March 26, 1852




Friday March 26  Mrs S Ames returned from Boston last

night, had unpleasant weather for two days.  She called

at Mr Orrs found them all well. Julia is there

yet with her little one  Mrs S Ames & Witherell

called on Mrs Elizabeth Lothrop and invited me

to go with them but I felt it more my duty to call

on Mrs Swain, did so, and was prevailed upon to 

spend the afternoon & evening.  She has weaned her

babe, has been quite unwell but is now better

Two young women closely connected to Evelina recently weaned their babies. Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, wife of Evelina’s nephew Augustus, had just weaned her seven month old son, Willie. Ann Swain, wife of the head clerk of the shovel works, John Swain, had done the same with her five month old boy, John.

Weaning was an anxious time for both babies and mothers, although in this circumstance it appears the babies came through the ordeal better than their mothers, at least at first. Both Hannah and Ann had been unwell during the process. Evelina, in her attentive way, had spent time with the two young mothers while they ailed. As a practiced mother who had nursed and weaned five babies of her own, she may have offered advice and provided significant comfort to the younger women.

In Boston on this day in 1852, far from the concerns of the nursery, a new house of worship, the Temple Ohabei Shalom, the first synagogue in Boston, was consecrated. Although the temple, built on Warren Street, is no longer standing, we know that was architecturally handsome and well-appointed. It could seat 400 worshipers and also offered an area for a Hebrew School, a meeting room, and a bath, known as a mikveh.* A temple by the same names exists today on Beacon Street in Brookline.

Although Easton now has a synagogue, the Temple Chayai Shalom, it did not have one, nor did it have a visible Jewish community, in 1852.


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

March 4, 1852

Shovel Shop Pond And The Island North Easton, MA

Replacement buildings on a section of the Ames shovel complex


March 4 Thursday  Scott & Holbrook are setting glass at

the shop to day  They have the front entry partly

painted  I carried my work into Edwins this

forenoon  mended O Angiers shop coat  This afternoon

have been to Mr Torreys with Augustus & Lavinia

Called a few moments on Hannah  She has a 

sore mouth and is weaning her child

Evelina addresses her day calmly, as always keeping her distance from the goings-on at O. Ames & Sons. Most other residents of North Easton were still reeling, no doubt, from the huge fire that had burned down a majority of shovel factory buildings over the night of March 2. The sun was shining and the wind was out of the north west, pushing around remnant smoke still rising from the ruins of the complex of wooden buildings. Shovel shop employees had no regular job to go to and the owners had some serious decisions to make, fast.

Clean-up from the huge fire was underway, probably by the labor of the very men whose factory jobs had been temporarily eliminated. The men who had been painting and papering at the Ames’s house, for instance, were co-opted to set glass at the shop, suggesting that new panes of glass – the originals probably having been blown out by the fire – were going into the windows of the one or two buildings that had survived.

As town historian Ed Hands points out, “the Ames family and the neighborhood rebounded quickly.”*  Old Oliver and his sons Oakes and Oliver Ames Jr. made a two-fold decision. The first was to create temporary structures to house the manufacturing so that shovel making could resume as quickly as possible.  The second was to create “new, permanent stone shops,”* sturdy, nonflammable structures that could outwit any new fire.

There was insurance money to cover at least some of the rebuilding. Sources differ on the amount of damage that the fire inflicted, but suggest it was between $30,000 and $40,000. The amount of insurance coverage is also uncertain. Old Oliver “states that there was $3,000 worth of insurance on the buildings”** but, according to industrial historian Greg Galer, it’s likely that the Ameses had increased insurance coverage on the factory back in November, 1851. Whatever the actual dollar cost was, “[t]he company bounced back quickly from the devastation, and seemingly without significant financial trauma.”**

*Edmund C. Hands, Easton’s Neighborhoods, Easton, 1995, p. 163

** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, MIT, 1989, p. 249