June 7, 1852


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



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

April 2, 1852


1852 March [sic] 2d Friday  Have been mending pants for Frank

Made a long call on Mrs S Ames in the morning

Have been sweeping and dusting.  Mrs S Ames dined

in the other part of the house  I carried my sewing

in there a couple of hours this afternoon  Oakes A

went to Mr Howards after Orinthia this evening

Frank is not well and did not go  Have

written a letter to Mrs Norris  Augusta here this evening

After yesterday’s April Fool’s fun, Evelina resumed her domestic routine. She swept, dusted, mended, sewed and wrote a letter to a friend. Same old, same old. Her son Frank Morton, however, was under the weather, but her oldest son, Oakes Angier, was fine and even went out for the evening after work.

Old Oliver Ames, meanwhile, also resumed some of his routine, most of which had been disrupted by the shovel shop fire a month earlier. He was occupied by planning for the new stone factory buildings, but as he listened to the rain fall, he knew it was almost planting time. The farmer in him was getting ready for a new growing season. Perhaps in recognition of that, he “bought a yoke of oxen to day of Samuel Clap for $117-50.”*



January 8, 1852




Jan 8th Thursday

Frosted the cake over the second time

this morning and it was quite dry at three when

Edwin took it away  they are married this evening

Have invited their parents uncles aunts and cousins

here tomorrow. Have presented them with an hour

glass table  Mr & Mrs Reed have passed the afternoon

in the other part of the house  Two shovel handlers from

Maine to spend the night here

Had a quarter of Beef of fathers  The

Ox weighed over 14 hundred

Edwin Williams Gilmore and Augusta Pool were married today in what would have been a small ceremony, probably at the home of Augusta’s parents, Lavarna and John Pool, Jr. Presided over by a minister – Reverend William Whitwell, most likely – the event would have been attended only by close family members. The couple took no honeymoon or “bridal tour,” but moved right into the new house that Edwin had built in the village, barely a stone’s throw away from the Ames compound.

The new house had been furnished not only by Edwin, but also by Augusta herself, who probably brought along household goods as part of what was called her “marriage portion.” Items such as dishes, cutlery, and linens would have been at least some of what Augusta and her new sister-in-law, Lavinia, had labored to put into place over the last two days.

Evelina spent her time preparing for the party she was giving the next day for members of the Gilmore and Pool families.  Her domestic routine wasn’t too overwhelmed, however; she was still able to cope with more pedestrian matters, such as accommodating two shovel handlers from Maine for an overnight visit, even as she set up for thirty guests.


Currier & Ives, The Marriage, 1847



December 6, 1851


Picking apples 1880

Farm hands fill an oxen cart with apples in the late fall

Dec 6th Saturday  Mr Scott & Holbrook have finished

the first coat of paint in the storeroom &

stairway and porch.  They commenced yesterday P.M.

Have been mending stocking pants &c &c

all day and waiting upon the painters   they have

varnished the graining in the dining room

and painted the inside windows for the sitting room

Yesterday Evelina had sought Mr. Scott to do some painting for her.  He and another workman, Randall Holbrook, had responded quickly, arriving at the Ames’s house by the afternoon.  They continued their work today, painting and varnishing various areas inside the house. The day being “fair”  if “cold,”*  the men were also able to paint a porch outside. One might have thought that Evelina had already gotten everything painted; this kind of work had been going on for months.

Old Oliver noted in his journal that “the ground is frozen hard + carting is good”  The unpaved roads in the village and beyond had hardened, enabling carriages, carts and wagons to move steadily around. There was no sinking into half-thawed, muddy ruts. As modern historian Jack Larkin has noted, “[W]henever it was cold enough to freeze hard, ‘winter was the time…for making journeys.’ The hazards of cold and storm were outweighed by leisure from farm work and greater speed.” **Pulled by teams of oxen, carts full of finished shovels could get moved to market to be shipped out, and raw material for the factory could be shipped in.


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

** Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life,” New York, 1988, p. 221.


September 21, 1851



Sunday Sept 21st  Have been to meeting  Mr Ames & self came

home at noon and Horace Pool came with us

and they rode up to the great pond where they are

building a new floom.  Brought Abby Torrey from

meeting & carried her back  She & Malvina are spending 

a week at Alsons  Miss Latham & her brother Edward

came to our meeting this morning and to the other 

part of the house after  I called into see them

The new flume going in at Great Pond was attracting local attention. After church, Oakes Ames and Horace Pool rode up to see it. Oakes had been in Boston when his father, Old Oliver, had begun the work, and no doubt he was curious to see the progress.  No one would have been working on it today, as it was Sunday.

The flume was intended to harness water power for the shovel factory. It was basically an inclined ditch lined with stones and boulders to shunt the water along. Some flumes – such as those used in lumbering – are lined with wood, but that wasn’t likely to be the case here, given the scarcity of wood, the availability of stones, and the expectation of longevity. Old Oliver’s oxen must have been used to haul the many stones, and man-power used to put each one in place.  The channel itself would have been dug with Ames shovels, naturally.

Evelina, perhaps moving about slowly on sore feet, went to church and caught up with various friends and family members, including nieces Abby and Malvina Torrey. She popped into the other part of the house – the section lived in by Old Oliver and his daughter Sarah Witherell – to greet some visitors there.  She was settling back into her routine after the Boston holiday.

Photograph of an old flume, blogoteca.com/afonsoxavier, courtesy of Hadrian



August 1, 1851



Friday August 1st  Feel very lazy as usual after a jaunt of

shopping  Have done but very little of any

thing and am too lazy to write and may as

well give it up


Tired after her “jaunt” into town, Evelina was “too lazy” to write an entry in her diary. She often felt that way after a day or two in the city. Considering the distance she had traveled in a rustic conveyance that hadn’t been designed for comfort, behind a horse that jogged along too fast for sightseeing, her fatigue was understandable.

While Evelina had been shopping and sightseeing in Boston, folks back in Easton had been engrossed in one of the most important chores of the year: Haying. Only two days earlier, Old Oliver had noted in his journal: “this was a cloudy day most of the time + pritty cold for the time of year. we had a good deal of hay laying in swath for 2 days past – we opend it + dryed it a little + cockt it up”.

For days to come, haying would be the focus of most of the householders in Easton.  “[Yesterday] was fair in the morning but it clouded up by ten O clock. and there was hardly any sun shine afterwards wind easterly + cold we have 4 or 5 ton of hay out now + 2 ton in the barn to go out again”  Before the haying season had ended, Old Oliver and his workmen would pull in as much as eight tons of hay.  It would be stored to feed the oxen and horses over the winter.







June 4, 1851



June 4th Wednesday  This morning Mr Lothrop

brought me a calf head and as Jane was Ironing it has

taken me some time to prepare it  Went in to Olivers

to assist Sarah about making her cake for the sewing

Circle.  It met there this afternoon and they had a

goodly number  I have cut two shirts

for Mr Ames and put them into the sewing circle to

make  We have had a pleasant meeting

Even as cows all around town and country were giving birth, some of their calves were slated for slaughter.  In sheer numerical, if unfortunate, terms, not all calves had a place on a farm. Females, once grown, could breed and produce milk, but the males had less of a role, unless they had the lines and build to become fine steers or oxen.  Male calves in particular had good market value as veal and thus were often culled. The arrival of a calf’s head for the dinner table signaled that some culling was going on.  Mr. Lothrop may have been DeWitt “Clinton” Lothrop, a farming brother of Sarah Lothrop Ames and manager of the Lothrop property.

The cook rooms at both houses on Main Street were bustling today. Not only was Evelina preparing the calf’s head, but Jane McHanna was ironing near the stove, keeping her irons hot and using the kitchen table as the ironing surface. In Sarah Lothrop Ames’s kitchen, there was much preparation for the afternoon meeting of the Sewing Circle. Evelina went next door to help Sarah with a cake.

No memory of her own failed meeting back in February seemed to cloud Evelina’s enjoyment of today’s Sewing Circle, even when her sister-in-law’s parlor welcomed “a goodly number.” She was able to put a couple of shirts into the pile of work and had a pleasant time.


May 24, 1851



May 24th Saturday.  Have been about the house at work

most of day.  After dinner carried my old sitting

room carpet out on the grass to wash the spots

and worked awhile in the garden  About two

Oclock Orinthia came.  She walked to Mr Elijah

Howards before breakfast and he brought her up 

She stoped to dine with Abby.  We called at the

store and at Mr Holmes.  Cow calved.

Housework and gardening informed most of Evelina’s day until a visit from Orinthia in the afternoon, at which point Evelina put down the stained carpet pieces or sat up from weeding to welcome back her young friend. The two women went shopping in the village at the Ames company store, and called on Harriet Holmes.  They must have been glad to be back together, even though Orinthia had only left a week earlier. Perhaps Abby Torrey joined them on their errands and calls.

Evelina’s work on the old carpet took place out of doors, somewhere in the yard of the house on Main Street. It only made sense to wash a large piece of rug outside in good light with a place for the water to run off.  The job was messy by definition, but needed to be done and to Evelina, how the project might have looked to passersby was perhaps less important than how effectively the spots were removed. Front yards were becoming more formal, so perhaps Evelina worked on the carpet in the back of the house where the laundry, presumably, was hung, out of sight of the street. We might imagine that Sarah Lothrop Ames, next door, would certainly be discreet in her management of a similar task, a task, in fact, she would most likely delegate to others.

Old Oliver had to have been pleased today. One of his cows calved, adding to his herd. It’s curious that Evelina, who rarely mentions the agricultural side of their lives, made mention of what must have been a predictable springtime event. She wasn’t often engaged by the external activities of either the farm or the factory.  She stayed focused on her house and her yard, but today something about the new calf drew her attention.

February 18, 1851


Feb 18  Tuesday  After doing my usual mornings work sit

down to sewing on Susans work   She sewed with me

and counted stiches again  She will do pretty well

and keep quite steady when we count stiches

This afternoon went into Olivers to assist on Helens

quilt but found it most done.  Was called home

to see Mr Whitwell   Abby & Malvina Torrey & their 

cousin Mrs Fullerton  called  Pleasant

Sewing lessons for eight-year old Susie Ames continued today.  She seemed to be getting the hang of the needle as long as she counted her stitches.  This meant calculating and maintaining an equal number of stitches per inch of sewing. After the lesson was through, Evelina tripped next door to help with the making of a quilt. She discovered that the work was pretty well complete, however, which was just as well as she was called back home to sit with Reverend Whitwell, who came to visit.  More follow-up to the Sewing Circle meeting?

Outside, away from this cozy domesticity, Old Oliver was clomping around looking at oxen to buy.  He found a pair that he particularly admired and seemed pleased with his purchase:

“this was fair day  wind about west and not cold   I bought a yoke of oxen to day of a Mr Whitcom of East Randolph for $125-00 they are a handsom red + look a good deal alike.  he said they would be 6 years old this spring comeing   the off one girts 7 feet + 2 inches + the nigh one 7 feet   they weighed after drinking with yoke on 3220 lb.  the man  said he had them for twins”

And while Old Oliver dealt with the farming side of the Ames enterprises, Oakes and his three sons were no doubt busy at the shovel works, the young men continuing to learn the ins and outs of manufacturing, much as little Susie was learning to be domestic.   The futures of all four offspring were being lined up.