July 12 1851



July 12 Saturday  Have been very much engaged to day

in putting my house in order & have been to work

on the cushion to the lounge, and put the cover

on to the arm.  called in Olivers awhile.  Mrs

H Ames and Mrs Mitchell spent the day there

Mr Norris came in the stage to night & Mr & Mrs

Harris Mrs Norris from Bridgewater, Miss Foss

came with Oakes A who had been that way on an errand

Company! From Boston by way of Bridgewater came the Orr daughters and their husbands. Melinda Orr Norris with her husband Caleb, who had visited Easton just the other day, and Julianne Orr Harris and her husband, Benjamin Winslow Harris, arrived for an overnight stay with the Ameses.  Evelina spent much of the day “very much engaged” in getting the house ready for the two young couples, although she did manage to slip next door to sit with her sisters-in-law. The whole Ames property was full to the rafters.

Everyone had tasks to do today, which wasn’t unusual in that hard-working family. Old Oliver and a crew were outdoors:

“it was cloudy half the fore noon but the afternoon was pritty fair wind north part of the time + south west a part we mowd the high land back of the Factory pond and that on this side of the old pair trees. to day”  Was this mowing a forerunner of haying season?

* Pear tree


July 11, 1851



July 11th Friday  Have been to mothers to day with

Mrs Horatio Ames & Mrs Mitchell & Anna.

Called on Miss Foss with her to come home with

us but E Howard & Miss Williams are to visit

her school tomorrow.  It was late when we 

got to mothers, almost dinner time.

With sisters-in-law Sally Ames and Harriett Mitchell Ames in tow, as well as Harriett’s four-year old daughter, Anna, Evelina rode down see her mother on the family farm. The group probably joined the Gilmores for midday dinner.  Orinthia Foss was to have traveled with them, but she had to prepare for an inspection of her schoolroom.

Sally Ames (who some sources list as Sarah Hewes – another sister-in-law named Sarah!) was the wife of Horatio Ames.  She was up from Connecticut for a few days to visit her in-laws in North Easton, a town she had lived in as a bride and young mother.  Her father-in-law, Old Oliver, had built a house for her and Horatio back in the day, but the couple ended up moving to Falls Village, Connecticut, where Horatio, with marginally more success than his younger brother, William Leonard Ames, built an iron furnace operation underwritten by family funds. It was in Falls Village rather than North Easton that Sally and Horatio raised their three children, Susan, Horatio Jr., and Gustavus.  Their marriage was not a happy one; by the end of this year, Sally would be asking Horatio for a divorce.

*“Residence of H Ames Esq, Falls Village,” from Fagan’s map of Salisbury, 1853, “Connecticut’s Ames Iron Works,” Gregory Galer, Robert Gordon, and Frances Kemmish, New Haven, 1998, p. 133

July 10, 1851


July 10th  Baked in the brick oven this morning

Cassander Gilmore engaged to come here to

day but did not  Mrs Horatio Ames Mrs Witherell

Mitchell and their children father Gustavus &c &c

were here to tea.  Had strawberries from 

Mr King, his last picking.  This afternoon

finished my dress  Alson called

Evelina was quite busy today.  She baked, probably making the usual bread, ginger snaps and a pantry’s worth of pies. Although she doesn’t specify what kind, this was the time of year for rhubarb and her pies may have been made of the very fruit she grew in her back yard. She culled through the last of the available local strawberries, too; there would be no more this season.

Much of this kitchen work was preparation for afternoon tea, which was served to a raft of Ames relatives.  Sally Hewes Ames, Horatio’s wife, was there with her son, Gustavus, along with the Witherells and Father Ames from the other part of the house.  Sister-in-law Harriett Ames Mitchell and her three children were there.  Where was Harriett’s husband, Asa Mitchell? Presumably Oakes, Susie and her three older brothers were at table, too.

When she did get out of the cook room, Evelina finally finished sewing her new dress, and had a visit from her brother, Alson Gilmore.

July 9, 1851


1851 July 9th  Julia is here again to day and my dress

not finished yet  it will take me two hours

or more to get it done  I think it will suit 

me pretty well when it is finished  Mrs Horatio

Ames & Gustavus came to Father Ames this 

afternoon  Frank and Gustavus went to Mr Algers

to get some butter

William Leonard Ames, fifth child and youngest surviving son of Old Oliver and Susannah Angier Ames, was born on this day in 1812, less than a month after the United States declared war against Great Britain. He came along at an unsettled moment in Old Oliver’s life; the latter was attempting to establish a textile factory in Easton, an enterprise that would fail when “peace came along and spoilt the business.”*

William grew up having to compete with his older brothers, Oakes, Horatio and Oliver Jr.  In 1851, he was still vying for his place in the sun, so far without much success. Several years earlier, William had undertaken the management of two separate iron furnace operations in New Jersey, both of which were underwritten by Ames money from Easton. He was not successful, and blamed his lack of success on his brother Oakes. William believed that Oakes, referred to by one historian as “the emperor of New Jersey operations,”** was selfishly working against him.  “Oakes sole object […] is to make everything as unpleasant for me as it can be.”**

The enterprise may have been unlikely to succeed all along. William was focused quite specifically on operational issues while Oakes was looking at the profits to be made from various land deals on the properties in question.  The two brothers had different goals.

William began to close down his affairs in the east and, with his young family, prepared to move west to Minnesota. There, in the St. Paul area, he found success in cattle ranching and lumber. Credited with introducing the first Shorthorn cattle into the territory, “[h]is large and successful farm […] was a practical advertisement for Minnesota as an agricultural region”*** Despite the distance between him and the family in Easton, William made periodic trips back east to see his father, bringing some of his children along.  His only daughter, Amelia, eventually returned to the east to live.

Of all the offspring of Old Oliver and Susannah, William was the most married and had the most children.  His wives, the first two of whom died before he did, were Emily Louise Brown, Amelia Hall, and Anna Pratt Hines.  He and Amelia had six boys and one girl. He and Anna, too, had one son not long before William died, in 1873.

* Oliver Ames, journal

** Gregory J. Galer, Forging Ahead, Brown University

*** ames.spps.org