March 27, 1852



March 27  Sat  Have been mending again to day and painted

some spots in the back entry chamber  Mrs Witherell

& Mrs Lovell from Bridgewater came to see Mrs Witherell

& spent the day.  Mrs Lovell called on Hannah.

Mrs S Ames came in soon after dinner and staid

most of the afternoon  We called to see Mrs

Witherell & Lovell  Have read in the papers this


Sarah Ames Witherell, Evelina’s sister-in-law, had visitors today from Bridgewater. Sarah’s mother-in-law, Lydia Witherell, and a Mrs. Lovell called. Mrs. Witherell was a recent widow, more recent even than her daughter-in-law, Sarah, who had been widowed three years earlier. Where Sarah’s late husband, Nathaniel Witherell, Jr. had died in October, 1848, his father, Nathaniel Witherell, Sr., had passed away in January of this year. Sarah and her two children, George and Emily, had traveled through a snowstorm to attend the funeral.

The Mrs. Lovell who came to call may have been Emeline Perry Creasy Lovell,  wife of Reverend Stephen Lovell, former resident of Easton and one-time pastor of the recently defunct Protestant Methodist church in Easton. But the clergyman and his wife possibly lived in Boston, too, so this Mrs. Lovell “from Bridgewater” may have been someone else. Yet her extra visit to see Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, who was still ailing, suggests that this Mrs. Lovell was familiar with at least some of the residents of North Easton.

While this visiting was going on, Evelina stayed on her side of the house with her other close sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames.  How did it work to have two separate social conversations going on under one roof, one on each side of divided parlor walls? One imagines that Evelina and Sarah Ames were curious about the nature of the call in “the other part of the house.”

February 16, 1851

Hoarhound or horehound

Hoarhound or horehound

Sun Feb 16  Did not go to church to day on account of a bad

cough  Boiled Molasses, honey, & sugar and a little 

hoarhound for it.  Jane has been to meeting at the

boarding house.  Michael & sister called to see her.

Have been reading some in Margaret by Mr Judd

do not like it at all I believe I shall not finish it

but can spend my time for a better purpose

Mr Whitwell exchanged with Mr Lovell  Very pleasant

Evelina’s cold was long gone, but her cough lingered.  To make it better, she cooked up a nostrum that included hoarhound (or horehound), a medicinal herb cultivated for its efficacy as an expectorant.  She likely grew it in her kitchen garden, or knew where to find it wild.  Brewed with honey, sugar and molasses – the latter being recommended by many household guides as good for the throat –  Evelina’s dose of medicine was warm and comforting.

Her cough may have been real, but it probably wasn’t the only reason Evelina avoided going to meeting this morning.  At church, she would have had to face some of the women who had not attended her Sewing Circle meeting. Her feelings may still have been too hurt to do so and her cough made an excellent excuse for her absence.

Everyone else seemed to be practicing their faith today. The Ames family presumably all went to church and heard Reverend Stephen Lovell stand in for Reverend Whitwell; the two men had finally swapped meetings as originally planned a few weeks ago.  Jane McHanna, the Ames servant originally from Ireland, attended a Catholic service held in the dining room of the Ames boarding house, and apparently came home with fellow-countrymen Michael Burns, the Ames coachman, and his sister.

Today’s new book, Margaret by Reverend Sylvester Judd, did not pass muster.  Evelina started the novel, a story about a young woman raised in the wilds of Maine, and emphatically did “not like it at all.”   Reverend Judd, a Unitarian minister, was a peripheral member of the Transcendental circle; his book is considered one of a very few works of Transcendental fiction.  Margaret Fuller, author of Woman in the Nineteenth Century,  described it as a “work of great power and richness” but critics and other readers such as Evelina found the book incomprehensible.

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.

January 20, 1851


Jan 20th Monday  This morning worked about the house as usual

on washing days & varnished Susans wooden doll.

Jane put her clothes out but soon had to take them

in again as it commenced raining.  This afternoon

I have been mending Oakes Angiers black pants

and finished cutting Susans plaid sack

This evening have been working on Susan’s plaid

apron and reading Mr Lovell’s paper

Keeping clothes clean is always a challenge, but it was especially so in the 19th century when doing laundry was an all-day, manual chore.  Small wonder, then, that little girls wore “sacks” or aprons over their dresses to keep their outfits from getting soiled.  Sacks had no buttons, so were easier to wash than dresses. They were rather shapeless, sleeveless tunics, often made from simple muslin; aprons were the same idea except fitted with a sash. There were no hard and fast rules about the design or material, however.  To imagine the approximate outline of what Evelina was making for Susie, think of the little girls in John Singer Sargent’s famous 1882 portrait, “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit,” at the MFA.  Three of the four daughters are wearing something over their dresses. Later in the century, sacks and aprons  would evolve into pinafores, an iteration that became as much decorative as protective.  Aprons never went away, however.

After sewing for most of the day, Evelina took up “Mr. Lovell’s paper” to read. Reverend Stephen Lovell lived in Easton and was, for a few years, minister of the short-lived Protestant Methodist church.  Although Rev. Lovell “gave general satisfaction,” attendance at his church was “feeble,” according to town historian William Chaffin, so the congregation disbanded about this time.  Still, Lovell remained visible in town through his involvement with Olive Branch.

Olive Branch was a popular weekly newspaper published in Boston by Reverend Thomas F. Norris .  Although Chaffin writes that Lovell was editor of this paper, all other sources assign that honor to Norris.  Olive Branch proclaimed itself to be “Devoted to Christianity, Mutual Rights, Polite Literature, Liberal Intelligence, Agriculture, and the Arts.” *  It advocated peace in the increasingly divisive period leading up to the Civil War.  Norris, Lovell and others who worked for the paper – women among them – must have been disheartened by the elusiveness of their goal.  The paper ran from January 1837 through December 1860.

* Joanna River, “Eliza Ann Woodruff Hopkins and The Olive Branch,”