell ye.'”

No doubt the failure to dance with some of the “rural beauties” was a disappointment, but otherwise the race and its aftermath were entirely successful. By 1875, thirteen eastern colleges offered crew.

 

Image from Harper’s Weekly, 1869

**Harvard Athletic Association, Courtesy of http://www.gocrimson.com

*** Wikipedia, accessed July 30, 2015

****James Morris Whiton, “The Story of the First Harvard-Yale Regatta by a Bow Oar,” published in The Outlook, June 1, 1901 and privately printed with photographs of Lake Winnipesaukee and of the course of the race.

 

 

 

July 18, 1852

Church

July 18th Sunday  Have been to meeting as usual

Mr Whitwell preached well.  Went to Mr

Whitwells with Mother & Henrietta at noon

When we came from church Mr Ames

& self rode up to the ponds, found Oliver &

Fred there  Called this evening with Mr

Ames at Augustus found him threatened

with a fever & quite unwell.  Called on Lavinia

Williams a moment and Mrs Savage who is quite ill.

The good news today was that Evelina was comfortably back in her own pew at her own church, listening to her favorite minister preach. During the intermission between sermons, she even took her mother and sister-in-law, Henrietta Williams Gilmore, to the parsonage for tea. After church she and Oakes “rode up to the ponds,” meaning that they may have ridden not just to Shovel Shop Pond, but also beyond to Flyaway or Great Pond. There they ran into Oliver (either their son or Oakes’s brother-in-law) and Fred Ames.*

The not-so-good news was a run of illness among family and friends. Evelina’s nephew, Alson “Augustus” Gilmore, was suffering from some kind of fever. This was not an uncommon ailment during the hottest weeks of summer; many infants, especially, were prone to dehydration when the thermometer went up. Evelina had to be concerned that Augustus was so ill so suddenly. Hannah Savage (her near neighbor for whom her old servant, Jane McHanna, was now working) had been ill for some time. Hannah was thought to be dying; a watch would soon begin for her.

*It seems likely that it was Oliver (3) and not Oliver Jr with  Fred “up to the ponds.”  If it had been Oliver Jr., it’s probable that Sarah Lothrop Ames would have been with them.  She wasn’t. And it’s equally likely that the two young college men would be enjoying their familiar camaraderie, now that each was home from school.

June 18, 1852

servants

 

 

June 18 Friday Have to be around with the new girl

to show her which hinders a great deal about

my sewing  Mrs Holmes & Richardson came this morning

to get some plants and I worked a long while

in the garden and did not sew but very little 

before dinner  Abby & Miss Gurney passed

the afternoon here and carried home plants

 

It’s hard to tell if Hannah Murphy or Catharine Middleton, both new to the household, is “the new girl” whom Evelina accuses of hindering her sewing. After firing Jane McHanna, Evelina had to train someone new, a process for which she evidently had limited patience. She would have preferred to be working on her own projects; such was one consequence of letting Jane go.

The plus side was that Evelina had the opportunity to establish expectations and guidelines for the new servants. If she would take the time to train them, she might get excellent help around the house. She certainly hoped that the new girls would work out better than Jane had.

If the continued hot weather didn’t help her mood, at least it didn’t keep Evelina out of her flower beds. Her garden had seemed neglected of late, but the plants were growing just fine and she had many to give away. Her niece Abby Torrey and a friend, Miss Gurney, visited for a few hours and went home with a few flowers, as did Mrs. Holmes and Mrs. Richardson earlier in the day.

June 14, 1852

FullSizeRender

June 14th

1852 Monday  Am 43 this day quite an old woman

Julia Mahoney came to work on my dresses

Hannah Murphy commenced working for me

this day & Mrs Patterson is here and it

has been about as much as I can attend to

to wait upon the rest  If I had two or 

three more it would be all I could attend to

 

Hannah Murphy, replacing the departed Jane McHanna, donned an apron this morning and “commenced working.”  Mrs. Patterson was still on the premises and the three women proceeded with the Monday chores, laundry included. Evelina was very busy tending to it all.

Yet today was Evelina’s birthday and she felt old.  We in the U.S. might scoff at the notion that 43 feels old; our current life expectancy for females is 81.  In Massachusetts in 1850, however, it was no more than 45. Who knew how long Evelina would live?  While she had the hopeful example of her hardy, octogenarian mother to emulate, she also would have remembered her two older sisters, both dead in their thirties. She may have considered the possibility that, like her mother, she could live to an advanced age. In fact, she would live to be 73; on this birthday, she had thirty more years in front of her.

At the shovel factory, Oliver Ames took his mind off his concern for the crops and focused instead on the arrival of Clark S. Manchester, who “came here to day from Fall River to build our stone shop.”* Mr. Manchester, 37 years old, was a native of Little Compton, Rhode Island, who had only recently moved to Fall River with his wife and two children. His expertise with stone work had led him to the Ameses, or they to him.

So the new building began, on the west side of Shovel Shop Pond. This location was different from the original and recently rebuilt factory, which sat at a lower edge of the pond in order to maximize the drop in water level. Water still powered the factory machines, and the new location to the west would still rely on water power from “just above where the Queset entered Shovel Shop Pond.”** But different from the old factory, this new Long Shop would accommodate a modern steam engine, a huge advance in technology. A new era in production was waiting to begin, and the stone buildings would reflect the change.

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

** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, 2002, p. 250

 

 

June 12, 1852

 3124164293_b3d771db50Lace bonnet

June 12th Sat  Jane has left and gone to Mr Savages

Mrs Patterson is here yet  Cousin Susan Orr

and Harriet Mitchell came to the other part

of the house this morning  I have spent the

afternoon there and Augusta stoped there awhile

Have finished my bonnet & lined & trimmed

Susans last summer bonnet

Jane McHanna, the Irish servant whom Evelina had fired the previous day, found immediate employment in the village at the home of William and Hannah Savage. Mr. Savage worked at the shovel factory; Mrs. Savage was a homemaker with a teenage daughter, Abby.  Mrs. Savage, unfortunately, was ailing, and needed help around the house.

That Jane found another position so quickly speaks not just to the circumstances of the Savage family, but also to her own capabilities.  She may have been more adept than Evelina had lately given her credit for, and others knew it. By 1855, Jane would be working for Oliver Ames Jr. and his wife Sarah Lothrop Ames, a couple with high standards. How would that play out for the two sisters-in-law?

But meanwhile, Evelina had Mrs. Patterson to depend on, and a whole afternoon in which to finish her – and Susan’s – latest bonnets.  She also got to sit and visit in the other part of the house with Sarah Witherell, where both were visited by Susan Orr, Harriett Mitchell and the young bride, Augusta Pool Gilmore.  Did Augusta share the information that she was now in her first trimester of pregnancy? Probably not, and impossible to know, but fun to imagine the conversation if she did.