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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Aug 3d [1839] Sat Evening 10 oclk. The month of July has fled & August now stands forward to its claim of thirty one suns, 3 of them having already rolled on. Yes & another week too has gone & in two more hours will open the first of the coming week. — Time wings away thro days weeks & months, & even when we are anticipating important & desirable changes in one’s life, we find that we are on the eve of their appearance scarcely before we think them near. —Having played traitor to my love-affairs in revealing a few of my calculations to a young friend who I was convinced from all appearances was not unlike myself in his situation I was gratified in finding him in as nearly a parallel case as ever happens. We are both satisfied that we share the affections of two as worthy persons as can be found & that we can see now no reasons why we may not live well & happily. In fact we anticipate the celebration of our change from the state of single blessedness to married life about the same time. —— For reasons I am as yet unable to fully account for I have heard nothing from Julia except a paper on Wed, this week. I suppose she is now on her way to Whitestown & that I shall hear from her some time next week. I hope to hear that she has not suffered from her journey. — For two or three days we have had cool & fine weather & I have felt extremely well.

Aug 4th [1839] Sabbath Evening. — This day has been very fine indeed. Attended Epis ch in the AM & had a good sermon from Mr. Winslow & the PM the Pres ch. I felt very dull & care little or nothing about the sermon. After services & for tea we had green corn the first for this season. It was good & we eat plentifully. This Evening I have spent in reading some of Julia’s old letters & have been well entertained in their perusal. Have also finished a letter to Frederick I. Jackson. How much would I like to assist such a young man to complete his course of study & enter upon his duty as a minister if I had the opportunity. I will however give a little & should God bless me I most earnestly pray that I may have the disposition to do good with what is committed to my care.

Aug 6th [1839] Tuesday. I have heard nothing from Julia & the failure with the dull times in business makes me feel rather down-hearted. The pressure in many concerns is very close & we are unable to go on just now. Have begun a letter to Caroline S— this PM. Weather warm & just now 1/2 past 9 is raining. Rather a bad time for harvesting I should think.

Aug 7th [1839] Wed. This morning was one of the finest imaginable & as an opportunity offered I was gratified in riding out with Mrs. Luce. Our first object was the summit of the East hill from which burst suddenly on the right one of the most delightful visions I scarce ever saw. The wide spread valley with Elmira in its center lay before us variegated with all the richness of mid-summer & harvest fields, with the river smoothly rolling, its waters sparkling in the sun even to our feet as it hid itself in the wood at the foot of the hill, while far away with scarce a tinge of blue rose hill upon hill decorated with the ripening grain or fields of green forming as a whole one of the most charming scenes that imagination could picture. Not a cloud save a small but heavy rolling mass in the distant north, with the softest breezes of summer laden with the fragrance of the new made hay, all conspired to make our ride & prospect as pleasant as heart could have wished. But we stopped not here. On our return we took in South-port square making an addition of about five miles of country rich as wish could crave, & found ourselves at home when the bell rang forth 12 oclk. I returned my establishment & on my way to dinner was most happily entertained with the reception of a letter from Caroline S— from Provdce R.I. which I discussed as a dessert. This PM too I was pleased to find a letter from Ithaca tho’ the news was not quite so pleasing as I had anticipated. I supposed Julia was in Whitestown on Mon instead of which she arrives there not till Thurs or to-morrow Providence permitting.

Aug 8th [1839] Thursday. I finished my letter to Caroline this morning & for once was tolerably well pleased with the production circumstances allowed. I filled readily 1-1/2 sheet & with difficulty found a place to stop. — Weather sultry & damp. I find that weather this season most materially affects my spirits & my health to a great extent. When we have pure air & a lively breeze I generally feel well. This PM I have been at work in the yard & feel weary & some what indisposed, owing to a relaxed system. This evening opened a letter from Mrs. Sage & was interrupted by a call from Mrs. Luce to play back-gammon which I felt more like playing than like writing. Was unusually successful.

Aug 10th ‘39 Saturday. Yesterday I finished my letter as usual or as I calculated & sent it off. It went this morning & is probably read before this. Last evening I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Richoter play on the piano. He is a German & plays extremely well. For the two or three days past I have felt somewhat indisposed but to-day my health seems regular again. Usually thro’ the summer I have had attacks of cholic & severe ones but have had none thus far this season & trust I shall not. Business is dull & we are half disposed to give up the idea of keeping our office open for prospects grow darker each day. Unless the pressure in money matters soon gives way I fear its effects will be ruinous. How far it may affect us I cannot say but fear the worst. —— This evening I have enjoyed quite a social confab with Miss Gregg & was pleased with the turn of the conversation. Conversation when properly conducted & directed is a source of great improvement. — After I had returned & had shut the door I heard a gun. I heard two or three an evening or two since & Mrs Luce inquired the reason. Soon after as I had seated myself to write — I heard some one say they heard the cry of murder &c. I have paid no particular attention trusting it to be a fake report or mischief by some bad boys.

Aug 11th 39 Sabbath. Nothing worthy of much notice as different from most sabbaths, has occurred that I recollect. — I regret one habit into which I have fallen & will if possible break it up. It is sleeping in church. So firmly has it become that in the P.M. I find myself dozing even before I am conscious & readily relax into a sleep. During the warm weather I often feel dull for a few weeks & if in a cool easy situation readily become drowsy. The habit of sleeping in church is one however I deprecate & will abolish in myself. —— And then of late I find my thoughts are quite too like the fools eyes. I am often dwelling upon what should be most absent, when in church & on the sabbath. I have not the faculty of fixing my thoughts so intently for some time on one subject as have many & frequently find myself planning a business transaction, or on some favorite scheme not appropos to the sanctuary. This too would I overcome & be able to listen or read attentively without being half the time far away. — The weather has been cool & pleasant. This PM a little sprinkle of rain.

Heard Mr. Winslow this AM & at the Pres in the P.M. — With pleasure would I see for a moment my Julia & now how she enjoys herself. I hope the morrow I shall hear from her, probably from Whitestown. Time passes away & our day will soon come when by the will of God we shall unite our interests for life. It is a subject that occupies many of my thoughts & as time glides by, I think the more deeply. Confident am I that it is an era in life that is marked for better or worse in the most emphatic manner. A cool head & ripened judgment should alone decide the step. When congenial spirits meet each other then seems the time. But I am not capable of determining such affairs. I only know that in my opinion I could only hasten the day as far as choice is concerned.

Aug 12th [1839] Monday. A fine summer’s day. I rec’d a letter from my Father this PM & I am fearful of the effects of the money pressure. How it will terminate I am unable to decide. May Providence shield us from the calamity. Not but happiness may or does exist in concert with indigence but when success crowns one’s efforts they have the power of doing great good & living with less toil of body & mind.

Have passed the evening very pleasantly in society, company of Mrs. Luce’s. Was much gratified with the conversations of Dr. Hatch a man of 79 years. Lively intelligent in full possession of nearly every faculty I was much pleased with his chat. Such old age I could desire. With his children settled around with pleasant family surrounded with a well known & friendly neighborhood in full enjoyment of one’s powers, old age must be filled with many pleasing associations. Life is a capricious gift & its enjoyment only can depend upon ourselves.

Aug 13th [1839] Tuesday. Mrs. Luce & myself anticipate going to Troy Pa. to-morrow & I hope the effects of the times will be lost in the journey. I feel at times somewhat gloomy. When I look forward & see what influence the present pressure will probably have on business I feel quite like complaining but why should I? Surrounded with friends & loving ones, I should be happy if we even are obliged to delay our expectations till a more propitious time.

Have spent the evening pleasantly in company at Miss Cleeves’ & have been quite diverted with music. I find its effects are happy on my feelings. Being after 10 & some time after my usual hour of retirement I relinquish my pen for the dreams of the night & throw myself upon the protection of Heaven. How should gratitude fill the heart for so many & great blessings constantly enjoyed.

Aug 14th [1839] Wed. To-day I had thought would bring me some letters but once again I was pinched most sweetly by Disappointment in testimony of his pleasure at my loss. When it will be my turn to change the time I am at present wholly unable to say. I had hoped to hear from Julia, from Lucy & from Brother but only a paper from Lucy was the result of my expectations. Last evening I commenced a letter to Mrs. Sage & have just completed the sheet. For reasons I cannot express I feel myself wholly at a loss what to say when I write to her. Still I find no difficulty in filling the sheet but in the selections of subjects. — The day has been fine & for several days past it has rained not a whit. Business rather more lively but prospects gloomy. Most gladly if it was convenient would I take a trip to my good friend Franklin’s but I fear it will be impracticable. Mrs. Luce & myself were defeated in our calculations by the arrival of company.

Aug 15th [1839] Thursday. A fine day & has been spent in going with HI.Brooks to Paia some 12 or 14 miles away. Enjoyed it very well & on our return home had a taste for the first of ripe apples. — When home the first move I made was for the P Office, half inclined to be eager, half not to go, but fortune once again smiled at last & I was full on finding a letter from Julia & one from WmS.F. Both were brief but very good. I was happy. I opened & read. Elizabeth wrote that Julia would probably return with health restored & Julia that she enjoyed herself well. Franklin I was pained to hear had lost a sister & felt gloomy & unhappy. To Julia I have nearly filled a sheet for the morrow’s mail. With Franklin I would gladly sympathize & must write him soon.

Aug 17th [1839] Saturday. Yesterday PM we had constant & hard rain it falling nearly an inch from 1 till 6 oclk. My Brother AFP spent the night with me & left this morning. There has been showers thru’ the day. The weather being gloomy I have felt somewhat down-spirited from several causes. This PM I had a letter from Lucy which for a time diverted any thoughts to objects far away. Business still dull. Prospects everything but promising. Thus has the week passed away. The evening has been occupied in giving lessons in chess-playing to Miss H. Tuthill & Mrs. Luce. For a few days past I have been almost disposed to find nothing of derangements in business, but why should I when from this source comes my support & a means of doing good. I would however like to learn to be content with what I have.

Aug 18th [1839] Sabbath. The day has been showery. This AM & P.M. heard a stranger preach. At 5 oclk Mr Whiting a missionary from the land of Palestine describe Jerusalem & country adjacent. I was gratified with his description & when hearing or reading about the country I often desire to see it myself & visit the land where acts of the deepest & most momentous importance have been done. It must be affecting to see objects which have been familiar to mankind ages past & to visit the places where Christ was often found while upon his mission to our wicked world. —— This PM I was interested in Dr Alcott’s Advice to a Young Husband & if ever I occupy so responsible a station feel myself greatly assisted in attempting the adoption of some of his advice. There is much that is good & would bless the world if it was practised. That with the Young Wife would make a family happy & useful. They would throw comfort, peace, influence & respectability into the hands of all who make them their guide. Of course there is much that from the nature of circumstances cannot be proper or judicious to adopt by all. — This evening I have commenced a letter to Franklin & have been trying to comfort & console him under the loss of a sister. This I feel to be a very difficult & delicate subject for me to touch as I never lost a relative & cannot judge correctly of one’s feelings. And such a friend as WmSF draws a large share of my sympathy & if needed would have freely my presence in times of trouble. So I think now I know that as time adds experience to our years we may look differently upon the friends of our youth, but for years past F— has an increased amount of my affections.

Aug 19th [1839] Monday. This AM was passed in part without much object but an hour or two spent in reading the Memoir of Aaron Burr. I like the memoir very much indeed thus far but may think differently. Nothing especial has occurred during the day worthy of note. I have this evening felt unusually desirous of seeing Julia & would most gladly clasp her to my heart were she where I could see her. Each day seems to add new force to my feelings & I am the more satisfied, as I see more of the female heart that I possess a treasure. How much more indeed than I justly deserve. Tho’ even resolved to accomplish something in life that will benefit mankind & become not only respectable but beloved by those around me yet I have never felt myself worthy of such a heart as I find in Julia. To me resolution is mighty & whatever a man resolves that may he accomplish under favorable circumstances. Ever was I resolved even from childhood to become not what is commonly inferred from the expression greatness, when attached to ambitious men, but to be respected, to be useful in some capacity & to live well. How to establish a permanent & substantial character for morality honesty & good intent is a point that few obtain, & never can without great arduous & constant effort. This I have sometimes flattered myself to have partially accomplished but yet see & feel that the half is yet undone. One’s character never becomes perfect without constant effort. But when I see the fruit of my labor in sharing in dearest ties of relationship, with such a being as Julia then do I feel myself a thousand times rewarded. That I may never prove a recreant to my affections I sincerely hope & that I may ever be the means of making life pleasant to her & myself I deeply desire. I find no stopping place in one’s way to the goal I have fixed upon & no time to look with complaisance upon one’s past acquirements. As Alcott says of the Young Husband, that much is expected of him & his responsibilities being great he should resolve if possible not to disappoint these expectations. That adversity will sometimes rule I doubt not but that I would accomplish all that others expect of me & more I am conscious as it would bring additional happiness to myself & others. The bed needs my presence & after resigning all into the hands of a kind Providence I would sleep away the kind of melancholy thrown around me by the state of business. — This A.M. finished my letter to Franklin & somewhat expected a letter from some one but was defeated. So I await patiently.

Aug 22d [1839] Thursday. The three days past have been quite warm & sultry especially yesterday & to-day. A very little rain this P.M. — I had plums yesterday for the first & they were fine. — For the three or four evenings past I have been dissipating considerable having been in company every evening. For me this was something new to think of any enjoyment in society & in fact the real enjoyment is comparatively nothing when I look upon the evenings spent with Julia. — For some time past I have desired a diversion of some kind & accordingly taken it in my head to see some of the ladies. — No news from Julia or my other friends & I am waiting with anxiety to hear from them. I wrote to Lucy yesterday & she has probably read it before this. I feel lonely & alone. I look around for some one to whom I can open my feelings but all are strangers & I am obliged to conceal my feelings & let them wear themselves out & then I shall be contented. If I was anticipating I should soon find myself with the one who would listen to my thoughts & would drive dull care awa’.

Aug 23 [1839] Friday. This week has been to me the shortest that I rarely ever saw. It has seemed but a moment from Monday till the present. The reason I know not without it is because I have had something constantly occupying my mind. Business has been dull but I have been all the while looking forward to the return of Julia, my visit to Ithaca, the reception of a letter or something ahead to divert my mind from present circumstances thus making time in reality short when one would naturally suppose it to appear long.

Warm sultry air till this evening we have a change by a storm. No news from my friends. It would be really pleasant if I could know their circumstances all round but ignorance is a necessary evil always following the absence of those we love. I should like to look over into Albany & see how Mother is doing & then find Julia I know not where & after find all those to whom I am endeared by ties of blood & friendship. All this cannot be & I will trust them in the Hands of an Omniscient Being who can see them all & by His Omnipotence can sustain & protect or remove them according to their real good.

Aug 24th [1839] Saturday. The week is gone & when I rise once more it will probably be to celebrate the solemn duties of the Sabbath. — I had really anticipated a letter from some one of my friends but was deprived of the pleasure. A business letter from Pa was all that saved this weeks passing away without hearing from any one. I have been thro’ the week very discontented anxious & almost despairing of ever accomplishing anything for myself or those I love, & have often felt a little inclined to give up the ship. But when I think of others who are completely upon their oars I have no reason to complain. As the time draws near I feel almost disposed to defer our ceremony till a more agreeable season should it ever come, but cannot see any very great cause for doing so just now. I hope the times will be more congenial in a few weeks. I long much very much to hear from my J— but am satisfied that all is well or I should have heard before now. The week is gone. A few more weeks if Heaven smiles & the necessity of waiting from mail to mail will be obviated. As the day draws near I find the subject assumes an importance & weight I never before attached to it. The responsibility of itself is oppressive, but the benefit & happiness seems to throw around it a more welcome aspect. When I think that upon me will devolve the duty of not only sustaining & protecting but cheering & smoothing the rough path of life, with the ten thousand obligations resting upon one I am almost ready to faint before the toil commences. But why say toil? Why speak of obligations when all should & I trust will be done with perfect good will & with a cheerful smile. The most I fear is my not being able to make happy & contented the partner of my blessings, & that in the many little points of home & conjugal etiquette I may fail to make everything as pleasant as I could desire. On many accounts I should like well to adopt Dr. Alcotts system of conduct, & as we have his advice to the Young Wife & Husband I cannot see why so far as circumstances & consistency will admit his plans may not be called into exercise. Many of his precepts are original & very good & I have been quite pleased with a considerable portion of his works. All this I have mentioned before. — The weather has been very warm & sultry. The evenings at present are the most pleasant part of the day.

Aug 25th 1839 Sabbath. Happening to turn to the opening of this volume I find that to-day makes two months of progress, a longer time I think than I ever before adhered so closely to the practice of journal-writing. To-day also is the last Sabbath of the month & the summer of 1839. As its hours are nearly spent I will take brief view of the season. I mean of its Sabbaths. From the commencement of the work it will be seen that I spent some 3 or 4 Sabbaths at Ithaca where I attended the RD Church or remained by the bed side of Julia. Long shall remember those days & especially the evenings of one in which she seemed to forget the illness of her body in her mental afflictions & when all were retired desired me to read & pray with her. I was somewhat surprised & knew not what to say. The state of her feelings I was then ignorant of, but learned them soon after. Never shall I forget the hours spent by the side of Julia while I feared she was about to leave me to mourn her departure before I had learned her worth.

My Sabbaths in Elmira during summer have been spent in attending either the Pres or Episcopalian ch & in reading some good work during the PM & Evening with I fear too small a degree to self examination & prayer. — Of my present state of feeling I can say nothing such is the constant & continued attraction of my thoughts to other subjects that I have almost feared I had lost sight of my heart. But why should any other subject draw my attention from a cause than which all others are of no consequence. I have always endeavored on the Sabbath to exclude business & other subjects irrelevant to the day, & allow myself to make no calculations of the week for business, but often when I would keep my thoughts upon a sermon or some devotional book or religious theme I find myself absorbed in the world. This I mourn over & would conquer.

The day has been very warm from the dawn of day till about dusk. Now it is more comfortable. — I heard Rev. Mr. Whiting this A.M. He preached a discourse in behalf of the Foreign Missions & I think it was about the best sermon I have heard for weeks. Heard Rev. Mr. Spaulding from Southport this P.M.

Aug 27th [1839] Tuesday. Yesterday was a very sultry warm day. There was no less than four distinct thunder storms so near that the thunder was heavy here & yet the air retained its warm & weakening temperature.

We had one heavy shower in Elmira but the weather has been rather warm thro’ this 27th day. — This PM by the Northern mail I was in fact happily disappointed with the getting of a letter bearing the superscription in Julia’s hand & sealed with a well known seal. I hasted to the office & twice read it rapidly thro’ & felt a most unabounded pleasure in its perusal. There was the hand & heart of J— & tho’ short yet was it to me one the best letters she has ever written. She speaks of our union as a truly solemn & interesting relation & my heart echo’s the sentiment most perfect. Indeed what relation can be so full of all that is momentous yet when properly considered, what relation commands more of the happiness & comfort of life & enjoyment of what man was intended to possess. —— Brother AFP came in town this P.M. & bro’t me a gift from Lucy of a bunch of raisins & a most noble & delicious apple, with her respects which were all heartily welcome. Think some of going to P[ainted] Post in the morning Providence permitting.

Aug 28th [1839] Wednesday. The weather was very cool & chilly but clear in the morning & has been cool thro’ the day. Some fears of a frost this evening. Mrs. Luce & myself went to Painted Post as I anticipated & on the whole had a pleasant ride. I expected to have seen Grandmother Potter but was disappointed. — Had a letter from Pa this evening & I find prospects of business affairs gloomy indeed. How it will end time alone will decide. May it be well. — This stoppage of business gives me everything but agreeable thoughts. Should its result prove the loss of our present hopes I mean Pa’s & my own then my anticipated union must necessarily be delayed time unknown. That this may be the means of dividing us Heaven forbid & I have no idea that our feelings would be at all changed but circumstances might in the end be our separation. When thinking of affairs in this light I start at the picture but when I imagine misfortune the means of endearing us to each other then I have only to rest content till time shall call us to each other’s arms. I am anticipating too much however at present & I hope it will prove the darkest picture to be presented to our view. I do Julia injustice if I suppose her a person whose love would change with the freaks of fortune, for I imagine an effect entirely the reverse. That she would become to my self the star of hope, the goal & prize in the race, the object for which I would use my most powerful exertions to win & to support.

Miss H. Tuthill a young lady I mentioned as giving lessons in chess with Miss Luce was married a few days since to a Mr Atwater. She is or was an old maid of 30 or more but was one of the good of the earth. Thus Cupid works. At one time openly & bold, then imperceptibly & sudden. But A.F. expected to have left this A.M. but will leave probably in the morning.

Aug 29th [1839] Thurs. This has been a cold yet pleasant day. No frost here last night. Cold enough to-night tho’ there will be none as it is cloudy. I have contracted a slight cold on my lungs by some means.

Aug 30th [1839] Friday. This has been a cold day & clear this evening with prospect of a frost. — Have felt stupid & not like myself on account of my cold. I make an attempt to finish my letter to Julia but gave it up & commenced another. Wrote a short & nonsensical letter. I anticipated a letter today from Ithaca but failed. I shall expect one Monday. Was warned to do military duty this evening but I am resolved I will not train be the consequences what they may.

Aug 31st 1839. Saturday. During the summer of 1839 I have seen a variety in life which I trust not soon to be repeated. In business the month of June was very good but while business smiled pitiously on my undertaking I was sitting by the bed-side of the ill & dangerously sick Julia of my heart. Long & anxiously watched I, whether present or absent & watched with success. She recovered. During July I was often under the necessity of leaving her, but saw health returning to those wasted cheeks beautiful tho’ wasted, & her spirits rise from day to day. Business tolerably good. August has seen me alone & lonely. Julia separated even farther than usual & business dull to the lowest degree, with the unpleasant & cheerless prospects of no better for the remainder of the season. Times are worse if possible than in 1837 but hopeful they will improve. — The week has bro’t me news from Julia & good news, with the most delightful anticipation of seeing her before next week shall be gone. The day has bro’t me a paper from W.S.F. saying he was at home & wished to see J & A.M.P. there when he should see Harriet there. This evening I have been very much diverted by a call from Mr. Luber with a bass viol making of course a short & pleasant evening full of music.

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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