June 2, 1852



Wednesday June 2d  Lazy this day as usual after being

in Boston   Have been with Mrs S Ames

to the sewing circle at Mr Wm Reeds.  Had

a very pleasant time as we always do there

not very many present. Mrs Patterson here

again to day.  yesterday she staid home to

do her washing  She & Jane have done very

little ironing this afternoon

The intense labor of spring cleaning was over, at least for Evelina.  She was “[l]azy this day” after yesterday’s trip into Boston with her sisters-in-law. Shopping wore her out more than washing windows or scrubbing floors, it would seem. She summoned enough energy to attend the Sewing Circle at Abigail Reed’s, though.

Sarah Witherell didn’t attend the Sewing Circle; she probably wasn’t socializing outside the family yet. So Sarah Ames and Evelina went without her and enjoyed themselves “as we always do.” Back at the house, however, Evelina’s servants didn’t attend to the ironing as Evelina had hoped they would. Evelina wasn’t pleased. When she worked, she worked very hard, and expected others to do the same. She felt that Mrs Patterson and Mrs McHanna should have been able to do more in her absence.

In the other part of the house, to which Sarah Witherell had retreated after yesterday’s outing, Old Oliver was watching the weather.  He noted the welcome arrival of “a little rain […] that wett the ground about an inch deep.”*  The spring had been dry.


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



March 7, 1852




March 7th Sunday  It has been a beautiful day and we 

have all been to meeting except Frank

When we came from meeting we rode down to

the ruins. They have cleared away a great deal 

but it looks dismal enough  Mr & Mrs William

Reed spent the evening  Mrs Witherell & Mrs

S Ames came in awhile & Father Ames

No work was done today at the site of the shovel factory fire, for it was Sunday, a day of rest – a day of rest that everyone in town must have welcomed after the shock of the fire and the subsequent hard work of clearing the debris.

The Ames family rode down Centre Street to church, the weather “beautiful.” At the intermission between sermons, they must have been approached by fellow parishioners expressing concern and curiosity about the fire. In a town of 2,500 citizens, such a huge event would have been on everyone’s mind. Is it too far-fetched to imagine that Reverend Whitwell might have alluded to it from the pulpit?

After the services, the family drove by the factory site on their way home. The wintry sunlight hid nothing; the “ruins” were “dismal.” Later in the day, several family members gathered at Evelina’s and Oakes’; even Old Oliver came over from the other part of the house, which he seldom did, perhaps to greet guests William and Abigail Reed or to discuss the plans for rebuilding, to begin the next day.

December 31, 1851



Wednesday Dec 31st  This morning sit down early to knitting

my hood  Have it all finished ready for the lining.  About ten 

Oclock went into the school with Mrs. Witherell.  Mr Brown

has closed his school to day.  Passed the afternoon & evening at Olivers

Mr & Mrs Wm Reed  Mr & Mrs J Howard, Whitwell & A Gilmore were there.

Susie Ames and Emily Witherell may have been happy today to reach the end of their school term. Class, dismissed!  1851, dismissed!

Just how the Ames family celebrated the departure of the old year and arrival of the new, we don’t know. Old Oliver, with his usual terse assessment of the day, merely noted that “this was a cloudy day and some cooler + misty + foggy.” The cool mist he saw would develop into a huge rain storm over night, preventing folks from moving around much.

A group of friends and relatives gathered for tea next door at the home of Oliver Ames, Jr. and his wife Sarah Lothrop Ames. Besides Evelina and Oakes, at the party were Reverend William Whitwell and his wife Eliza, Reverend William Reed and his wife Abigail, Jason Guild Howard and his wife Martha, and Evelina’s brother Alson Gilmore and his wife Henrietta.  In just a few more years, a group like this might have sung the beloved  Auld Lang Syne to mark the occasion. In fact, a version of Auld Lang Syne, written in 1855 and called Song of the Old Folks would become “the tradition of the Stoughton Musical Society to sing […] in memory of those who had died that year.”*

Out with old, in with the new. What a year it would be for the Ames clan.


June 17, 1851


1851 June 17th  Worked untill about nine Oclock in

the flower garden  Then cut the tick to the mattress

a[nd] basted it ready to make  Jane was ironing and 

I assisted about dinner  After dinner made three button

holes in Mrs S Ames dress.  Went to Mr

Wm Reeds to tea with Mr Ames, Oliver & wife

Mrs W, Mitchell & Mr & Mrs Whitwell & Alson & wife


Gardening, sewing, ironing and cooking made up today’s housework at the Ames’s home on Main Street.  Buttonholes, too, which could be challenging, were a particular specialty of Evelina; many people brought her their buttonholes.  The fact that Sarah Lothrop Ames took her buttonholes to Evelina rather than to a hired dressmaker underscores Evelina’s talent in this department.

William and Abigail Reed must have enjoyed Evelina’s company on Sunday between services, for they invited her back to a small tea party.  The whole Ames family was invited, in fact, and then some. Minus Old Oliver, and the young people, naturally, siblings Oakes, Oliver Jr., Sarah Witherell, and Harriett Mitchell, with wives Evelina and Sarah Ames, gathered at the old professor’s home for a “cuppa.” Reverend William Whitwell and his wife, Eliza, went too, as did Alson and Henrietta Gilmore. That was a good crowd for a 19th century parlor.

Tea was generally the most sociable meal of the day.