July 11, 1852

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Luther Sheldon 

(1785 – 1866)

 

July 11th Sunday  Went to meeting with Mrs A L Ames

this morning to Mr Sheldons church  The

church is just painted and looks nicely.

Their organ is good & fine ringing but they

had a most miserable preacher a stranger.

Communion at our church this afternoon  Mrs

Ames partook with them

Instead of going to her usual Unitarian service in Easton Center this morning, Evelina accompanied Almira Ames to the Easton Evangelical Congregational Society, also known as “Mr. Sheldon’s church.” Luther Sheldon was an orthodox Congregationalist, a man of “good sense and fine character”* who had once been embroiled in a difficult schism in the local church in the 1830s. This was a period when Unitarianism first developed and uprooted many Congregationalists. Sheldon and his congregation not only survived the division but, according to local historian Edmund Hands, were instrumental in keeping local rancor and partisanship to a minimum. The two separate churches settled into peaceful coexistence, and Sheldon and his wife continued to earn general approbation.

Partisanship still existed in a few pockets, however. Evelina often expressed dislike for any man of the cloth other than her own William Whitwell, and today was no exception. She might not have criticized Mr. Sheldon himself, but she had no problem slamming today’s visiting minister at the Congregational church as “a most miserable preacher.” What could he have said to earn such disdain?

For the afternoon service, Evelina and Almira returned to “our church.”

*Edmund C. Hands, Easton’s Neighborhoods, 1995, p. 131

November 5, 1851

Thread

Wednesday Nov 5th  This forenoon I painted the water pails and 

several kegs or butter firkins  Looked over my sheets

and put them in order.  Afternoon went to the sewing 

circle at Mr Horace Pools our last meeting for the 

season  Mrs Elijah Howard had the bag and we

had no work  We were invited to Mr Sheldons Mrs

Hubbell Ames & Witherell went  Father has

changed Dominic for another horse of Nelson Howard

Evelina demonstrated her range of housekeeping skills today.  She put fresh paint on wooden pails, kegs and firkins for her pantry, cellar and shed, and organized her linen closet.  Her house was in order for the coming winter.

The last Sewing Circle of the year met this afternoon at Abby and Horace Pool’s house.  As always, the Unitarian ladies gathered in fellowship to sew and have tea, probably in the company of Rev. William Whitwell.  Today, however, they had no shared sewing to do, as Nancy Howard, whose turn it was to bring “the bag” of work, failed to deliver it.  No matter; the women seemed to cope.  Some went on to visit Luther Sheldon and, presumably, his wife Sarah.

The Reverend Luther Sheldon was the minister of the local Orthodox Congregational Church. A conservative and devout man in his mid-sixties, Sheldon had been involved two decades earlier in a controversial schism within Easton’s Congregational Church that resulted in the splitting off of a new congregation of Unitarians – including the Ameses.  Old Oliver and his sons had taken a leading role in encouraging Unitarianism, and made some enemies in the process.  Rev. William Chaffin, who came to town many years later, included an extensive examination of the controversy in his 1866 town history.

What did Old Oliver think of his daughter, Sarah Witherell, and their houseguests paying a call on the Sheldons? Or did he pay any attention at all to their socializing?  He may have been too busy horse-trading.