June 24, 1852

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Modern image of Mount Hope Cemetery, Boston

 

1852 Thursday

June 24th  Carried Mrs Patterson to Bridgewater.

Helen & Susan went with me. Dined at Mr

Burrells, Orinthias boarding place  got there about

twelve left there about two & went to Dr Washburns

He filed my eyetooth to make it even with the 

others  Went into the cemetery and in Orinthias school

a short time & home by Alsons stoped with Lavinia a 

few moments.  Alsons wife had gone to Boston

 

With her niece, Helen, and daughter, Susie, Evelina drove Mrs. Patterson to her home in Bridgewater. This was the last appearance of Mrs. Patterson in the diary, so we may assume that she didn’t work at the Ames residence any more this year. Most likely, she had been hired for spring-cleaning only, yet her brief tenure with the Ameses had a lasting impact. She was efficient enough to make Evelina dissatisfied or otherwise unhappy with the work of her regular servant, Jane McHanna, the result of which was the latter’s dismissal.

While in Bridgewater, Evelina accomplished various errands, the most pleasant of which was probably dinner at Orinthia’s “boarding place.”  The least pleasant had to be the appointment with Dr. Washburn, where the dentist filed down one of her canine teeth “to make it even with the others.”

Evelina went into the local cemetery, too, perhaps to visit a specific grave. Interesting to note that on this exact same day in the Boston area, another cemetery was receiving attention. In Roslindale, Mount Hope Cemetery – a new, rural-type graveyard in the mold of Mount Auburn – was dedicated.

On the way home, Evelina stopped at the family farm and had a quick chat with her niece Lavinia.

 

June 21, 1852

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1852 Monday  June 21st  Mrs Patterson & Hannah washed and 

I worked in the garden untill about ten

and was about house until two or three

Oclock  Catharine Middleton here sewing

Father has given me another jawing about

my leaving some old coats on the grass

 

Here in the early 21st century, a dictionary of slang defines “jawing” as being saucy or speaking disrespectfully. Not so in the 1850s, when “jawing” was slang for moralizing, or giving a lecture.  “Father Ames,” as he was known to the Ames wives, gave Evelina “another jawing” today, this time about her “leaving some old coats” outside on the lawn.  She or Mrs. Patterson or Hannah Murphy must have washed the items and left them out to dry in the sunshine without hanging them on a line.  Perhaps the women had run out of clothespins. But Old Oliver would have been concerned about possible damage to the grass, which was already vulnerable due to drought. Or perhaps he was just cross.

Old Oliver described this Monday as “a fair warm day wind south west.”  What he didn’t mention was that it was summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The earth in its orbit tilted its northern hemisphere closest to the sun at around 7:30 in the morning.  If Oliver knew it, he didn’t care, or just didn’t record it. He was watching the ground and planning to cut the hay.

 

June 14, 1852

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June 14th

1852 Monday  Am 43 this day quite an old woman

Julia Mahoney came to work on my dresses

Hannah Murphy commenced working for me

this day & Mrs Patterson is here and it

has been about as much as I can attend to

to wait upon the rest  If I had two or 

three more it would be all I could attend to

 

Hannah Murphy, replacing the departed Jane McHanna, donned an apron this morning and “commenced working.”  Mrs. Patterson was still on the premises and the three women proceeded with the Monday chores, laundry included. Evelina was very busy tending to it all.

Yet today was Evelina’s birthday and she felt old.  We in the U.S. might scoff at the notion that 43 feels old; our current life expectancy for females is 81.  In Massachusetts in 1850, however, it was no more than 45. Who knew how long Evelina would live?  While she had the hopeful example of her hardy, octogenarian mother to emulate, she also would have remembered her two older sisters, both dead in their thirties. She may have considered the possibility that, like her mother, she could live to an advanced age. In fact, she would live to be 73; on this birthday, she had thirty more years in front of her.

At the shovel factory, Oliver Ames took his mind off his concern for the crops and focused instead on the arrival of Clark S. Manchester, who “came here to day from Fall River to build our stone shop.”* Mr. Manchester, 37 years old, was a native of Little Compton, Rhode Island, who had only recently moved to Fall River with his wife and two children. His expertise with stone work had led him to the Ameses, or they to him.

So the new building began, on the west side of Shovel Shop Pond. This location was different from the original and recently rebuilt factory, which sat at a lower edge of the pond in order to maximize the drop in water level. Water still powered the factory machines, and the new location to the west would still rely on water power from “just above where the Queset entered Shovel Shop Pond.”** But different from the old factory, this new Long Shop would accommodate a modern steam engine, a huge advance in technology. A new era in production was waiting to begin, and the stone buildings would reflect the change.

Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, 2002, p. 250

 

 

June 11, 1852

Coffeepot

 

 

June 11th Friday  This morning had quite a fuss with

Jane about her coffee & beef &c and cannot put

up with such work and to night have engaged

a new girl  Helen & self carried Mr & Mrs

Orr to the Stoughton cars this afternoon […]

We went to the shops this morning & called

on Augustus Abby & Mrs Witherell

 

A red letter day for Evelina: She fired Jane McHanna. In Evelina’s mind, Jane’s work had fallen off – particularly when compared to the accomplishments of Mrs. Patterson – and today, after a “fuss” about breakfast, Jane had to go. Their relationship had ever had its ups and downs; today it ended.

The kerfuffle between Evelina and Jane must have been observed, or overheard, by houseguests Robert and Melinda Orr. Perhaps their presence influenced Evelina’s decision to dismiss Jane, Evelina wanting to exhibit higher standards of domestic efficiency than Jane was used to producing. However it came about, the result was that Jane would go. Evelina found a replacement by nightfall, but would Jane be equally lucky?  A lone woman without means, could she find a new position quickly?

The morning’s upset may have lingered in Evelina’s mind throughout the day, but she continued to entertain her Boston guests according to the means at her disposal. Besides calling on various family members, they walked around the shovel works, a tour which would have interested Robert Orr.  He lived in Boston, but his family in Bridgewater and elsewhere had worked with iron for many years.

In the afternoon, Evelina and her niece Helen Angier Ames “carried” the Orrs to the railroad stop in Stoughton and bid them goodbye. It was one month ago today that George Witherell died.

June 7, 1852

Washing

June 7th

1852 Monday  Mrs Patterson went to Bridgewater

to see about her things that she left

there and returned this afternoon  Jane has

done the washing and I have been very busy

about house all day.  Mr Scott  Holbrook

and another painter have been here painting

the back entry chamber & Franks chamber

Scott has grained the stairway & painted the stairs

 

Dry weather continued, which was bad for the crops but good for the laundry. The white sheets and shirts must have dried quickly in the “midling warm”* sunshine and light southern breeze.  Today would prove to be Jane McHanna’s last turn at washing the Ames family’s clothes.

Old Oliver, meanwhile, spent part of his day, at least, observing someone’s construction project, as “Capt Monk began to move the hous[e] where Tilden lived to day.”* We don’t know who Capt. Monk was, but we do know that a team of oxen had to be assembled for that task. Were any of Oliver’s oxen used?  Did he lend a hand? It’s doubtful that he would have observed in silence, his instinctive leadership and irrefutable expertise too compelling not to use, or be asked for.

The Tilden whose house was being moved was probably Francis Tilden, a teamster who worked for the Ameses. He looked after the oxen. When an Old Colony Railroad line was extended to North Easton a few years later, in 1855, Mr. Tilden would become the expressman.  He would trade in his oxen for a rail car and spend the rest of his life conducting the train back and forth between Boston and North Easton. Oliver Ames Jr. often rode it, calling it “Tilden’s train.”

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

June 5, 1852

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1852

Sat June 5th  Mr Scott has been tinkering around in 

one place and another to day  has worked part

of the day here and this afternoon Holbrook

and another man came and put a coat of

paint on the plastering in the entry chamber

and whitewashed Franks chamber & painted

the closet I cut out two of the shelves and 

the shelves in my chamber closet.

Mrs Patterson here

Consul & slab came

and Olivers furniture

 

The dependable Mrs Patterson was on hand again today, as workmen tinkered, plastered and whitewashed different areas of the house. Evelina herself tinkered with the shelves of her closet in the master bedroom, cutting away two of them, perhaps to make room to hang clothes rather than fold them.

The arrival of new furniture from Boston was exciting for both Evelina and Sarah Lothrop Ames. Evelina and Oakes were to have a new console table – probably for the parlor – with a slab of stone – probably marble – on top. The Oliver Ameses next door got a delivery of new furniture, too.  The families were upgrading. It must have taken an industrial-strength wagon pulled by oxen to bring the pieces out from the city.

The delivery wagon had a “fair day”* for its route, and Old Oliver Ames had a good day to watch the new sills “for the cariage hous”* being laid down. He did enjoy building things, and his daughters-in-law enjoyed furnishing them.

 

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

June 3, 1852

Ice

 

Thursday June 3d  Mrs Patterson went to Bridgewater

but was not satisfied with the house and 

returned to night  I have painted my 

ice closet and have been to work about

house all day  Jane is not worth much

she is so forgetful and if she stays I

shall have another girl

After two days off, Evelina was back in her apron. She did her chores and painted the new ice closet. Did she use the green paint that covered so much of the rest of the home’s interior?

Evelina had relied heavily on her servants during spring cleaning.  Mrs. Patterson, in particular, had proved a real help with the work. She was apparently more industrious than Jane McHanna, providing an unfavorable contrast. Jane may have been slacking off, her attention pulled away by events we can’t know, or Mrs. Patterson was just better at housework. Whatever “forgetful” Jane was up to, Evelina was becoming dissatisfied with her.

The weather report from Old Oliver was a bit gloomy: “[T]he 3d of June was a verry warm day […] it has bin fair weather and verry drying since the 23d of May and grass on the high land is wilting there was a little rain yesterday.” He was worried about the hay and the corn.

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection