The silver we are selling from the Ames family belonged to William Hadwen Ames (1861-1918) eldest son of Governor Oliver Ames. W. H. Ames was a State Legislator, President of the Amercian Pneumatic Service Co., an inventor and secretary of the family shovel making business.
In 1891, he married Mary Elizabeth Hodges (1864-1914) and then in 1916 he married Fannie Elizabeth Holt (1888-?). At the turn of the century when he was making his mark as a legislator, businessman and inventor, his city house was the brownstone seen right at 267 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston's fashionable Back Bay, only a block from his uncle's mansion at the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Avenues.
The Ames family of North Easton, Massachusetts, included politicians and statesmen, railroad barons, real estate investors and successful owners of the family shovel making business. They trace their family back to Bruton, England, where in 1635, William Ames fled religious persecution by sailing on the Hercules to Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Included in their ancestry are four Mayflower pilgrims including John Alden and Mary Chilton.
Today the family is often remembered as important patrons of the arts, being the most significant patrons of Henry Hobson Richardson, America's most important aesthetic movement architect. The town of North Easton, MA, has more Richardson buildings (such as the Ames Free Library - seen above left) than any other place in the country.
Oliver Ames, Sr. (1779-1863) (left) started the Oliver Ames & Sons Shovel Works in North Easton, MA, and handed the business over to his sons, Oliver, Jr. and Oakes, in 1844. He was a state legislator and senator. While we may not think of shovels as serious business, in 1886 the family shovel works produced approximately 1.5 million shovels.
Oakes Ames (1804-1873) helped run the family shovel-making business. A US Congressman and close friend of Abraham Lincoln, Oakes Ames was given responsibility for the Transcontinental railroad project by President Lincoln for which he enlisted the help of his brother, Oliver, Jr. His children built Oakes Ames Memorial Hall (H.H. Richardson, architect - seen right) in his Memory .
One of his children, also named Oliver Ames, (1831-1895) was Governor of Massachusetts from 1887-90, and father of William H. Ames whose silver we are selling. He is remembered for having the wings built onto the Massachusetts State House, in desperate need of expansion from Charles Bullfinch's original plan (with 1811 additions). Another one of the Oakes Ames children, Frederick Lothrop Ames, hired Richardson to build the gate lodge (seen below) to his North Easton estate, Langwater, which is still privately owned by the Ames family.
Oliver Ames, Jr. (1807-1877), ran the family shovel-making business, served as a state senator, and was president of the Union Pacific Railroad from 1866-1871. During his tenure as president, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railways joined at Promontory, Utah, to form the Transcontinental Railway with the laying of the 'golden spike.' His will paid for the Ames Free Library , still the North Easton Public Library (seen top right).
The collection of silver we have from the Ames family includes the following items. When put together it paints a picture of one of New England's wealthiest families at the turn of the century. It is a picture of luxury and life during an elegant age.
Goodnow and Jenks 6 Piece Tea and Coffee Service
Barbour Silver Company Sterling Covered Entree Server
Dominick & Haff 'Renaissance' 6 Piece Dresser Set
Durgin Empire Style Sweetmeat Tureen
Gorham Repousse Fruit or Centerpiece Bowl
Franz J R Gyllenberg Set of 10 Sorbet or Nut Bowls
Shreve Crump and Low Centerpiece Bowl and Floral Arranger
Dominick & Haff Trianon Pierced Pie Server
Dominick & Haff Trianon Pierced Tomato Server
Durgin Louis XV Cheese Scoop
Durgin Louis XV Luncheon Knives
Durgin Louis XV Strawberry Forks-18
Gorham Ebony Handled Serving Spoon
Whiting Ivory Oyster Server