July 30, 1852

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July 30th  Friday  Came home from Dr Wales at half

past four and slept untill half past

eight left her quite comfortable

Have cut out another sack night dress

and Susan a waist  Alson & Lavinia Edwin

and wife were here to tea  Mr & Mrs Kinsley

called just at night for a few moments.  We

all went into the other part of the house for

ice cream this evening   Horatio here to dine

When Evelina came home at 4:30 in the morning, was the moon still up? Did she realize that this night would offer the second full moon of the month, familiarly known as a blue moon? She would be able to see it, too, as the skies were clear.

We use the term blue moon to identify a second full moon within a calendar month.  An earlier definition – one that may have been in effect when Evelina could gaze at the night sky – was that of being the third full moon within a season that has four full moons. So say various almanacs. Tracking the lunar cycle to define the passage of time has gone on as far back as human history can record. The Christian ecclesiastical calendar, for one, is built around moon phases. According to one modern source,

Some years have an extra full moon—13 instead of 12. Since the identity of the moons was important in the ecclesiastical calendar (the Paschal Moon, for example, used to be crucial for determining the date of Easter), a year with a 13th moon skewed the calendar, since there were names for only 12 moons. By identifying the extra, 13th moon as a blue moon, the ecclesiastical calendar was able to stay on track.”*

The terrestrial events of Evelina’s day included sewing (of course), her nephew Horatio Jr as a guest at lunch, company for tea and, as a special treat at the end of the day, ice cream. Despite her lack of sleep, a pleasant day overall.

*Courtesy of http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bluemoon (accessed July 26, 2015)

 

 

 

July 5, 1852

 

Motto_frederick_douglass_2

Frederick Douglass

(1818 – 1895)

1852 July 5th Monday  Orinthia & Lavinia went to Boston with

lots of others this morning  Orinthia is going to Maine 

on a visit  Mary came to sew or to see what she

can do. I have been sewing some to day and hope 

now that I shall be able to [do] more than I have

Have finished my brown muslin.  Augusta

has been here in this afternoon and this evening

we have been to see the fire works at Mr Russels

The nation was 76 years old. The Fourth of July having fallen on a Sunday, however, the celebration of it was deferred to Monday. Thus Evelina and Oakes and, no doubt, their sons and daughter went to Mr. Russell’s tonight to watch some fireworks. Others traveled into Boston, perhaps to see the fireworks there.

Mr. Russell may have been Edwin Russell, a shoemaker. The Ameses knew the family, certainly, as all three sons had attended a funeral back in January for Edwin’s father, Frank. If it was Edwin who hosted the fireworks, his may not have been as elaborate as those that would be seen in Boston, but he was following a tradition established by John Adams at the very beginning of the republic.

In a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, on July 3, 1776, John Adams described his grand vision for a commemoration of the nation’s birthday.  It was to be celebrated “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of the Continent to the Other from this Time forward forever more.” His vision was realized by 1777 when both Philadelphia and Boston – and other cities or towns, perhaps – set off Fourth of July Fireworks. A tradition was born.

Not everyone celebrated the nation’s birthday, however, as Frederick Douglass, probably the country’s most prominent African-American, pointed out on this date* in a speech now famously known as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”  He said:

“I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.  The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.  The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine.  You may rejoice, I must mourn.”**

Douglass eloquently  described the fissure between white lives and black, yet he did “not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery…” ** He rightly predicted its elimination, but even he could not have predicted the carnage and destruction that the end of slavery would cost.

Frederick Douglass, “What, to the Slave, is your Fourth of July?,” various dates cited for this speech: July 5, 1852 or 1854.

 

July 4, 1852

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July 4 Sunday  Have been to meeting  Orinthia & Lavinia

came home with us at noon  Orinthia had a 

toothache and did not return in the afternoon

Since meeting Alson & wife came up and brought Lavinia

for her to go to Boston tomorrow  Mr Ames called with Orinthia

and self to see the rock they are splitting for the shop and we all

walked down to see the new shop  Mr Clark of Norton preached two

excellent sermons  Oakes A & Helen went to E. Bridgewater

Oakes Ames “came home from N. York”* today, having been there on shovel business; he was the company salesman. After church was over he, Evelina, and her friend, Orinthia Foss, walked down to the shovel shop to see the progress on the new stone building, the Long Shop. They checked out rock that was being split.

“[T]his was a fair cool day wind south west and a drying day…” according to Old Oliver.  It was probably perfect for haying, but it was Sunday, so no one went out to the fields. It was also the Fourth of July, but again, being Sunday, the celebration was postponed.  Fireworks would be held the next day.

Modern historian Jack Larkin describes the importance of the Fourth of July in the American calendar:

“Despite its notably awkward timing for a nation so agricultural – it came in the midst of haying in the North, corn and cotton cultivation elsewhere – Americans made the Fourth their most universal holiday. In ‘fifty thousand cities, towns, villages and hamlets, spread over the surface of America’ citizens observed rituals that varied little, firing cannons, watching parades of prominent citizens and listening to endless orations in town commons and courthouse squares. Americans probably seized their national day with particular relish because it was the only sanctioned way of taking a break from the intensive labor of midsummer…”**

And just as we read yesterday of the beginning of a courtship between Frank Ames and Catharine Copeland, so today we readers may be privy to the genesis of yet another courtship.Evelina writes that Oakes Angier Ames drove his cousin Helen Angier Ames to E. Bridgewater, but doesn’t say why. Perhaps Helen was visiting a friend from school who lived there: Catherine Hobart. This Catherine, too, was destined to become part of the family as Oakes Angier’s wife. Was this their first meeting?

 

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

**Jack Larkin,The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1988, p. 275

 

June 24, 1852

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Modern image of Mount Hope Cemetery, Boston

 

1852 Thursday

June 24th  Carried Mrs Patterson to Bridgewater.

Helen & Susan went with me. Dined at Mr

Burrells, Orinthias boarding place  got there about

twelve left there about two & went to Dr Washburns

He filed my eyetooth to make it even with the 

others  Went into the cemetery and in Orinthias school

a short time & home by Alsons stoped with Lavinia a 

few moments.  Alsons wife had gone to Boston

 

With her niece, Helen, and daughter, Susie, Evelina drove Mrs. Patterson to her home in Bridgewater. This was the last appearance of Mrs. Patterson in the diary, so we may assume that she didn’t work at the Ames residence any more this year. Most likely, she had been hired for spring-cleaning only, yet her brief tenure with the Ameses had a lasting impact. She was efficient enough to make Evelina dissatisfied or otherwise unhappy with the work of her regular servant, Jane McHanna, the result of which was the latter’s dismissal.

While in Bridgewater, Evelina accomplished various errands, the most pleasant of which was probably dinner at Orinthia’s “boarding place.”  The least pleasant had to be the appointment with Dr. Washburn, where the dentist filed down one of her canine teeth “to make it even with the others.”

Evelina went into the local cemetery, too, perhaps to visit a specific grave. Interesting to note that on this exact same day in the Boston area, another cemetery was receiving attention. In Roslindale, Mount Hope Cemetery – a new, rural-type graveyard in the mold of Mount Auburn – was dedicated.

On the way home, Evelina stopped at the family farm and had a quick chat with her niece Lavinia.

 

June 10, 1852

 FullSizeRenderOld view of Gilmore house near Foundry and Washington Streets*

June 10th Thursday  This morning worked a few moments

on my bonnet and about half past ten Mr &

Mrs Orr Mr Ames & self went to Alsons to

spend the day  Mr Ames Orr & Alson rode

to W Bridgewater after noon  Mother is most 

sick with a cold  Called at Mr Copelands

to get Susans hat & Lavinia mended it where

it was burned

The Orrs of Boston continued their visit with Evelina and Oakes. The rain showers – too brief to satisfy area farmers – receded and the sunshine returned, along with wind that was “strong and verry dusty.”** The Ameses and the Orrs took to the road, traveling a few miles south to spend the day with Evelina’s mother at the Gilmore farm.

After midday dinner with the Gilmores, Oakes Ames, Robert Orr and Alson Gilmore rode east to West Bridgewater. What was their business? Evelina and Melinda stayed behind with elderly Mrs. Gilmore who was poorly. Evelina managed to go over to the Copelands to pick up a hat she had left there for Susan, which Lavinia proceeded to mend for her little cousin.

Old Oliver, meanwhile, was looking ahead to bringing in the hay, assuming it hadn’t been ruined by the lack of rain.  He “bought a yoke of cattle from Howard Lothrop,”** the latter a well-known man in Easton who, according to a 19th c. history of Plymouth County, “styled himself a farmer, yet did much business of a partially legal character [..] for which work his superior business qualities and excellent judgment especially fitted him.” The Honorable Mr. Lothrop was also a former town clerk, state senator, member of the Governor’s Council, and father of Sarah Lothrop Ames. Between the two strong men, seller Howard and buyer Oliver, who got the best deal?

*Image from Howard Gilmore Papers, Courtesy of Easton Historical Society

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

***usgwarchives.org

May 22, 1852

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Infant wear from Godey’s Lady’s Magazine, 1851

Sat May 22d

1852  Mrs Paterson here again to day and has cleaned 

Susans chamber, windows & doors in Franks and

taken up the carpet and cleaned the front

chamber except the floor  Lavinia & Orinthia

came about eleven,  Edwin & Augusta here to tea

and went home with Lavinia  Mrs McHanna stood

godmother for McCabes child

 

Spring cleaning continued.  Mrs. Patterson returned to help Evelina clean, and the two women worked hard. Windows, doors, carpets and more were scrubbed, wiped or beaten, as appropriate.

Jane McHanna, the Ames’s regular servant, must have had time off today. She attended a baptism, presumably at the little Catholic church on Pond Street, to act as a godmother for a child of the McCabes. About this time, there was an Irish family in Easton, Bernard and Hannah McCabe, who had young children. Perhaps Jane became a godmother for three-year old William McCabe or, more likely, a younger sibling. There were several McCabe families in Bristol and Plymouth counties at this time, however, so we can’t be certain who this young child was.

The baptism or christening of infants was an important rite for both Catholics and Protestants. They had different approaches, certainly, but the intent was the same: to bless a child and erase its original sin. Unitarians differed from the Catholics and Calvinist-based Puritanism on this latter issue, as Unitarians didn’t accept the notion that children were born depraved. It was a critical doctrinal point. Jane McHanna would have accepted the more traditional view, and probably considered it an honor to have been selected as godmother.

May 1, 1852

Wreath

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.

 

 

March 31, 1852

Thread

1852

March 31st Wednesday  Have been to the sewing circle

at Mr Harrison Pools.  Mrs S Ames & Augusta

went and we took Orinthia with us from Mrs Howard

Mother Henrietta Lavinia Rachel Mrs Nahum & Horace Pool

& Ann Pool were there   It rained very fast as we were

coming home  I left two shirts to be made that I

put in the circle last fall

The Sewing Circle was back.  Female parishioners from the Unitarian Church had begun once again to meet on a monthly basis to sew. Like other sewing circles around the country, they met for fellowship, guidance from the local clergy, and the sewing of clothes and linens for one another or others. They hadn’t met – officially, anyway – since December.

On this weekday the group met at the home of Mary and Harrison Pool in southeastern Easton. From North Easton came Evelina, Sarah Lothrop Ames, and Augusta Pool Gilmore, the young bride who was returning to the area of town where she had grown up. The women stopped en route at Nancy and Elijah Howard’s to pick up Orinthia Foss. Hostess Mary Pool, who had three young children underfoot, welcomed them. Others who attended included Evelina’s mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore; Henrietta Williams Gilmore, Lavinia Gilmore, Rachel Gilmore Pool, Lidia Pool, Abby Pool and Ann Pool. It was a veritable family reunion.  Except for Orinthia Foss, every women present was related by blood or marriage to at least one other woman there.

Such a gathering must have been good amusement, with less formality than the social calls that some of the women had paid the day before. But spirits may have been dampened by the “very fast” rain that pummeled the carriages when the meeting ended and the women returned home.

March 6, 1852

Whitewash

1852

March 6th Saturday  Mr Scott whitewashed the parlour

& sitting room chamber this morning and I

varnished the front entry oil cloth.  Lavinia

came at eleven and Augusta this afternoon

Alson came after Lavinia and stopt to tea

Charles Pool came up and carried Edwin

and Augusta home to stay till Monday

I have been to work on a stiched pink apron

for Susan

A full moon shone down on North Easton this night, highlighting the charred ruins of the shovel factory.  Before it rose, however, Old Oliver took the opportunity of “a fair day”* to travel to Bridgewater, quite probably on shovel business.  He and his sons were developing plans to rebuild the factory, and some help for that would be found in Bridgewater.

Evelina’s way of coping after the devastating fire appears to have been to keep the domestic front moving smoothly. Redecorating continued, social calls were made and enjoyed, and sewing continued without a blink of an eye. Daughter Susan would soon have a new pink apron.

Years later, Evelina and Oakes’s grandson, Winthrop Ames, would credit his grandmother and other Ames wives with exerting a positive influence on his male ancestors. “They made the homes, reared the many children, saved their husbands’ money, encouraged their undertakings, and steadied them in failure and misfortune,”** he said. Evelina’s evident steadiness during this challenging period is one such instance of positive influence. Oakes Ames had come home from the fire “more cheerful” than Evelina had expected; she seems to have behaved with equal optimism. Though naturally sanguine, Oakes’ bright outlook and ability to cope in the aftermath must also have been bolstered by his wife’s unflappable focus on home and (redecorated) hearth. Together, they maintained continuity.

Charles Pool, Augusta’s eldest brother, drove up from southeastern Easton today and fetched his sister and her husband, Edwin Williams Gilmore, “home to stay” for a few days. Perhaps this visit had been prearranged, or perhaps it was an effort by the young couple to get out of the way of remnant smoke and disruption from the fire.

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

**Winthrop Ames, The Ames Family of North Easton, Massachusetts, 1937, p. vi.

 

 

March 5, 1852

charred-wood-texture_61-1902

Charred Wood

1852

March 5th Friday  Have been mending pants most all

day that were worn at the fire  Lavinia

went to Augustus’ this forenoon and Augusta

went this afternoon.  Mr Scott & Holbrook have 

finished painting the entry and chamber

got through about four Oclock.  I was in

Olivers about an hour this afternoon.  This 

evening received another letter from Harriet Ames

 

The women of Easton had work to do, too, in recovering from the factory fire.  Surely Evelina wasn’t the only housewife in North Easton who had to repair or clean clothes worn by their husbands, brothers or sons the night of March 2. Needles were out and laps were full as women all over town tended to the rips, tears and soot. Conversation probably centered on the fire as they worked.

The day itself was cloudy and cold, the smell of the charred buildings dampened by a light snow that fell overnight. Yet the cleanup continued. As the men worked at the site, hauling timbers and shoveling up debris, their blackened soles left ashy footprints in the snow, footprints that quickly turned into grime. Many a man was made to wipe or remove his shoes before entering his house for midday dinner.

Evelina stayed focused on her domestic responsibilities. Mr. Scott and Mr. Holbrook were back on task in her parlor, painting and papering, and finished up at the end of the afternoon. Evelina spent some time next door with Sarah Lothrop Ames, and got a letter from cousin Harriet Ames, with whom she had been corresponding lately. And perhaps under her direction, her niece Lavinia and niece-in-law Augusta were looking after their sister-in-law, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, who was laid low with a mouth infection and a weaning baby. Fire or no fire, life was moving forward.