April 3, 1852

Tablespoon

1852

March [sic] 3rd Saturday  Have made a ribbon head

dress for sister Amelia  Orinthia & self went into

Edwins this noon for some fish chowder.  She gave us

some platters and a great iron spoon to eat with and we

had to wait upon ourselves. We excused her knowing

she was a young housekeeper and knew no better.  She

ought to come here and learn politeness  Called on Mrs

Brett.  her babe is nearly two weeks old. she is not very

comfortable  Called on Abby  Hannah & Mrs J. C. Williams

Young neighbor Augusta Pool Gilmore invited Evelina and Orinthia Foss to midday dinner. This was a sweet gesture, perhaps intended to thank Evelina for her many kindnesses in welcoming Augusta to the village. The young bride may have been excited to debut her skills as a hostess.

However well-meant the invitation was, Augusta still had a lot to learn about entertaining. Evelina, a matron who had welcomed many guests to her dinner table over the years, saw much to judge wrong and in her diary took a snide swipe at the young woman. She criticized Augusta’s faux pas in laying out the wrong cutlery and failing to serve them properly.

While Evelina forgave Augusta her missteps, because the young bride “knew no better,” she also condescendingly noted that Augusta needed to spend time with the Ameses to “learn politeness.” Such scorn was perhaps exacerbated by the presence of Orinthia, who was always looking for ways to laugh. Innocent, inept Augusta was an easy target.

Evelina’s natural empathy returned in the afternoon. She visited other friends and called on another young woman in the neighborhood, Eveline Brett, who was doing poorly after having given birth.

February 3, 1852

 

playingcards

Union soldiers playing whist, circa 1861

1852 Feb

Tuesday 3d Have been looking over the boys shirts and 

have mended some of them.  Fred carried me

to call on Augustus’s wife, called at Mr Torreys

an[d] Mrs J Williams engaged her to make some shirts

for Oliver  Mr & Mrs Williams passed the evening

here.  Have done but very little sewing

The boys & Joshua played cards.

Chess wasn’t the only game that people played in the 19th century.  As Evelina noted today, her sons and a friend named Joshua played cards. Perhaps Fred Ames played, too. The game they preferred was whist, a precursor of today’s contract bridge.

Whist was played according to rules established by the accepted authority, Edmond Hoyle, an Englishman in the 18th century who had codified explicit guidelines for various card games.  Whist followed “a rigid set of rules, etiquette and techniques.”** Like bridge, it required four players, one deck of 52 cards (then known as a French deck), a bidding process, and trick taking.  Trump was determined by the last card laid down and, unlike bridge, there was no dummy hand.

The Ames family loved playing whist.  Oliver (3) often writes in his early journals of playing whist with his grandfather, Old Oliver. Night after wintry night, the men would play, the grandsons occasionally beating their grandfather.  Evelina seldom writes of playing herself; she and her sisters-in-law usually sat to the side, conversing, sewing or reading.

 

www13thmass.org/1861/williamsport

** http://www.kristenkoster.com/2012/02/a-regency-primer-on-how-to-play-whist/

January 1, 1852

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Four Seasons, from Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1851

1852

Jan 1st Thursday.  It being very stormy last night Alson &

wife came home with us from Olivers & spent the night

and forenoon.  Cooked a turkey for dinner.

Went with them to Augustus this afternoon and 

evening called on Mrs J C Williams, found her

making some shop shirts for Oakes Angier.  The weather

is very warm & unpleasant

 

The new year began with rain and high water in the ponds, pleasing Old Oliver Ames.  He may have been retired from the shovel shop, but he kept close watch on how the business was doing, and how the business was doing depended heavily on how the water power was running. Evelina herself found the rain “unpleasant.”

Evelina and her family marked the day with a turkey dinner, making it an occasion. Evelina’s brother, Alson Gilmore, and his wife, Henrietta, had stayed the night, unable to get back to their farm in the driving rain. They were rewarded with a feast. After the midday meal ended, Evelina went with them to see Alson’s eldest son, Alson Augustus Gilmore, and his young family.

Back in the village, Evelina visited a seamstress about making shirts for her son, Oakes Angier Ames. Mrs. Williams, who was probably a widow, would sew a number of work or shop shirts for the Ames men over the course of the year.  Evelina herself had sewn multiple shirts the previous spring, a task that took her weeks to finish. Much as she enjoyed sewing, she must have been thrilled to pass the chore on to someone else. This would free her up to concentrate on dresses and accessories, as well as tend to the mending basket that always had work in it.