October 30, 1852


Sat Oct 30th Mr Dawes & Miss A[l]ger left for

Boston this morning  Mrs S Ames watched 

last night with Mr Swains child and Mrs Witherell

is there to day  I have been very busy about

house to day and wish I was able to do

a great deal more as it is much out of order

Yesterday the Ames women visited Ann and John Swain’s house to see their ailing infant son. Today Sarah Lothrop Ames and Sarah Ames Witherell were back, taking turns watching. The outlook for the one-year old wasn’t good, evidently. Evelina would go over to the Swains for the night, being too busy during the day to help.

Evelina was straightening up her house after the departure of the latest houseguests, Mr. Dawes and Miss M. J. Alger. It was the first time in days that her home was back to normal, with only family in residence.  She found everything to be “much out of order,” and no doubt she and her servants bustled about choring and setting things to rights. She seemed too busy even to worry about whether or not her daughter Susie was practicing the piano.

In unrelated news from the Pacific Northwest, this 1852 date marks the first time that the name “Seattle” appeared in print, in a pair of advertisements in The Columbian, a nascent newspaper in Olympia. The city we know today, then just a small settlement, had been known informally as Duwamps, but had been recently renamed after Chief Seattle, a leader of the local Suquamish tribe. How remote and unconnected Evelina would have considered the beginnings of a city so far from her kin and beyond her ken.



September 3, 1852



Friday Sept 3d  Watched with Mrs Savage last night

She is very low but had a pretty comfortable

night I came home about 5 Oclock and

went to bed got up at nine  Went over to

Edwins to see how she was found her some

better  Have sewed on Shirts  Have

got six cut out and some partly made


Evelina was the nurse of the day, tending to two sick women in the neighborhood. She spent the night at the Savage’s home to watch over the ailing Hannah Savage. Hannah had been dying of tuberculosis for months and, in this final stage, many women in the neighborhood were taking turns keeping vigil at night. It wouldn’t be long now.

Getting home at dawn, Evelina was able to sleep in only until about nine, whereupon she rose and bustled right into her day.  She walked across the street to check on her young neighbor, Augusta Gilmore, who had been taken ill with cholera morbus the day before. Augusta was “some better,” which good news enabled Evelina to go home and attend to her sewing. In production was a big batch of shirts for husband Oakes and sons Oliver (3), Frank Morton and, probably, Oakes Angier, despite his absence.  Her preference seemed to be to sew many at once, rather than singly. Helping her, too, must have been at least one of the Irish maids who worked for her.

July 29, 1852


Thursday July 29th  Julia has been here again

to day worked for me untill about

three and cut Mary a dress  Mrs G

Ames Mrs S Ames Helen Emily & self

have passed the afternoon at Mr B

Algers coming home  Dr Wales stoped

the carriage & asked me to go there and watch with his wife

Evelina and her dressmaker sewed for hours today, presumably working on Evelina’s new traveling outfit but also cutting out a dress for the maid, Mary. In the late afternoon, Evelina joined the visiting Almira Ames, sister-in-law Sarah Lothrop Ames and two nieces, Helen Angier Ames and Sarah Emily Witherell at the home of the Algers in Easton.

Ephraim Wales, a young doctor in town, evidently crossed paths with Evelina as she, and probably some of the other ladies, traveled home after their call on the Algers. Dr. Wales wanted Evelina to watch with his wife, Maria. Maria must have been ill or possibly even in labor.  Subsequent records don’t reveal why a doctor wanted Evelina to tend to his wife. But it does seem that Evelina was becoming the go-to care-giver in various homes. She was clearly generous with her time, and her bedside skills must have been excellent.

July 26, 1852


Monday July 26th  Hannah & Mary washed and I

have been sewing most of the day but have

a head ache  Have engaged to watch with

Mrs Savage, but do not feel like sitting 

up all night  We have had a rainy

day which was very much needed and

I hope it will make my garden look


“[I]t was cloudy this morning wind south east and it raind during the day half an inch or more,” reported daily chronicler Oliver Ames. He had been looking for rain all summer and hadn’t seen enough of it. Today’s rain was most welcome; parlor gardens would be perkier and vegetable patches here and there would be improved.  Evelina hoped her garden would “look better.”

What was blooming in Evelina’s garden at this time of year? So many flowers had gone by by this point in the summer, having peaked between May and early July, yet perennials like Black-eyed Susans and Coneflowers would be in full presentation. If Evelina had geraniums, or other annuals, they too might still be stretching toward the sun – and grateful for the day’s rain. The fact that Evelina was able to gather a “boquet” to take to a friend at church the day before proves that flowers were alive and well in her garden.

Evelina, unfortunately, wasn’t feeling at the top of her game. Nonetheless, she agreed to sit up over night with her ailing neighbor, Hannah Savage. Perhaps Evelina was conscious that her acute headache couldn’t compare with Mrs. Savage’s ongoing battle with tuberculosis. Evelina would get over her ailment but Hannah would die from hers.

April 13, 1852



Tuesday April 13th  Watched with Mrs Brett last night

She is quite low seemed to like my being there and

urged my coming to see her often and said she meant

to come to see me and be more friendly if she ever

gets well  said her Mother told her in her last hours

to come to me for advice and regretted that she

had not done so but meant to in future  The rain of 

the morning has turned into a heavy snowstorm  Susan & self

carried our work and stopt a couple of hours with Mrs W

A young neighborhood wife named Eveline Brett was ill, probably with childbed fever. Evelina went to stay with her during the night, taking her turn with family members and other neighbors to watch, suggesting that some must have thought that the new mother wouldn’t survive.

Modern historian Jack Larkin has described this neighborly service as “one of the commonest of rituals.”* In towns across New England, when someone was seriously ill, or “dangerously sick,” as Evelina noted a few days ago, “neighbors took turns staying through the night at the sick bed to allow exhausted family members to sleep. Watchers could administer medicine when needed, but, far more important, they provided a continuous comforting presence – as well as witnesses who could quickly gather the family around if death seemed imminent.” *

Evelina’s personal experience on this occasion was especially rewarding. The young mother confided that Evelina’s presence was truly comforting and that if she recovered, she hoped she could go to Evelina for advice. Happily, Eveline Brett would indeed survive her illness and, in the future, bring her baby by to visit the understanding woman who had given her such comfort.


*Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, New York, 1988, p. 93