October 5, 1851

Letter

Oct 5th Sunday  Mr Whitwell has gone to Philadelphia and

we have no meeting and Mr Ames self & Susan

staid at home  Oakes A & Charles Mitchell went

to N Bridgewater to meeting  Wm & Mr B Scott

came to the other part of the house this morning.

Mrs Latham & Aaron Hobart this afternoon.  I have

been writing most all day  Am not at all well

It has been a beautiful day.

Feeling as poorly as she did, Evelina was probably grateful not to attend church. Her rash was so irritating that she had trouble sitting still, yet lacked the vigor to move around much. Too, she had worked hard the day before putting up fruit preserves and may have felt tired from the effort. She wasn’t “at all well.”

Letter writing occupied her, and probably helped take her mind off her discomfort, just as playing with dolls had distracted little Susie when she was ill. Evelina often corresponded with several female friends and relatives, like Louisa Mower and Orinthia Foss in Maine, cousin Harriet Ames in Vermont and Pauline Dean, whose home address we don’t know. Which friends did she write to today?

Other family members were more active, despite the cancellation of the usual church service. Son Oakes Angier Ames rode over to North Bridgewater with Charles Mitchell (a younger brother-in-law of Harriett Ames Mitchell) to attend meeting there. Old Oliver and Sarah Ames Witherell, in the other part of the house, received several visitors, including Aaron Hobart.  Susan Orr was still visiting there, and may have been the draw for some of the new visitors.

March 16, 1851

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March 16th Sunday.  Went to meeting all day.  Oakes Angier

did not go. There were but a very few present

as it was very windy & cloudy commenced raining about

noon. Spent the intermission at Mr. Whitwells.

I liked both sermons, particularly in the afternoon.

Orinthia staid at home in the afternoon having

a bad cold This Evening wrote a letter to Louisa

J Mower & read the papers

Most of the Ames family attended church today. The crummy weather couldn’t keep them at at home, although it affected the travel of others in the congregation. Evelina continued to admire Reverend Whitwell and listened carefully to his sermons. She enjoyed the company of his wife Eliza, with whom she spent today’s intermission between services. Orinthia Foss, meanwhile, went back to the house at noon with a cold. Did she catch it yesterday when the ladies were out making calls?

After church on Sunday was usually a quiet time. The Ameses followed the old Puritan practice of not working on the Sabbath. Sewing was included in that stricture, meaning that Sunday was the one day Evelina gave her thimble a rest. She usually filled what we would call “down time” by writing letters or reading. On this afternoon, she wrote a letter to Louisa Mower in Maine, perhaps bringing Louisa up to date on Orinthia’s stay in Easton and her new teaching responsibilities.

As for reading, Evelina and Oakes either subscribed to or bought directly (in Boston) various periodicals and newspapers.  One of her favorites was Godey’s Ladys Magazine, a popular women’s monthly published in Philadelphia. If Evelina looked through the March issue today, in the section entitled “Editors Book Table,” she may have read notices for two books just published by George Putnam in New York. The first was The Wide, Wide World by Elizabeth Wetherell (pen name for Susan Warner), a Christian-themed novel that would be a big bestseller and a mainstay of 19th century fiction for decades. The short review described the book as “carefully and naturally written, manifesting in every page the anxiety of the author […] to inculcate profitable lessons in real life.” Both Evelina and her daughter would read it.

James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pathfinder was next in the list of new books and promised more adventure than The Wide, Wide World. Evelina never mentioned reading any of Cooper’s books but perhaps her sons, who also loved to read, enjoyed the Leather Stocking Tales.

February 23, 1851

Map of Maine, 1850

Map of Maine, 1850

1851

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.