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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A.D. 1840

Jan 6th [1840] Monday. Still in Ithaca & once again journalizing. The new year must receive notice & should from every one that is interested in the flight of Time. The year opens under varied circumstances. Peace & plenty reigns thro’ the land & the common bounties of life are enjoyed as in years past. To those engaged in business it brings but a dim prospect of success. On the whole I think prospects are much more favorable than for the few past months.

The bell for the yearly fast day services is ringing & I must omit further writing at present.

As an individual I cannot complain for thousands are in deeper perplexity than myself who were before in more easy circumstances. I am grateful for restoration by degrees of Julia’s health & consider this is a greater source of enjoyment than the times of trouble. Indeed, a greater source of enjoyment than all pecuniary embarrassments could be perplexity.

Have concluded I will not go out & will notice some few things I before omitted. Shall probably go to Willseyville this P.M. Expected to have gone Sat but was inclined to defer it. Attended services yesterday (Sabbath) at the Pres ch & heard Rev Wisner in AM. PM communion.

Could I look forward & see my location for the year 1840 in some respects it might be pleasant, for the time being, I am at a loss respecting it. I do however feel it to be important that this year should if possible be one of exertion & prosperity, so far as domestic comfort & future prospects are concerned if from no other reasons. How the close of 1840 will tell upon these pages the Future only can reveal.

Jan 11th 1840. Willseyville. Saturday Eve. This week Monday Evening Julia & myself came home to W— from Ithaca where this date still finds us. Br .A.F. & wife left here for Homer, Caz. &c on Thurs since which time we have been alone, with a house full of visitors. Received a letter from WmSF inviting me to visit him at Ledyard during a vacation at Auburn Sem & regret that it is quite impossible for me to see him at present, the more because I wrote him not long since that if he would come home & write me I would visit him.

Have felt this evening deeply depressed in spirits from several causes. The principal being the delicate state of Julia’s health. I ardently desire the day may not be long distant when she may see a full restoration to health. Nothing seems so desirable & nothing would be too great a sacrifice to obtain it.

Prospects for business still remaining very unpromising. I feel occasionally like relinquishing all hope of ever acquiring what seems so necessary, a competence. —— Weather pleasant for the season. Fine sleighing. Snow about 2-1/2 or 3 feet deep. Very little water in the streams. Mills all standing still & have not been used since last summer a cir. never before known in the recollection of our oldest inhabitants. People have been troubled to get grinding done for their families. — Uncle Hiram P. & Aunt came here last night & have been obliged to remain by a heavy fall of snow thro’ the day.

Jan 14th [1840] Tuesday. Often have I wished I was so situated in life that I might travel over the different countries of Europe & the world. Thro’ the evening I have been reading Stevens’ Incidents of travels in Greece Turkey Russia & Poland. His writings are interesting, the style simpler plain & lively & his descriptions brief & clear. This evening travelling with him from Petersburgh thro’ Poland I was fastened intently upon the last effort of the Poles near Warsaw to regain their freedom in 1831 in which 30,000 were slain & the Poles blotted from the list of nations within the active fatal & bloody three days of July.

Julia’s cold is I hope on the eve of departure. She has the most severe cold I have known of her having since last winter. I hope its stay will be short. — The weather is changeable but not quite moderate enough to thaw. —— I find it much more difficult to get together a letter to a correspondent than it was a year or two past & for what reasons I cannot tell. I am unconscious of any change in my feelings toward them since marriage & know of no other cause of my long delay in answering their epistles. Newly married persons are almost proverbial for breaking off correspondence with old friends but I really can see no good reason for so doing.

Jan 15th [1840] Wed. To-day have written to W.S.F. & the following is a copy.

Dear Friend —You may perhaps be surprised at my conduct toward yourself in neither showing myself in profina persona or by letter at Ledyard previous to this date, & will be ready to conclude without doubt that I have forgotten W.S.F. Let no such conclusion ever find a place in your mind even tho’ I should cease to address you, for never can your name be erased from my select & chosen few, toward whom I shall ever extend the affection of a brother & friend. — When I last wrote you I was lonely being alone. Julia was at Ithaca & myself at Wlle. In the interim of dates I have spent a week at Ithaca & returned to W with Julia where she is at this time. She has been here over a week & will probably remain some time yet. You see therefore the impracticability of spending a few days with you for the present. I am greatly indebted for your kind offer of a conveyance for Julia, but her health is such that it would be impolitic for her to leave home. Besides you see she is now at home in Willseyville & will not return to Ithaca in time to favor you with a visit. I regret the necessity of relinquishing all hope of seeing you this winter & would most gladly spend a week in Ledyard.

Pardon me for thus disappointing you & rest assured I share equally with yourself the disappointment. —— Perhaps I may have interfered with your calculations of visiting Harriet & if I have I can only beg pardon.

Now friend W— do not flatter yourself that you are liberated from the scrawls & begging to which you have so long been accustomed, thro’ the effect of frigid indifference, the inhalation of morbid sensibility to friendship, the circumscribed limits of affection to unity, the bewildering powers of a tramp into the land of Matrimony, or the more plausible but specious conclusion that the domestic relations, cares of a family, & dignity of a married man, all together have caused the long silence of your friend A.M.P. No I am unconscious of any changes in my character or feeling thus far at least. I must however admit that I feel differently in regard to many things than I did six months past. I am now fairly in the boat & feel myself the partner of one in whose happiness & enjoyment lies my own. This is no fiction. ‘Tis not the love-dream or the picture of imagination, it is sober reality. For me to speak of regret at all would be idle, & to say I do not regret the change, equivalent in your mind to saying I was disappointed in my fortune. Do not suspect or imagine any such consequence but when I say that the marriage tie was an idle ceremony recollect what I have said before on the same point. — Only one thing I regret & I may add another in my present condition. Julia’s health has been rather variable from a severe cold for a few days past & brings to mind reflections & conversations which you must at once bring to mind. Heaven only knows the result but I trust she will soon regain her health & live to bless the path of your friend. —— Shut up within the walls of a Seminary you may but have heard that the prospects of the business man seems almost blighted & his labor cut short, his family upon the brink of poverty & ruin, & everything connected with money matters groaning under embarrassments never before known or felt in the annals of American history. The result no one dares to prognosticate. Every one fears the worst & the entire nation quakes & trembles as if on the verge of one awful crash. To a young man just commencing life, such a state of affairs casts a shade of darkness & doubt upon his way whether he will rise to respectability, usefulness, & competency, or sink to the abode of poverty & obscurity. — For months have I watched with intense & increasing interest the prospect for the coming year. As yet all is dark & discouraging.

With my mind full of care & anxiety for Julia & our future prospects I have at times, I confess, lost sight of those dear to me by friendship & long attachments. For the present I dare not give you any hope of my visiting Ledyard, but if this reaches you before you leave for Woodstock remember Julia & myself to Harriet in affection. Write me from W— or immediately after your return & direct to W as you did last.

I could fill a large sheet with my feelings & would more gladly see you & tell them, but the present calls me to close. Let this sheet be sufficient to convince you that I remain to you as ever your friend & Br A.M. Potter.

Supposing you should come this way & see me. I am half inclined to make another promise & would if I know your arrangements. If I could I would go with you to Cazenovia but this I dare not put in the form of a promise, as your time is too short to admit of arrangements favoring any such plan. Julia sends her kindest regards to yourself & is obliged for your kind offer. Remember me to your friends in affection. Write me soon.

Is not this fine weather for winter? Do you have any climbing shads out your way? ha, ha. Aaron & Maria are now visiting in Homer, Fabius & Cazenovia & you may chance to meet them in your tour. — Dont get intoxicated at Woodstock & let your moderation be known unto all men. Excuse nonsense from an old man. A.M.P.

Jan 16th [1840] Thursday. This with last night I think will prove to be about the coldest day of this winter. At all events the weather is extremely cold. The last few days have been peculiar in giving a cold to almost every individual. Julia is recovering from her cold. I think my lungs are affected with a cold being something unusual as colds generally affect my head.

Jan 17th [1840] Friday A.M. Last night was the coldest by a considerable of any night of this winter. If I mistake not the coldest since 1836. This morning noticed what I never saw before, the steam from a drop of warm water falling from a dipper like flame from a drop of alcohol or oil on fire & falling 3 or 4 feet. The sight was beautiful & striking. The morning thus far is clear & pleasant.

Jan 19th [1840] Sabbath. A pleasant day. Father & myself went to Candor to church & heard Mr Riggs. His AM discourse was for the benefit of the Auburn Theog Sem. Text ‘But ye have robbed God’ &c. The discourse excellent & powerful but I fear the donations were limited in proportion to the wealth of the church. The pastor’s example was certainly worthy of being followed, being a note of $20. in four annual payments. When I heard his determination I was almost resolved to follow, but am often at a loss as to my duty on such subjects. I am worth nothing & know not that I ever shall be. I do however give something to every object relying upon the promise that he that watereth shall himself be watered again, not expecting that I must be watered because I give but giving freely leaving the result with God. I am almost inclined to send WmS.F. a note like Mr Riggs. The PM discourse was for a funeral service was truly solemn.

I think I never saw a church where there is really so much sincerity & sympathy as in the ch of Candor. The singing was good & interesting. — For the two days past Julia has not appeared as well as usual & I feel a strong desire for her welfare. Providence seems to be frowning upon me & I feel thankful for past & present favors & know that I have been ungrateful & disobedient. My heart has waxed dull & my thoughts are fixed with my cares, too much upon the present.

Jan 20th 1840 Monday. Like many other days this has passed without anything very striking either in my own or others affairs. I may however notice the effect of adversity by a reference to the present time for every day tells most painfully the effect of the pecuniary distress on the feelings & character of every individual.

I deeply regret its effect upon the mind of Julia & ardently wish the day may come when we may make an effort to obtain for ourselves a competency so desirable in itself, & as a means of doing good in the world. For the present I am tied hand & foot like the great mass of people & am waiting waiting & waiting sometimes disheartened & sometimes a little encouraged but constantly looking forward. Not a man in my acquaintance is doing differently & yet no one can form any opinion as to the result of the unparalled distress of the country. If I dared to place any dependence upon myself or could hope that the past experience would have a beneficial upon my future course I should unhesitatingly say that I have had enough training from the most valuable & severe teacher Experience to act differently should I chance to be placed in similar circumstances. That I was extravagant during the last year is notorious & that I feel it now, my hours of thought & oft repeated resolves are a sufficient evidence. Whether my resolutions are found to be reduced to practice the future alone will decide. I often times feel depressed in spirits at the reflection that I have caused so much anxiety & care, so much pain & suspense, as I am conscious of producing in the heart of my help-meet, but yet I cannot charge myself with hypocrisy toward her, for I intended to have told all, & if I failed it was certainly unintentional. Had the times remained as they were I cannot but reflect upon my calculations as meeting my expectations & I cannot feel myself in fault that they were defeated inasmuch as they were defeated from causes wholly out of my power to control & to have foreseen. May this prove a beneficial lesson to teach us our dependence on the Hand of God for all our blessings & may it be sufficient to teach us wisdom in future & then I shall not regret its visitation.

Jan 21st [1840] Tuesday. Sleighing is fine & has been in Willseyville since Christmas.

Jan 22d [1840] Wed. Weather moderate & prospects of a thaw. Snowing this evening very fast with wind in the south. Aaron & Maria returned this PM from their tour.

Jan 24th [1840] Friday. Yesterday PM it seeming rather pleasant Julia & myself started for Ithaca. The weather proved to be very tedious & blustering. We arrived there about 6 oclk & found all in usual health. Julia bore the ride well & was in good spirits but I was about unmanned with sick headache. This AM looked round town a little & heard the usual story of hard times left Julia looking well & returned home alone. I find her absence creates a feeling of loneliness I never before experienced in parting from friends.

Have felt quite interested in the loss of a mother from a gay family in Ithaca (Doct Geo Phillips) by a sudden illness by which four or five sisters are left almost orphans & without any education but that found at the piano & in the walks of a fashionable life. Destitute of every thing necessary for the cold realities of a cold world they are left alone. How deep their loss? Tho’ in the end it may prove their benefit. —— Weather of to-day pleasant but cold. Had an addition to our snow Wed night of about 6 or 8 inches. Give me the scenes & pleasures of a summers day in preference to those of stern cold winter. So say I now at least.

Jan 30th [1840] Thursday. Last evening wrote a short letter to Julia & would be very glad to hear from her this evening. Have for a week or two been reading life of Joseph Brant or Thayendanegea. Henry said it was too diffusive & occupied too much ground for a work so entitled, & so it does as a Memoir but as a history it contains much interesting & important matter I reccollect of never having seen before. On the whole I like the work.

Within 48 hours past it has thawed rapidly & the snow is fast giving way. Severe & heavy showers have been the order of this PM. In one I saw two currents of wind passing each other in nearly opposite directions with a rapid motion accompanied with rain & snow. Both currents within 180 rods. Wish I could hear from J this evening. Heard from W.S.F. last evening & wish myself with him at Ledyard. Miss H.N.P. spending a few days with him. I would willingly turn pedestrian if I was sure of finding him at home. — We entertained a pedestrian Pres minister last night who had travelled all day & was wet hungry & fatigued. It was pleasant to do a fellow being such a kindness, & gladly would I have the day come when I can render a kindness to the needy not only in this free land but among the lands of the heathen & idolater.        

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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