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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April 1st 1840 Wednesday. Several days having passed I will attempt an account of the time. Friday PM it seeming necessary Br Aaron & myself started for Ithaca.

The travelling was bad beyond all knowledge. We reached I— in safety & I was soon with Julia. I found her not so well as for a few days past. Having taken cold she was affected in breathing & coughed a little. She seemed in about her usual spirits. Saturday done my business. I was greatly cheered by the faint prospect of some relief in business affairs. I was successful enough to get an arrangement for drawing on Farmers and Merchants Bank, Ithaca, NY, arrange some other concerns & at Pa’s request took the stage for Dryden about 9 oclk P.M. Dont know when I have felt so like myself as this Saturday. In the evening was so unfortunate as to get a drunken man for passenger to Dryden. Liquor making him crazy I rode in constant fear. The travelling bad. Never saw it worse. Reached Dryden about 1 oclk AM Sunday. Attended church & heard Mr Clark the pastor preach two very good sermons. The weather being bad but few were out & those few strangers to me to a considerable extent. After meeting went home with Uncle & Cousin Foster. Found they had divided, Uncle & Aunt having moved into the north end of the house & Cousin & wife in the south. Cousin Betsey having left it did not seem natural at all. Went to church in the evening. Monday done my business & made some calls. The most interesting being with Mrs. Page Never shall I forget that most worthy man. Never did I become so devotedly attached to any man especially in middle life as to him. In fact he was my teacher, my guide confidant, friend, companion. To go into the house & see the family seemed to call him to my mind with a force sufficient at times to make me forget that he is gone. Many interesting associations were called up in seeing our residence. To see shade trees that I have tugged & toiled to transplant bringing some of them on my shoulder from a distance, now beautiful & thrifty trees with many other things, the effect of my own efforts. Returned to Ithaca in the evening. Found Julia not so well the next morning. Stormed nearly all day, the sun shining a part of time. Did all my business & was ready for Willseyville. Not feeling very well remained at Ithaca. Wednesday (to-day) Julia has felt much better. Prospects fair for her recovery. Returned home this PM.

April 4th [1840] Saturday. The two days past have been April in full. Were I to prophesy with regard to the season I should say that the year 1840 would be the best fruit & corn season known for ten years. I reccollect one winter or spring thus far for several years that has seemed more natural than the last & present. I am waiting with some anxiety to leave for Elmira & feel grateful that prospects are brightening to any extent.

April 5th 1840 Sabbath. Being a pleasant day, clear bracing air, some wind & rather cool I wish it was practicable for Julia to improve it by riding out. Attended church at Candor thro’ the day. After coming home I took up Chalmers works & read a sermon upon the golden rule. His language being clear & his reasoning conclusive renders him one of the most interesting writers of my acquaintance. He looks at the Bible apparently with an understanding heart. — Was cheered with a letter from Julia last evening & learned that she thought herself on the gain. I hope she will not be mistaken.

April 6th [1840] Monday. April still holds good & the weather pleasant & cool. By odd spells have made out a letter to Julia. Rec’d a very good letter from friend Jackson at Hamilton College. I fear he is injuring his health by hard study.

April 9th 1840 Thursday. This life is full of ups & downs to my complete satisfaction. When one thinks himself well off, he is perplexed in the worst possible situation & his prospects are changed so that he feels himself to be lost. At one time the sky may be clear & free from threatening aspects but even in its very clearness he may if a good observer see enough to warn him of a change. A few days ago I spoke of appearances being a little more promising & I hoped for relief, the picture may still afford some promise, for in nature when the light or sun breaks thro’ a dark cloud it is generally soon obscured in thicker clouds than before but after a time they give way & the genial sunshine animates the world. Would I might make this figurative of my own fate.

The clouds did give way & I hope for better times, but now all is darker than before. The future is one dark chaos of dread uncertainty.

Almost frantic with despair I am sometimes almost inclined to let all go. Let everything have its way. What I shall do, or how live is a query quite beyond my power to answer. For the present all prospects of going to Elmira are blown away. When I go, if at all, must be the decision of the future. Business is deranged, gone, distracted, without object or end. All hope for the present seems to have fled & we must struggle or sink, & sink perhaps at any rate.

Was I alone free from the cares & ties marriage life I could rest comparatively easy. But oh the thought that Julia is mine & looks upon me as the support & comfort of her days & that I must live only to see her in a situation so different from what I had hoped is enough to distract my mind & render me unhappy. Could she be happy how different the scene.

What course will present itself next I cannot imagine. Now as at all other times I ought to learn the power of religion to support & stay in adversity. Here too clouds dark clouds obscure the sky. Yet my heart will trust in God & I will stand still & let Him work that doest all things right. May His power sustain my wife & open the windows of Heaven, giving light & life to cheer our way. — Have written Mrs. Luce this evening not to expect us confidently untill she hears again from me. I do not like to give up the idea of going there to board for I think it the most pleasant place & family I ever chanced to get into. I hope I may be there again.

April 10th 1840 Friday. A spring day this & the season seems to come forward according to my poor judgment just right. Have been amusing myself today with setting fire to stumps &c there being a good south wind.

April 13th [1840] Monday. My intention of going to Ithaca on Sat not being frustrated I found myself there about 5 oclk PM having walked about half way. Found all in their place but most of them on the sick list. Julia had been so well as to ride out & having overdone felt rather under the weather. I think she looked better & appeared so than when I saw her last. Of the others nearly all were sick or as good. MRW sabbath morning declined rapidly & was not expected to remain from hour to hour in which state I left him. Julia felt better to-day than Saturday. Heard Mr Hoos preach yesterday AM & stayed with Julia in the P.M. Evening went to see M.R.W. I never saw a case of consumption where there has seemed to be so much intense suffering from beginning to end as in his. It would seem a matter of rejoicing to hear that he was gone. He dies with a peaceful mind trusting in God. — Prospects of leaving for Elmira begin to brighten again somewhat. Looks now like getting there or somewhere in two or three weeks, probably at Elmira or Albany. Rec’d a letter from Miss HNPutnam Sat PM. Dont know whether it is exactly proper for me to correspond with a young lady. She is engaged & myself married, Franklin my Brother of course she is my Sister accordingly the impropriety vanishes. — Yesterday PM we had a thunder shower & a heavy fall of rain. First thunder I have heard this spring. Prospects are cheering & the season opens most delightfully.

April 14th [1840] Tuesday. Before me lies a letter from Julia informing me of the death of Mr M R Williams. He died this morning about 8 oclk, rejoicing in hope. Julia’s reflections are very good & I will not repeat them. This is a solemn death indeed. A man just in the opening of life & a useful & exemplary member of society. I attended the funeral of his wife & should like to attend his also. It is quite probable I cannot.

April 17th [1840] Friday. — I should prophecy rain in the morning but this weather is so unsettled I cannot give a sure guess. — Did not attend the funeral of MRW on Wednesday being detained at home. Yesterday was rather an interesting day with us, one of those important days that is long reccollected & the effect of which is felt for years. I refer to the departure of Pa & Ma for Albany. We all felt like saying everything else but good bye, & felt as if we separated perhaps never again to meet. Every one wept freely & bitterly & could see that words were few & about everything else but talking of parting. For myself I can but think that before we again congratulate each other that we shall find our conditions in some way greatly changed.

April 21st [1840] Tuesday. Unexpectedly I went to Ithaca on Saturday with A.F. instead of Monday as I intimated to Julia in my letter. With Cranston’s black pony bro’t us to our destination.

When going there (Ithaca) I always make it a point to see Julia about the first & business after. I found her ‘not at home’ having rode out with Mother. She soon returned but apparently looking worse than when I saw her last, & so in fact she was. I called her physician in the PM & he said she had the fever then prevalent in town. Sunday I remained with her. She was very ill all day & evening. Yesterday morning seemed better. I left for home about 1/2 past 10 AM. I have great fears for her as she is constantly growing weaker & less able to withstand attacks or changes of any kind. The only hopes I now have are founded upon the knowledge & skill of her physician & the favoring power of Omnipotence. The physician entertains strong hopes of her recovery to a comfortable state of health at least. —— I should like much to be with her but it seems not very consistent unless she shall continue on a decline which may Heaven forbid. It is with me a difficult point to settle, how long one should make business supercede sickness. If she was not in better hands than I could in any way provide then I could more easily decide, then would I make business at her bed-side & there do what I could to alleviate her pain & supply her wants.

Walked home yesterday & found all well as usual. It seems quite lonely here without Ma but I hope before long to leave for Elmira where I shall feel myself more at home. Prospects for business are rather on the gain, there are some sales & a little money with indications of more as the season advances. Considerable distress among merchants for funds & probably will be more. Money as yet is but a name & promises but may be.

Weather fine as the finest. Just what we need. April is April still.

April 22d [1840] Wednesday. Have had rain at intervals thro’ the day. On going to the P Office was gladdened by the reception of two letters. One from W.S.F. a most interesting communication the other to me more welcome proved to be from ECS & gives me news from Julia. I had hoped for better but it is not discouraging. Every thing that is not positive & full excites my fears & I feel anxious to hear further. My mind is ill at ease but yet I cling to Hope as the bouy to keep me from sinking. Shall hope to hear again from her by Cranston as he will probably go there to-day. —— The news by Cranston is more cheering & on the whole as good as I could have expected. In a billet to Julia I asked for Hyperion a romance by Prof Longfellow, & have spent a little time in reading.

April 28th [1840] Tuesday. Started for i.Dryden, NY;Dryden Sat morning on business & arrived at Uncle Aaron’s after a drive of 5 hours. The weather was most excessively warm & the air very oppressive making every thing animal pant for breath. After consining my oats & dinner & enquiring the health of all I drove to the village having Coz Hart for company. Did my business & was on my tack for Ithaca. The heat of the day being over in part I was able to drive faster & was in Ithaca about 6 oclk. My ride with Hart reminded me of years that have flown. It bro’t to memory the days of our early friendship & bonds of union. Early friendships when formed on correct principles will last for life & tho’ the feelings may change & habits & feelings give way to the force of education & circumstances yet the heart will ever retain the impress received from those we loved in early days. How careful ought parents to be in choosing companions for the children. Never while life permits a reasoning & reflective thought shall I forget the companionship I once held in Hart A Foster. I doubt not he feels very like myself, not only from what he says but from the peculiar confidence reposed in me, on every subject from the most trivial to the most important. —— A few steps after putting my horse in good hands brought me to the invalid on whom centred my greatest & constant care. I had hoped to have found her once again gaining strength but regretting much the deception which Hope & Imagination practised upon my mind while absent from her. Ever wishing her better my feelings are ever willing to trust in the illusion that is pictured so beautifully to my heart. — She was perhaps better but not the better I had hoped. Her fever seemed gone & tho’ she could scarcely breath for want of air yet her symptoms were favorable.

The showers so much desired thro’ the day came not & the night was like a summers night, warm & with scarce a breeze to cheer our lungs.

Morning came more cool & beautiful one of springs charming hours. Julia was up to enjoy & catch the bracing zephyr. She appeared better much better. Attended church thro’ the day & in the PM we had a heavy shower the weather becoming cool cooler very cold. Before night we needed a fire. Julia felt its effects in a chill & fever thro’ the night. She seemed exhausted in the morning (Monday) & choked for breath owing to her throat being affected by her fever (a peculiarity of the fever or epidemic). Her physicians thought her case more favorable but spoke of a little inflammation on the lungs. For myself I felt at a loss & knew not what to think. I could only trust her in the care of Heaven to see what the future may reveal. I returned reluctantly in the PM to Willseyville & found all well. Had letters from Pa & Ma bringing very very discouraging news from Albany & business. Prospects gloomy, dark as the darkest. Providence alone can bring better days. Pa seemed to be quite down hearted & Ma enquired anxiously after the health of all. May Heaven preserve them in peace & may their trouble turn to joy.

We feared a frost last night but it was prevented by south winds. The plum peach cherry & a few apple trees were in blossom in Ithaca & vegetation is fast putting forth its verdant covering. They have all the birds of summer & the season seems fairly to have commenced. A frost would do great injury to fruit.

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