January 7, 1852




Wednesday Jan 7th

Heat the brick oven baked a loaf

of brown bread two loaves of fruit cake for

Augusta & mince pies  A & L were at Edwins

this forenoon. This afternoon have sewed for me on 

Susans dress.  I have been making frosting for

the cake  Helen has been in and the girls have had

a nice time over it  Frank carried them home


Augusta Pool and Lavinia Gilmore were once again helping Lavinia’s Aunt Evelina. Helen Angier Ames, too, came over from next door, and the young maidens had “a nice time over it.” They did a little sewing for Evelina – that must have pleased her – and helped prepare frosting for Augusta’s wedding cake, which Evelina had kindly undertaken to make, along with all the regular baking she was doing for her family. Augusta was to be married the next day to Evelina’s nephew, Edwin Williams Gilmore.

If the women were following the instructions of Sarah Josepha Hale, they would have made “Iceing for Cakes,” according to the following instructions:

Beat the whites of four eggs to a stiff foam, and add gradually three quarters of a pound of the best double-refined loaf sugar, pounded and sifted; mix in the juice of half a lemon, or a tea-spoonful of rose water.  Beat the mixture till very light and white; place the cake before the fire, pour over the iceing, and smooth over the top and sides with the back of a spoon.”**

When it got late, Frank Morton Ames took Augusta and Cousin Lavinia back to their respective families in the countryside. The light of a full moon guided them along in a sleigh over snow that was “now about a futt deep.”***

* Image of 19th century wedding cake courtesy of http://www.fourpoundsflour.com

**Sarah Josepha Hale, The Good Housekeeper, 1841, p. 101

***Journal of Oliver Ames, Courtesy of Stonehill College Archives



December 22, 1851



Monday Dec 22d  Washed the dishes with Susan, made

the beds &c and then went to work on the hour glass

table got it made about the middle of the afternoon

Mr Ames went to Canton this afternoon  Mrs Mc

Hanna to Mr Savages  Spent the evening at 

Augustus  Went with Oakes Angier in the sleigh

as he was going to Mr Whitwells  They went this

afternoon to the funeral of Lewis Keith

Domestic chores and neighborhood errands reigned on this winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. Jane McHanna did laundry, little Susie helped wash dishes, and Evelina made the beds. Evelina had a special project, too, that she worked on: an hourglass table she was making to give to her nephew, Edwin Gilmore, and his bride-to-be, Augusta Pool.  She made major progress on it, but what was it?  Does any reader know about the design and/or purpose of an hourglass table?

In the afternoon, after the midday dinner, family members rode out in various directions. Under a cold, cloudy sky, Oakes Ames went north to Canton, to the family works there or perhaps to the Kinsley’s. Oakes Angier drove a sleigh south to the minister’s house in order to attend the funeral of a local farmer, Lewis Keith.  Evelina rode along with her son but stopped to visit her nephew, Augustus Gilmore.  Jane McHanna, meanwhile, went out on foot to see William and Hannah Savage, who lived in the village.  Mrs. Savage was poorly.

Did anyone tell a ghost story tonight after dark fell? Such tales were customary for some families at winter solstice.  On her way home from her nephew’s, was Evelina able to see Orion in the night sky through the clouds?

*Image courtesy of http://www.dreamviews.com