November 8, 1851


Sat Nov 8th  Jane is still in Mansfield and Bridget

sick consequently I have to do the housework and

I have scarcely sat down for one moment  Alson

came up with a load of vegitables and Hannah

called and I left my work while they stopped

Mrs Witherell came home this evening and I have been

in there  Mr Ames went to Boston stopt at Canton to a

whig meeting.  Oakes & Frank brought him home.

Not only was the dependable Jane McHanna away, but the Ames’s second servant, Bridget O’Neil, was sick.  Dr. Ephraim Wales had checked in on Bridget the previous evening but she was still laying low.  Evelina, capable if disinclined, was faced with doing her own housework. She spent most of the day choring, as she called it.

Her brother, Alson Gilmore, drove a wagon up from the Gilmore family farm to deliver a “load of vegitables” to the Ameses. His daughter-in-law, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, who lived right in the village, came to call and for those visits, Evelina paused to chat.  Once they left, however, she must have plunged into sorting and storing the vegetables that Alson had brought. By this time of year, they would most likely have been root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots and potatoes. She would have stored them somewhere cool, dry and varmint-free: the cellar, if it wasn’t too wet, or the buttery or even the shed. Sharp-eyed housewife that she was, Evelina would have made sure everything was put away safely.

Oakes Ames, meanwhile, went to Boston as usual on this Saturday, but also “stopt at Canton to a whig meeting.”  The following Monday was Election Day and the party faithfuls were gathering in anticipation. This is the first mention in Evelina’s diary of Oakes’s participation in local politics. Their son, Oakes Angier, had shown interest earlier in the year, running unsuccessfully for the Easton school superintending committee, and attending the Whig convention in Springfield.  But her husband’s interest, although it had probably existed prior to this moment, had not drawn comment. Evelina mentions the meeting most likely because of the impending vote, but the statement coming so close on the heels of an undisclosed agreement she and Oakes had made only one week earlier gives creedence to the possibility that their agreement had something to do with Oakes’s waxing interest in politics.

October 26, 1851



Sunday Oct 26.  John Ames from Springfield is here at

fathers came last night.  We have all been

to meeting  Mr Whitwell preached two

excellent sermons.  Went at intermission

into Mr John R Howards with Mother and several

others  The first time I have called since

they moved.  It has rained since eleven this

morning, quite hard.

For the first time since September 21, Evelina attended church; even the “hard” rain couldn’t keep her away. She surely was pleased to be back in the family pew, head tilted up to listen to Reverend Whitwell’s “excellent” sermons, happy to visit with friends and acquaintances at intermission. The opportunity to congregate at church was central to Evelina’s social life, and she was quick to catch up.  Her visit at intermission with John and Caroline Howard was her first visit to their new home.

A cousin from Springfield, John Ames, was visiting in the other part of the house. There were several relatives named John Ames with close ties to Old Oliver, including his father and a brother. This John Ames was, most likely, a nephew of Old Oliver, the son of Old Oliver’s much older brother David. His dates were 1800-1890. He was famous for certain inventions pertaining to the manufacture of paper and with a brother, also named David, ran the Ames Paper Company in Springfield. According to one 20th century historian, “[f]rom the outset the firm, which became known as D. and J. Ames, prospered wonderfully, making money rapidly and growing until it was one of the largest and most powerful in the country.”**

A life-long bachelor, John Ames lived with a sister, Mary, and the two managed the family farm well into their old age. Oliver Jr. writes of visiting them in Springfield in 1871. The families stayed in touch.Yet Old Oliver made no mention of his nephew’s visit.  Instead, in his journal, he noted only that “it was cloudy all day to day + raind some in the day time + in the evening + night ther was considerable.” He was more interested in the rain which, given the fact that rain meant more water and more water meant more power for the factory, was perhaps understandable.

Image courtesy Benjamin L. Clark, Massachusetts Book Trade

**Lyman Horace Weeks, The History of Paper-manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916, New York, 1916, p. 125

September 9, 1851



Tuesday 9th  Frank & Mrs Mitchell returned this

morning & Oakes A went from Bridgewater to the

convention at Springfield.  Mother Mrs

Stevens & self & Susan passed the afternoon

at Mr Torreys.  The Col was very clever

gave us lots of peaches.  Harriet Mitchell

came home with them this morning and spent

the evening here.

Evelina and others enjoyed an afternoon call on John Torrey, who was evidently quite amusing, and came home with at least one basket of peaches. Frank Morton Ames brought his Aunt Harriett Mitchell back from a party in Bridgewater, but his oldest brother, Oakes Angier Ames, didn’t return with them. Instead, he traveled west to Springfield, probably by rail, to attend a Whig Convention. At the age of twenty-two, Oakes Angier was diving into politics, and the Whigs in Easton thought well enough of him to represent them at the meeting.

Led by Senators Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, the Whig Party had developed in the 1830’s as an anti-Andrew Jackson party, and had managed to put four presidents in the White House, including its present occupant, Millard Fillmore. The party would soon dissolve over the issue of slavery, leading many of its northern adherents to attach themselves to the new Republican Party. Many were against slavery because it conflicted with an economy based on free-trade. But in the meanwhile, the Whigs wanted modernization and strong policies to guide economic growth.  Jeffersonian in their preference for Congress over the Presidency, they would have said they opposed tyranny.

The convention in Springfield was held on one day, September 10, “to make the customary arrangements for the annual State elections”.*  The group of about 1,000 attendees nominated the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop of Boston as candidate for Governor and the Hon. George Grennell of Greenfield as candidate for Lieutenant-Governor. The keynote speaker at the convention, Ezra Lincoln, spoke of state matters, but spent a moment on national issues as well:

“…[I]t is felt throughout the country that a crisis of no ordinary difficulty exists. Whether we look to the debates and the proceedings of Congress; to the popular elections throughout the country; to the tone of public opinion, as indicated throughout the Union by the press, and the discussions everywhere taking place, we cannot be insensible to the fact that the stability of our institutions is put to a severe test.  It is probably left to this generation to ascertain, by a severe experiment, the soundness and vitality of those principles which were embodied by our fathers in these Constitutions, as well as of the several States, as of the Union…” *

Oakes Angier and others at the convention could not have known how severe the experiment ahead of them would be.

* Proceedings of the Whig State Convention, Held at Springfield, Massachusetts, September 10, 1851.