October 3, 1852

Play

Oct 3d Sunday  We have all been to meeting to day

Mrs Norris Mr Ames & self came home at noon but did not

have a dinner cooked  After meeting Frank carried Miss Linscott

& Orinthia to Bridgewater & Melinda & self went to Mothers and

called on Miss M J Alger while Frank went to carry them home

Mrs A[l]ger had her piano & played Horatio Jr is here came last night

More comings and goings today. Everyone went to church, of course, but afterwards dispersed in different directions. Frank Morton Ames obliged the young, single ladies in the group by driving them home to Bridgewater. While he headed east, Evelina and her friend Melinda Norris rode south to the family farm to visit the elderly Mrs. Gilmore. They also stopped to visit Miss M J Alger, the woman who would be giving piano lessons to Susie Ames and Emily Witherell. She, or her mother, played a piano for them.

Old Oliver reported that “this was a fair pleasant day for season Oakes came home from N. York las[t] night.” Oakes Angier stayed behind, on business or pleasure we don’t know. Evelina reported, as her father-in-law did not, that Horatio Ames Jr. was back for a visit. He was the son of Horatio Ames, a brother of Oakes and Oliver Jr. It’s unclear if Horatio Jr. was living in Boston at this point or was still in Connecticut at the family home there.

 

 

September 23, 1852

IMG_2471

Sarah Lothrop Ames

(1812 – 1890)

 

Thursday Sept 23th [sic] Have not sewed at all to day Starch

the clothes and ironed some fine shirts

Lavinia washed the clothes that Oliver brought

from Providence & Mr Rathbourne from 

Providence came this afternoon to visit […]

Oliver  He went to Stoughton after him

Mrs Holmes & sister came after some plants

 

It’s unusual to read of Evelina and her servants doing a wash on a Thursday, but so it was. Son Oliver (3) had returned from a trip to Providence with dirty laundry in tow and, more than that, a houseguest headed their way. Evelina had to finish up the laundry and prepare for company. She evidently had help from her twenty-year-old niece, Lavinia Gilmore, who, by washing the clothes of her twenty-one-year-old cousin, demonstrates not only the strict division of labor of the day, but the then-unexamined destiny of spinster daughters and nieces to serve the men of their family.

Next door, Sarah Lothrop Ames celebrated her 40th birthday which, in those times, was the front door to old age. It was her destiny to grow up in Easton, the only daughter of the Honorable Howard Lothrop and his wife, Sally Williams Lothrop. She had nine brothers, which makes us wonder if she, as a singleton girl, was doted on, or depended on, or both. On June 11, 1833, Sarah married Oliver Ames, Jr., third son of Old Oliver and Susannah Angier Ames. In social terms, it was a marriage between two of the town’s important families. The couple moved into their own house, built for them by Old Oliver, next door to the family homestead. They would eventually tear that house down and build a grander one, known to us as Unity Close.

Sarah and Oliver Jr had only two children, Frederick Lothrop and Helen Angier, at a time when a larger family was more typical. We can’t know if their decision to stop at two was happenstance, voluntary, or imposed by medical circumstances. Fred, they raised to go into the family shovel business, much as Oakes and Evelina did with their three sons. Fred was given a full college education, however, as his cousins were not. Helen and her younger cousin, Susan, meanwhile, were raised to be proper young ladies with fine dresses, piano lessons, and good schooling. It is doubtful that Helen ever had to wash her brother’s clothes. There were servants for that.

Like her sisters-in-law Evelina and Sarah Ames Witherell, Sarah Lothrop Ames was a regular church-goer and a conscientious neighbor. She did her duty with the elderly and infirm in the village, and she was a loving daughter to the end with her parents. Her mother, once widowed, developed dementia and incontinence, yet Sarah cared for her until her death. She was close to her children and grandchildren, of whom she had five.

A widow herself by 1877, Sarah would live until 1890, outlasting her husband, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and all but one brother, Cyrus, to whom she left the use of Unity Close for his lifetime. After his death, it passed to her eldest grandson, Oliver Ames (1865-1929).

 

 

September 17, 1852

Brig

*

Friday Sept 17  Mrs Stevens has done some ironing to

day and I have been busy about house ironing

and one thing and another & have seen but very

little of her since she came  It has been hurry

burly all the time  We were at tea at Olivers

Abby came here but as we were there she

stopt & in the evening Mr Torrey came

Mrs S Ames has gone to watch with Mrs Savage

With the help of Mrs. Stevens, a houseguest, ironing continued, along with Evelina’s usual choring and “one thing and another.” According to Evelina’s misspelled expression, the household was all hurly-burly, full of commotion and tumult.  Later in the day, the two women – and other family members, presumably – enjoyed tea next door with Sarah Lothrop and Oliver Ames Jr. And even later, Col. Torrey stopped in for another visit.

In a California newspaper, there was an article about a missing ship, the Schooner Penelope. The vessel bore no direct relation to the Ames family (although an Ames relative, Cyrus Lothrop, would eventually own ships, including one named for Helen Angier Ames), but the article’s conclusion that the ship had been lost at sea was very much indicative of the perils of travel at the time. The Penelope had last been seen the year before by a sister ship as both headed into a bad storm.

Newspapers in coastal cities like San Francisco or Boston often carried such reports of ships that set sail and were never heard of again, much as our modern television and internet news sources carry coverage of airline disasters like the Malaysian flight that went missing over the Pacific. We may have our own disasters in the air and at sea, but the latter hazards were naturally more common in the 19th century, and the means of discovering, much less communicating, the fates of the vessels that disappeared were limited. After a certain amount of time had passed with no word of a particular ship, people had to assume the worst, and know that their sailor sons or husbands, or passengers for whom they waited, had drowned. The following from the Daly Alta California in San Francisco conveys the demise of the Penelope:

The American schooner Penelope, Capt. Austin K. Dodge, cleared from this port on the 14th of October, 1851, for San Juan del Sud, with 40 passengers. It is believed that she sailed the next day. Capt. Mann, of the brig Lowell, which sailed from this port on the same day, reports having seen the Penelope about the 5th of November, off Cape St. Lucas, just previous to a terrific hurricane, which lasted but a quarter of an hour. After the driving mist which accompanied the gale had lighted up, the Penelope was not visible. Capt Mann felt confident at the time that the vessel had foundered.

After arriving at San Juan he remained there some weeks, but received no tidings as to her fate. As nothing has yet been heard of her there is every reason to apprehend that she was lost at that time, and every soul on board perished. […]

Both the Penelope and Lowell were fitted out and sailed from Pacitic Wharf. Captain A. K. Dodge, of Beverly, Mass.; 1st mate, F. H. Choate; 2d mate, Thomas J. Fisher; the first mate from Salem, Mass., and the second from Boston. W. H. Nicolsen’ cook, from New York, aud James Brickley, John Smith, Manuel Silva, Joseph Frank and George Covell, seamen.**

The relatives of anyone who went to sea always had to worry.

 

*A brigantine is a type of schooner, distinguished by its sail configuration.

 

**http://www.maritimeheritage.org/ships/Schooner-Penelope-1852

 

September 15, 1852

Cake

Wednesday Sept 15th  Mr & Mrs Oliver Ames Helen & Miss Hobart

here to tea  Made cake & baked it in the stove

Mr Torrey made a long call here just after

dinner  He is quite neighbourly about this

time  Mrs Stevens need not take the credit of it

Augusta is not quite as well  sent for me to

come there & has had the Dr again

Oliver went to Providence this morning to the fair

 

Evelina baked a cake in her new cast-iron stove, something she was proud to note.  That was a real change for her, as before this she had used the family’s old, built-in brick oven for her baking. New technology in the kitchen was changing her ways.

The cake must have been a success; she served it at tea. Her husband and sons, minus Oliver (3), were present. Sarah Lothrop Ames and Oliver Ames Jr. came over from next door, too, bringing their daughter Helen Angier Ames and her friend, Catherine Hobart, with them. This was the last night of Catherine’s visit and it was sweet that her host and hostess took her next door for tea. Was there a conscious design behind the invitation and acceptance? Had the elders noticed a spark between Catherine and Oakes Angier Ames? Had Evelina contrived to make this happen? Were the young folks self-conscious on the occasion? Or was it just an average family gathering that inadvertently portended something more?

Catherine wasn’t the only guest. Mrs. Stevens was still visiting the Ameses and, inadvertently or otherwise, had made Evelina a little jealous. Col. Torrey, Evelina’s former brother-in-law – now a widower – had been calling more often than usual, and Mrs. Stevens had evidently volunteered the possibility that his attention was directed at her. Evelina, however, as we read from her rather ungracious entry, is reluctant to let her guest get any “credit.” Generous as she could sometimes be, Evelina was not inclined to share her friendship.

Across the street, meanwhile, young Augusta Pool Gilmore had had a relapse of her intestinal disorder, known in that day as “Cholera Morbus.” Certainly, her family and friends were worried about her.

 

September 12, 1852

Peach

Sunday Sept 12th  A very stormy day and none of the 

family have been to church.  Frank  C Hobart

& Helen went to the meeting house but there

was no meeting  Mr Ames & self laid down

and read “Poor rich man and Rich poor man”

Mother is better  Hannah has been to

[illegible] in the rain but is not able to work.

Cate Hobart, William & Olivers family came in this evening to eat peaches

Bad weather kept most folks indoors on this Sabbath day. Old Oliver reported a more than adequate rainfall: “it raind last night and nearly all day to day wind sotherly and warm   in that has fell yesterday + to day there is one inch + nine tenths of an inch.”* Despite the rain, Frank Morton Ames carried his cousin Helen and her classmate Catherine Hobart to church, but the service was cancelled. They must have had a wet ride down and back, but perhaps enjoyed the journey anyway.

Inside the Ames homestead, things were pretty quiet. Old Hannah Gilmore was feeling better, but servant Hannah Murphy was not. Evelina and Oakes spent some time upstairs and together read a story, probably from one of Evelina’s periodicals. Son Oliver (3) was likely to be reading, too. Perhaps Oakes Angier was reading or resting, in the interest of maintaining the good health he appeared to have regained. Certainly all three sons appeared late in the day, when family from around the compound gathered for tea.  William Leonard Ames and his young son, Angier Ames, who were staying with Old Oliver, popped in from the other part of the house. Oliver Ames Jr., his wife Sarah Lothrop Ames, daughter Helen and friend Catherine, on the other hand, had to cross the wet yard to attend. The big draw appears to have been peaches, a fresh, local and strictly seasonal treat.

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

September 9, 1852

Sarah Ames Witherell

Sarah Ames Witherell  (Mrs. Nathaniel Witherell, Jr.)

(1814 – 1886)

Thursday Sept 9th  This has been a very warm day indeed

and not much air stirring  We went in to see

Augusta awhile this forenoon and found her

rather more comfortable  This afternoon have

been sitting in the parlour chamber sewing it

being the coolest place  Mrs Witherell & Mrs

S Ames came in awhile  Mrs W watched with Mrs

Savage last night

Evelina and her father-in-law agreed that this day and the one before “were fair days + […] verry warm indeed.” Oppressively hot for September, we might think.  Evelina, her mother Hannah Lothrop Gilmore and her friend Mrs. Stevens went across the street early in the day to check on the ailing Augusta Pool Gilmore and must have been pleased to find her “rather more comfortable.” Back to the house it was, where the three ladies moved into the parlor to sew. Usually they would work in the less formal sitting room, but the parlor perhaps offered less direct sunlight. It was “the coolest place.”

Evelina’s sisters-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames and Sarah Ames Witherell, paid a call. It was Sarah Witherell’s 38th birthday. A widow for only four years, her most recent year hadn’t been a happy one: she had burned her foot badly, had all her teeth pulled, lost her elderly father-in-law and, most awful of all, lost her fourteen year old son, George, to rheumatic fever. Yet she was moving through the proscribed stages of real mourning in a seemingly graceful way. She was still taking care of her father, Old Oliver, and her one remaining child, Emily, and was ever helpful around the family compound. As we see from the diary entry, Sarah had spent the previous night watching over the dying Hannah Savage. “Dignified,” is how one family friend described her, and we readers might add “dutiful” and “kind” as well.

In another decade, after her father had passed on, Sarah and her daughter Emily would move into Boston and take up residence there at the Hotel Hamilton. Sarah would continue in a quiet way to participate in both family and city life, and would enjoy traveling with her sister Harriet. Her brother Oliver Jr would make it a point to look after her.

September 8, 1852

Thread

 

Wednesday Sept 8th  Was baking and at work

about house all the forenoon and this afternoon

have been to Olivers to the sewing Circle  Had

a pretty full meeting  Mrs Buck & Sarah were there

and worked on Mr Ames shirts  After tea we

all went into the gardens  Mother came from

there to night and will stop a few days here

It was time for Sewing Circle again.  The ladies of the Unitarian Church and their pastor, William Whitwell, met right next door at the home of Sarah Lothrop Ames and Oliver Ames Jr. They sewed, socialized and probably listened to a few words from Mr. Whitwell. Evelina was pleased to get some help making shirts for her husband.  The women all had tea and then walked about the garden, which must have been in its last foliage. Old Mrs. Gilmore, who probably had been brought to the meeting by her daughter-in-law, Henrietta, stayed over to spend a few days with her daughter.

Also on this date, another gathering of mostly women took place in Syracuse, New York. Led by suffragist Lucretia Mott, the Third National Women’s Rights Convention ran for three days and was certainly a headier, more disruptive kind of meeting than the one that Evelina attended. Mrs. Mott kept order well, although “at one point she felt it necessary to silence a minister who offended the assembly by using biblical references to keep women subordinate to men.” Many suffragists spoke, including Ernestine Rose, who responded to the offending minister with a reminder that ” the Bible should not be used as the authority for settling a dispute, especially as it contained much contradiction regarding women.” *

Two particularly noteworthy incidents happened at this annual gathering. Lucy Stone wore a pair of Turkish trousers, better known at “Bloomers, ” and the attendees were treated to the first public speech of a newcomer to the cause of suffrage: Susan B. Anthony.  Did Evelina read about any of this in the papers? Was she scornful or curious or disinterested? At no point in her diary does she comment on the nascent suffrage movement.

 

*National Women’s Rights Convention, Wikipedia, accessed Sept. 7, 2015