July 28, 1852

Sharps

Sharp’s Pistol, 1848-1850

 

July 28th, 1852

Wednesday Julia Mahoney has been here

to work to day on my travelling dress

but I have sewed but very little

Was about house all the forenoon 

making cake & pies &c &c  Mrs Ames &

Witherell have been to Dover  Horatio

Ames Jr came last night & I expected

him & father to dine but they went to

Olivers  Horatio went with Mr Ames

to Canton this afternoon & was here to tea

Horatio Ames Jr., a grandson of Old Oliver and nephew of Oakes, had come to the other part of the house for a short visit. By contemporary accounts, he was a troubled young man. The second child of Horatio and Sally Ames, he was born in Albany when his father was working there, but grew up in Connecticut.  In 1849 and 1850, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, but evidently left after just one year.

Early in 1853, Horatio Jr. was in Boston where he married Sophronia Eliot Hill of Salem. He worked as an iron monger at that time, but by 1858 was working as a clerk. On October 27, 1858, he killed himself.

What happened between his year in college and his suicide less than a decade later may pivot on the scandalous divorce of his parents, proceedings for which got underway late in 1852. His mother cited her husband’s multiple infidelities and harsh treatment to herself and her children. Horatio Jr. sided with his mother during and after the breakup. A 20th century account reports that Horatio Jr:

left home shortly after his parents’ divorce and so was out of touch with his father for some years. But he returned home in 1856 following his father’s remarriage. During an argument, he fired at his father in an attempt to kill him. Newspaper accounts of the incident, based on Horatio Sr.’s version of the events, depict him winning a heroic struggle for his life, but then magnanimously letting his son leave. Only after further warnings from his younger son, Gustavus, did Horatio finally have his son arrested. Horatio called his son ‘the worst hardened villain I have ever seen’, but then dropped the charges once Horatio Jnr. became contrite, begging forgiveness.*

The newspaper accounts on which this summation is based present only Horatio Sr.’s side of the story. We simply can’t know exactly what transpired between father and son, but we can know that the son eventually took his own life.  According to some 19th century records, Horatio Jr. is buried in Salem.

*John Mortimer, Zerah Colburn the Spirit of Darkness,2007

 

 

 

July 24, 1852

 

woman-holding-dead-baby-1850-us

Unknown woman holding dead child*

July 24 Sat  have been to work to day on

a number of things setting a stich here 

& there  Julia has been here to fix my

skirt and I believe my dress is done at

last  I have made a robe for Mrs

Shepherds child who died this morning

Abby Savage came after me to watch but

I am not well and did not go.  Rachel came 

to Edwins after Julia & called here and I went

in there an hour or two

 

Dressmaker Julia Mahoney was at Evelina’s finishing up the barege dress that had taken so long to make. The traveling dress was put to one side, as Evelina was called upon to sew a shroud for a two-year old boy who had died just a few hours earlier. John T. Shepherd was the only child of a young shoemaker named John and his even younger wife, Elvira. The toddler was the first youngster that we hear of to die during the hot summer. Unfortunately, there would be others.

Hannah Savage, right in the neighborhood, was ill with consumption and would never get better. Her daughter Abby Savage “came after” Evelina to help keep vigil in the night, but Evelina didn’t feel up to the task. She felt well enough, however, to receive a call from her niece Rachel Gilmore Pool and to visit Edwin and Augusta Pool Gilmore across the street.

Old Oliver sounded another concern about the lack of rain: “it is extreemly dry now.”**

 

*Daguerrotype, 1850

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

July 23, 1852

il_570xN.416155936_i0fm

19th century tailor’s shears*

July 23d  Friday  Have cut the skirt & sleeves

& cape to my traveling dress and 

have set Mary to work on the skirt

and I have taken the sleeves

Mrs Stevens has sent me the lining

but not the trimming  Julia Mahoney

is at work at Olivers  Mr Torrey

and Abby called this morning

Evelina was back in good humor today. The thermometer was going down and she had a new project to work on. Shears in hand, she cut out the pieces for her new traveling dress, and probably the lining, too. Designed with a cape to fit over the shoulders, it would be a very fashionable outfit. She didn’t yet have the trimming she needed, and the dress would take longer to sew than she wished, but it would be finished in time for a trip she didn’t even know she would have to make.

Col. John Torrey, the widower of Evelina’s late sister Hannah, came to call.  As we have noted in earlier posts, Mr. Torrey lived in the village of North Easton in a building – a boarding house of sorts – whose spare rooms he rented out. Through Rev. William Chaffin’s history of the town, we learn that Mr. Torrey was a controversial character. Listed as a trader in the town census, and a one-time colonel of the local militia, he was considered laughable by some. Another local character, an erudite shovel-worker named James Adams, wrote a mock-heroic poem about him, the “derisive and scathing”* verses of which are lost. Yet Evelina appeared to enjoy her brother-in-law’s company and brand of humor, and she was devoted to his daughters Abby and Melvina.

*William Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, pp. 764-765

 

 

*Image courtesy of etsy.com

July 22, 1852

Fly

July 22 Thursday.  this has been a hot uncomfortable

day and the flies are quite too plenty

dead ones laying on the floor in any

quantity.  Hannah is not neat at all

and does not keep the house in any order

Julia has got my skirt to the borage so

much one side that it will have to be taken

of[f]. She says she will come Saturday and do it

 

Oh, dear. Today was “allso a verry warm day verry much like yesterday.” * Evelina appears to have been affected by the “uncomfortable” heat. She had nothing agreeable to report. Her maid was sloppy, her dressmaker was inept, and there were dead flies all around the house. Probably not even her flower garden offered solace.

As for the flies, we modern readers must remember that window screens were in their infancy, so that when Evelina and other housewives pulled up the window sashes in their homes to try to cool the air inside, they let in flies and other bugs “in any quantity.”

Flypaper hadn’t been invented yet, either, but it would come along in another decade when a baker in the small town of Waiblingen, Germany, fed up with the flies that landed on his cakes and tortes, had the idea to coat a strip of paper with molasses and hang it in his window. The flies went for it, so to speak, and a universal aggravation was successfully addressed. Customers began to want the strips of flypaper even more than the baked goods, so much so that the baker eventually gave up baking and took up the manufacturing of his product. (He would soon replace the molasses with arsenic, but that’s another story.)

The German baker’s invention, unfortunately, came too late to help the disgruntled Evelina or the hapless Hannah on this warm, warm day in Easton.

 

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

July 21, 1852

Thermometer

July 21st Wednesday  Have been at work on my

borage dress  what time I have sewed

The weather is very hot and I can

work but little  Julia & Elizabeth Pool

are at Edwins having some dresses

made by Julia Mahoney  I called 

to see them carried my work and

stoped awhile  Have been to see

Augustus this evening he is quite feverish

 

“This was a verry warm day and the most scorching sun I ever felt […] it was warm all day and the night following verry,” reported Evelina’s father-in-law, Old Oliver Ames. She, herself, was enervated by the heat; she could “work but little.”  She was alone, too, as Julia Mahoney, her usual dressmaker, was across the street at Edwin and Augusta Pool’s. Augusta had two sisters visiting who were having dresses made. Evelina walked over to join them for a time.

Alson Augustus Gilmore,Evelina’s nephew, was having no fun. He had a fever and in the heat must have felt as if he had landed in Hades. He was indoors, presumably, out of the direct sun at least. Old Oliver and his field hands, on the other hand, may have been outdoors haying in the blasting sunlight, the heat rising in waves around them. We can imagine that they stayed hydrated by drinking water ladled from buckets or a nearby well.  No thermoses or bottled Dasani or Fuji or Poland Spring water for them.

July 14, 1852

1852

P1070606-X2

High water (flood level) mark in canal in Lowell, Massachusetts

 

Wedns July 14th  Julia came again this morning

but we have not got along very fast

on my dress  Have no trimming for the

sleeves have written for Mrs Stevens to

get me some   There is a great deal to

do to finish my dress  Hannah & Mary 

have both been ironing all day and 

have it all done

Evelina was indoors, sewing a new dress with the help of dressmaker Julia Mahoney. Old Oliver was out haying, “jawing” orders at local men gathering up this year’s meager crop. Oakes Angier, Frank Morton and probably Oliver (3), now that he was home from college, were each posted in some area of the factory, making shovels alongside the workers. Oakes and Oliver Jr. were supervising, perhaps striding around the shovel complex watching the new building go up or sitting in the office looking at accounts.

If we modern readers want to find a day that typifies life in North Easton in the middle of the 19th century, we couldn’t do better than this ordinary summer day in 1852. In other years and in other places, July 14th has hosted more momentous events: the storming of the Bastille, the first ascent of the Matterhorn, the shooting of Billy the Kid, the day Jane Goodall arrived in Tanzania to study chimpanzees. Nonesuch in North Easton; according to Old Oliver’s record, July 14, 1852 was simply a “warm good hay”* day. Routine ruled.

This is not to say that history wasn’t happening. It was. Yet as Evelina noted, “we have not got along very fast,” a phrase that is applicable to so much of history. Change often quietly accumulates, transforming what we know in a stealthy fashion. Evelina’s hand-sewing, Old Oliver’s oxen-driven hay-wagons, Oakes’ and Oliver Jr.’s water-powered shovel machinery: all have since disappeared, replaced by modern equipment invented over time. The life that the Ameses lived was already altering, irrevocably, bit by bit.

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

 

 

July 13, 1852

Hay

 

1852

Tuesday July 13  Julia Mahoney came to work this

morning and cut the waist to my borage

dress and went home at noon.  Mr Ames

went to Canton and I begged the chance

to go with him & we called at Mr Kinsleys

Saw the ladies of the family & two Mr Peabodys

of Boston  Called on Mrs Atherton

The first few days of this particular week were proving be “verry warm days. + pritty good hay days.”* Old Oliver had to be pleased.

After a morning of sewing a new barege dress with her dressmaker, Evelina “begged the chance” to ride east and north with her husband to Canton, where they visited Lyman and Louisa Kinsley. The Kinsleys, of course, were business associates but also friends, and they and their twenty-one year-old daughter, Lucy, happened to be entertaining visitors from Boston, “two Mr Peabodys.”

The Peabody brothers had called on the Kinsleys to be sociable, certainly, but one of them had a romantic motive. Francis Howard Peabody, also aged twenty-one, was courting Miss Lucy; the two would wed in 1854. They would have three children, a boy followed by two girls. Their little boy, Frank Everett Peabody, would become a founding member of a famous Boston brokerage firm, Kidder and Peabody.

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