June 19, 1852



A “Visite”

Sat June 19th  Have been weeding in the garden and

transplanting   Spent the afternoon in 

Olivers with Mother  Mrs Witherell & Augusta

were there awhile  Finished Susans visite

quite late in the evening  It has not been

much of a job to make if I could have sat

down steady

Evelina worked in her garden today, weeding and moving some of her plants around. After midday dinner, she and her mother, who was visiting, “spent the afternoon” next door “in Olivers,” meaning at Sarah Lothrop Ames’s. In citing Oliver rather than Sarah as the owner of the house, Evelina was only following the norm of the time, whose patriarchal laws prevented women from owning property. Sarah and Evelina lived in homes that belonged solely to the males in the family.

Old Oliver, Ames patriarch above all the rest, reported that “this was a fair day wind southerly + quite warm we have bought two yoke of cattle this weeke one yoke of N Warrin of Stoughton, 6 years old for $110 and one yoke of Thomas Ames 9 or 10 years old for $100.” He was probably buying cattle to help with the approaching hay harvest.

Once indoors, perhaps even after others had gone to bed, Evelina finished a mantle for her daughter Susie. Also known as a visite or paletot or pardessus, a mantel (or mantilla, as Evelina labeled it the previous day) was a three-quarter length cloak with pagoda or cape-like sleeves. It was often adorned with lace, ruching, and especially fringe, which was very big about this time. Many visites were unlined, which no doubt simplified the process of making them. That may be why Evelina thought the garment had “not been much of a job.”



April 28, 1852

Unitarian Church, Bridgewater, Mass


Wednesday April 28  Have been to the ordination of

Mr Ballou of W Bridgewater with Oakes A & 

Sister Sarah, Mr H Ballou, Briggs of Plymouth

Brigham [illegible] Ballou of Stoughton &c

Mrs Witherell dined at old Mrs Ames, the

rest of us at Mr Thomas Ames.  On my return 

stoped at Augustus’.  Oakes A came to tea

Miss S Lincoln Rachel Augusta & Abby here

It was the middle of a work week, but the Unitarian ministry was busy. In Bridgewater, (or West Bridgewater) a Mr. Ballou was ordained as minister. The name Ballou was associated with many late 18th and 19th century men of the cloth, particularly with Hosea Ballou, an early leader of the Universalist Church. Today’s Mr. Ballou wasn’t he, but may have been a relative.

Why were the Ameses invited to this ordination? Why did they attend? What was the connection? Were they related to the Ballous? They were distantly related to various Ameses in the area, including Thomas Ames, a 52 years-old farmer, who kindly had them to dine.

On this special occasion, as the Unitarians in Bridgewater were honoring ritual and perpetuating their ilk, a forward-looking and entirely new event took place in Boston. The first electric fire alarm in the world “was rung from what is now Box 1212 for a fire on Causeway Street. Created by Dr. William Channing and Moses Farmer, the system consists of forty miles of wire, forty-five signal boxes, and sixteen alarm bells. Police officers and members of the Boston Night Watch are given keys to the locked boxes to enable them to turn in alarms.”* What’s particularly amazing is that “[p]art of the system is still in use today.”*

*Jim Vrabel, When in Boston, 2004, p. 160