October 25, 1851




Sat Oct 25th  Mr Scott & Holbrook have been to work

all day papering the parlour and they have got

it papered only from the little entry door

around to that corner of the mantlepiece.

Mr Smiley worked here about two hours to day

put on the border in the parlour as far as it [was]

papered and some paint on top of the closet

shelves.  I have trimmed the paper and &c.


The wallpaper in the illustration above is an example of a mid-19th century pattern that might have been available in Boston, where Evelina purchased her new paper for the parlor. Two men, Mr. Scott and Mr. Holbrook, did some papering today, but not fast enough to suit Evelina. She was so eager to have the paper up that she helped by trimming some of it herself.  What did the workmen think about that? Mr. Smiley, who only seemed to work a few hours at a time, applied a border to what paper had been put up and painted a few shelves.

Oakes Ames was probably absent today, as Saturday was his usual day to be in Boston taking orders for shovels. Sons Oakes Angier and Frank Morton would have been at the factory across the street, honing their skills in the manufacture of shovels. Little Susie was probably at school.


*Example of mid-19th century wallpaper, courtesy of adelphiapaperhanging.com

October 23, 1851


Thursday Oct 23rd   Mr Smiley Scot & Holbrook came

to paint to day.  Mr Smiley whitewashed

the parlour & sitting room & painted two

windows in the sitting room  has been to work

all day  Hannah & Eddy called this morning

Augustus & wife & self have been to the funeral

of aunt Alger this afternoon  Have passed

the evening in Olivers  Bridget ONeal came this


Contractors filled the old house again today to paint and continue the refurbishment of the downstairs.  The parlor, where company met, and the sitting room, where Evelina sewed, were both being redecorated. We don’t know who Mr. Smiley and Mr. Scott were, but we believe that Mr. Holbrook’s first name was Randall; of the three men, Mr. Scott and Mr. Holbrook would continue off and on to paint various rooms at the Ames’s from this date until June, 1852.

New to this bustle of repainting was Bridget O’Neil, a servant who only arrived in the morning. She was probably taking the place of the recently departed Ellen. She was also the same Bridget who had worked for the family earlier in the year.  Where had she gone in the interim?

On a sad note, Evelina attended a funeral today for a Gilmore relative, an aunt in the Alger family. She went with her nephew and his wife, Hannah.  Later, she went next door to visit with Sarah Lothrop Ames.  Those post-tea evenings were beginning to take place after dark . Very soon tea itself would be served after the sun had gone down.  Daylight and warmth would diminish.  As Old Oliver noted in his journal , “this was a fair day wind north west and grew cold towards night.”

October 20, 1851


Monday 20th  Susan washed the dishes again this

morning and I took up the parlour carpet and cleared

the room  Mr Healy has taken out the door

where the closet used to be and getting it ready for

the masons  I have been to work getting of[f] the 

paper and to night feel quite lame.  Mr Smiley

has varnished the chairs that he painted last week

Received 6 cheeses and a tub of butter from Mrs Mower

The calendar may have said it was October, but the domestic commotion at the Ames’s suggested spring cleaning.  In order to redecorate, Evelina pulled up the carpet (which had been laid down in pieces), emptied the parlor of furniture, and spent the better part of the day scraping off the old wallpaper. A local carpenter, Henry R. Healy, was also in the house, removing a closet door and preparing a wall for masonry. Were they putting in a new fireplace?  A coal stove would be more likely. Further, another worker, Mr. Smiley, finished varnishing some chairs.  All this went on over and around the usual Monday washing of clothes by servant Jane McHanna.

Scraping wallpaper off of horsehair plaster is hard work and by night time, Evelina was smarting from the day’s exertion. She couldn’t have been unhappy, though. Much had been accomplished and, moreover, her housewifely self must have been pleased to add “6 cheeses and a tub of butter” to the larder.  Louisa J. Mower, a friend from Maine, sent the dairy items to her.  As gifts? As a purchase?

It was a day of accomplishment for Evelina.