November 12, 1852


Friday Nov 12th

We have cleaned the store room

and Franks chamber cleaned bottles

without number  I spent most of

the forenoon about them  Mr White

got me 18 cts work of corks

Have sewed none at all  Scalded

over my ketchup & bottled it

It was time to put up the ketchup Evelina had made into glass bottles, so she went on a hunt today to pull old bottles out of the store room – and out of Frank Morton Ames’s room. Why did Frank have “bottles without number” in his chamber? The bottles were empty, presumably, but what had they contained? This was a temperance household, so Frank wouldn’t have been stashing bottles of alcohol under his cot unless he was prepared to face some serious consequences. Perhaps he took the occasional elixir (which often included alcohol as an ingredient) for his health.

The corks that Evelina obtained from Mr. White would have been imported, probably from Spain or Portugal. She used them to stop up the bottles of ketchup, perhaps dipping them first in wax to make them as airtight as possible.

Old Oliver reported that  “it was cloudy this morning and it began to rain before noon wind southerly. it cleard of[f] about sun sett and there was an inch of rain fell”*

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

July 17, 1852

Wine glass

July 17th Sat  Hannah & Mary picked some currants

yesterday and to day I have made some

currant wine had four quarts of juice

Have done but very little sewing. Have

mended some.  Oliver returned from

school to night He is not looking very well

He brought home his pictures & all his things

is in hopes to go back again but it is uncertain

Evelina’s diary entry today poses two questions for us readers. First, why was she, wife of a strict tee-totaler, making wine? The answer is that from time to time, even a temperance household needed wine for medicinal purposes. It may be, also, that the occasional dish, such as mincemeat, required some alcohol as an ingredient. Even Lydia Maria Child, who abhorred liquor, nonetheless included a recipe for currant wine in her household guide:

Break and squeeze the currants, put three pounds and a half of sugar to two quarts of juice and two quarts of water. Put in a keg or barrel. Do not close the bung tight for three or four days, that the air may escape while it is fermenting.  After it is done fermenting, close it up tight…It should not be used under a year or two. Age improves it.*

The second question is almost unanswerable. Why wasn’t Oliver (3) able to return to Brown University? He wanted to, but clearly the decision wasn’t his to make, nor did it appear to be the school’s choice. Rather, the decision to cease attendance lay with Oliver (3)’s father, Oakes Ames, who had been against his son attending college in the first place. Oakes was once described as having “inherited some measure of that Puritanical contempt for the liberal arts…”**. He had first put his foot down against Oliver going, finally relented for one year, and now was again saying no.

If we can move past Oakes’s prejudice against higher education, we can imagine that he wanted his middle son back at the factory. So much had happened at the shovel works during Oliver (3)’s absence. The old factory had burned down and a temporary one had been quickly rebuilt. A new, state-of-the-art stone factory was being raised, requiring extra supervision. And the manufacture and sale of shovels had had to continue as if nothing had happened. Quite likely, Oakes needed his son’s help. Studying was over.

It’s also possible that an additional factor may have influenced Oakes’s decision, a factor that he couldn’t yet share – at least not with Evelina. Oakes may have been privy to a concern about his son Oakes Angier’s health, a condition that would soon be apparent to all.


*Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife, p. 59

** Hon. Hosea M. Knowlton, Address at the Dedication Ceremony for the Oliver Ames High School, December 12, 1896, published  Boston, 1898, p.98


June 2, 1851




June 2d Monday  This morning being washing day I had to

work about house and have not sewed much

all day  Miss Linscott returned this morning

(I think her to be a very pleasant girl)

Worked in the flower garden a couple hours

this afternoon  Have carried my bonnet to

S Copeland to have it sewed over.  Spent most

of the afternoon in the other part of the house. Very pleasant


Pleasant skies and a light breeze made for easy drying of the Monday laundry.  Old Oliver reported that “it was cloudy + cool in the fore noon + fair + warm in the afternoon wind southwest + west.” He also noted that “Mr Buck went to Ohio.” Who was Mr. Buck? There were many by that name in Easton at the time.

In nearby Maine, something historic happened today, something that surely pleased Oakes Ames and Oliver Ames Jr..  Maine became the first state to enact a statewide prohibition on the sale or manufacture of alcoholic beverages.  Known as the “Maine Law,” the legislation was spearheaded by Neal Dow, the mayor of Portland, and signed by John Hubbard, governor of the state.  The men became known respectively as the “Napoleon of Temperance” and the “Father of Prohibition.”  Neal Dow, a Temperance Whig, was particularly prominent in his life-long campaign to rid the country of drink.

The vote in Maine was a result of an aggressive effort by temperance advocates across the country to stop the sale of alcohol. No headway had been made on the national level, so activists had organized to effect change at the state and county level, an effort that resulted in some short-term success and much long-term failure.  They had their work cut out for them.  During the 19th century, the average American consumed at least three times more alcohol than the average American in the 21st.**

Dow’s legislation didn’t hold up. Enforcement was inadequate, bootlegging became rampant and the law was repealed in 1858. The sale of alcohol resumed. The battle in Maine had ended, but the national war over alcohol would last well into the 20th century.

* Neal Dow (1804 – 1897), the “Napoleon of Temperance”

** Wikipedia






March 30, 1851



March 30 Sunday  Have not been to meeting at all to day.  My

cold is very troublesome have a very bad head ache.

could not read much.  Mr Cyrus Lothrop 3d called this 

evening & Frederick, Oakes Angier & Orinthia rode

down to Mr E Howards this evening.  Mrs Howard

has gone to Nashua to make a visit.  Mother returned

home from meeting  A very fine day

I commenced making fire in the furnace

Evelina continued feeling poorly today. After yesterday’s helping of the commercial elixir, Wistar’s Balsam of Wild Cherry, one can’t help but wonder if her headache was, in fact, a symptom of hangover from the alcohol she unknowingly ingested.

The consumption of alcohol was absolutely forbidden at the Ames’s house.  Both Oakes and his brother Oliver Jr took a temperance pledge early on, and kept it. They hoped their workmen would follow their example. In this they differed from their father who, in his heyday of running the shovel works, had allowed his workers a ration of rum as part of their regular routine.  Old Oliver’s habits had been learned in the 18th century, which had a more lenient attitude about liquor.  In the 19th century, however, tolerance of alcohol disappeared. Temperance became the banner of the day, its support increasing yearly and culminating, ultimately, in the Prohibition amendment in the 20th.

In the Ames dining room, even something as mild as cider was frowned upon.  Cider was considered by some at a “gateway” beverage to liquor and hard spirits; others found it innocuous. Evelina kept some in the pantry to put in her mince pies but never served it at table.  Once, however, she offered a tumbler of cider to her future son-in-law, Henry French when he turned down a cup of coffee. Oakes admonished them both by stating flatly that, “No cider shall be drunk at my table.”

Alcohol was a controversial issue.  If Evelina had known that the medicine she was taking was laced with alcohol, she might not have indulged.  If Oakes had known, he wouldn’t have allowed her.

*Advertisement from ca. 1900.