October 7, 1852



Oct 7th Thursday  Have been cutting out some shirts

for bosoms.  Catharine Murphy has made

four window curtains for my front chamber

Mrs Witherell Mrs S Ames & self passed the

afternoon & evening at Mr Swains  Mr Ames 

came to tea and Oliver rode down after us and 

stopt awhile Mr & Mrs Meader are there &

Ellen Meader  Augustus wife went to Boston


There was quite a bit of socializing today, prompted in part by good weather. “[T]he 7th was a fair pleasant day + verry warm,” noted Old Oliver Ames. Henry David Thoreau, some 40 miles to Oliver’s north, was more discursive about the sunshine:

I sit on Poplar Hill. It is a warm Indian-summerish afternoon. The sun comes out of clouds, and lights up and warms the whole scene. It is perfect autumn. I see a hundred smokes arising through the yellow elm-tops in the village, where the villagers are preparing for tea. It is the mellowing year. The sunshine harmonizes with the imbrowned and fiery foliage.**

The elm trees such as the ones that Thoreau mentions would also have been seen by Old Oliver. In fact, they would have been seen across the state and beyond. Once upon a time, American Elms were ubiquitous in the United States.They were tall trees with a wine-glass profile and a graceful green canopy. In the 20th century, however, most of them were wiped out by Dutch Elm disease. The existence of “Elm Streets” in communities around the country attests to the fact that elms were once as common as maples or pines. As Thoreau suggests, many a small town lived under their shade.

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

**Henry David Thoreau, Journal, courtesy of http://hdt.typepad.com/henrys_blog



November 9, 1851



Sunday Nov 9th  Did not go to meeting to day on account of

Bridgets being sick.  Expected Mr Ames home at noon to carry

me this afternoon but he went off electioneering and 

forgot all about it.  This evening have been to Mrs

Swains with Mr Ames & Susan  Her nurse is there

and her brothers wife and daughter of about Susans

age  Mr & Mrs Meader returned home about a week since


Not only did Oakes Ames stop in Canton for a Whig meeting on Saturday, but he spent Sunday afternoon “electioneering” and forgot to go home at noon to take Evelina to church for the afternoon service.  In personal terms, this was not an auspicious beginning to his political career, but it was certainly indicative of the wholeheartedness and zeal with which he approached politics.  If Oakes and Evelina had, in fact, reached an understanding about his getting into politics – about which we can only conjecture – we have to wonder if that understanding had already been violated.  Yet Evelina’s diary is not particularly dispirited; she writes matter-of-factly and without obvious annoyance.  Perhaps she already understood and forgave her husband’s capacity for preoccupation.

After missing church in the morning because of a sick servant and in the afternoon because of an absent-minded husband, Evelina must have been pleased at last to go out in the evening. She, Oakes and their daughter Susie paid a call on Ann and John Swain, a younger couple who were relatively new in town.  New parents, their infant son was being tended by a nurse, while two relatives, the last remainders of a crowd who had arrived to tend at the birth, were still visiting.  Ellen Meader, a little girl about Susie’s age, was there with her mother, Sarah Bliss Meader, wife of Ann Swain’s brother, Reuben Meader.