May 8, 1852



Saturday May 8th  Mrs Witherell has finished working

my Delaine sleeves and I have put them in

and have finished the dress which I think

is about time.  I sit with George for Mrs Witherell

to lay down this afternoon  He is very sick and 

suffers very much.  Mr Manly brought me some

more plants & I paid him 1,58 cts.  Oliver &

Brown returned this morning

George Witherell, fourteen years old,  was ill with rheumatic fever. In the age before antibiotics, the “rheumatics,” as Evelina called it, was a serious illness. It was a complication of strep throat, which George must have had three or four weeks earlier. Its symptoms, many of which George manifested, were fever; a flat rash; involuntary twitching in the hands, feet and face; painful, tender and swollen joints; chest pain; palpitations and fatigue. As Evelina noted, George suffered a great deal, for rheumatic fever was extremely uncomfortable and unsettling. It was also often fatal.

Sarah Ames Witherell had been nursing her son for several days now.  She took a rest in the afternoon and let Evelina sit with George.  All the family was helping, although George wasn’t the only sick child. Helen Angier Ames next door was down, too, with a somewhat mysterious ailment in her face. Family members were worried about both young people.

Despite the concern everyone must have been feeling, normal routines in this season of planting had to be adhered to. Old Oliver reported that “we began to plow the hill back of the shovel shop pond to day.”



May 7, 1852



Friday May 7th  Was in the garden to work a short

time transplanted some pinks but worked on

Olivers clothes most of the time.  Mr Brown &

Oliver rode to Mr Copelands and got me a polyanthus

and to the furnace in the afternoon to Canton 

and Sharon.  Mrs S Ames returned from Boston to

night & Helen with her  Helens face is very

swollen has not been to school for a week


With her middle son Oliver home from Brown, Evelina had a great deal of mending to tend to. She might have preferred to be in her flower garden, but she only had a short window in which to repair her son’s shirts, hose, and coats. Oliver, meanwhile, rode out with his college roommate, Mr. Brown. They roamed from Easton to Canton and Sharon and in the process picked up a polyanthus, or primrose, for Evelina. They got the latter from a Mr. Copeland, who was perhaps Josiah Copeland, an elderly resident of Easton who lived with his wife and unmarried daughter.

George Witherell continued to be ill in the other part of the house, but he wasn’t the only family member who was ailing.  Helen Angier Ames had to come home from boarding school because of a swollen face. Perhaps she had an infection – an abcess of some sort – or perhaps she was having an allergic reaction to an insect bite or other allergen. Whatever was ailing her, she hadn’t attended class for a week, and her mother had to fetch her home.


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