August 16, 1851


Sat 16th Aug  Have been to work on my white loose dress

that Julia cut out some time since and it is ready for

the washtub  Frank and Oliver came from Bridgewater about

three and brought home Charles Mitchell & Sister Harriet

Mr Brett two Miss Tolmans from New Bedford Jane & William

Howard & Orinthia came & went to the shop about 5 Oclock

The party at Robbins Pond in Bridgewater may have ended, but the festive mood continued.  Oakes Angier Ames headed into Boston, but his brothers Oliver (3) and Frank Morton returned from Bridgewater with their Aunt Harriett and her brother-in-law, Charles Mitchell and, perhaps, others. At the same time or maybe just a short while later, Orinthia Foss and a spill of friends to whom Evelina had been introduced only a few days earlier arrived and went to the factory.

Why this sociable group visited the shovel factory at the end of the day is a mystery. Were they delivering the Ames brothers back to work? Were they visiting someone else there? Did Oakes or Oliver Jr. find it amusing? Was Old Oliver privy to this after-party?

Evelina, meanwhile, was working on her wardrobe and was ready to put a new dress into the washtub.  She might have looked up from her sewing to see the young people drive by.


August 15, 1851

Vintage Ames Shovel

Vintage Ames Shovel

Friday 15th Aug  Julia here to work to day cutting me

a purple loos dress & cutting a pink french

calico for Susan.  Made a childs waist to it.

Oakes Frank & Oliver went this afternoon

to Robbins pond in E Bridgewater to a party.

Oakes A is to go from there to Boston tomorrow

I have passed the afternoon at Mr Peckhams

had a pleasant visit

Robbins Pond, where the Ames sons and their Aunt Harriett went today for a party, is in Bridgewater and is known today for its bass fishing.  Who hosted the party there in 1851 isn’t known, but all the Ameses, including Evelina, were invited.  Evelina declined, however, suggesting yesterday that she might enjoy herself too much if she went. She went to call on the Peckhams instead.

On a much more serious note, today marks the one year anniversary of a terrible accident at the shovel factory. According to Old Oliver, an employee named William Loftis “was hurt so bad yesterday by leting a shovel catch in the polishing wheel that he dyed.” Loftis was an illiterate laborer in his late twenties. Like the Middleton and Maccready families with whom he lived, he had immigrated from Ireland.

Old Oliver seemed to blame Loftis for getting caught in the machinery, perhaps through inattention or carelessness. He doesn’t suggest that the factory was at all at fault, or that the machinery could be reconfigured in a way to make it less dangerous. As far as Old Oliver and most factory owners at the time were concerned, employment carried a certain level of risk, risk that was assumed by any man who received a pay check.

It’s doubtful that the Ames family was indifferent to the fate of William Loftis, however. It’s likely that Evelina or one of her sisters-in-law sewed a shroud for the body for a proper burial. Knowing Oakes Ames’s instinctive kindness to strangers and employees, he probably would have reached out to Loftis’s family. The absence of a widow and children, however, suggests that Loftis was simply buried and simply forgotten.