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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Elmira June 25, 1839

The undertaking now under consideration seems to be one of much greater importance than is generally thought. I mean the opening & continuation of a Journal. The question shall I keep a Journal, & will I continue it may at first to many appear almost unworthy of hesitation, but to me at least they present difficulties not easy to overcome. One may commence as I have done often before. I continue it for a few weeks but it is soon dropped & for various reasons. — That the object is worthy of attention & pursuit & that the benefit to be derived from a few minutes spent in each day or every few days is the source of great profit none ever will deny, but only a small proportion of those who know its benefits ever reap good them is quite evident. Few very few so far as I am capable of judging ever succeed in rendering their journals so interesting as to prompt them to a continuance. They commence & after a little time forget or neglect to do what is known as duty to themselves & the journal is set aside till a more convenient season. This has been the case with myself at least. The difficulty in deciding or in finding matters worthy of remark is a great hindrance to my journal & even tho’ there is enough interesting at the time being yet one thinks it cannot be so ever again. This cause & many others have helped to keep me from the continued entries in my previous undertakings.

Friday PM Ithaca June 21st, 1839
Ever Eternal Friend

Julia having threatened me with a punishment (A kiss I suppose) if I did not pull off my coat and let her Mother mend a hole under the arm. I was forced to do so and meanwhile I am furnished with Henry’s finecoat as a substitute while engaged in H’s room conversing with my most devoted and dear friend Wm.F. — so you see I am about under the thumb as she calls it, as I am at home I must comply with the family rules, among which & first is, to obey Mother.

From the introduction of this letter you will readily conclude that I am in pretty good spirits and you will have no reason to think differently as you proceed. The next day after I wrote you my "last" letter Julia seemed better and tho not out of danger yet we entertained hopes of her recovery. Since then she has slowly but gradually gained strength and is now considered out of danger by her physician. She is yet very feeble and going very slowly. The day on which I received your most interesting letter the 18th dated 16th inst. she seemed not so well as usual and on reading your condoling and kind epistle it opened afresh the fountain of bitterness, and I almost feared lest it might indeed be appropriate to my condition. A few hours, and she was better but the same warmth of affection glows in my heart toward the friend who would willingly leave all to add to my happiness, in the hour of need. Long shall I remember such a friend, and while gratitude lives in my heart shall I be grateful for the kind words, and sympathizing expressions, which I could expect in vain from any other than W.S.F. Often had I thought my affection for you was at its climax and all that my heart was capable of containing, but now have I found a new cord, a new tie binding me to yourself. Tho it was just what I had hoped and just what I should have expected, yet on reading from your hand an assurance of your willingness I was overcome with joy to know that I had indeed a friend in need, and one so dear. You know full well my feelings and useless is it for me to think of adding or expressing to you my gratefulness for your kindness in writing me so directly & I to your Dear H—i.Putnam, Harriet N.; alas am I grateful for her sympathy and kind feelings. And for Julia and myself to Harriet and Wm. I would acknowledge your warm expression of concern for our welfare and I will say that had providence indeed taken from me my Julia as I expected when I last wrote I should have been indebted and deeply indebted for your kindness, but I do think I feel the same admiration for your disinterested regard for anything else than my happiness, and the same gratitude for the expression of your willingness to come to me as tho’ you did come.

Heaven has indeed been merciful and, Julia lives, she lives, we hope to bless our years with her society and to benefit the world. She seems fast coming back and we hope will soon greet us with a hearty and deep felt affection for our attention when she will no longer need this. Tho’ very low and much debilitated we see no reason, by using prudence & discretion why she may not regain a perfect degree of health. As yet she cannot stand up alone and can sit up but a short time and what adds greatly to keep her from coming up fast is, that she cannot bear stimulants as they excite an inflammation of the lungs. She will however get up, with care, in a few weeks, of herself and then will probably go to old Connecticut with her Mother. — I shall leave her on Monday as I now expect. If she should fall into another relapse I should stay. I was at Willseyville yesterday and was surprised tho not unexpectedly to find that Aaron and Maria have had a thousand dollar legacy bequeathed them in the gift of a Son. Hurray!!! The very picture of its Father. Harray!!! Harrah!!! Well that is the way we go.

My dear friend was there no other reason I could but love J— for the patience and resignation and cheerfulness she manifests even when in pain and when wearied out with the bed and debility. Many very many happy hours have I spent in watching over her and have indeed considered it a blessing that she has been ill that I might see more fully her real worth. And the family never was one more pleasant or more ready to administer to each others happiness than is this. Should she recover and circumstances favor I should like very much to meet Harriet and yourself in Ledyard sometime during the summer and perhaps next month. — I have no time to say more just now — Oh yes, I was going to speak of your dear H— and could occupy another sheet, but you see time and space forbids, in the praise of a being so well worthy of the love of my dear Wm. — That she should feel so much interested in my welfare and in the affliction of my dear J— is sufficient of itself to call forth every grateful thought, and lead me to think her even more than the Harriet you think her to be. Most fondly do I hope that we may meet someday and so arrange matters as to live thro’ life in each others society. What a circle. Image Mr F. & Mr P., Mrs F. & Mrs P. with perhaps a few bright eyed little chicks, together under the same roof and eating in oft repeated times from each others table and what could be more pleasing. I have much very much I would like to say but after getting the word from J— to you I will close — she returns her thanks for your kind wishes and Harriets and Miss Elizabeth sends her respects, and Miss Lucy of course her esteem in the equivalent her name Sage — Yours ever write me soon to Elmira A.M.P. to W.S.F.

June 25th [1839] To continue my remarks I know is needless & in fact, I consider them as omens of evil, as I have always recommenced my Journal with similar remarks. So without further apology to myself for my own failures & faults I will open once again my often relinquished Journal.

Since the last entry in my journal I have been absent from Elmira & have spent over two weeks in Ithaca visiting a sick friend, as has been seen in my letter copied from Franklin of 21st inst. Long & anxiously did I watch that sick-bed & was rewarded in seeing the sick one gradually returning to health. Although very weak when I left, yesterday knowing yet prospects were very flattering for her entire recovery to health. Heaven indeed smiles & I should be grateful. Long have I been prospered in all my ways & yet when I look into my bosom for that return of gratitude so justly due I feel condemned. That I am grateful I believe but that I really do not feel the full weight of my blessings I am fully conscious.

As I said before I returned yesterday I found everything very well in Elmira. To-day has been extremely fine after so much unpleasant weather & I really wish myself back to Ithaca. I have felt lost & the time has passed wearily away.

How gladly would I look over into that room where lies my Julia & see how she gets along but I cannot & I must wait till the morrow for news.

From June 23d back there has been rain (in Ithaca) every 24 hours with the exception of 2 days for the space of 26 days. The longest most protracted season of wet weather I ever recollect to have known. Yesterday it rained but to-day is one of June’s finest days. — I wrote to my mother to-day at Albany & had expected to have copied it, but could not, giving an account of Julia’s illness.

Wednesday June 26th 1839 This has been of the finest days of summer & everything vegetable seems inspired with new life. For the first time this season I have this evening noticed fire-flies. Prospect of rain I think. — I have heard nothing from Ithaca to-day & feel as tho’ I could not wait Friday PM for a letter but so it seems to be. I wrote to J— to-day but felt very dull from a severe head-ache. I often wonder how many people seem so cheerful with a head-ache while it so completely unman’s myself.

June 27th [1839] Thursday. Some rain to-day & some pleasant weather. Have had new peas & new potatoes for dinner & the first I have seen this season. How unpleasant are reports when in every one’s mouth & frequently believed by many! I wonder not that a young lady should so much dislike false reports for it is bad enough to have true ones about & false are of course much more injurious & disagreeable. Since my return from Ithaca I have heard often & very differently told the reason of my journey & cause of my long stay & tho’ they have guessed nearly right yet nothing is known & so every one makes his own comments & the town seems to favor me with its unwelcome gossip. — When the morrow’s mail from Ithaca comes in I shall hope to hear from Julia & most anxiously wish to hear of the recovery from day to day of her strength & health. May Heaven be so propitious & she live to bless mankind & poor me with her society.

June 29th [1839] Saturday. Once again we have had a pleasant day. Indeed it is with 3 or 4 others the only pleasant day this month has afforded. I presume it has been enjoyed by all who could feel the effects of fine weather. — I hope it has raised the spirits of the sick, & most especially the convalescent Julia. I had a letter from her mother & Lucy last evening & was delighted to learn that she was fast returning to health. Long have I desired it & great has been my anxiety on her account & I am happy in hearing that she will soon regain her former strength. To man the lessons of experience tho’ not always effectual in producing their intended objects, are nevertheless beneficial in a great degree. They teach those who have been careless of health by sickness to make wise the simple, & to all, by sickness, the value of that boon granted to only few & from those, often soon removed this improper treatment. How very stubborn is our general disposition! When we have suffered on the sick-bed long & painfully how soon will we take perhaps the same course till it is too late, when health renews our strength.— I was very much struck with Julia’s remark after having not seen her face in the glass for 3 or 4 weeks, during a severe illness & of course greatly emaciated.— ‘O Death! I had no idea I looked so bad.’

It shows how very much sickness will do in removing from our form its beauty, the glow of health, & is no weak simile of the heart being sick with sin & not having been seen for a long time. —— Of one more subject — For several months past I find myself very much addicted to spending entirely uselessly considerable money & I scarcely know how to break the habit. In fact I do it even before I stop to think of my often repeated resolution to break the habit. I am aware that it takes very largely from my small means & I must leave it off. Yes & at some rate I will & must.

June 30th 1839 Sabbath. To-day we have had real summer weather. A warm sun & a pure cool air. In fact it has been the pleasantest day I have yet seen in the summer of ‘39. The evening tho’ not moonlight is most charming. — I confess however that I do not like the manner of spending sabbath evenings as they are generally spent, so far as my acquaintance extends, in Elmira. They are usually occupied in calls or frequently so, & are often spent in idle conversations. Conversation of a proper character on this day I think oftentimes useful & good but cannot approve of that trifling or common place chat which on a week day may be not out of season.

This AM I heard Mr. Frost preach & this PM attended church & heard Mr. Winslow. Were it not for some few reasons I might easily become a churchman but under present feelings I could not, although there are many things I very much like. I like Mr. Winslows discourses at least & have of late enjoyed the privilege of hearing them frequently. — So long as the Presn church matters are so completely out of order I shall feel as much at home in one place as the other, & shall not feel desirous of taking a letter from my much loved Dutch Church of Ithaca. In fact as the Presbyterian church en-masse seems so completely agitated from high to low & rent with discord & dissension I am almost inclined to say I will never again become one of its members. That good may result from their troubles I sincerely hope & that God will raise them up & glorify His Name in their prosperity I ardently wish.

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