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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June 1st 1840 Monday. I was gladdened this morning with the reading of a letter from Ma. Like a mothers sympathies she poured out her heart in deep-toned feelings for me, in my afflictions. A dear mother & gladly would I see her. It does me good to hear that her health is good. I feel glad too that Pa feels encouraged about business.

June 3d [1840] Wednesday. Last evening I devoted to the service of the ladies in assisting them for their fair. — Business dull thro’ the day. I rec’d nothing from Ithaca as I had hoped this P.M. This evening I spent at the fair where I saw a full display of beauty fashion fancy & much real worth. My mind was often very often thrown forward into the future & with safest calculation could see in a few months & perhaps weeks that death would reduce some smiling lively countenance to that of the lifeless clay. Oh what a thought when gliding around a large assemblage! Said an old lady to me after making some really very comforting & sympathetic remarks — ‘Mr. Potter this world presents some very curious scenes.’ So thought I and as she remarked upon the present time, & how soon time would produce changes most unlooked for & unexpected even with those present I could but revert with peculiar force to the 18th of Sept when I was an object of attention & when many kind wishes & soft words were said to me & mine but Oh how changed now?

June 4th [1840] Thursday. Before one has hardly time to think the day is gone. Yet how long are the weeks? It is nearly two weeks since I first came to Elmira & it seems more like months — perhaps as long as months will seem should I stay here. Business quite dull but so much better than last winter or early in the spring that I feel quite contented. During the day I make myself about as usual & endeavor to wear the countenance I ever wore. The evening comes & I want to be in my room & alone.

June 5th [1840] Friday. This PM received a letter from F I Jackson at Hamilton College & written in answer to mine of May 12th & of course written as though Julia might possibly be living. This was unfortunate for it seems like opening anew my mind to scenes already fresh in my memory. Shall probably have another in a few days in answer to my last. I pity Jackson & admire his firmness, but trouble for his health. I also had a letter from Elizabeth & Caroline. Theirs were of a different character. Mother had said that Elizabeths was a cold hearted letter — & I think it is not so warm & sympathetic as she sometimes writes, yet I thought it good & very kind & sisterlike letter.

June 6th [1840] Saturday. The weeks work is done & I welcome night for once. I have labored very hard & feel much fatigued. Business with me has been very lively & we have done a good day’s business. Wish I might have as good thro’ the season, for then I should feel much better & like myself. When I have all I can do I always enjoy myself best. When labor seems to affect something I can labor with pleasure.

June 7th 1840 Sabbath. This has been to me a blessed day, yet a day of most heart-breaking loneliness, & despondency. A day in which I have seen & felt the power of God, & the mighty effect of the spirit. The weather has been rather unpleasant. — Attended church with the Episcopalians. Bishop Delaney being present I had a great desire to see & hear him as I had heard him spoken of in the warmest terms by all that know or had seen him. His appearance was very prepossessing & everything he did or said carried with it the convising power of sincerity & simple unaffected candour, governed by dignity & sweetness of expression, making him loved & admired by all. For myself tho’ my expectations were very high yet I was not told the half. His AM discourse upon repentance was about the best sermon I ever heard.

So plain Christian-like, ardent & I cannot tell what — but only to say — so good that I was delighted. No middle course, forcible close & pointed as I ever heard. — But the most interesting & blessed part of all the morning exercises was the confirmation of about thirty persons. Ah this was indeed a scene that Heaven must have witnessed with joy & rejoicing. The peculiar ardour & devoted, prayerful, & composed delight with which the Bishop confirmed them was to me a feast. He seemed really to commend & invoke successfully God’s blessing. The Bishop dined at Mrs. Luce’s & of course I had the pleasure of an introduction & gratification of seeing & hearing him in another capacity.

Pleasing, easy & winning in his manners dignified gentlemanly yet unostentatious, & without any airs that one might look for in one of his capacity, he is all that is admirable in manners sincere in deportment, devotional & active in appearance humble & captivating & in no way letting down his official dignity the easy flow of conversation.

June 13th [1840] Saturday. Tho’ weary & feeling quite exhausted from the fatigue of the day I will attempt a short account of the time since my last entry. Monday of this week was filled with business & preparations for leaving for Ithaca.Ithaca, NY;. Tuesday I was on my way there & about 1/2 past 4 PM I was among those dear to me — doubly dear from past afflictions. In meeting that family once again there was several contending emotions in my bosom. I loved them & sympathised with them, yet they brought to mind scenes not long past & I felt that from among them one was taken one to me dear as a wife should ever be.

But I cannot tell my feelings or give any distinct impression for so many & various were they that I scarcely knew them myself. — Wednesday came & the AM I devoted to business affairs — The PM I went with Elizabeth to visit Goodwin’s Falls, the favorite spot where Julia & myself first loved & where we often went. The day was beautiful as June’s loveliest days ever are. We visited the ground hallowed in my mind with mournfully pleasant associations. We stood upon the spot where arm in arm stood Julia & myself. Where she once looked upon the transporting scene in silent & soul-refreshing thought. Where she spoke of that being whose mighty power had formed all things & displayed his omnipotence in the scene before her.

We returned & I felt that I had been visiting a solemnly interesting place. I could say that the evening passed pleasantly — but will say more — Mother & myself occupied the evening in looking over the papers of my dear Julia. Deeply interesting was that time. I was happy finding so much of her own compositions & yet I trembled lest perhaps these very papers were those referred to in her remarks about them saying that ‘there were some papers she wished no one to see.’ If I thought this true never would I look upon a single line. Yet I cannot see why she should say thus of her own!

Thursday morning came & Elizabeth & myself were on our way to Willseyville. I had partly promised to visit there before my return & was glad to have Elizabeth for company. She seems more like Julia than any other being & tho’ to look at her & hear her speak she calls most painfully to mind my dear Julia, yet I would that she were nearer me, that I could oftener enjoy her company, being so much like that of which I am forever deprived.

The day was pleasant & the time flew by quickly. We returned in the P.M. car. The evening was spent with Mother in looking over Julia’s things. Some of her clothing carried me back to Sept 18th ‘39 especially her gloves. I think if it were not for my selfishness I would like all her wearing apparel worn on that evening, but this would be quite too selfish & I will gladly remain content with some few memorials of that time.

Mother & myself after finishing this review talked on various interesting points till 2 oclk at night. She seems more than mother to me, & may I live to reward her a hundred fold for all that she has done for me & for her who once was mine.

I expected to have returned home in the morning & when morning came the coach was so full that I concluded to defer my journey till P.M. — Once more Elizabeth & myself enjoyed the pleasure of a ride. This time we went to Libertyville — the place where Julia & I had been before on a similar occasion. I preferred to visit the places where we once were to those unknown to Julia.

About 6 oclk PM I bid that family circle another adieu & was on my way to Owego where I soon was & this AM arrived in Elmira. Found a letter from W.S.F. & was deeply impressed in its perusal with the probable melancholy fate that awaits his dear Harriet. Oh may Heaven spare her & him!

June 14th [1840] Sabbath. I have felt quite dull thro’ the day & heard but little of the sermons but this PM have been looking over some of Julia’s papers & have drawn some delightful thoughts from her pencillings for nearly all her writings except letters are written with a pencil. More & more sweet is the consolation I draw from her death, for so positive & interesting seemed her preparation that I look with calm placidity of mind upon that hour, when she left this world of sin. I shall hail the time as sweet when I shall be able to commence the copying of her writings. Oh how little did I know her worth. Just like all the blessings of life — prized most when we can enjoy them no longer.

How sweetly sounds that Eolian Harp & how spirit-like its strains. It seems etherial & heavenly. My companion for years & more dearly loved as Time wears away, that Harp — Harp of Eolus. Made by myself some five or six years since it brings to mind pleasing associations & scenes of years gone by. — Nature by its music has been wrapt in beauty & perplexities of life soothed by its softly flowing strains. I love its sweet sounds — tho’ doleful & mournful yet are they consoling & comforting. I never can tell its worth—

In reading my letters to Julia & comparing them with hers I wonder how she ever bore with them, so different in every respect, without everything requisite to make them of any worth. — When I think of the past I can but feel astonished that I ever possessed a wife of so much worth. It seems like a prominent & plain act of a propitious Providence. O that she could have lived to cheer & help me on thro’ life!

June 15th [1840] Monday. This has been a very pleasant day but rather cool this evening. Business in some respects quite favorable, in others quite the contrary. I find that success in one’s business can only be found by constant & untiring efforts. Sitting still cannot accomplish great ends with all.

June 16th [1840] Tuesday. A thought very comforting indeed came into my mind this PM as I was writing to Caroline (that I was present with her in the school even tho’ she saw me not) with peculiar force — that departed spirits may be present with us just as we are present with absent friends. We see them & know what they are doing yet all is in the imagination when connected with this life, & we cannot say or do any thing to change or alter their course however much we may approve or disprove & still we know all. We may say we are present with them & watching over them but yet can say or do nothing to change their condition.

May not this be true of departed spirits? May they not be near & around one wherever they may be or go & seek their welfare & happiness, yet can speak only as the absent friend speaks by his past example or friendly epistle? So great was the force of the idea that I lost myself in its beauty & felt a relief on the subject although I well knew that the same impenetrable veil hung over the tomb as ever. So hangs the dark veil over those absent & we cannot see or speak with them except in imagination. The absent in life we think may come back to us but those gone into the spirit-land can no more gladden the heart by their return. — The analogy is certainly quite strong & the idea is at once consoling & pleasing. I may have seen the same an hundred times but never before felt its full force.

June 17th 1840 Wednesday. Another important era in my life has come to hand. One of those days on which one ought to stop & for a moment think whither he is hastening on the rapid passing-away of his years. Like mile-posts they give notice of one’s progress onward & bring to mind the fact, that the end will come. It may soon come to me — a few days may end my existence on earth. Years too may pass by & I be spared to accomplish my destiny. Oh may the spirit of truth & righteousness be with me & may God conduct me in the path way of wisdom. Thro’ Christ may I be pardoned from all transgression, & my heart washed clean from all that maketh a lie. The spirit guide & instruct, comfort & sustain & may I be enabled to glory Him who hath suffered for me. This day brings a birth-day. The day that makes me 24 yrs of age. Twenty four — what a pleasing spot in life — so considered by those advanced in years. What an interesting time will it ever be in my journey. What a year has been the one just gone! A dream yet not a dream. How gloriously brilliant its commencement & how melancholy its close. — I cannot tell my thoughts, would that I could.

June 18th [1840] Thursday. I feel very much dispirited this evening from several causes. Business is extremely dull — & was it not from an anxious desire to acquit myself from debt & from Julia’s request I should take but little heed about business.

I have been writing a letter to W.S.F. & have really felt down-hearted. I doubt not but he will think so — & would that I could tell my feelings. But a few things keep me from deep despondency & I find it requires great exercise of reason & diversion of thought to sustain myself. — And in fact when I look round me I can see but little that I prize, & nothing makes good my loss.

June 19th [1840] Friday. Business calls me away in the morning to Ithaca & with permission of Providence I shall see that place in the afternoon of to-morrow. Mrs. Luce has just been talking with about leaving this room & it seems too much to think of it. I offered her the profits of another boarder for the use of the room sooner than leave it. I would do it cheerfully.

[June 20–July 2: begins after July 8]

July 3d 1840. Friday. Thro’ the Providence of God I am once again at home or where I call myself at home having no other. Came in the PM in the stage & feel this evening too much fatigued to begin an account of my abscence.

July 6th [1840] Monday. This has been really a fine day, one of summer’s true suns. — Business quite dull with but little disposition or ability to do much at present. My business & pecuniary affairs sometimes render me often quite unhappy & dispirited. They should not I very well know but their influence on my mind is not trifling by any means.

July 8th [1840] Wednesday. Having a little time I will attempt an account of my absence which was full of interest tho’ it may appear of little import on paper. I find this is very often the case that what one considers at the time worthy of note afterward appears of little consequence. But to my purpose —

[June 20th 1840 Saturday] The morning of June 20th I started for Ithaca leaving encouragement for my return perhaps Mon or Tues, & Fri at farthest. Arrived at Ithaca in good season & proceeded immediately after seeing the family, to business but was unable to accomplish my purpose which was to make arrangements for funds & get some.

To meet those dear to us is at all times pleasing but to meet those who have been with us in sunshiny prosperity, when in the shades of adversity is to form a combination of the pleasing & mournful which it is easier to feel than describe. The day was fine. Evening came & I felt as the sun was bidding adieu to the world that a moment spent in the silent grave yard would be interesting. Caroline & myself walked to the burial-ground & there by the side of that hallowed spot we saw the last rays of the setting sun gild the sky & after casting many mournful & heartfelt look upon the scene we returned to spend the evening without the one to me most dear.

[June 21st 1840] Sunday. The sacred day came in brightly & summerlike. I went to church with Eliz & Henry. When seated & I began to cast a retrospective glance upon what that church had once known as her member, & that member my dear wife, now in Heaven the place was indeed full of interest. I rose with the congregation in singing but my feelings soon overcame me & I sat down. My heart was full. The past present & future all combined to render the hour one of deepest import. — The day passed away & evening came with its star-lit sky. I stole away & went to the grave of my dear Julia. I once feared to be near a grave yard at night but I felt no fears then. ‘Twas a sacred place and held all that once was mine left by the hand of death. The spirit perhaps was near me there. How pleasing the thought that departed ones may be near us to console & comfort. I was happy there — hours went by & I returned & found Mother anxiously waiting my return.

[June 22nd 1840] Monday — Went to Willseyville & back & to no purpose as all were gone from home.

[June 23rd 1840] Tuesday — Finding all efforts at accomplishing my purpose useless I resolved to visit Auburn for a few days. Took the Steam Boat & had a long & tedious ride of eleven hours for forty nine miles. I soon found the object of my visit W.S.F. He was in his room & was completely surprised at seeing me there. His hearty welcome was like himself & I felt that Heaven had still left me dear friends. After tea we walked to the grave yard, this being a minor object of my visit. The spot was delightful & full of dead.

I saw many fine monuments but none that I thought just suited my taste for the grave of my Julia. — The day was beautiful & summer in all its richness was shown at every turn. The evening I went with W.S.F. to the Ladies’ fair for the benefit of the Theo Seminary. Saw there an assembly formed of beauty youth & age. To use the language of one of the students after an introduction, said he ‘We can here see the world in its best exterior.’ So thought I & then the thought, how little one knows of all the various conditions of those seen in an assemblage of strangers. Their hearts are known by only one.

[June 24th 1840] Wed. — In the society of Franklin & some old school mates & new acquaintances the day passed quickly & pleasantly. I spent some time in looking for a Canary bird but found none. Evening was at the fair again.

[June 25th 1840] Thurs — Morning came & I made preparations for returning. I succeeded in getting me a little bird & was very fortunate. The time for leaving was soon at hand & I was at last called to give the parting hand to W.S.F. We had not begun to visit & I felt it hard to part so soon. Ride to Ithaca was fine but was again disappointed in getting funds & felt down. Found all well.

[June 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th 1840] Fri – Sat & Sunday — were only the cause for new defeat. Mon — came & bro’t some hope but only to allure & make me still worse off —

[June 30th 1840] Tues — Went to i.Dryden, NY;Dryden on business. Spent the evening in calls. I was pleased with my visit at Mr. Clark’s for he said so much to me in so few words. Said he — perhaps your wife will be to you a guardian angel & will watch over you for I believe in such things don’t you? I told I did & that the thought was a source of pleasure. His sympathy was worth more to me than any other I have received from acquaintances. Mrs. Page was full of despondency & I felt it was my duty to cheer rather than be cheered.

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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