Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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@ElizaBTweetin: March 13, 1873: Shopping & Art Gallery

Posted on February 21, 2014

Eliza B. Wheaton's Diary, 11-16 March 1873

Eliza B. Wheaton's Diary,
11-16 March 1873

On this date, Mrs. Wheaton and Mrs. Beane traveled to Boston to shop for clothing and other “sundries”. The materials were purchased at Jordan, Marsh & Co., the nation’s first “departmentalized” store, at 450 Washington St., just half a block from the property Mrs. Wheaton owned on Winter St. (currently known as “Downtown Crossing”).

Eliza B. Wheaton's Cashbook, 11-14 March 1873

Eliza B. Wheaton's Cashbook,
11-14 March 1873

Eliza spent $57.57 that day, including $39.54 for the 25 yards of silk fabric (even eight years after her husband’s death, Eliza was still wearing black), cotton lining, hoop skirt and edgings needed to create a new dress in that era. Notice, in the day’s entries in her Cashbook, that, while she indulged in striped silk for the dress, she purchased remnants of lace and edgings for its decoration. Also note that on the very next day, Eliza paid $12.00 for her niece’s class ring!

Jordan, Marsh & Co.,  Boston Illustrated, 1872

Jordan, Marsh & Co.,
Boston Illustrated, 1872

After this shopping spree, the ladies visited the “Gallery of Paintings by the Misses Williams” in Boston. Abigail Osgood Williams (1823-1913) and Mary Elizabeth Williams (1828-before 1900?) were born in Boston, the daughters of a clerk at the city’s Suffolk Bank. Educated in “select schools in Boston”, both sisters showed an early inclination for art, in which their father encouraged them. After his death in 1835, they traveled to Europe, lived in Rome for several years, studied the works of the masters (which at that time probably included copying their works), and created their own paintings. Abigail, and perhaps Mary, exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York City, and Boston's St. Botolph's Club. Later they moved to Salem, and taught art in the public schools there.

View of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples from Capri, Abigail O. Williams, 1866

View of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples from Capri, Abigail O. Williams, 1866

The sisters also collected “rare art treasures, both for exhibition and sale, and when at length they returned to Boston their art studio was furnished with numerous valuable paintings from their brushes and many others which had been selected with intelligent and scrupulous care from various parts of the old world.”[1] This studio is probably the picture gallery to which Eliza refers.

Papers of the Williams family may be found at the Library of Congress and the Peabody Essex Museum.

 

 

 

 

 



[1] William Richard Cutter, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, NY: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908, Vol. IV, p. 2000.

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