December 5, 1852


Sunday Dec 5th  have been to meeting all day

as usual. Staid in the meeting house

at noon with Augustus wife. Was very

sleepy this afternoon could not possibly 

keep awake.  Have been writing John &

wife this evening & Mr Ames has written some

& sent him a check for 86 doll 39 cts and are

to pay Alson 25 doll for him, for butter & cheese

dried apples &c.


“[T]his was a cloudy foggy day wind north east, not cold.”* Evelina doesn’t mention her eldest son today. She went to church and “staid in the meeting house” with a niece-in-law, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, during intermission, which was unusual for her. Most other Sundays she went out and socialized; today, not. Perhaps she was avoiding friends and neighbors who, by now, would have heard about Oakes Angier’s illness, and would have wanted to extend sympathy and advice to her, which perhaps she just couldn’t handle yet. She still didn’t have her own thoughts and feelings in order and was so exhausted that she couldn’t stay awake during the afternoon sermon.

As she had done before during times of stress, Evelina turned her attention to money, in this case settling a domestic financial transaction. She spent time in the evening attempting to reconcile an account between her brother John Gilmore, who lived out of town, and her other brother, Alson, who lived on the family farm. There had been, evidently, a three-way trade of “butter & cheese dried apples &c,” a transaction that involved Oakes Ames writing a couple of sizable checks. Might Oakes Ames have helped support some of Evelina’s relatives from time to time?


September 4, 1852


Sat Sept 4th  Made Sponge cake & gingerbread

and about ten Started to go to Mothers

Dined there and after dinner went to 

Raynham after Mrs Stevens.  Stopt at

her brothers awhile and called at the door

at Aunt John Gilmores & Aunt Othniels

found Widow Henry Gilmore there.  Came

back to tea at Alsons. Stopt at Sam Wilbers

and got some cooking apples

After some early morning baking, Evelina traveled south to Raynham, stopping along the way to have midday dinner at the family farm with her mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore.  It was “a fair day + little cooler,”* so a pleasant day to be out for a carriage ride. Evelina rode on to the home of her friend, Mrs. Stevens, whose company she had enjoyed previously over the course of this diary, and picked her up to return to Easton for a visit.

Before driving north, Evelina and her friend visited more relatives. They went to see Mrs. Steven’s brother, then stopped off to see a few Gilmore relatives, all widows. Aunt John Gilmore and Aunt Othniel (Sally Buffington Gilmore) were the elderly, long-time widows of Evelina’s father Joshua’s brothers, while young Mrs. Henry Gilmore (Adaline Bramen Gilmore) had lost her husband unexpectedly only a few months earlier. Members of this Gilmore clan were descendants of James and Thankful Gilmore who had settled in the area in the 1700’s.

The day not through, the ladies rode back to the farm and had tea with Alson and his family. A last stop was made for cooking apples.  It was the start of apple harvest.


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

May 1, 1852



Sat May 1st  The children were hoping to have a fine

time maying this morning had their wreaths

all made but it rained which prevented

their taking a walk but they had a nice time

in the old tool house. I dined in Edwins

John came there last night  Lavinia & Helen

here.  They were all here to tea to night

S E Williams called at Olivers  I gave her some plants


Rain spoiled the annual outing that Susan, Emily and other children had planned for May Day. They had made special wreaths for the occasion, probably to deliver to the homes of friends. To get out of the weather and save the pleasure of the day, they gathered instead in the “old tool house,” which seemed to make for an agreeable substitute.  Readers from the Easton area, does anyone know the probable whereabouts of this building?

Rain may have spoiled the children’s walk, but it helped soften the ground in the garden.  Old Oliver reported that today the garden was “spaded up and manured.”  He was most likely describing the family vegetable and herb garden, as opposed to Evelina’s flower beds, which were already under cultivation and probably out of Old Oliver’s immediate purview as well as beneath his notice.

Evelina, meanwhile, had her midday meal at Edwin’s and Augusta’s house, seemingly while the rest of the family ate at home. She went over to visit their mutual relative, her brother John Gilmore, who rarely came to town.



April 7, 1852


Five Dollar Gold Piece, 1850


April 7th  Mother is 80 years old this day and notwithstanding

the snow banks have been down to see her and made

her a present of a five dollar gold piece.  She is

not very smart to day but is generaly very well and

capable for one of her years.  Orinthia Abby & Augusta

went with me and we have had a very pleasant visit

Augustus stoped the evening here  Helen came

home this afternoon with her father.

Evelina’s mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore, turned 80 years old. She was the grandmother of Oakes Angier, Oliver (3), Frank Morton and Susan Eveline Ames – among other grandchildren –  and first cousin-once-removed of Sarah Lothrop Ames. She was born in Bridgewater in 1772, the fifth child and only daughter of Daniel and Hannah (Howard) Lothrop.  Her mother died soon after she was born and her father remarried two times more and had six additional children.

In 1789, at age 17, Hannah married Joshua Gilmore of Easton. They had a large family, too, producing eight children, of whom Evelina was seventh. By this 80th birthday in 1852, Hannah was a widow with only three offspring still alive. As we have seen, she lived on a farm with a son, Alson Gilmore, but often visited her daughter, Evelina.

Beyond these genealogical facts, little is known of the life of Hannah Lothrop Gilmore. When she was barely twenty, however, and already a mother of her first baby, John, she walked on a trail one day with her husband in an area of Easton known at the Great Cedar Swamp. Town historian William Chaffin recorded the tale:

“There was then no road through Cedar Swamp. Trees were however felled, and on these by hard work pedestrians at certain seasons could pick their way through from Easton to Raynham, or return.

“In 1792 […] Raynham had petitioned the Court of General Sessions for Bristol County to require Easton to build a road through the swamp to connect the two towns. The advantages of such a road were obvious. But Easton stood aghast at the prospect of incurring the expense of building a causeway such a distance and in such depths of mire.  The difficulty is illustrated by the fact that as Joshua Gilmore was going on the footpath through the swamp one day with his wife, carrying a little child in his arms, Mrs. Gilmore was speaking of the difficulty of the passage, and her husband replied that some day the child would ride through the swamp in a carriage; and the idea struck her as so essentially preposterous that she had a hearty laugh over it. However, the Court of Sessions did not, it would seem, share her skepticism, for it ordered Easton to construct the road.”*

The road, known then as the Turnpike Road or Street, was built, and Hannah Gilmore lived to ride it in a carriage.

*William L. Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, pp. 454-455

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.




June 29, 1851

portrait of yoiung man yawning



June 29th Sunday  Went this forenoon to meeting

came home again did not feel like going

back again as it [was] very warm and I was very

sleepy and thought I might as well sleep at 

home as at church  After meeting at night

Mr Ames & I walked to Mr Peckhams to see

Mrs Swain.  She is a very pleasant woman I

should judge.

Small wonder that Evelina nearly fell asleep in church this morning. Reverend Whitwell’s sermons usually held her attention, but she was tired. She’d been busy all week, augmenting her usual chores and interests with a visit from her brother, John. On top of the emotional excitement of that rare reunion, she went to Boston yesterday, an excursion that typically delighted and exhausted her at the same time. She needed a nap.

Late in the day, evidently refreshed, Evelina and Oakes walked to the home of John and Susan Peckham. Mr. Peckham served as clerk for the Ames Shovel works, but was preparing to move away with his young family.  Replacing him, apparently, was the new clerk, John H. Swain. Evelina had already met Mr. Swain when he dined with them back in May. Tonight she met his wife, Ann, who made a favorable impression. The two families would become close over the years.

 * Photographer Unknown; portrait of a young man, yawning; ambrotype; ca. 1854; George Eastman House, Donald Weber Collection


June 26, 1851




June 26th Thursday  This morning went to washing the windows

on the outside the first thing after breakfast and

got the chambers in order  Heat the brick oven and 

baked cake bread &c for tea and a custard pudding

for dinner  John & wife Miss Wait Alson & wife

and mother here to spend the day.  John is making

a short visit will leave in the morning for

home.  Have been to West Point

Evelina put her chambers in apple pie order this morning and baked up an array of food. She must have been outdoors as early as seven washing her windows. No gardening today. She had important company coming. Her mother, brothers John and Alson, their wives Huldah and Henrietta, respectively, and another woman, Miss Waite, came to spend the day with her. The family reunion continued.

The occasion was so special that Evelina baked a custard pudding to serve at dinner.  This was not usual fare for her, perhaps because it used so many eggs, and the Ameses didn’t keep chickens.

Evelina again mentioned West Point in her diary entry, which suggests that it was much in the conversation, probably in the manner of a place John, Huldah and Miss Waite had just visited. Why did they go there? Did they know someone who was just graduating? The United States Military Academy graduated 42 men in June, 1851, most of whom would go on to fight in the Civil War, 26 for the Union and 9 for the Confederacy. Many would also serve in the Third Seminole War in Florida or hold posts on the western frontier.


June 25, 1851

14 Fanny Palmer (American artist, 1812-1876) Published by N Currier American Farm Scenes 3 1853



June 25th Wednesday  Worked awhile in the garden and 

then sit down to sewing with mother

After dinner Francis came after mother […]

John & wife and Miss Wait (Otis Howards lady)

arrived there about nine  I went home with

mother and Mr Ames came after me Had

a very pleasant visit  By what they say I 

should judge the west point students had rather

a hard time


Beyond today’s normal work load of gardening and sewing lay a very special event. Evelina traveled south to the family farm where she had grown up, something she often did.  The farm was now owned and worked by her older brother, Alson; it was there that her mother usually resided.  But today, another brother, John, came to visit and joined her there.  The three siblings, John, Alson, and Evelina, were the only survivors of a brood of eight. It was a rare family reunion for them and their mother.

Most historical accounts place John and his wife, Huldah Alger Gilmore, in South Leeds, Maine.  This was probably accurate, as no evidence exists otherwise. Gilmore is not an uncommon name, however, and the postmaster John Gilmore in Leeds, Maine may not be Evelina’s brother.  Evelina’s reference to a discussion about West Point suggests a possibility that John and his wife could have lived there.

Regardless, Evelina seemed very happy to see her two brothers.  Her husband, Oakes, came along eventually to see his in-laws and fetch his wife back home to North Easton.

* Currier & Ives, Farm Yard, ca. 1853



February 23, 1851

Map of Maine, 1850

Map of Maine, 1850


Feb 23  Sunday  Have not been to church to day on account

of my cough, although it is a great deal better.

Orinthia staid at home too, having a bad cold and 

being a good deal fatigued.  We have had a nice 

quiet time talking over Maine affairs.  She spent

Thursday night at Mr Mowers.  Have written a long

letter to Louise J. Mower to day.  Mr Whitwell exchanged

with Mr Bradford of Bridgewater.  It is a lovely day.

This was the second Sunday in a row that Evelina missed going to meeting.   She stayed behind ostensibly to keep the new boarder company and to nurse the lingering cough that she admitted to herself was much better.  Was she still avoiding certain people at church, or had she gotten past the Sewing Circle incident?  Whatever her reasoning, she had a pleasant visit with young Orinthia Foss, the new schoolteacher.

Orinthia seems to have hailed from the state of Maine, where the Ames family had vital business connections.  The wooden handles of the Ames shovels came from Maine, where good wood like ash was still plentiful. Massachusetts, on the other hand, in 1850, was fairly well devoid of decent stands of hardwood after two centuries of settlement and development.  Wood from Maine was a critical resource for the Ames enterprise and over the years, one or other of the Ames men made a periodic trip north to examine the supply and cultivate the connections. Oliver Jr., for instance, made a trip to Wayne, Maine, near Augusta, in the mid-1860s.

On her journey to North Easton, Orinthia Foss spent a night with the Warren Mower family in Greene, Maine, a town near today’s Lewiston-Auburn area. Quite wooded, and close to the Androscoggin River as well.   Mrs. Warren Mower was the former Louisa Jane Gilmore born in Leeds, Maine, in 1820. Was she a relative, perhaps? Evelina’s eldest brother, John Gilmore, lived in Leeds, having moved there from Easton in the 1840s.  What was the connection? Whether or not they were related, Evelina and Louisa were clearly friends who corresponded regularly.