February 20, 1852

View of the College 1792

Brown University

1852

Friday Feb 20th Oliver returned to Brown University this

morning  Have given the sitting room a thourough

sweeping & have made the front chamber bed

and put the room in order.  Also the entry.

After dinner called into Olivers to see her mother

Mrs Solomon & Willard Lothrop spent the afternoon 

Willard said he wanted to come to tea but the spirits

would not let him.  Orinthia came this evening

The house was quieter this morning than it had been for some time.  Evelina’s middle son, Oliver (3), had returned to college. She tidied up, putting away at least some of the sewing things that had been pulled out for mending Oliver’s clothes. She swept and put various rooms “in order.” She must have felt a sense of accomplishment and, perhaps, that contradictory combination of relief, satisfaction and sadness that follows the departure of a child for school.

After midday dinner, Evelina walked next door to greet Sally Williams Lothrop, mother of Sarah Lothrop Ames. A different Lothrop came to call (whether at Evelina’s or Sarah’s is unclear): Mrs. Solomon Lothrop and her son Willard. Willard was invited to stay for tea but declined. As a medium and a follower of Spiritualism, he felt that “the spirits would not let him.”

Willard Lothrop was not alone in his belief that the possibility of communication exists between the living and the dead.*  William Chaffin makes note of the existence of Spiritualism in Easton, where “interest in this subject first appeared on the Bay road. In 1850 Asahel Smith, Amos Hewett, Willard Lothrop, and others became much interested in the matter. Several Easton people soon displayed mediumistic powers.” Evelina was clearly intrigued by the premise.

See also June 13, 1851.

*William L. Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1866, p. 370.

February 19, 1852

images-1

 

1852

Thursday Feb 19th  Have been to work on Olivers clothes getting

them ready to go back to school  Have spent the

whole afternoon mending a coat for him which he

has spoiled wearing it in the shop  Augusta was

here this afternoon did not stop to tea.  Lavinia called

came up to bring Mrs Lothrop & son to Willards

Susan & self have spent the evening at Willards

Oliver came after us about nine Oclock

Finally, Oliver Ames (3) was going back to Brown. He had been home in North Easton, on a break, since January 21st. Evelina had her hands full mending a coat “which he has spoiled” so he could take it back to Providence. He wore it while working at the shovel factory and damaged it somehow. There was no time – and probably little inclination – to get a new one made for him. His mother had to fix it.

As Caroline Healey Dall, a contemporaneous female in Boston during this era, commented at one point in her mid-19th century diary, it was “a lonely, dull day – stitch, stitch, stitch.”* For most of the 19th century, all women sewed, and sewed often. Sometimes sewing was fun or companionable or rewarding; sometimes it wasn’t.  It was more often a necessity, a chore, and for Evelina today, the uninteresting and obligatory side of sewing prevailed.

Fortunately, Evelina had a few visits today from her younger female friends and relatives to help the time pass. Augusta Pool Gilmore visited in the afternoon – possibly with her own needle in hand – and niece Lavinia Gilmore called, having come into town from the family farm. In the evening, Evelina and her daughter Susan spent the evening with one of Easton’s more eccentric characters,Willard Lothrop, a medium. Oliver Ames (3) “came after” them after dark, probably anxious that all was ready for his return to college in the morning.

*Caroline Healey Dall, Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth Century Woman , ed. Helen R. Deese, Boston, 2005, p. 314