September 13, 1852

Towel

Monday Sept 13th  Catharine has washed all the fine

clothes & towels &c  We had 26 towels and 21 shirts

Hannah got up about nine or ten and went to

work some  I have starched most of the clothes

Have passed the afternoon in the other part

of the house with Mother & Mrs Stevens.  William

& Angier are there came three or four days

since

With the addition of all the new men’s shirts that Evelina had been sewing, the laundry this week was heaping. Two servants worked on the wash, while Evelina set items in starch. Fortunately, the day was sunny and the laundry could be hung outside. It was a busy Monday around the wash tubs.

On or close to this date in 1852, a campaign biography of Franklin Pierce was published in Boston by Ticknor, Reed and Fields. The Life of Franklin Pierce was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a friend of Pierce since their days at Bowdoin College. The purpose of the bio was to present the Democratic candidate to the voting populace at large, particularly in the areas of the country, such as the burgeoning northwest, where he was less well known. Publishing a biography was a typical campaign strategy at the time for major presidential contenders.

Although Hawthorne, who was famous as the author of The House of Seven Gables, readily admitted that this kind of writing was “remote from his customary occupation,”* he threw himself into the project. He softened Pierce’s well-known pro-slavery stance by emphasizing his friend’s peaceful and pragmatic nature. He explained Pierce as believing that slavery would disappear on its own without human intervention. It needed no management or interference. In sour jest, some abolitionists and others responded that this biography was Hawthorne’s best work of fiction yet.

As we know, Pierce did get elected; perhaps the campaign biography helped. With gratitude, Pierce appointed Hawthorne to a consulship in Liverpool, a lucrative post. Hawthorne needed the money. The two men remained friends for the rest of their lives, until Hawthorne’s death in his sleep in May, 1864, while visiting the Pierces.

*Nathaniel Hawthorne, Life of Franklin Pierce, Boston, 1852, Introduction.

September 12, 1852

Peach

Sunday Sept 12th  A very stormy day and none of the 

family have been to church.  Frank  C Hobart

& Helen went to the meeting house but there

was no meeting  Mr Ames & self laid down

and read “Poor rich man and Rich poor man”

Mother is better  Hannah has been to

[illegible] in the rain but is not able to work.

Cate Hobart, William & Olivers family came in this evening to eat peaches

Bad weather kept most folks indoors on this Sabbath day. Old Oliver reported a more than adequate rainfall: “it raind last night and nearly all day to day wind sotherly and warm   in that has fell yesterday + to day there is one inch + nine tenths of an inch.”* Despite the rain, Frank Morton Ames carried his cousin Helen and her classmate Catherine Hobart to church, but the service was cancelled. They must have had a wet ride down and back, but perhaps enjoyed the journey anyway.

Inside the Ames homestead, things were pretty quiet. Old Hannah Gilmore was feeling better, but servant Hannah Murphy was not. Evelina and Oakes spent some time upstairs and together read a story, probably from one of Evelina’s periodicals. Son Oliver (3) was likely to be reading, too. Perhaps Oakes Angier was reading or resting, in the interest of maintaining the good health he appeared to have regained. Certainly all three sons appeared late in the day, when family from around the compound gathered for tea.  William Leonard Ames and his young son, Angier Ames, who were staying with Old Oliver, popped in from the other part of the house. Oliver Ames Jr., his wife Sarah Lothrop Ames, daughter Helen and friend Catherine, on the other hand, had to cross the wet yard to attend. The big draw appears to have been peaches, a fresh, local and strictly seasonal treat.

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

September 10, 1852

Conductor

Friday Sept 10th  Mother Mrs Stevens Susan & self rode to

the shops this morning.  Mother seemed as delighted

as a child  we called on Mrs Shepherd also invited 

her to come here Saturday  Have passed the

afternoon at Mr Torreys Augustus & wife were

there  Mr Torrey very sociable & clever

Oakes A returned home from Burlington yesterday

and is looking much better

Oakes Angier Ames returned to Easton today, looking healthier than when he had left three weeks earlier. Family members would have hoped that the 23-year-old had recovered from his lung ailment in the fresh air of Vermont, that his indisposition hadn’t proved to be consumption. No doubt, he hoped that, too.

Another male relative also arrived in town; although not traveling together, both men must have arrived by train at Boston, then Stoughton or Taunton, and then traveled by carriage to North Easton. William Leonard Ames “came here from Minesota the 10th,”* bringing with him his five-year old son, Angier Ames. He had left his wife back in St. Paul with their older son, William Leonard Ames Jr., and their youngest child, Oliver Ames. William visited Easton periodically and always stayed with his father. He and Oakes Ames did not get on well, as we have seen before, and we can perhaps infer from Evelina’s failure to mention his arrival that she wasn’t keen on William, either.

With her friend Mrs. Stevens in tow, Evelina took her mother and daughter out on a number of calls. Her mother enjoyed the ride around the new shop, and all seemed to enjoy an afternoon visiting Col. John Torrey in the village. He was a widower of Evelina’s late older sister, Hannah. Evelina seemed to be planning a special tea for the following day, perhaps in honor of Mrs. Stevens.

 

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

July 27, 1852

 

Asleep

Tuesday July 27th  Mrs Savage had quite a

comfortable night & I came home a

little before 5 Oclock & went to bed

did not rise untill nearly nine

Elizabeth Pool & Augusta came

in this forenoon with their work

Mrs Whitwell Reed Howard & Miss

Jarvis called on us all & Alsons wife

was here to tea & Mother at Augustus’

Evelina’s all-nighter at the bedside of Mrs. Savage didn’t seem to impinge on her day.  After a catch-up sleep in the early morning, she was back on her feet.  Augusta Gilmore and her young sister Elizabeth came over “with their work,” meaning that they brought some sewing with them, and the women sat, sewed, and visited. Later in the day, several ladies from her Unitarian circle of friends “called on us”.  Her brother Alson’s wife, Henrietta Williams Gilmore, came by for tea. A most sociable day, it was.

In the other part of the house, “Horatio Ames Jun r came here to day.”* Horatio was, obviously, the eldest son of Horatio Ames, who was the brother of Oakes, Oliver Jr., Sarah Witherell, Harriet Mitchell and William Leonard Ames. Repeating previous posts, Horatio ran a forge in Connecticut, far from the shovel shop in Easton, but still connected to it financially and emotionally. He and his son were not on friendly terms, and it’s hard to determine just what had brought Horatio Jr to Easton.  He arrived in the evening and for some reason Evelina didn’t mention it in her diary.

 

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

 

February 12, 1852

Abraham_Lincoln_by_Byers,_1858_-_crop

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)

ca. 1858

Feb 1852

Thursday 12th Had a number of calls quite early

Augustus Edwin & August[a] came to look at

the engravings and I began to think I never

should get the room in order.  This afternoon Oliver

hung the pictures.  Augusta came in and we called 

on Mrs J Wms about Olivers shirts that she is making

and at Augustus.  Mrs Lake called.  William returned home.

William Leonard Ames, brother of Oakes and Oliver Jr., “went home to day”*after a ten-day visit. William had most likely stayed with his sister Sarah Ames Witherell and father, Old Oliver, in the other part of the house. Yet today was the first day that Evelina mentioned his presence, suggesting, as before, that relations between Oakes and William were cool.  The men had had a parting of the ways over the demise of William’s iron company, and William had migrated to Minnesota.

Another person considerably west of North Easton was former U.S. Representative Abraham Lincoln who turned 43 today. He was practicing law. He had recently declined the offer of the Governorship of Oregon, and was beginning to settle back into a life away from politics. Future events – most notably, the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 and his ongoing opposition to slavery – would reinvigorate his interest.

Evelina, meanwhile, concentrated on hanging her new engravings in the parlor, and showed them off to her nephews. She also checked on the status of some shirts she had ordered sewn for Oliver (3).

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

 

February 4, 1852

8mmIdeas_instagram

Mending

1852

Wednesday 4th Feb  Have been mending shirts and have

done up some collars & sleeves &c This evening

have been to Alsons with Mr Ames, met the 

Pools Mr & Mrs A Howard & Harvey  had a 

pretty lively time.  Edwin & Augustus with their

wives were also there  It is a beautiful moonshiny

night and have had a pleasant ride.  O A & Oliver

went to a ball to Canton.

Evelina sat with her sewing and mending for most of the day, catching up on some of the more ordinary aspects of keeping her family well-clothed. She was motivated in part by the need to prepare her son Oliver (3)’s clothes for his return to college.  Her diligence was rewarded; she got a lot of work done, and at the end of the day she and Oakes went out for the evening. Right next door, in the other part of the house, Oakes’s youngest brother William Leonard was visiting, yet Evelina doesn’t mention him.

She and Oakes rode south to her brother’s farm, where they met with family and friends for “a pretty lively time.” They saw some of the Pools, an extended family in the area, and Asa and Henrietta Howard, another farming family. (A year earlier, Evelina had sewn a shroud for one of the Howard’s children.) The Harveys, from whom Evelina bought butter, were present as well.

The beautiful moon, not quite full, shone down from a starry sky on other winter gatherings.  Oliver Ames (3) turned 21 years old today, after all; he celebrated the occasion with his older brother, Oakes Angier, by attending a dance in Canton. One imagines that they had a good time, too.

 

 

 

 

 

October 10, 1851

Track

Friday Oct 10th  This forenoon made the skirt to my

cashmere dress and sewed some for Harriet.  This 

afternoon Mrs H Mitchell and children left with

William for Erie.  They are to stop a few days in 

Goshen with William and then go on to meet Asa at

Erie  Hannah called with Eddy a few moments when

she returned I went as far as the store & got some

Linings for my sleeves & Susans dress

Back on April 19, Harriett Ames Mitchell and her three children, Frank, John and Anna, had arrived in North Easton from Pittsburgh.  Harriett’s husband, Asa Mitchell, had not arrived with them, although he visited North Easton briefly later in the summer. Harriett and the children had spent six months in North Easton, mostly without Asa, staying off and on with Harriett’s father, Old Oliver, and her sister Sarah Witherell. They had also stayed in Bridgewater, where the Mitchell family lived.  Now, the family was traveling back to Pennsylvania, this time to Erie, where they would meet up with Asa. Harriett’s next oldest brother, William Leonard Ames, who had been visiting Old Oliver, too, “went from here with them.”*

Erie, Pennsylvania had just that year been chartered as a city, and was becoming a thriving manufacturing spot. As one modern historian has noted, “Erie was, of course, aided greatly by its proximity to the coal fields of Pennsylvania.”**  It was that proximity to coal that must have drawn Asa Mitchell to the town; he was a dealer in the coal market. Evelina speaks very little about Asa and from that it’s tempting to infer that Asa didn’t have a strong roll in the Ames family life.  He may have played a part in the business dynamics of the various Ames enterprises, however, but if Evelina knew about that, she didn’t mention it.

What did Evelina think about her sister-in-law moving away again? Evelina had a brother, John, who also had moved away from the area, but most of her family was nearby.  Did she ever think about life beyond eastern Massachusetts?  Did she ever want to board a train to see where it might take her? She doesn’t seem to have suffered from wanderlust.

 

*Oliver Ames, Journal, courtesy of Stonehill College Archives

** http://www.theeriebook.com, published by Matthew D. Walker Publishing Company, 2014