May 21, 1852




Friday May 21st  Mrs Patterson came to help clean house

to day and has done very well.  We have

cleaned the boys chamber and put down the

carpet & the store room,  all […] that is necces-

sary for painting the dining room.  have put

some clean paper on part of the dining room.

Have not changed my dress to day and have not

had a chance to sit scarcely a moment.  Have a

trellis from Lucius Clapp

“[T]his was a fair day neither verry cold or warm,” recorded Old Oliver in his journal; he was beginning to look for rain for his crops, as the spring was turning dry.

Evelina probably paid less attention to the weather than her father-in-law, because she was focused on the ritual spring cleaning. She hired extra help in the form of Mrs. Patterson, who may have been Mary Patterson, the forty-ish wife of Thomas Patterson, a farmer in Bridgewater.

Whoever she was, Mrs. Patterson proved a boon to Evelina. The two women were busy all day cleaning, washing the floors, putting down carpet, and putting up new wallpaper. Evelina never changed out of her work dress, as would have been customary in the afternoon, and barely sat down. Meanwhile, the regular servant, Jane McHanna was preparing the meals and tending to the ordinary chores of the house.

The trellis that Evelina and Oakes ordered from Lucius Clapp arrived today, and was most likely placed, free-standing, somewhere in the yard. It could well have been a centerpiece for Evelina’s flower garden.

*Illustration from “Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings,” 1863, published in Charles Dickens’ periodical, All the Year Round

May 16, 1852



Sunday 16th May Mr Whitwell preached a funeral sermon

and very good  At noon mother Henrietta

and self spent at Mr Whitwells  After meeting

Mr Ames Susan & I rode to Mr Clapps made

quite a long call  he has but a very few 

flowers in blossom, pansys were very pretty

Have engaged a trellis of him

The last formal recognition of the death of fourteen year old George Witherell took place in the Unitarian church this Sunday when the minister “preached a funeral sermon.”  Different from the ritual text that probably defined the graveside service just three days earlier, the sermon was presumably a collection of thoughts about death in general and the death of the young man in particular.  Reverend Whitwell knew the family well and, being an articulate and thoughtful wordsmith, must have offered the family some personal comfort and consolation.

Evelina appeared to be recovering her strength. With her husband and daughter, she rode to Stoughton after church to visit Lucius Clapp, where they made “quite a long call.” Evelina discussed flowers and a trellis. Was this trellis ordered in place of the one at the front door that was being built only ten days earlier?  Or was this a new trellis entirely, designed perhaps for the garden?  Was this the year of the trellis?

One imagines that Oakes Ames offered less direction about the trellis than his wife.  What he might have preferred to discuss with Lucius Clapp was their shared interest in the Whig party, or their mutual respect for temperance.  According to one nineteenth century historian, Mr. Clapp was a “kind-hearted”* man with a “modest and retiring nature.”* His politics were informed and liberal:

Formerly a Whig, Mr. Clapp has been identified with the most progressive political creeds. He was one of the original Free Soilers, and chairman of the first Free-Soil meeting held in Stoughton. Since its organization he has supported the Republican party. He has been [a] member of school committees several years, and selectman of Stoughton seven years, and now (1883) holds that position. He has always been pronounced in advocacy of temperance, and has been connected with every movement for the betterment and advancement of his native town. He is an attendant and supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church.”*

Mr. Clapp and Mr. Ames would have had much to talk over.


*D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, 1884, pp. 424-425

May 6, 1852


Queen of the Prairie

1852 May

Thursday 6th Worked in the garden a short time and

about nine went to the shovel shops with Hannah

and her sister  They spent the afternoon here and

Augusta.  Edwin came to tea  Mr Brown,

Olivers room mate, came to night.  We ladies rode

to Mr Clapps, bought Queen of the Prairie for 37 cts

Warm sunshine sent Evelina outdoors for much of the day. She gardened after breakfast, then broke away at nine a.m. to go over to the shovel shops with her niece, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, and Hannah’s sister, Sarah Lincoln. What were the ladies doing at the factory? Evelina wouldn’t have gone there on her own volition.

The Lincoln sisters, originally from Hingham, spent much of the day with Evelina.  They were joined by Augusta Pool Gilmore, whose husband Edwin Williams Gilmore later came to tea. “We ladies” traveled to the home of Lucius Clapp, another fine gardener with plants to sell, where Evelina purchased a Filipendula rubra, or Queen of the Prairie. Clapp was a well-respected citizen of Stoughton, described by a contemporary historian as “one of the representative farmers of this progressive age.” *

Oliver (3), meanwhile, was briefly home from Brown University.  His roommate, a Mr. Brown, came to North Easton for a visit. It was a full table at tea time.

D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, pp. 424-425


April 5, 1852




April 5th Monday  Went into the garden this morning and

found my tulips were coming up through the coal

scraped it off and set out a few that I got in

Olivers garden.  Went with Orinthia to Edwin

Manlys garden about three Oclock. he had gone

to Mr Clapps.  We rode there and met him on

the way stoped awhile and had a chat on plants

in general  The school commenced this morning

by Mr Brown & C Clark

Tulips! How welcome was the sight of the curl of green shoots “coming up through the coal.”

Forget the laundry.  Never mind the sweeping and dusting. Someone else could do the breakfast dishes. Without so much as a glance at her sewing workbox or the pile of mending, Evelina was in her garden.

She scraped the coal covering away and “set out a few” more plants. After midday dinner, she and Orinthia headed to Edwin Manley’s nursery north of the village only to find that Mr. Manley had himself headed out to look at plants at the home of Lucius Clapp in Stoughton. The two women rode on and finally came across Mr. Manly en route. With carriage and on horseback, the three avid gardeners paused in the roadway and “had a chat about plants.” Spring had truly begun.

May 15, 1851


Ames Long Pond

May 15

Thursday  I was intending to go to Boston with Mrs S Ames

this morning but she has the ague in her face

which prevented and lucky for me that I did

not go for about twelve Oclock Lavinia, Ann Pool,

and Francis, came and this afternoon Abby.  We all

rode to Edwins and Mr Clapps garden and to the ponds

Jane cleaned the […] buttery, and I was working

in the chambers when they came


Sarah Ames was sick once again, this time with what was probably a head cold, so a planned outing to Boston was called off. Sarah had been quite ill for much of the spring; perhaps she hadn’t given herself enough time to recover and was now suffering a relapse.

Normally, Evelina would have been disappointed to miss a trip to Boston, especially as she still needed to buy a bonnet, but a visit from a set of young relatives made for a happy alternative.  Her nieces Lavinia Gilmore and Abby Torrey, nephew Francis Gilmore, and a young friend of theirs, Ann Pool, arrived and rescued her from choring. With Francis holding the reins, presumably, the group rode north toward Stoughton, where they stopped at two farms to look at garden plants, one farm belonging to Edwin Manley, the other to Lucius Clapp.

They also rode by the ponds, including Ames Long Pond, which sits on the boundary between Easton and Stoughton. Most likely they also rode by Flyaway Pond which had been created only six years earlier, in 1845, to supply more water power from the Queset River to the shovel factory. Queset, according to historian Ed Hands, was “the most heavily used of all the drainage systems” in the watersheds of Easton.*  The shovel business would never have started in Easton had it not been for the Queset (Brook) River; O. Ames & Sons absolutely relied on it for decades.

Flyaway Pond is no longer configured the way Evelina and her companions would have seen it during their pleasant afternoon ride. It collapsed during a huge flood in March, 1968, wreaking havoc and causing considerable property damage.   As Hands points out, that 20th century flood washed away an important symbol of the Ames period in Easton, that of the control of the Queset River for commercial purposes.  Evelina couldn’t imagine that future for Flyaway Pond, of course; she could only enjoy riding past it and Ames Long Pond – and others, perhaps? –  in the spring air.

*Edmund C. Hands, Easton’s Neighborhoods, 1995