September 5, 1852

books

Illustration from Godey’s Lady’s Book*

Sunday Sept 5th  1852 Went to meeting and came home

at noon with Mr Ames & Mrs Stevens.

Was very sleepy this forenoon and did

not hear much of the sermon but thought

it good what I did hear. Had an excellent

sermon this afternoon  Mr Whitwell preached

After meeting Mr Ames & Mrs Stevens & self

walked to the new shops called at Edwins.

Finished a letter to Harriet Ames

Reverend William Whitwell delivered two good sermons today, even if Evelina slept through parts of the first one. Were she and Oakes both nodding off in the Ames pew? Hopefully their sons, Oliver (3) and Frank Morton, and their guest, Mrs. Stevens, stayed upright as Mr. Whitwell spoke.

A walk “to the new shops” was the exercise they took after church. Construction work on the factory building must have been well along, if not finished on the exterior. Stopping in to see Edwin and Augusta Gilmore afterwards would have been easy, as the young couple lived right across the street from the new Long Shop and its grounds .

Letter writing, and probably a little reading, filled the remaining quiet hours of Evelina’s Sunday, As a subscriber, she would have had this month’s Godey’s Lady’s Book to look at. The September issue included fiction in the form of stories and poems, as well as prose articles on the Crusades, the printing of calico, a history of boots and shoes, archery, the employment of women in cities (in this issue focusing on the Philadelphia School of Design), and “Lingerie: Caps for the Chamber and Sick-Room.” * Evelina had been in various sick rooms enough lately to make this article of particular interest to her – although we cannot know whether she read it or not, or whether any of the women she helped nurse had adorned themselves with such headgear. We can know, however, that this particular article took credit for introducing the word “lingerie” to America, whose readers who were “doubtless […] unfamiliar” with it.

*Godey’s Lady’s Book, September, 1852, p. 287

August 22, 1852

1835sketch

Unitarian Church, Burlington, Vermont, circa 1835*

Sunday Aug 22  We went with Mrs Stetson to the

Unitarian church & heard Mr Rich in the morning

dined at Mrs Mills and all went to the

Episcopal church this afternoon  This is a

beautiful church but I did not think much

of the preaching or singing.  Returned

to Mrs Stetsons to tea and had a quiet evening

 

Naturally, Evelina attended church on Sunday, just as she would have done had she been at home. In this case, she went to Burlington’s Unitarian Church with her hostess, Mrs. Stetson,and “heard Mr Rich” preach. But for the afternoon service, she went to an Episcopalian church with a group of women with whom she had dined.

She liked the looks of the Episcopal Church but, as she often did when attending any church but her own, she didn’t approve of the service, sniffing at the poor “preaching and singing.”  Evelina invariably preferred her own church in Easton – and her own preacher. No one could ever equal Mr. Whitwell.

The family (still minus Sarah Lothrop Ames and her two children, who had stopped at a town further south) kept a pretty low profile in the evening. Keeping quiet, after all, was the point of this vacation for Oakes Angier Ames. It was hoped that his staying in Vermont would improve his health.

 

*Courtesy of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, Burlington, http://www.uusociety.org

 

 

August 8, 1852

51m0N6OXmoL

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Fall River, Massachusetts

Sunday

Aug 8th  Have been to meeting came home with

Mr Ames at noon, and returned again

Lavinia Williams came home to Joshuas with us […]

Lavinia returned home  Mr Whitwell preached

Since meeting have written a letter to Mrs

Louisa J Mower & Mrs S Stevens

 

As shovel-making led the industry of Easton in 1852, so textile manufacturing led the commerce of nearby Fall River. Surely, some of the cloth that Evelina cut and sewed came from the busy textile center that lay about 25 miles to her south.

Fall River is situated at the mouth of the Taunton River, the head of Mount Hope Bay, and (before the construction of the modern interstate put it underground) alongside the swiftly flowing Quequechan River, whose steep drop gave Fall River its name as well as the power to run the mills that lined its banks. Considered “the best tidewater privilege in southern New England,”* Fall River was an important industrial entity for much of the 1800’s. Bustling with bales of cotton and bolts of printed cloth, the city was accessed at mid-century by the Old Colony Railroad line and the Fall River Steamship Line, two entities that would soon merge.

The work force employed to support this industry consisted mostly of immigrants, initially Irish and, after the Civil War, Portuguese. They needed a place to live and a place to worship. The former was supplied by triple-decker tenements, the latter by a succession of churches. The Catholics quickly outgrew the first church built for them in 1840 and thus on this date in 1852, a cornerstone was laid for a new, major church for the congregation. By December, 1855, The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption was duly consecrated and opened for worship. In 1983, St Mary’s was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

We might wonder if any Catholics or others from Easton ever visited St. Mary’s. We can be pretty sure that Evelina and her family never darkened its threshold. On this day, of course, they attended their own Unitarian Church and listened to their beloved Reverend Whitwell.

 

* “Fall River,” Wikipedia, accessed August 5, 2015

July 20, 1852

imgres

Pre-Civil War Ames Shovel with “D” wooden handle*

1852

July 20th Tuesday  I was in hopes to do something this

week but did not commence right yesterday

In the first place yesterday afternoon Mr

Whitwell called & Mr Ames took him & Oliver

to Bridgewater  Then uncle Ephraim called and I

must needs run in to laugh at Mrs Ames and

found Mrs Sheldon there and to day I

have not done much but talk over yesterdays affairs.

 

According to Old Oliver, the day was “fair with a verry hot sun wind easterly.”** Full summer, in other words. Everyone would begin to feel the heat, including the factory workers putting in their ten hour days at: “hammering, plating, drawing (backstraps), welding, smoothing, setting, opening, filing, riveting, finishing (handles), [and] handling”*** the shovels. Unlike workers elsewhere in the state, these workers seemed content with the hours they worked and the pay they received. “The relationship between the Ames family and shovel shop workers appears to have been amicable, for much of the business’s history.” ****

To date, no one had ever gone on strike at the shovel works, while in Amesbury to the north, textile workers had walked off their jobs in June. They were striking for better hours, having become fed up with twelve hour days for everyone, including children. They lost that strike at the woolen mill, which was owned by the Salisbury Corporation, but gained the support of their town government and launched the career of George McNeill, a fourteen year old carder who became the father of the eight-hour movement. Working out of Boston, McNeill would spend his life advocating and agitating for more humane conditions for factory workers.

In 1853, a limited strike took place at O. Ames and Sons. As Old Oliver noted on June 16, 1853, “Our outdore men struck for the 10 hour system to day and we settled with them and lett them go.” Evidently the men who worked outside the factory proper – those who would have been responsible for transporting the shovels, for instance – wanted the same hours as those who worked in the production line. Historian Greg Galer interprets this record to mean that the workers were granted their ten hour limit and were sent home for the day. Winthrop Ames, in his family history, on the other hand, interpreted that sentence to mean that the men were fired.

On a lighter note, Evelina was getting a lot of mileage out of Uncle Ephraim’s interest in Almira Ames. She seemed to spend most of her day doing little more than “talk over yesterdays affairs.”

* Image courtesy of etsy.com

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

*** Gregory Galer, Forging Ahead, MIT, 2002, p. 263.

**** Ibid., p. 265

July 18, 1852

Church

July 18th Sunday  Have been to meeting as usual

Mr Whitwell preached well.  Went to Mr

Whitwells with Mother & Henrietta at noon

When we came from church Mr Ames

& self rode up to the ponds, found Oliver &

Fred there  Called this evening with Mr

Ames at Augustus found him threatened

with a fever & quite unwell.  Called on Lavinia

Williams a moment and Mrs Savage who is quite ill.

The good news today was that Evelina was comfortably back in her own pew at her own church, listening to her favorite minister preach. During the intermission between sermons, she even took her mother and sister-in-law, Henrietta Williams Gilmore, to the parsonage for tea. After church she and Oakes “rode up to the ponds,” meaning that they may have ridden not just to Shovel Shop Pond, but also beyond to Flyaway or Great Pond. There they ran into Oliver (either their son or Oakes’s brother-in-law) and Fred Ames.*

The not-so-good news was a run of illness among family and friends. Evelina’s nephew, Alson “Augustus” Gilmore, was suffering from some kind of fever. This was not an uncommon ailment during the hottest weeks of summer; many infants, especially, were prone to dehydration when the thermometer went up. Evelina had to be concerned that Augustus was so ill so suddenly. Hannah Savage (her near neighbor for whom her old servant, Jane McHanna, was now working) had been ill for some time. Hannah was thought to be dying; a watch would soon begin for her.

*It seems likely that it was Oliver (3) and not Oliver Jr with  Fred “up to the ponds.”  If it had been Oliver Jr., it’s probable that Sarah Lothrop Ames would have been with them.  She wasn’t. And it’s equally likely that the two young college men would be enjoying their familiar camaraderie, now that each was home from school.

July 11, 1852

imgres-1

Luther Sheldon 

(1785 – 1866)

 

July 11th Sunday  Went to meeting with Mrs A L Ames

this morning to Mr Sheldons church  The

church is just painted and looks nicely.

Their organ is good & fine ringing but they

had a most miserable preacher a stranger.

Communion at our church this afternoon  Mrs

Ames partook with them

Instead of going to her usual Unitarian service in Easton Center this morning, Evelina accompanied Almira Ames to the Easton Evangelical Congregational Society, also known as “Mr. Sheldon’s church.” Luther Sheldon was an orthodox Congregationalist, a man of “good sense and fine character”* who had once been embroiled in a difficult schism in the local church in the 1830s. This was a period when Unitarianism first developed and uprooted many Congregationalists. Sheldon and his congregation not only survived the division but, according to local historian Edmund Hands, were instrumental in keeping local rancor and partisanship to a minimum. The two separate churches settled into peaceful coexistence, and Sheldon and his wife continued to earn general approbation.

Partisanship still existed in a few pockets, however. Evelina often expressed dislike for any man of the cloth other than her own William Whitwell, and today was no exception. She might not have criticized Mr. Sheldon himself, but she had no problem slamming today’s visiting minister at the Congregational church as “a most miserable preacher.” What could he have said to earn such disdain?

For the afternoon service, Evelina and Almira returned to “our church.”

*Edmund C. Hands, Easton’s Neighborhoods, 1995, p. 131

July 7, 1852

Funeral

1852

July 7th Wednesday  Made some muslin bands and 

partialy made a pair of sleeves to wear

with them  This afternoon have attended the 

funeral of H Gilmore  Mr Carver baptized

their child Helen. Mr Sanford made some

remarks and not very good in my opinion.

We returned from the grave to aunt Gilmores

and stopt to tea  Adoniram & wife & Mr & Mrs

Whitwell were there, Mr Carpenter & Jones called

there

Wearing black armbands, Evelina and her family attended the funeral of her cousin, Henry Tisdale Gilmore. Just shy of 36, he had died the day before of the “fits.” We might imagine that Henry was epileptic and died from a sudden seizure. He left behind a 30-year-old widow, Chloe, and a young daughter, Helen.

This branch of the Gilmores lived in Raynham, a town to the south of Easton. Cassander Gilmore, Henry’s older brother, manufactured shoes; Henry had been his partner. Now Cassander’s son, Othniel (one of many with that name), took Henry’s place. Cassander was well-known and well respected in the area, having served as state representative and state senator. He was a first cousin to Evelina on her father’s side, and it was he who summoned the Ames family to the funeral.

Evelina saw various relatives at the funeral, naturally, including her widowed aunt, Sally Gilmore. Reverend William Whitwell and his wife, Eliza, too, attended the funeral, but didn’t participate in the service. The local minister, Robert Carver, baptized the young Helen while another minister, Mr. Sanford, read a eulogy. Ever loyal to her own minister, Evelina found the latter’s remarks were “not very good.”

 

June 25, 1852

hand-sewing-color-grown-cotton-pajama-pants-for-a-toddler

1852

June 25 Friday  Worked about house all the forenoon 

but can scarcely tell what I was doing but

know I wasnt idle. This afternoon have

been mending different articles Hannah

mended the stockings.  I hope she is going 

to be a pretty good girl.  Mr Whitwell called

Called at Edwins this evening  Augustus & wife

Edwin & Elisha Andrews gone to Alsons

 

New servant Hannah Murphy was “pretty good” today helping Evelina mend the family stockings. Mending was never Evelina’s favorite duty.  She often put it off, preferring instead to head for the garden or slip next door to chat with one of her sisters-in-law. But what she seemed to prefer most of all was to sew. Cutting cloth for a new dress, or refashioning a waist in an old one, finding just the right trim for her sleeves, or making multiple buttonholes, such was her passion. Evelina loved to sew.

If Evelina had lived today rather than in the 19th century, would sewing still have been her favorite occupation? Freed from her domestic obligations as a 19th century housewife, and no longer in the thrall of the patriarchal laws and mores of the day, what could she have accomplished?  She was so tactile that it’s hard to imagine her abandoning her needle, or not using her hands. Might she have become a textile artist? A craftsperson? Or had a career in fashion?

We know that Evelina was hardworking; as she herself points out, “I wasnt idle.” Whatever career we might imagine for her to excel in, she would have committed to it as surely as she did to her domestic agenda in the 1850s. Yet the fantasy of transporting Evelina to the 21st century ultimately falls flat.  She was too much a creature of her own time and place, as we all tend to be, and not unhappy with her lot in life – even while mending.

 

June 6, 1852

FullSizeRender

Office of Ames Shovels, ca. mid-to-late 1850s

1852

Sunday June 6th  Have been to meeting as usual

Mr Whitwell preached  Came home alone

with Mr Ames at noon Have read

but very little partly written a letter

to Oliver.  Mr Ames said he would go 

with me to Augustus’ to make a call but

he did not come from the office in season

Sermons, reading and writing filled Evelina’s day. She began a letter to Oliver (3), off at college.

It may have been the Sabbath, but that didn’t preclude Oakes and Oliver Jr spending time in the office next door to the house. The two men often met there at the end of each workday “to catch up with their correspondence (all letters were written and copied by hand), discuss business together and go over accounts with the head bookkeeper.”* That they met on a Sunday evening seems unusual, but it may not have been. The shovel firm was about to build a new, stone factory, one that would be more fire-resistant than the old one that burned down in March. These plans were being developed even as the business was in swing, making shovels and filling orders. Oakes and Oliver Jr. were extra busy.

As had happened before, Oakes Ames forgot to take Evelina out as promised, or came home too late to go, so she missed a visit to her nephew Augustus Gilmore and his family. Was Oakes’s chronic oversight just absent-mindedness, or was he more consciously choosing to ignore social obligations when they proved inconvenient? And how did he make it up to his wife?

Winthrop Ames, The Ames Family of Easton, Massachusetts, 1938, p. 129

 

May 23, 1852

Preach

Sunday May 23d  Mr Rogers of Canton preached to day

I did not like him any better than Mr Whitwell

Alson Mother & Helen came home with us

at noon.  Oakes A carried Miss Foss to the 

sing and home  Ellen H & Rebecca White went

with them  Mr Ames & self made a long call

at Mr Swains  Mr Rogers made a short call

as he was going to church

Robert P. Rogers, the Unitarian pastor from Canton, led the service in Easton today, presumably switching places with the regular minister, William Whitwell, as the clergy often did in those days. Rogers was only twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old; his post in Canton was his very first.  As yet unmarried, and certainly younger and less seasoned than Mr. Whitwell, Rogers did not impress Evelina. He paid her the compliment of making “a short call” before church, but she was partial to the Whitwells.

Young Mr. Rogers would soon leave Canton for a pulpit in Gloucester where he would serve as minister for the remainder of his ministerial life.  He must have done well there, or they wouldn’t have kept him around for so long. Decades later, however, Mr. Rogers would return to Canton to live out his last days.

Between and after today’s services, folks were moving around town quite a bit. Old Oliver noted that it was “some cloudy” but also “pritty warm,” so it was pleasant to visit.  The dry roadbeds, though dusty, would have been relatively smooth. Evelina brought her brother and mother home after the morning service, Oakes Angier carried three young women to a sing after church, and Evelina and Oakes went over to see John and Ann Swain in the late afternoon. Everyone socialized.