November 5, 1852

Oliver Ames, Jr.

Oliver Ames, Jr.

(1807 – 1877)

Friday Nov 5th Susan has taken her ninth lesson

in music and I fear she is rather dull

does not call her letters well at all

Mrs Swain called this afternoon to settle

with me about her things and to night sent

me as a present as much as a half bushel […]

quinces  We passed the evening in Olivers

After stopping by to pay for the mourning apparel Evelina had picked up in Boston, Ann Swain sent Evelina two pecks of quinces to further thank her for her kindness. This thoughtful gesture may have distracted Evelina from her ongoing annoyance at her daughter’s “dull” piano playing. Susan had not yet learned her scales. At night, Evelina and Oakes, and perhaps other family members, “passed the evening” next door at Oliver Ames Jr’s.

Today, in fact, was Oliver Ames Jr.’s 45th birthday. He and his wife, Sarah Lothrop Ames, lived next door to Oakes and Evelina. At this juncture, Oliver Jr. was serving his first term as State Senator; he would serve a second term in 1857. According to Reverend William Chaffin, who knew the Ames family well, “Oliver Ames stood among the foremost in his reputation for a manly and unblemished character and for business ability…a strong, substantial, able, and honorable man.”****

The third of Old Oliver’s eight children, Oliver Jr. had originally been the brother who tinkered with the possibility of a career away from the shovel factory. In his teens, he suffered a “severe fall,”**** and was unable to work. He was sent to the Franklin Academy in North Andover after which he began to read law with William Baylies, Esq., of West Bridgewater. Reading and debating – good lawyering skills, both – had always been sources of pleasure for Oliver, but “[t]he confinement of office proving unfavorable to his health, together with the increasing demands of business at home,”**** he returned to North Easton. In 1833, he married Sarah Lothrop, the daughter of the Honorable Howard Lothrop and Sally Williams Lothrop. They had two children, Frederick Lothrop and Helen Angier Ames.

Relative to his brother, Oakes, Oliver Jr was reckoned to be “pretty dignified, and takes a good deal after his father, but Oakes is always ‘hail fellow well met.”** Another contemporary acquaintance of both men said simply that Oliver Jr. was “the conservative one.”***They made a good business pair. Over time, Oliver Jr. and Oakes, under the watchful eye of their father, turned the shovel shops into an industrial powerhouse, even as they groomed the next generation, Oakes Angier, Oliver (3) and Fred, to take over when the time was right. They invested in technological improvements and hired more help, especially from the newly arrived Irish population. They improved supply and delivery; in 1855, Oliver Jr. helped create the Easton Branch Railroad spur from Stoughton to North Easton.  In 1863, he oversaw the creation of a railroad line through the Great Cedar Swamp to Raynham. His interest in railroads led him to join his brother in the plan to build a transcontinental railroad when Oakes, by that time a U. S. Congressman, was tapped by Lincoln to lead the way.

The rest, as they say, is history. Both brothers became “deservedly famous”*****for their involvement with the Union Pacific. More than one contemporaneous historian has noted: “In 1866, Oliver Ames was elected president of that railroad, an office he held with significant ability until March, 1871.  During this time the road passed through some of its stormiest days and severest trials. His sound judgment, great business capacity, and inflexible integrity were of immense service in carrying this great enterprise safely through difficulty and peril to final success.”*****

On this dark autumn night in 1852, the “difficulty and peril [and…] success” lay ahead for both brothers as they sipped tea with their wives and watched “a few flakes of snow” fall.*

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

**“Ames at Easton: The Shovel Makers and Their Works. Life and Habits of the Congressman. Cursed Abroad – Applauded at Home,” The Boston Times, February, 1873

***Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, Reminiscences of Forty Years, 1891, Boston, p. 137

****William Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, p. 655.

*****Duane Hamilton Hurd, History of Bristol County, Massachusetts, Vol. II, 1883, pp. 430 – 431 (also Chaffin, p. 656)

September 4, 1852

seal

Sat Sept 4th  Made Sponge cake & gingerbread

and about ten Started to go to Mothers

Dined there and after dinner went to 

Raynham after Mrs Stevens.  Stopt at

her brothers awhile and called at the door

at Aunt John Gilmores & Aunt Othniels

found Widow Henry Gilmore there.  Came

back to tea at Alsons. Stopt at Sam Wilbers

and got some cooking apples

After some early morning baking, Evelina traveled south to Raynham, stopping along the way to have midday dinner at the family farm with her mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore.  It was “a fair day + little cooler,”* so a pleasant day to be out for a carriage ride. Evelina rode on to the home of her friend, Mrs. Stevens, whose company she had enjoyed previously over the course of this diary, and picked her up to return to Easton for a visit.

Before driving north, Evelina and her friend visited more relatives. They went to see Mrs. Steven’s brother, then stopped off to see a few Gilmore relatives, all widows. Aunt John Gilmore and Aunt Othniel (Sally Buffington Gilmore) were the elderly, long-time widows of Evelina’s father Joshua’s brothers, while young Mrs. Henry Gilmore (Adaline Bramen Gilmore) had lost her husband unexpectedly only a few months earlier. Members of this Gilmore clan were descendants of James and Thankful Gilmore who had settled in the area in the 1700’s.

The day not through, the ladies rode back to the farm and had tea with Alson and his family. A last stop was made for cooking apples.  It was the start of apple harvest.

 

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

August 9, 1852

06_01_002623.LARGE

Map of Bristol County, Massachusetts, 1852*

1852

Aug 9th Monday  Part of the forenoon was working

about the house & cut out some work.

This afternoon started to go to Taunton

and got as far as brother Alsons when it rained

poringly and we were obliged to ride into

the barn untill it slacked a little so that we

could get into the house  Spent the afternoon 

there.  It was quite pleasant when we came 

home.  Mrs Witherell A L Ames & S Ames were with me

 

On the 1852 map of Bristol County, illustrated above, the town of Easton sits at the very top. Its eastern border abuts Plymouth County, which was the home of Bridgewater (today’s Brockton), West Bridgewater, and more. On Easton’s northern line sits Stoughton in Norfolk County. To its immediate south lies Raynham, home of many Gilmore cousins. We often read of Evelina traveling to these three vicinities – Bridgewater, Stoughton and Raynham –  to see family, friends, and vendors.

To the west of Easton lies Mansfield – where Oakes and Oliver (3) caught the stagecoach for Providence – and Norton. Further south, on a NNW/SSE axis, is the somewhat bow-tie-shaped town of Taunton. Taunton in the 19th century was known locally as “Silver City,” for its silver manufacturing, being the home of Reed & Barton, F. B. Rogers and others. We seldom hear of Evelina heading there, but for some reason, she and her sisters-in-law were traveling there this afternoon.

The ladies never got to Taunton, however, as an abrupt rain shower came down “poringly” while they were en route. “Good showers,”**too, according to Old Oliver, the kind of showers he’d been looking for most of the summer. When the rain commenced, the women drove their vehicle into Alson Gilmore’s barn and waited, then hurried into the house when “it slacked a little.” And there they sat, visiting with the Gilmores.

With the notable exception of Boston, to which Evelina traveled several times a year, this map pretty well represents the geographic scope of Evelina’s life to date. The northern portion of Bristol County and its abutting towns constituted her largest neighborhood, her network of friends and family, her travel pattern, her home. That was her world. It would soon get larger.

 

*Courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public LIbrary

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

July 6, 1852

500px-Illinoisoldcapitol

Old State Capitol Building, Springfield, Illinois, built 1839

1852

July 6th Tuesday  Was very busy sewing this forenoon

Mary made the sleeves to my purple cambric

calico and sewed the drugget for the sitting

room  This afternoon have been into Olivers

to tea with Mrs Witherell & Mrs Ames &c &c

Mr Jones from Foxboro called.

Received a note from Cassander Gilmore that 

Henry died this morning requesting us to attend the funeral 

 

In the statehouse in Springfield, Illinois, a practicing lawyer and former U. S. Representative named Abraham Lincoln gave a eulogy today for Henry Clay, the Senator from Kentucky who had just passed away. Clay had been Lincoln’s idol, his “beau ideal of a statesman.”* In 1832, Lincoln cast his first presidential vote for Clay; in 1844, he campaigned for Clay and served as an elector from Illinois. Clay’s influence on Lincoln would be life-long.

On the occasion of Clay’s death, Lincoln spoke for some time, quoting at length a laudatory editorial which lamented “that never again that majestic form shall rise again in the council-chambers in his country to beat back the storms of anarchy which may threaten, or pour the oil of peace upon the troubled billows as they rage and menace around…” Lincoln then moved on to his own simpler words. He praised Clay for his wisdom, eloquence, and perseverance, noting that “Mr. Clay’s predominant sentiment, from first to last, was a deep devotion to the cause of liberty – a strong sympathy with the oppressed everywhere, and an ardent wish for their elevation.”*

In the town of Easton, Massachusetts, on this same day, Evelina received a letter asking for her presence at a different funeral. Her cousin Henry Gilmore of Raynham had died this very morning, as his brother Cassander Gilmore wrote to say, and she and her family were pressed to attend the funeral the next day.

 

* henryclay.org

April 7, 1852

images-2

Five Dollar Gold Piece, 1850

1852

April 7th  Mother is 80 years old this day and notwithstanding

the snow banks have been down to see her and made

her a present of a five dollar gold piece.  She is

not very smart to day but is generaly very well and

capable for one of her years.  Orinthia Abby & Augusta

went with me and we have had a very pleasant visit

Augustus stoped the evening here  Helen came

home this afternoon with her father.

Evelina’s mother, Hannah Lothrop Gilmore, turned 80 years old. She was the grandmother of Oakes Angier, Oliver (3), Frank Morton and Susan Eveline Ames – among other grandchildren –  and first cousin-once-removed of Sarah Lothrop Ames. She was born in Bridgewater in 1772, the fifth child and only daughter of Daniel and Hannah (Howard) Lothrop.  Her mother died soon after she was born and her father remarried two times more and had six additional children.

In 1789, at age 17, Hannah married Joshua Gilmore of Easton. They had a large family, too, producing eight children, of whom Evelina was seventh. By this 80th birthday in 1852, Hannah was a widow with only three offspring still alive. As we have seen, she lived on a farm with a son, Alson Gilmore, but often visited her daughter, Evelina.

Beyond these genealogical facts, little is known of the life of Hannah Lothrop Gilmore. When she was barely twenty, however, and already a mother of her first baby, John, she walked on a trail one day with her husband in an area of Easton known at the Great Cedar Swamp. Town historian William Chaffin recorded the tale:

“There was then no road through Cedar Swamp. Trees were however felled, and on these by hard work pedestrians at certain seasons could pick their way through from Easton to Raynham, or return.

“In 1792 […] Raynham had petitioned the Court of General Sessions for Bristol County to require Easton to build a road through the swamp to connect the two towns. The advantages of such a road were obvious. But Easton stood aghast at the prospect of incurring the expense of building a causeway such a distance and in such depths of mire.  The difficulty is illustrated by the fact that as Joshua Gilmore was going on the footpath through the swamp one day with his wife, carrying a little child in his arms, Mrs. Gilmore was speaking of the difficulty of the passage, and her husband replied that some day the child would ride through the swamp in a carriage; and the idea struck her as so essentially preposterous that she had a hearty laugh over it. However, the Court of Sessions did not, it would seem, share her skepticism, for it ordered Easton to construct the road.”*

The road, known then as the Turnpike Road or Street, was built, and Hannah Gilmore lived to ride it in a carriage.

*William L. Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1886, pp. 454-455

December 25, 1851

Turnstile

 

Dec 25th Thursday  The Irish are expecting to have a great

time to day Jane went to the meeting house about

eight but the priest did not come she stoped an

hour. Carried my knitting into Olivers awhile this

forenoon. This afternoon have been to mothers

with Mr Ames & Frank as they were going to West

Bridgewater.  Finished knitting the front & back of

my hood  Made a present to Lavinia of Turnpike Dividend $800

Christmas Day! But as Evelina points out, the Irish Catholics in town would be celebrating, but the Ames family wouldn’t. Jane McHanna left the house to attend a Christmas mass for which, unfortunately, the priest was either late or didn’t show up at all.  Jane returned home to prepare dinner. Evelina, meanwhile, visited Sarah Lothrop Ames next door, knitting in hand.

After dinner Evelina rode along with her husband and youngest son as they went on an errand to West Bridgewater.  They dropped her off to see her mother at the family farm. There may have been some recognition of the holiday in this gesture, although Evelina makes no mention of gift-giving, with one significant exception. Evelina gave an $800 dividend to her niece Lavinia Gilmore.

The dividend came, somehow, from proceeds from the Taunton and South Boston Turnpike, a road that had run through part of Easton since the early 1800s, between “‘Taunton Green, so called, to the Blue Hill Turnpike,'” according to town historian William Chaffin.* Its origin was controversial and involved a long-standing disagreement with the Town of Raynham, but its impact on the Gilmore family was generally positive, as various Gilmores, including Evelina’s father and brother, served as toll-gate keepers. As Chaffin points out, however, “[t]he toll-gate naturally became unpopular.” It was closed in October of 1851.

How Evelina came to possess $800 from the road is unclear. Was this a regular dividend that Evelina received, or was the family compensated for the road’s discontinuance? That Evelina passed this money on to her niece, however, is a clear demonstration that for all her economical instincts, Evelina was capable of great generosity.

 

*William L. Chaffin, History of Easton, Mass, 1866, pp. 454 – 458.

January 26, 1851

Gravestone of Hannah Gilmore

Gravestone of Hannah Gilmore

Jan 26  Sunday  Have been to meeting all day and heard two

excellent sermons from Mr Whitwell  Came home

between meetings.  Alson rode home with Mr Ames

Mother came with us from the afternoon meeting will

stop a few days.  Mr Whitwell walked up this morning

expecting to exchange with Mr Lovell but he (Mr Lovell)

was not prepared.  Mr W says a minister ought always to

be prepared.  Edwin called this evening.  It is a beautiful day.

A scheduling mix-up at church today caused consternation.  Most congregations had a practice of exchanging ministers.  On a regular basis, a minister from one church would swap one Sunday with a minister from another, allowing the congregations to listen to other voices and sermons.   On this Sunday, the scheduled switch between Reverend Whitwell of the Unitarian Church and Reverend Lovell of the soon-to-disband Protestant-Methodist assembly failed to take place.  Mr. Whitwell wasn’t pleased, but he seemed to recover just fine.  He delivered two more “excellent sermons.”

“Mother” was Hannah Lothrop Gilmore, or Mrs. Joshua Gilmore, as she would have been known, or perhaps  The Widow Gilmore, her husband having passed away in 1836.  One year shy of eighty, she was the mother of eight children, of whom only three were still alive.  Evelina was her only living daughter.

Mrs. Gilmore lived most of the time with her middle son, Alson, his wife, Henrietta, and their children at the family farm in the southeastern corner of Easton.  Just north of the town line with Raynham, the Gilmore property lay on what was known as the Turnpike Road.  In the distant past, Joshua Gilmore had maintained a tavern at that site, and had collected the fees from travelers on that road.  In 1851, the family still got income from the Turnpike, but the tavern was gone.  The land was all farm.

Occasionally, Mrs. Gilmore would visit with her daughter in North Easton.  Alson would carry her to church and after the service was over, Hannah would leave with Oakes and Evelina to stay at their home for the week.   While in North Easton, she’d be able to visit not only with her Ames grandchldren, but also with other grandchildren in the area, like Abby and Malvina Torrey.  And on this Sunday, her grandson Edwin Williams Gilmore, a grown son of Alson who no longer lived at the farm, paid a visit.  He would soon be building a home close to the Ameses.