September 7, 1852


Tuesday Sept 7th

1852  I have not sewed much again to day

I was at work on pickles  swept the parlour

washed the windows &c &c and did not sit down

to work untill after dinner.  This afternoon 

Mrs Seba Howard  Miss M J Alger called

& Abby passed the afternoon.  We called 

to see Augusta.  Julia Pool is there taking

care of her she is not able to sit up much


“Pickles are very indigestible things, and ought rarely to be eaten,”* declared Sarah Josepha Hale, editor** of Godey’s Lady’s Book, and author of many poems, novels, cookbooks, and household guides. Respectful as Mrs. Hale invariably was of women’s domestic virtues and products, she clearly had no love for pickles, a kitchen staple. Their only value “in cookery,” according to her, was the flavor they added to vinegar.

Evelina and most other housewives and cookbook writers disagreed with Mrs. Hale. Pickles were standard fare, and this time of year many a housewife in many a kitchen was busy turning a cucumber harvest into pickles for the winter ahead. Lydia Maria Child, another popular 19th century writer, offered a detailed recipe in The American Frugal Housewife:

Cucumbers should be in weak brine three or four days after they are picked; then they should be put in a tin or wooden pail of clean water, and kept slightly warm in the kitchen corner for two or three days.  Then take as much vinegar as you think your pickle jar will hold’; scald it with pepper, allspice, mustard-seed, flag-root, horseradish, &c., if you happen to have them; half of them will spice the pickles very well.  Throw in a bit of alum [ammonium aluminum sulfate] as big as a walnut; this serves to make pickles hard. Skim the vinegar clean, and pour it scalding hot upon the cucumbers. ***

The last step in the process was to store the pickles in glass jars. as opposed to ceramic containers. Most 19th century pantries and cellars held tall, slightly blue or green glass pickle jars on their shelves. So it was at the Ames’s.

After the morning’s work and midday dinner, Evelina welcomed Eleutheria Howard, Miss Alger and niece Abby Torrey into the parlor. How strong the smell of pickles in the house must have been! The ladies then left to call on poor Augusta Pool Gilmore, who was still ailing from an intestinal disorder. Her sister Julia was staying with her.


*Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Househkeeper, 1841, p. 71

**Mrs. Hale actually preferred the term “editoress.”

***Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife,” pp. 61-62

July 21, 1852


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.

March 16, 1852


Defensive breastworks dug by Army Corps of Engineers outside of Petersburg, Virginia during the Civil War – probably using Ames shovels

March 16th

1852 Tuesday  Sewed on my waist very quietly

with Amelia this forenoon and this afternoon

have been into Edwins  Julia Pool came

there & tomorrow is going into Boston  Mrs S

Ames was there and this evening Mrs Witherell

Amelia is in fine spirits and am having

a very pleasant visit from her.

A quiet day was this, and “not verry cold.”*  Evelina and her sister-in-law, Amelia Gilmore, sat and sewed for hours and visited with Augusta Pool Gilmore, Sarah Lothrop Ames and Sarah Ames Witherell.  The reconstruction of the shovel shops continued.

Although Evelina was unlikely to have known it, today happened to be the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Army Corps of Engineers. Officially organized  by President Thomas Jefferson on this date in 1802, the Corps was headquartered at West Point, where it established and led the military academy until after the Civil War. For many years, West Point was the major engineering school in the country.

In addition to its oversight of West Point, the Corps was tasked for much of the 19th century with exploration of America’s vast lands and waterways. As the country moved westward, the Corps surveyed road and canal routes.  During the Civil War, it built bridges, railways, forts, batteries and roads – often using Ames shovels.

In 1852, in particular, the Corps was focused on waterways.  In Detroit, one group of engineers conducted and published a survey of the Great Lakes. In Utah, an engineer named Lieutenant James W. Gunnison, for whom the Gunnison River is named, explored the Salt Lake area and spent time with the Mormons. He published a report entitled, “The Mormons or Latter-Day Saints, in the Valley of The Great Salt Lake. A History of their Rise and Progress, Peculiar Doctrines, Present Condition, and Prospects, Derived from Personal Observation During a Residence Among Them.”

A year later, Gunnison and several members of his team would be massacred by Indians from the Pahvant Ute tribe.  Gunnison’s widow, Martha, always believed that the Mormons were the actual perpetrators. The Army Corps of Engineers kept right on going, continuing its work and eventually expanding its original mission to include flood control, dam construction, and environmental cleanup.


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

January 24, 1852





Jan 24th  Saturday   Worked all the forenoon mending

Olivers overcoat & pants. Have finished my worsted

hood in Olivers this afternoon.  Julia Pool

Augusta & Edwin were there to tea. Mr Ames

has been to Boston & has brought home Oliver a

gold watch  Fred & Oliver have fine time and 

are wide awake  They sleep together.  Fred came 

in here tonight.

Evelina must have written this entry at night, perhaps in her bedroom where she could hear her son Oliver (3) and nephew Fred Ames conversing and laughing elsewhere in the house.  The first cousins, college men both, enjoyed one another’s company and were spending the night together. Up to now, they were the only family members in recent memory to go to university and must have had some stories to compare.

The fond regard that Oliver (3) and Fred held for one another would last throughout their lives, although it would be sorely tested on occasion. As grown men caught up in the high stakes of the railroad business, they found themselves holding opposing views more than once.  And after the sudden death of Oakes Ames and the attendant financial woes that followed, Oliver (3) defended his father’s legacy, while Fred supported his own father’s efforts to recoup funds that Oliver, Jr. believed were his.  In other words, Oliver (3) and Fred faced off over money. Yet they moved in similar circles, invested in similar capitalist ventures and, in 1893, when Fred himself died quite suddenly, Oliver (3) grieved, “completely broken down by [the] sad news.”*

Those difficult times lay ahead, but on this day, Oliver (3) had something to celebrate.  His father, Oakes, had given him a gold watch, perhaps in honor of his 21st birthday, which was right around the corner. Perhaps, too, Oakes was honoring his middle son for his successful studies at Brown University, studies that Oakes had initially resisted. The watch was certainly a sign that Oakes was proud.

*Oliver Ames Third, Diary, September 13, 1893, Collection of Stonehill College Archives



January 22, 1852




Jan 22  Thursday  Have been cutting some apples & chopping

meat for mince pies, have it ready for baking

was about it all the forenoon, boiled tripe

This afternoon have been quilting the lining

for my hood. Julia Pool & Augusta spent the

afternoon. Augusta went home to get tea for Edwin &

in the evening they both came in and staid until

nearly ten Oclock. Mrs S Ames was here about an hour

Evelina was the recipient of the tripe from the two oxen that Old Oliver had butchered a few days earlier. Tripe is the stomach.

Lydia Maria Child offered advice on its preparation: “Tripe should be kept in cold water, or it will become too dry for cooking. The water in which it is kept should be changed more or less frequently, according to the warmth of the weather. Broiled like a steak, buttered, peppered, &c., some people like it prepared like souse.”*

Souse, also known as head-cheese, is a terrine made with meat from the head of a cow, calf or pig, often pickled, and set in a meat jelly or aspic. Mrs. Child was suggesting that the tripe be served in aspic, which Evelina might have done once she boiled it.  It’s not a dish one sees anymore on the American dinner table.

Out of the kitchen, Evelina welcomed visitors from the Pool family. The bride, Augusta Pool Gilmore, and her sister, Julia Pool, spent the afternoon at the Ames house and in the evening, the newlyweds themselves visited until ten o’clock.


Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife, p. 38