April 22, 1852

Cobbler

1852

Thursday April 22  Worked a very little in the garden

not very pleasant but looks more like fair weather

Sewed a little on my black silk dress

Called with Augusta on Hannah & her sister

Sarah, Abby and at Willard Lothrop, Sampsons

A Pratts Holmes and at the store.  afterwards at

Olivers & Edwins carried a pr shoes to mend

A little sewing, a little gardening, and a great deal of socializing filled the hours of Evelina’s day today. After being pretty well pent up by several days of stormy weather, Evelina was ready to go out.

With her niece-in-law, Augusta Pool Gilmore, she called on another niece-in-law, Hannah Williams Gilmore. There they met Hannah’s sister, Sarah Lincoln, who was visiting from Hingham. They went on to see yet another niece, Abby Torrey, then to the homes of Willard Lothrop (one of Easton’s most active spiritualists), Joel and Martha Sampson, and others.

The Sampsons were a younger couple from Maine with five little children aged eight and under, including three-year-old twins. Joel Sampson worked at the shovel shop and was evidently devoted to Oakes Ames. Twenty years later, on hearing of Oakes’ death, “Joel Sampson, teamster and farmer of the company came home when he heard the sad news, threw himself upon his sofa and announced to his wife that the head and soul of the business was dead, that every thing would go to smash now, and told her to make ready to go back to their old farm and home in Maine, as it was no use to live here any more.”**

Throughout her travels today, Evelina carried a pair of shoes to be mended. In an area of the country well known for its shoe manufacturing, there must have been a good cobbler somewhere in town.

 

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

**William Chaffin, “Oakes Ames,” p. 2

March 14, 1852

 

Preach

1852

March 14th Sunday  Amelia & self went to hear

Willard Lothrop preach as he calls it

at this methodist meeting house but he

was not able to make out much  We called

at Mr Torreys & Augustus’ at noon

Edwin & wife were here to supper but

went home before dark.  Have read the

white Rover in Gleasons pictorial

 

With the factory shut or, in this case, with the carpenters away, Sunday was a quiet day in North Easton. This particular Sunday “was cloudy all day + in the evening + night there was considerable rain – wind north east.”* The Ames family usually went to church at a meeting house in Easton Center, but on this Sunday Evelina did something different.

Her family may have gone to the usual Unitarian service with Reverend Whitwell, but Evelina and her sister-in-law, Amelia Gilmore, stayed in the village and attended a service at the Methodist meeting house. This tiny church, since moved to another location, sat in an intersection of North Easton now known at The Rockery. So small was it that one visiting preacher declared he could “spit into the gallery from the pulpit.** Its intimate dimensions were just right for another session of Spiritualism with Willard Lothrop, who preached in his own personal way.

Evelina and Amelia may have been motivated to try to communicate with departed family members, but they came away disappointed. Lothrop failed “to make out much.”  Although Lothrop and others in Easton continued to advocate for their belief, Evelina pulled away from it. This is her final entry on the topic of Spiritualism.

 

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

**William L. Chaffin, Oakes Ames, Easton, early 20th c., p.3

February 27, 1852

Tea kettle

 

Feb 27

1852  Friday  this morning I invited Mrs Lothrop here

but she went to Mrs Jason Howards to spend the day

came here this evening  Mrs S Ames & Fred dined

here  Mrs & Mr Horace Pool  Mrs W Williams  Abby

Edwin & wife Oliver & wife & Fred & Mrs Witherell

were here to tea  All came unexpectedly.  Had 

a very pleasant visit from them.

Many folks came to call today.  Sarah Ames Lothrop and her son, Frederick Lothrop Ames, joined the Ameses for midday dinner. (Although Oliver (3) had returned to Brown, Fred hadn’t yet gone back to Harvard.) A real crowd arrived “unexpectedly” for tea.  Sarah and Fred returned, bringing Oliver Ames Jr. with them. Sarah Ames Witherell came in from the other part of the house, resulting in all three sisters-in-law being together. Newlyweds Edwin and Augusta Gilmore walked over from their nearby home, and old Mrs. Gilmore – Evelina’s mother – was already on the premises. The family gathered.

From farther away came Horace and Abby Avery Pool, uncle and aunt to the bride, Augusta.  A Mrs. W. Williams arrived, as did Abby Torrey, Evelina’s niece. Abby’s head must have been full of the previous evening’s entertainment, that of Willard Lothrop’s visit and trance. It’s likely that some of this evening’s conversation turned on spiritualism.  One wonders what Oakes and Oliver Jr. thought of the topic.

Perhaps Evelina served some ginger snaps or currant cake from Tuesday’s baking. The tea itself could have been one of any number of types. Lydia Maria Child published her opinion on the subject: “Young Hyson is supposed to be a more profitable tea than Hysons; but though the quantity to a pound is greater, it has not so much strength. In point of economy, therefore, there is not much difference between them. Hyson tea and Souchong mixed together, half and half, is a pleasant beverage, and is more healthy than green tea alone.  Be sure that water boils before it is poured upon tea  A tea-spoonful to each person, and one extra thrown in, is a good rule.  Steep ten or fifteen minutes.”*

*Lydia Maria Child, The American Frugal Housewife, 1846

 

February 26, 1852

seance-circle-2

 

Feb 1852

Thursday 26  Mrs Solomon & Mrs Willard Lothrop spent

the afternoon here.  Willard & Abby Torrey

came this evening  He went into a trance

and preached  told Abby she was a sympathetic

medium  Mother & self had a nice quiet

time in the forenoon  Mrs Witherell

came in awhile  Altered some dickeys

After a quiet morning of sewing, Evelina and her mother were entertained at the end of the day by an unusual event in the Ames parlor.  Willard Lothrop, self-proclaimed Spiritualist, visited at the Ames home where he “went into a trance and preached.”  If it wasn’t a seance, it was close. Lothrop believed he could communicate with the departed. Was there a particular person from the past – a Gilmore relative, for instance – whom Lothrop was trying to reach?

According to historian William Chaffin, “modern Spiritualism” developed in upstate New York around 1848, and spread from there. As noted previously, Easton produced its own adherents who “displayed mediumistic powers,” including Willard Lothrop. “Circles were held.  There were knockings and table-tippings and experiments in the production of musical sounds, etc.  It was not found necessary to import trance speakers, for native talent in that direction was soon developed.”** Abby Torrey, Evelina’s twenty-one year old niece, was in the parlor, too, for this session. Lothrop reached out to her, believing that she had a gift for spiritual telepathy.

Meanwhile, the previous day’s thaw “turnd cold last night + froze the ground up rough”* Carts, wagons and carriages had bumpy roads to traverse.

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

** William L. Chaffin, History of Easton, Massachusetts, 1866, p. 370

 

 

February 25, 1852

Cart

1852 Feb 25 Wednesday Was at work about the house untill

about ten and had just got seated at my sewing

when Mother & Alson came  They were here to 

dinner and this afternoon mother & self spent

at Willards. The young folks had company

Oakes & Frank are there this evening and were

having a lively time when we came away  Elizabeth

Williams was here this forenoon.  She & Susan went to

Emeline Haleys party this afternoon & evening

 

“[T]his was a warm day and thawd so much that it made the carting bad,” grumbled Old Oliver in his daily journal.  Despite the soft road bed, however, Evelina’s brother Alson Gilmore traveled by wagon or carriage to bring their mother into town from the family farm. The two came to midday dinner at the Ames’, after which Alson presumably went on his way. Mother and daughter went on to visit Willard Lothrop – Evelina had been seeking his company quite a bit lately. Under his influence, was she becoming a Spiritualist?

While the notion of communicating with the dead intrigued her, Evelina’s interest in Willard Lothrop may have been more sociable than religious.  She comments on the “young folks,” – her sons Oakes Angier and Frank Morton Ames among them – “having a lively time.” All ages seemed to be moving around today attending various gatherings that must have helped dispel some mid-winter gloom. Never mind the mud; the hint of warmth in the air must have been preferable to more snow.

February 24, 1852

img_0630-copy

A modern version of a mid-19th century specialty: Kossuth cakes*

Feb 24 Tuesday

1852  Heat the brick oven twice & baked Kossuth

plain & currant cake ginger snaps, mince &

dried apple pies  Afternoon Mrs Homan &

Ann Clarke came to the other part of the house

I went in to see them and staid to tea.  Spent

the evening at Willard Lothrops.  Called at Mr

Torreys & Augustus

It was a big baking day, with Evelina preparing a typical selection of pies, cakes – “plain and currant” –  and ginger snaps.  New to her repertoire was a Kossuth cake, a baked sponge cake with a creme center.

The Kossuth cake was named after the Hungarian political figure (and, briefly, president,) Lajos Kossuth, who was then taking refuge in the United States while trying to raise support for a return to power. During Kossuth’s visit to Maryland, a street vendor in Baltimore named a new baked confection after the hero, who was much feted as a champion of freedom.

The dessert became popular but is largely forgotten today, though the confection can still be found in parts of the south. Naturally, additions and variations to the recipe arose almost immediately, most involving the addition of chocolate poured over the top. A typical modern recipe looks more like a double sugar cookie filled with whipped cream and chocolate frosting than a creme-filled loaf cake.

 

*http://dwellinginmiddleburg.com/2014/05/06/kossuth-cakes/

 

February 22, 1852

georgewashington

1852

Feb 22nd Sunday Quite a snow storm this morning but

most all went to church.  I came home at noon on

account of a violent tooth ache and did not return.  Mrs

S Lothrop & son spent this afternoon, Frank carried

Orinthia home after meeting. Read in Grahams

Magazine  Mr Ames & self passed the evening at Edwins

It has cleared off very pleasant this evening

“It was a snowing this morning + all the forenoon and fell 2 or 3 inches deep wind southerly + thawd some  was clear at night,” according to Ames patriarch, Old Oliver. Yet the family rode through the snow to get to church. Poor Evelina got “a violent tooth ache” and had to go home after the first service. She must have felt better as the day progressed, for in the evening she and her husband, Oakes, went across the way to visit newlyweds Edwin and Augusta Gilmore.

Today was George Washington’s birthday. Born in 1732, he died in 1799, when Old Oliver was twenty years old. After Washington’s death, the young Congress of the day, whose partisanship between Federalists and the Jeffersonian Democrat-Republicans rivaled the divide we see in our modern Congress, came together to pass a resolution honoring the first president’s birthday. February 22, 1800 was dedicated to him and by 1832, the centennial of Washington’s birth, some type of observance of the holiday was customary.  The holiday did not become federal law until the 1879, and at the time was qualified as a “bank holiday.”

Old Oliver would have remembered the hero of the American Revolution and probably revered him, as most Americans did. Old Oliver was a child when the Constitution was written and ratified, and lived to see 16 presidents take office. For his generation, no American leader would be more heroic than General Washington.