Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Diaries & Letters of Tri-Counties
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
1837 - 1840 Albert M. Potter  of Elmira NY
Diary of Albert M. Potter
Elmira, Chemung County NY
Year: 1837-1840
Transcribed by Diane Bender
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Feb 11–May 20, 1837Feb 11th 1839. This shows the effect of making resolutions & not putting them into practice, for when I once read Todds Students Manual & Young Christian works recommending the keeping of a journal I resolved to sustain one at all hazards & often filling up the vacancy of a previously broken resolve I continued it for a time & then as before dropped it, for reasons now forgotten if ever known.

Coming to Elmira Feb 7th 39 & leaving trunk & papers at home I am unable to enter dates but will once again briefly fill up the time intervening the two dates.

As I before said I reached Elmira on Thurs the 7th inst & am now 1/2 past 9 PM in the office making an apology for keeping or not keeping a journal. My ride on Wed of last week from Willseyville to the Horse Heads was a cold one. The wind being NW & extremely severe. Thurs AM came to Elmira & put up at E Jones’ where I still remain. Friday done little or no business, & saw no old friends. Saturday worked hard & had a good days business. Evening spent in the office reading till late & then slept little being disturbed by a champagne wine party at Jones’ that appeared & really was like the getting together of swine, all being beastly intoxicated. Among them was many young men that hold claims to respectability & good standing in society. To me it seems strange that there is not more decision & correct principles about such things than there is, especially among the truly virtuous part of community. Why not give them their proper level with all other inebriates? That young ladies too should admit them to their parlors & treat them with all the confidence & civillity due to the most worthy is something that quite unmans my ideas of right & wrong. Sunday was at Pres ch all day. The day passed agreeably & I hope profitably away. Now comes Monday the 11th inst. To-day is gone & Time warns me to bed. We have had a fair day in business. More snow & is growing cold. Have this evening been reading the Frolics of Puck & hope I shall not receive a call from him to-night as I would prefer a sound nights repose. No more just now, except that I shall hope to keep a journal going till I fill up this little book at least & I trust many more.

Feb 12th [1839] Tuesday. A very fine day so far as weather is concerned but business rather dull. Probably because it was town-meeting. I hope they will do well for their town & consult real interest in preference to political.

Feb 13th [1839] Wed. A most delightful day for business but none in town, that is, none for this firm. This evening I attended nearly the first meeting for the forming of an Anti Slavery Soc. One was organized & officers chosen, but forces are small & need great concentration of effort, there being great darkness in Elmira on that subject & much needs to be done to bring the attention of the community to bear upon the point. The Soc. consists of about 20 or 25 members. Great & powerful has been the opposition even to mobbing, & of course the efforts should be proportionably strong to overcome the deep rooted prejudices & dispel the darkness now prevailing. Then the people will discuss the question with candor like any other great moral question before the public. I should be very happy to attend the convention at Penn Yan & shall if practicable on the 27th inst. This subject with me commands continued & active discussion & involves the mighty interest of a republics character & safety in its speedy & safe removal. May Heaven smile upon the cause in Elmira & may they no longer be notorious for its mobocracy & opposition to so deserving a cause. — I shall not dare to read any of Puck’s frolics to-night lest I may imagine him my companion to my lodgings. Last night I was full of bug-bears & being a little nervous foolishly suffered from my imagination.

Feb 15th [1839] Friday. The weather being fine & business dull everything passes along as usual. I attended debating school & was much pleased with the discussion of the question ‘Was the British Government justifiable in banishing Napoleon Bonaparte?’ It was decided tho’ not by weight of argument in the negative. The discussion lasted till 1/2 past 10 oclk. To-day weather fine & like the few days past too fine for the snow. I saw a man just escape a sudden & dreadful death by the turning over of a load of lumber & never knew before, what it was to assist a man in immediate danger. Had he been sober there could have been no danger.

But I wonder how Puck gets along as I have heard nothing of him in two or three days & must devote a few moments to the reading of his frolics. Prospects augur a storm so my skill at prognostics seems to say.

Feb 19th [1839] Tuesday. In the interval of dates we have had fine weather & dull times.

Br Aaron came in yesterday & left to-day. He seemed quite reluctant to go, having formed a strong attachment to Elmira. I have spent the evening in writing a letter to a dear friend & learning a young man to play chess. Last evening was highly gratified with the reading of a letter from WmSF. Sorry I shall be unable to see him for a long time to come if ever. But my host will shut me out unless I go home soon.

Feb 23d [1839] Saturday. The bell is just ringing the hour of 9 evening & I can spend but an hour or so in reading writing &c. before I must resign myself to the care of Providence for the night & awake if at all upon another Sabbath. — This evening has passed very pleasantly in a call at Mr Frosts & I regret that I shall not be able consistently to improve the request to make frequent calls. I have resolved to seclude myself to a great extent from Society & become more fixed upon business, but my resolve may meet & probably will, the fate of others, a complete overthrow. I think not however for circumstances demand a more close attention to business & as it is my first début in the character of a business man it becomes necessary to acquit myself with honor. Time alone with tell how successfully.

The present appearance of affairs manifest great opposition to a smooth road to obtaining a competence for respectability & usefulness. For a few days past I have had the blues but others say there is no cause for them, & I will think so too. — The snow has nearly left us so far as sleighing is concerned, but I hope we may yet have a change to cold & snow for a week or two at least. I want very much to attend the Anti Slavery Con at Penn Yan next week Wed, & shall if the travelling is not very bad. Business very dull just now.

Sabbath Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839Feb 24th 1839. Thro’ the Providence of God I yet live & another day has flown from the dark chaos of the future into the past from whence it returns not again. I have heard the attribute Justice made the subject of two discourses & have learned new beauties in this heavenly principle. — The weather still remains mild with a little rain. No immediate prospect of change. I find a public house very unfavorable to serious thought & hope I shall be able to change my residence to-morrow to a private family.

I should think there were several customs peculiar to Elmira but of which I cannot now speak. This PM I found the last attempt of mine at keeping a journal & was somewhat surprised on finding such a space between my last dates & the first in this book. My last was May 5th 1837 while residing at home in i.Dryden, NY;Dryden. How fast Time flits past & how very very short do the years seem. If time seems to fly as much faster in proportion, to a man, as years increase, & should I live to three score & ten years all must appear as a dream, that is told.

How deceitful & yet how certain is the movement of our days. May Heaven prepare me to live usefully, profitably & piously in this life & when the silver cord is loosed, the wheel at the cistern stop & the soul is ready to enter Eternity may its haven be rest & joy.

Feb 26th [1839] Business to-day has been very dull & nothing of much interest has transpired without it is the breaking up of the ice in the river. This affords to a person like myself, who never witnessed such a scene, something truly sublime & fearful. Fears were entertained of the bridge being thrown down but I think it stands yet (9 PM). — Yesterday I changed my boarding place from a public to a private house. Commenced yesterday noon but am somewhat doubtful about my remaining here long. Boarding at Mr Norths Esq. This evening have been really lonely & would give almost anything could I but see some old friends & especially Julia. Even Ma would add great interest to my room. All this will probably wear off in time & I may become quite content with my situation. Have this evening been reading the Memoir of Gustavus Bassa, a colored man & think it quite interesting. Even was it not more than half true it should call out the warmest feelings of every philanthropist & patriot, but I have little doubt but all is true as it shows for itself a sincerity, simplicity & historical exactness that of itself recommends the work to all.

Feb 27th [1839] Wed. Like yesterday this has been a dull day & I am half disposed to have the blues. This evening have been highly entertained by Gustavus Bassa. His description of Slavery in the W Indies is a picture appalling & horrid beyond precedent. I have also been reading some in the last days of Pompeii & think Bulwer had a great command of language, a highly cultivated & fruitful imagination, & a giant intellect, or else his works would lack their deep & interesting reflections & morals. I suppose I should say something of the time intervening the dates of my journal but cannot this evening as I am somewhat fatigued & time not permitting much longer absence from the society of Morpheus. I was in hopes to have heard from Ithaca to-day but have been disappointed & must wait till Friday for another mail. Time will move with leaden wings.

Feb 28th [1839] According to our computation of time this evening closes forever the Winter of 1838-9. The icy chains that have long & powerfully bound the earth are already broken & the rivers have sent their fetters to other climes to melt in the ocean’s wave.

It has rained all the evening. Were it in accordance to the will of Providence I could wish that the rainy, cold & disagreeable weather of March could be exchanged for that of June, but tho’ my own interest would seem to call for this, yet I most cheerfully waive my own interest when opposing the good of all & the wise laws of Nature. This evening was in the debating school & I honor the judgment of one of the speakers in calling the question a knotty one. ‘Ought the law prohibiting a man’s evidence to be received, who disbelieves in a state of future rewards & punishments, to be repealed?’ I did not hear the decision but know it can only be in the Aff, if from no other reason than because I spoke in the Neg & completely baulked & could say nothing.

May Spring open propitiously & soon cause the verdant mantle of Nature to assume its lively & youthful appearance.

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1837 Feb 1839 March 1839 April 1839 May 1839 June 1839
July 1839 Aug. 1839 Sept. 1839 Oct. 1839 Nov. 1839 Dec. 1839
Jan. 1840 Feb. 1840 March 1840 April 1840 May 1840 June 1840
July 1840 Aug. 1840 Sept. 1840 Oct. 1840 Nov. 1840 Dec. 1840

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 7/27/99
By Joyce M. Tice