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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March 5th 1840 Thursday. The intimation of Thurs Feb 27. was fully reduced to practice. I walked to Ithaca in about 3-1/2 hours 14 miles. I felt but little fatigued. My first stop was by the chair of Julia. I found her not so well as I had anticipated but better than she had been for the few days past. Her cough which had been severe was nearly or quite gone, her breathing appeared more regular & her strength returning. Her chills were about the only symptoms I disliked & I most fondly hope these will prove to be only nervous (the physicians opinion). She was weaker than I have seen her since last summer. Her spirits retain their usual flow & the same enduring, patient, & uncomplaining feeling reigns over her pains. I would she complained more & yet I love the calm sweetness that rules in her mind. May God bless her & may His richest blessings be hers in life & death. No object seems so desirable to me as her recovery & I sometimes find myself murmuring at the slowness of her return.

The weather has been delightful, being warm & pleasant. I return yesterday as I went thereby defeating the cupidity of the railroad agent in his attempt to defraud me of the amount of their usual fare. They have never before charged but 3/– [shillings] & asked 6/– yesterday. The issuer was too bold. Walked home very easily & felt myself the richer by 12/– with the satisfaction of feeling myself independent, in the possession of health & a body (small it is true) but able to carry me wherever I wish, without the assistance of silver feet.

March 6th [1840] Friday ‘When March comes in like a lamb it will go out like a lion’ is the adage of years & if true as is probably the case we shall have full return for the continued spell of pleasant weather. — For the few days past I have felt disposed to have the hipobut being aware of the uselessness of any discouragement if rightly considered I will endeavor to conquer that trait in my disposition & learn to maintain an equal & quiet state of mind.

March 7th [1840] Saturday. Among all the wrongs of the present times, as every thing seems wrong I have this evening rec’d a letter from Julia. The letter was one more token of love from the one dear as my own existence, but the news was not what I would have wished. I trust another will bring the glad tidings so long desired, her return to health. To hear that she is not so well as usual is to draw closer the hand of Fear. No I cannot think that she must languish in pain only to sink away by piece-meal from my embrace. Heaven forbid. Oh that I could see the hand of Omniscience in her state. — Have been writing to Julia this evening & may peace be with her.

March 9th [1840] Monday. Have finished my letter to Julia & hope she will have a visit from Ma & Pa to-day. They think of going to i.Dryden, NY;Dryden.

March 11th [1840] Wednesday. The weather for a few days past has been quite in contrast with that of a week or two past. Stormy cold weather seems now the order. — By the return of Pa from i.Dryden, NY;Dryden &c I learn that Julia was about as usual on Monday. I shall hope to hear favorably from her in a day or two. Imagination pictures her improving & my fears see her wasting away under the torturing hand of disease.

Have just finished a letter to WmSF at Auburn T. Sem. & have accused him of delay in writing. He has said that when married he feared I would forget him as Aaron has, but I guess he will change his mind on the reading of this letter.

March 12th [1840] Thurs A.M. Had the pleasure of reading a letter from Franklin last evening & was very glad to find him as I supposed, at Auburn. It seemed when I put the letter in the office as tho’ I should hear from him soon. — Expected to have seen our edging machine go this morning but was privileged with seeing break down. So goes almost every thing this season. It does really seem at times that there has been more breaks & failures in machinery this spring than I ever knew in the same length of time before. The mills go very well on the whole or have done for a few days past. At present the water has about failed. The streams are low & we are in want of rain very much. The mills go only thro’ the day & hardly then.

March 16th [1840] Monday. To go back as I must I will begin at Friday A.M. Went with John Marshall to count the pine trees on a hundred acres. We rambled long & uselessly to find the lines & succeeded in counting only 600 trees there being 1500 on the lot, most likely. Returned at night somewhat weary. Sat morning rode to Ithaca with Pa & after a short delay went to look after Julia. Found her under the operation of an emetic & when I first saw her thought she could not long live unless she rec’d help soon. Yesterday & to-day she seemed much better & I hope as her symptoms are much better than for the few weeks past I ardently hope she is about to return to health. Weak & debilitated she can recover but slowly. Having walked home or nearly so, I feel somewhat weary & feel as if a bed would be preferable to standing here & scratching with a sharpened quill.

March 17th 1840 Tuesday. The edging machine goes well & meets our expectations fully.

Had quite a change in weather. Last evening the moon & yesterday PM the sun shone pleasantly. This morning the earth was covered with snow & the rain falling fast. Good weather for the season. I hope (for my seeming interest) that the weather of March will all be in its place & April be like itself, & then should Julia remain as she is now or improve gradually I think she will be able to get strength & firmness of health during the summer to bear the changes of another winter. Great care on her part & mine if I am allowed to be with her, to avoid all colds & everything calculated to injure, will be necessary. May the Providence of God be propitious.

The days of MRWilliams are no doubt nearly at a close. He is fast sinking under the pale & wasting hand of Consumption. Oh when will this devouring deceptive helper of Death be banished from the world. He dies in peace relying upon the Arm whose strength is Omnipotent.

Of all complaints that affect the race of man none seems clothed in more dreadful form than Consumption. It comes unseen & unfelt, making its victim flush as with health but at last shows itself in the wasted frame, wan features, & despairing look which pain & long confinement, with the sure prospect of death at last, can bring. —— The prospect for the seasons business still remains poor & disheartening. If anything however there is a little change for the better tho’ perhaps as much because every one wants & hopes for they will improve, as in reality. The Senate of NY state have passed a bill regulating the currency & it will probably pass the Assembly. This will help some. The greatest help & about the only means of assistance must come from Washington Instead of help one can only expect difficulty from that source & we must live in anticipation that another year the ballot box will affect a salutary & wholesome change in government.

[March 15th & 16th 1840] Sabbath PM & Monday AM. Ithaca was the scene of great interest. I never saw so small an affair as the apprehension of a counterfeiter produce so great excitement as the one occurring at that time. The person being an engraver & a very respectable young man (so considered) having associated among the first circles & class of young men, the arrest was almost beyond belief. — I heard Rev. Wisner preach on the subject of gaming (not gambling) referring more particularly to games of skill. Had he treated the subject fairly I should have heard him with pleasure. So far as he went I had not a word to object but he did not go far enough. I say not a word, I could but think his knowledge of chess must have been limited indeed, or else he would not have supposed it to be a game requiring but little thought. As well speak of Euclid as a diversion. I have often very often bent every nerve I had on a game of chess & on a proposition in mathematics I could do no more. I can but think chess when used with judgment as being useful.

March 19th [1840] Thursday. Finished my letter to Julia & feel somewhat weary with labor at the edging machine. Unpleasant weather defeating my ride to Ithaca I concluded to mail my letter.

March 20th [1840] Friday. Saw the largest flock of pigeons this morning I reccollect of ever having seen. It was I should think three miles in length & most of the time to appearance 6 or 8 rods in depht, consisting of thousands & thousands. Pigeons are very numerous this spring. Have had rain this PM in abundance. Br A.F. handed me a letter this evening from E.C.S. giving me the cheering intelligence that Julia is getting better. Her physician speaks encouragingly. Have felt somewhat disheartened in looking at the prospects ahead. One thing I hope Experience has taught me effectually viz the bad policy of running in debt. How or when I shall be able to clear myself is more than I can now imagine.

Should the times improve again & I get into easy circumstances making my way clear, feeling disposed to buy on credit may this days notice be sufficient to restore me my reason. Let this day full of the deepest anxiety & perplexities for past errors be warning for the future. I am quite too apt to forget the past & I wish this would act like the prince’s ring, pricking my finger when committing a bad action or in other words jogging my memory when disposed to make debts thinking another day easier than the present for pay-day. When one cannot work they may plan & among the many plans for getting a living was one that came to notice this PM. From a short statement in the Christian Intelligences the raising of poultry is one way & admits of practice to a good advantage. The best of all inventions (if it could be done) is my carriage to run on common road without the aid of steam, horse or manual labor. This would be right if there was any such thing among the possibles. The main & probably sufficient difficulty in the way is the power. The only one I can think of to advantage being a hydrostatic one. A cylinder with force-pumps if they could be made would do the business to perfection with a little manual labor. Simple things often come from unexpected sources & who knows but poor me may yet astonish the world with a self moving carriage.

March 23d [1840] Monday. I have had for a few days past a great depression of spirits & sometimes think that my destiny is fixed in obscurity & poverty. Heaven only knows the end but if I am thro’ a variety of causes & circumstances wholly beyond my control, to make my way among difficulties & adversity, then may I feel that even in this condition I may do good & be content. I think not of myself. — No I feel but very little concern for myself, the object of my solicitude is the wife of my bosom, the choice of my heart. May she live to be happy & the companion of my way. — At times I feel almost ready to give up all for lost. The sky is thickly clouded & the storm beats furiously, every hope seems obscured & dark despair steals upon my heart. I still look for the lingering ray of encouragement. — I had expected to have been in Elmira before this time but such is the deplorable state of money affairs that I am wholly thrown out of every calculation however sure it may have seemed. If I was free from the harrassing leech–like care that debts ensure, I could rest more at ease.

March 24th [1840] Tuesday. We had a fall of 6 inches of snow last night & this morning. Has snowed about all day, snow probably 8 or 9 inches deep & quite heavy. The AM being at leisure I wrote Julia. I was sorry I mailed it as I told her my feelings in such doleful language that I fear she will receive injury from it. Our present circumstances & future prospects the subject.

March 25th [1840] Wednesday. I find my journal very often at fault in this respect for in mentioning little things, tho’ well in their place, I often forget to give the general view of my situation, which in the future will be more desired than the present seems to imagine. The time being seems & doubtlessly will prove to be a most important feature in my life. Having a bosom friend & she separated from me, living at home & she at hers, homeless & houseless, with the most gloomy prospects ahead, without business or expectation of any at present the future is wrapt in gloom. Sometimes expecting to go to Elmira, then to remain in Willseyville & then again looking at Albany without aim & without purpose. I wait the advice & arrangement of my father as he thinks most adviseable. Money there is none & the banks do not hold out the slightest encouragement, as they are themselves in the embarrassed of individuals. The market for lumber looks dark beyond all precedent. Not the smallest glimmer of hope comes to cheer us, without the scarcity which is more than ever had been known for years past, will of itself make sale for what there is now on hand. May Providence turn all things to the good of all whether the few suffer or prosper. — Our snow still remains but a day or two of sunshine will send it into the mountain springs & the rivers. Spring is fast opening. I can reccollect of no spring so much in accordance with my opinion of a favorable season as the present.

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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