May 27, 1852



Stoneware or “earthen” jar 

1852 Thursday May 27th  We have cleaned the buttery

to day and we have had a hard job of it.

I have scalded my preserves have several 

lbs of citron & some quince & peach and

this afternoon have given my chamber a

thorough sweeping and washed the paint where

needed.  Have set out some plants from the

house.  Mr Ames went to Canton

The buttery or pantry area off the cook room got cleaned today, and the cleaning wasn’t easy. The women surely had to contend with hardened spills, grease residue and hidden dust pockets. They also would have had to move every bottle, jar, bowl, plate and pan out of the way in order to properly clean the shelves.

In the midst of this domestic upheaval, the women inspected the store of preserves and found that “several lbs of citron & some quince & peach” hadn’t kept well. They were beginning to ferment. To be saved, they needed to be scalded.

Lydia Maria Child, a multi-talented and rather opinionated author, wrote about “Preserves &c” in her classic household guide, The American Frugal Housewife.*  To begin with, she disapproved of preserves, noting that “[e]conomical people will seldom use” them.  “Let those who love to be invalids drink strong green tea, eat pickles, preserves and rich pastry,” she scolded.

But while preserves (and jam and jelly) were expensive and unhealthy, Mrs. Child knew that housewives would persevere in making and serving them.  Preserving fruit with sugar was a practical way to extend the life of a favorite fruit after the crop had ended and to do it in a way that gratified the common human sweet tooth. Resigned to popular preference, she included instructions for dealing with preserves that were going bad:

“When you put preserves in jars, lay a white paper, thoroughly wet with brandy, flat upon the surface of the preserves, and cover them carefully from the air.  If they begin to mould, scald them by setting them in the oven till boiling hot.  Glass is much better than earthen for preserves; they are not half as apt to ferment.”* Evelina evidently disagreed with Mrs. Child about the value of preserves, but no doubt she followed a proper procedure for bringing the preserves back from the bad side of the pantry.


*Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife, 1829, p. 59

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

November 27, 1851



Nov 27  Thanksgiving day we have passed in the other

part of the house.  Our sons & Helen went this evening

to a ball in Canton  Father Mrs Witherell Mr Ames &

self had a game of cards.  Mr & Mrs H Lothrop

A[u]gustus & wife Cyrus & Sarah Lothrop

spent the day at Olivers

In 1844, Lydia Maria Child, a Massachusetts mother, author and abolitionist, published the original six verses of a poem about Thanksgiving. The poem was put to music, and verses were added or modified over time. We know it, and everyone sitting around the Ames’s dinner table would have known it:


The New-England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day
Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

– Lydia Maria Child


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

October 3, 1851


Mint and sage from the garden

Oct 3d Friday  Quilted most of the forenoon with Ellen

this afternoon have sewed some on my dresses

and paired some peaches that I had of Mr

Clarke and laid them down in sugar.  Cut

my sage and mint  Ellen has finished the

quilt and has it bound and the sitting

room in order  She will leave in the 

morning has been here nearly eight weeks

Putting the garden to bed continued to be one of Evelina’s chief occupations; today she cut her “sage and mint” and hung them somewhere to dry. The aroma of the newly cut herbs would have sweetened the air in the house. She also sewed, of course, and was pleased that the new quilt was finished. Ellen the servant bound the piece today, tidied up the sitting room and put away the quilt frame. Whose bed was that quilt to go on? Evelina never indicated for whom she was making it.

After midday dinner, Evelina moved to the kitchen for an afternoon of preserving fruit. She “paired” some peaches and then “laid them down in sugar.” She wasn’t kidding about the sugar if she used the proportions suggested in the various cooking books of the day. According to Lydia Maria Child, author of The American Frugal Housewife, “A pound of sugar to a pound of fruit is the rule for all preserves. The sugar should be melted over a fire moderate enough not to scorch it. When melted, it should be skimmed clean, and the fruit dropped in to simmer till it is soft.” The peaches would have been stored in stoneware or glass jars.

Ellen, a servant whose last name we never learned, was planning to leave in the morning.  She had joined the Ames household back the middle of August “to assist some about the house and help me sew.”  Given the absence of any complaints from Evelina, Ellen apparently had done her job well. Why she was leaving we don’t know, but servants often came and went as their personal circumstances – and the circumstances of their employers – changed. Evelina would hire someone new.








March 4, 1851


March 4th  Tuesday  This forenoon finished a shirt for O Angier

Have got some old accounts books from the office

for scrap Books  Have been looking over some old

papers for receipts &c  Sarah came to pass the 

afternoon with Jane  Dr Deans & wife & Mr &

Mrs Whitwell spent the afternoon & evening in the

other part of the house  I was there at tea.

Augustus was here to dine  Pleasant but quite windy

Scrapbooks were a popular phenomenon in the 1800’s, as they had been for some time before. Sometimes called friendship albums, scrapbooks were assembled by individuals, usually ladies.  The books contained personal items as varied as pressed flowers, favorite illustrations cut out of periodicals, sketches or poetry, or special pieces of correspondence.  They were creative keepsakes, the “Pinterest” of the day.

Evelina’s approach to scrapbooking was more pedestrian than imaginative or sentimental. Her scrap books were pasted primarily with “receipts”, or recipes, cut out from newspapers, predecessors to the recipe boxes or similar notebooks that today’s cook might keep handy on a kitchen shelf.  These recipes supplemented, if not surpassed, the cookbooks available on the market by women such as Lydia Maria Child, Catherine Beecher, Sarah Josepha Hale, and Mary Peabody Mann.  With the articles clipped from periodicals, cookbooks and other household guides, a housewife or homesteader had a variety of options to refer to when it came to preserving and preparing food.  Even Old Oliver was known to pay attention to receipts; he hand-copied one for brining beef into his personal journal.

Always thrifty, Evelina used discarded account books or ledgers from the “Counting House” in which to paste her receipts.  She also used an empty ledger – the one illustrated in the photograph above, in fact – for her diary.  Its pages, meant for the posting of debits, credits or other accounting notations, were filled instead with her daily jottings.  Waste not, want not.

After a day of inevitable sewing and the more novel entertainment of working on her scrapbook, plus the company of her nephew Augustus at the dinner table, Evelina went to the other part of the house for tea.  There she joined her sister-in-law Sarah Witherell and their friends William and Eliza Whitwell and Samuel and Hannah Deans.

Dr. Deans and his family lived in Furnace Village, an area of Easton south and west of the Ames’s.  Dr. Deans, originally from Connecticut, had settled in Easton after studying medicine at the New Haven Medical School.  In addition to medicine, he also had “a warm and constant” interest in education, according to William Chaffin.  As a physician, Deans occasionally attended members of the Ames family when they took ill.