June 29, 1852

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Henry Clay

(1777 – 1852)

1852

Tuesday June 29th  Have had a quiet […] sick day  have

a bad cold & cough and sick head ache

A gentleman here from Pennsylvania

to dine but I did not go to the table

Mr Bartlett here to tea from Maine

Augusta came in and cut her out a

visite & I have written to Melinda to

get some trimming for it  Ottomans came

from Boston

Evelina was sick and probably spent most of the day in bed. She didn’t eat much, missing midday dinner – with company – and possibly skipping tea, too. Perhaps she took a tray of food in her room. She must have begun to feel a bit better, however, as she eventually roused herself to cut out a “visite” for Augusta Gilmore, who came over at the end of the day.  She even wrote to her friend Melinda Orr, in Boston, to find some trim. She could get animated about a sewing project, though not much else appealed to her today.

It was “a fair warm day + verry dry,”* and probably “verry” good for the haying that was underway. Old Oliver and a team of hands would have been outdoors from sunup to sundown.

In the world beyond North Easton, a consummate, outspoken and controversial politician passed away today: Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, aged 75, died in Washington D. C., of consumption. The Ameses wouldn’t have known this, however, until they read the next day’s newspapers. But most likely they admired Clay, the “Star of the West,” and the founder of the Whig Party. Clay’s biggest opponent back in the day had been Andrew Jackson, who called Clay “the Judas of the West.”  One imagines that Oakes Ames had probably been on the side of Clay’s admirers.

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

June 19, 1852

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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.”