U.S. Three Cent George Washington stamp, 1851
April 18 Friday I have made up the bed new in the
parlour chamber and got the room in pretty
good order have not got to clean it this spring
I have been choring about house most all
day about four Oclock went into
the other part of the house & took the stockings
with me to mend Not at all pleasant
Spring was the season for choring, choring, choring. Until she went to sit and mend stockings with Sarah Witherell, Evelina worked around the house all day. The bad weather of the past several days continued.
The Ameses kept a bed in their parlor. This seems strange to us, but it was customary at the time, or had been. The practice was waning, as bigger, Victorian houses became the style and the older Colonial and Federal floor plans were abandoned. Once upon a time, however, a downstairs parlor served multiple purposes. We know it as the spot in the house where more formal visitors were welcomed. In the 18th and into the 19th century, the parlor was also where the master and mistress of the house might sleep, while children went upstairs to colder quarters. As the family became more affluent and rooms got reconfigured, the bed in the parlor accommodated overnight guests. Several weeks back, in fact, inclement weather had forced William and Eliza Whitwell to stay over; they may have stayed in the very parlor that Evelina put “in pretty good order” today. Same with Evelina’s mother when she came to visit.
Many Ameses celebrated their birthdays in the month of April. Today was another family birthday, that of John Ames 2d, the youngest son of Old Oliver and Susannah, who was born on this date in 1817. He was never in robust health, never married and succumbed to lung disease at age 27. Before his death, however, he served as the very first postmaster of North Easton, then a new outpost between two larger post offices elsewhere in Easton proper. According to historian William Chaffin, young John Ames’s “office” consisted of “a large box with a cover […] set upon a post” with “mail (at least newspapers and heavy mail)” that was “put into and taken from this box by the drivers of the passing mail-coaches.” This newest post office was needed for the increasing amount of mail coming in and out of the shovel factory. With his health too poor to work in the factory itself, at least John had a role in managing the post.