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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May 1st 39. Having a little time I will go back & make another attempt at accounting for the time intervening the dates of the last journal & this. — From July 1838 thro’ the season my time was spent principally in Willseyville. But to go back to the year ‘35 I will account for my mentioning the name Julia. When I first went to Ithaca in ’35 & after a few weeks there I was introduced at a sewing society to Miss Julia & Elizabeth Sages & spent the evening with them in company with Smith, there being no one at the society or else all having gone, we being late. I was pleased with the appearance & company of Miss Julia. Meeting her occasionally after I became convinced of her worth. Time rolled by & I found my esteem rising gradually till it changed into a regard & in the Spring of ‘38 while at Ithaca frequent opportunities were presented uncalled for, to enjoy her company. Each interview but made me more desirous for another & after leaving Ithaca in June I found I had left behind a strong attachment & being often in Ithaca I often had opportunities of calling on her. I soon found my happiness was intimately concerned & that she possessed my affections, even more than she ought in safety to myself in case of a refusal. Once a week or at most once in two weeks I saw her thro’ the summer. About the 1st of Oct I went to Goodwins Falls with her & perhaps my secret intentions were to satisfy all doubts as to her feelings concerning myself, but my ostensible object was a pleasure ride with a person in whose society I was happy. The day glided pleasantly away & tho’ I made no declaration, or direct advances yet I was but a little way from it, & was fortunate in getting a correspondence. The way appeared only the darker for I dared not venture a full acknowledgment of my feelings tho’ quite sure of knowing hers yet I feared to throw myself upon her goodness. In Nov I visited with WmSF & there came to the determination that I must do something to remove all uncertainties. I hoped & felt a full assurance of success, but knowing the oft-concealed sting of Disappointment in all our paths I was full of doubts. I wrote & told all, — it was rec’d & read. Time with leaden wings made a few days what years often are when darkness & adversity is in the way, a long time. At last came the letter. I broke the seal, read & was happy. Doubt was gone & Julia reciprocated an attachment & devoted love. My time sped quickly on, while weeks passed, & I was once more in Ithaca only to say what I had before written. — Blessed with one of earth’s loveliest daughters, a few months only will elapse if health he owns, before we shall together call to our aid the Hymeneal rite, & live as we do even now, for each other & for Heaven. I suppose it is perfectly natural & right, that every one in their choice should think their choice & chosen the best & most worthy of all others. I admit the doctrine for one, for I do think no other could so completely fill affections as does Julia. The fall of 1838 & the winter of ‘38 & ‘39 till Feb I was in W— & then I came to Elmira & from that date this journal can tell something. Boarding now & for the 3 or 4 weeks past at Mr Harvey Luce’s, in the very model of a happy family, & hearing from Julia occasionally, in the lumber business (a dull business just now) having prepared myself for sketching from nature & fixing my Eolian Harp, with 2 or 3 calls, this day of May 1st has fled. It now being past 10 oclk I will say no more.

May 2d [1839] Thurs. The AM of to-day was extremely warm & on the whole, a most beautiful Spring morning. This PM went with FIJackson to Millport & on some business. Our conversation was interesting & I felt that in his leaving I had lost a friend. One or two little showers with rainbows, the first I have seen this spring. Left Jackson at Millport & came home. It was very thickly clouded & showery most of the way, but rained none till I reached Elmira. Some of the way it was extremely dark & I gave my horse its own way. Returned safe & my only adventure was in getting horribly frightened by by a man with an umbrella in the middle of the road. We jumped at once & screamed each supposing the other a horse. I regret very much that Jackson has gone, but hope he will be able to consummate his wishes in completing his studies & entering upon the field of usefulness.

May 4th [1839] Saturday. Yesterday I felt overwhelmed with an attack of the horrors & was greatly depressed thro’ the day. Every thing seemed to come to a stand & on all sides was thick darkness. In fact everything was a dismal & forbidding appearance. I had anticipated much in hearing from Ithaca but was disappointed & I was almost disposed to give full vent to my feelings & did.

I commenced a letter to Julia & there too I was ready to relinquish all, & in the far west & alone live & die. One great & sure source of comfort at such a time is in the religion of the Bible, for there one may find peace & tranquillity. There I went & felt calm. Sleep was welcome & this morning I awoke with a more cheerful state of mind. Circumstances seemed no less altered but I was more composed. The day has been fine tho’ rather cold. A little snow last evening, & I think a hard frost to-night.

About 12 oclk the bearer of the desired package came & at his hand I rec’d what I had long expected to see. I read the letter first & then proceeded to open the case containing the miniature. The first covering was sealed with a well known seal & under it another, directed to me. Then another with a few words from L then another & at last the box well tied. The string came off & a half sheet was the first object. I read it & then removed the covering from the face of — who? certainly not Julia. Again & again I gazed & at last I could see several features that were familiar, but it is far from being a perfect likeness. Many things are wrong & I am perplexed to find in just what it is deficient. The eyes lack the original character, the lower part of the face is too — something dont know what, but not right. The eyes seem & I really think are almost approaching the cross eyed look. The hair may have been taken correctly but I think not. In fact I am disposed to have either a new likeness or this considerably altered. I may however like it better on more examination.

It is nearly 1/2 past 10 & I must retire. On the morrow if life & health be mine I shall probably once again taste the cup & bread of the sacrament. May I be conscious of its importance & may it prove to me a good day.

May 6th [1839] Monday. Have done but little & feel fatigued. The weather has been pleasant but I never saw so much strong N & NW winds as there have been this spring. Have had a word from Julia & I regret that I sent her my letter of Sat. Hope she will find an explanation tho’ indirect of my feelings from a few words by the morrows mail.

Must rise early as I expect to attend a wedding in the E church at 1/2 past 5 A.M. Should not care about such early marriages.

Have felt somewhat better to-day & hope my spirits will suffer no relapse, for not often is it desirable to have the horrors & especially such as I sometimes the happy participant.

May 8th 1839 This has been a real Spring’s day. The sun rose clear & shone on a cloudless sky. Still was the morning but soon the S wind rose & the sky was thickly clouded. A little rain, the clouds gave way, & were gone. A warm PM followed & a beautiful starlit evening closes my observation. I went out this AM to sketch a little but failed in my expectation & returned home only resolved to try again. This evening have been pleasantly entertained with piano music by Miss Cleeves & to me of late it is quite a rarity. Were it not for a few reasons I should be quite disposed to take lessons if only, & only, for my own diversion. — Strange how a miniature will change on acquaintance. — As Julia’s now stands before me I can almost see those eyes beam with their well-known & loved expression, & can see almost every feature where but a few days since I could see no resemblance. Candle light adds much I think to its correctness & in what consists the fault I am as yet unable to decide. Perhaps a general failure.

May 10th [1839] Friday Last evening we had quite a frost but think it did no harm. To-day has been very pleasant. Spring seems just clothing herself in her most attracting & fascinating appearance, & making the bosom of all beat with new vigor & new pleasure. Have been out this evening playing the flute with Mr. Wood & have been agreeably entertained.

One third of May has flown & it has passed like a dream away. Soon summer will be here & then will come Autumn & thus roll away season after season when we are scarcely conscious of their rapid flight. Yes thus too, roll away year upon year, one stage of life is gone, & then another, & soon the unchanging state of existence is certainly in the future, will burst upon the view & all will be sealed for the last & momentous day to which all are bound. O how little are such important truths brought to bear upon the attention of those whose intentions are directly concerned, & how little is the mind allowed to anticipate the future world!

May 11th [1839] Sat. This has been a day of changes. The weather has been beautiful & spring in its loveliness reigns. This AM I occupied in getting fish for a globe & have been quite busy in taking care of them. This PM has been good for business & prospects seem to brighten. This eve was spent in company & in singing school. The most interesting association however connected with this day, is its being the birth-day of Julia. Perhaps tho’ not — likely she has thought not of being the anniversary to her of another year, & that yesterday closed another twelve-month. More likely she has been thinking over the scenes of the past year & drawing lessons of wisdom & meditating upon the Providential kindness in the good degree of health & blessings of life. This day to her is an annual era & may be called her 24th era or birth-day — The morrows sun brings the Sabbath & may the gracious influence of its holiness & sacred power be to me a saver of life.

May 13th [1839] Monday. The day has passed very pleasantly tho’ without much worthy of note. There are however in one’s life many very many objects, events & scenes that would be highly interesting & are passed over without a word, being thought at the time of little consequence or because convenience seems not to favor are left unmentioned & they are lost. I suppose it would be a good plan to notice at least one or two events or occurrences of each day, & then one would find something worth speaking about.

May 15th ‘39 Wed. Rain & pleasant weather has been the order of the day. This PM went fishing for pickerel. Soon after starting it began to rain & I was soon wet. Caught one fine perch & what was worse than all I lost a fine fish by the breaking of my hook. After fishing without success for a while had the pleasure of being caught in a fine shower, & was wet completely thro’ & thus ended my expedition. I really expected news from Ithaca this evening but was sadly disappointed. I am almost apprehensive that illness is the cause of the delay. I hope not however.

Business prospects seems to brighten but when I think of Julia the dark cloud of uncertainty seems to hang over the scene & I can only resign her & myself into the care of Heaven, hoping that Providence may yet smile on our union. — Most gladly would I see her & would if convenient have her with me where I might watch over her health & do for her all in my power. But she is in better hands & I should be content. In the hands of her Heavenly Parent & a kind mother she cannot fail of having all that is best, & I will endeavor to reconcile myself to what I know is best & true.

May 18th ‘39 Sat Another day & weeks work is done & under the bountiful goodness of Heaven I am enjoying health & a good degree of prosperity. Gratitude seems the natural consequence for so great & numberless mercies, but I greatly fail of gratitude in proportion to the good rec’d. Gladly would I feel & I think I do, grateful, but oh the height, the depht, & unsearchable fullness of many shown to me an object so unworthy. This has been a charming day & all nature smiles. There have been slight frosts for a few nights past & I fear there will be one this night, but as there has been no injury from them, this may also be harmless.

May 20th 1839May 20th 1839 Mon. This has been one warm & sultry day. One of those days that makes animal nature droop & pant for want of air, & that urges on the soft verdure & flowering beauties of the vegetable world. Tho’ warm it has been very pleasant this PM when in a cool place. As do all my movements & calculations so did mine to-day, meet change as disappointments. I had expected to visit Ithaca the first of June but I am called to go on the morrow. Ever since I can recollect, my calculations have generally been overthrown & something new or quite different at least substituted. So now, instead of going out on purpose to see Julia I am called to go on business. Little matter however if I only see & do all I wish. — The tree toads are keeping up their ominous chattering, & I think there will be rain soon. The forest & trees are becoming quite changed in their appearance on the distant hills & vegetation on the whole is at least two or three weeks earlier than last season at this time.

Return To Introduction
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