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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[July 1st 1840] Wed — Visit at Uncle’s & return to Ithaca.

[July 2d 1840] Thurs — Waited till I found myself defeated again & then went to Willseyville & back. This was the most dismal time of all. I felt discouraged & darkness was around me on every hand. I know not what to do or where go. What could I do? — Evening came & Elizabeth & myself went to the grave-yard. The day was fine & the sky was illumined by the setting sun. I was dispirited & could see no way but to give up all. My thoughts for a day or two had been dark & wicked. Even hope held out scarce a cheering sign. I told E— my feelings & found in her conversation much satisfaction tho’ it changed nothing of the reality. She seemed the only one in whom I could entrust my feelings & I thought it would be a relief to unburden my mind to one in whom I could trust & who could give me a cheering word. That one was Elizabeth.

[July 3d 1840] Fri — This world is full of change & one little knows what awaits him. Just as I was ready to start for Elmira Mr. T. S. Williams offered to let me have a discount & his offer came in a moment of need. Heaven bless him. Bid adieu to all & was soon away for Elmira. The weather was fine & my bird & self came safely thro’. One lesson I find can be learned in my unexpected success in the morning — that it is very wrong & sinful to distrust Providence. — This closes my two weeks (nearly) & brings me to the date July 3d.

July 10th [1840] Friday. My heart was cheered this PM in the reception of a letter from Caroline in her own simple unsophisticated manner. Tho’ all life & little sentiment yet in her heart she feels for those around her & only a modest girlish diffidence & distrust of self keeps her from showing a heart full of a warmth & feminine grace.

This PM after tea I sat down & wrote to H N Putnam and was tolerably satisfied with my production tho’ faulty in many respects.

July 12th [1840] Sabbath. This day must naturally being in itself an interesting & sacred day be yet more interesting from its being just two months since Julia’s departure from earth. Two long — very long months to me. More like years than months so much of importance has there been contained in this short interval. I have been writing to Elizabeth this afternoon & my feelings have found but a poor expression. I was very much pleased in the correctness & depht of sentiment manifested in a few pieces of poetry by Mrs. Hemans particularly the ‘Songs of a guardian spirit’ ‘Near thee, Still near thee!’ & ‘Oh! Droop thou not!’

I received a most interesting letter from friend Franklin yesterday & can but feel grateful for those few & dear friends who enter so fully into my condition. I wish I had such a friend in Elmira where I might every day enjoy his society. A letter for Caroline too served to divert my feelings for a time.

July 13th 1840 Monday. A few days past have been very warm indeed & tho’ we had a most delightful rain this AM yet it is still warm. Sent off my letter to ECS this evening.

July 16th [1840] Thursday. The extreme warm weather continuing still & the few days past have been uniformly & very oppressive. Attended Mr. Fowlers lecture this evening. It is about the first meeting of the kind I have been to in a long time on a week day evening. I cannot but think that in many cases great evils result from going to meeting too much evenings. I am quite confident that Julia derived the seeds of her consumption in going to evening meetings. I condemn them not entirely but think many of them could & ought to be dispensed with for the general good of church & the world. May Heaven forgive if I am wrong & show me right.

July 17th 1840 Friday. This has been the warmest day of the year thus far. Then at 1 oclk PM 95¡ fair exposure. A fine & much needed shower this evening that cheers & refreshes everything.

Had a letter from Elizabeth this PM & it brings forcibly to mind the awful realities of the past & makes me very lonely & dispirited the very contrary of what she intended to inspire.

July 18th [1840] Saturday. I am gradually proceeding with the work of transcribing Julia’s writings & have often quite often been astonished at the seeming adaptedness to her early death. I read scarce a single paragraph without some striking reference to her early departure from life. I began to-day what I would cheerfully spend a year in finishing could I succeed — to wit — an attempt at making a model for a bust of Julia. Yes willingly would I spend a year in getting a correct model of that face, now the lifeless clay, once radiant with every virtue & to those who knew her, full of beauty.

July 19th [1840] Sabbath. In changing my garments this morning I found something in the heel of a stocking which forbid its being put on. I took it off & looked for the cause & found a paper enclosing seventy five cents. The paper read —

"Dear Albert, this money belongs to you but fearing you will refuse to accept it from my hand I deposit it in a place where (you) can find it. Your friend till death, S.S." This then came from Mother Sage as a return for some little affair I had bought perhaps & when convenient I shall return it four-fold.

I have been quite depressed in spirits to-day & have felt most deeply that I am alone & that life must pass away & no Julia can be near me. Oh how heart-sickening the thought. Should I live on thro’ the world whether prosperous or unsuccessful in the attainment of that degree of competence so desirable — should I have the blessing of health or waste by sickness, whether friends be near or whether they shall have forsaken me, whether life be full of blessings or afflictions — No Julia can know my condition. To her all is peace & endless joy —

I have just been writing to Lucy & have taken up a different train of thought, one calculated to bring peace to my own mind & to lead the family to think me still in possession of a calm serenity of mind. This train of thought does indeed afford me great pleasure at times but renders me the more lonely when I remember that I am alone. The train of thought to which I refer is the happiness of the saints & their probable capacity for knowing those left behind them in life.

July 21st [1840] Tuesday. I have commenced a work to-day that I would willingly occupy months in completing could I at last succeed. My attempt on Saturday failed entirely owing to an error in preparing my material. I began again to-day but have little if any hopes of being so fortunate as to even approximate to a likeness of her whose features tho’ once familiar are not gone from my mind. I can scarcely catch a single look or feature & tho’ I range the whole round of situations in which I have seen her yet I cannot see Julia. Oh how gladly would I labor long & arduously if at last I were sure of bringing to the block of marble those loved expressions & peculiar characteristics of her countenance. I long to recall once again the face full of beauty to him that best knew how to associate Julia and real worth together. I look at her miniature & perhaps for an instant can recall something like her general features but the likeness soon vanishes & I can no more induce it to return.

I had almost vowed this evening that I would not give over my undertaking untill success crowned my efforts but this might perhaps be rash. I lack in that kind of resolution that holds on even if failures come one after another, & for this reason I fear that failure will come as I most fully expect. Yet how desirable to see those features once more even if they are traced upon the cold marble.

July 22d [1840] Wednesday. Finished my letter to Lucy with quite an effort & sent it off. For a few weeks past I have almost concluded that I would close up my correspondence for it affords me no longer the pleasure it once gave & I find that it is more difficult for me to finish out a letter that will be interesting to its reader. All would naturally expect that I should write on a subject uppermost in my mind & all must feel less of that interest than myself consequently my letters cannot be of much worth, for it is entirely beyond my capacity to write out a letter unless I have something to write — I know well, that I often write much about little but to write off a letter with nothing but the every day events of life for its subject I cannot do it. I must have a correspondent who can feel with me & in whom I feel a strong interest, or I run down at once. My letters received are very good & kind gifts from dear friends, but they too have lost considerable of their charm & I look upon a letter with pleasure but not the bounding enthusiasm I once felt. — To stop all correspondence would have me alone — but could I be more lonely than now? Yet the thought is indeed painful & I will for the present continue on as usual hoping a change may pass over my present state of mind. My work goes slowly on & I begin to feel fully the great difficulty of the undertaking. I already see many difficulties altho’ I have but just commenced working on the neck, still I have no inclination to give over the attempt.

July 23d [1840] Thursday. This evening in copying Julia’s letter to me dated Jan 1st 1839 & speaking of her love for me & of looking forward to the time when we should be one — the expression she made on the morning of May 11th in her conversation said she — last spring when I was sick it seemed as thought I must live to get well, and that could I not die then, I wanted to live for you and this resolution or wish supported me when I almost despaired of getting well.

This is about the expression she made tho’ perhaps not verbatim. After this she said — I have some strong attachments to life & could wish to live for you for my dear friends but I know I can never enjoy health should I get up and you will be sustained by that Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

July 24th [1840] Friday. This life is full of change & among them a great proportion are of an adverse character tho’ in the end they become necessary to our welfare. Had a letter this PM from Br A.F.P. saying Pa & Ma were at Willseyville & wished me to come out. He intimates too, that Pa is in low spirits & if so I certainly could wish to stay rather than go. — I should like much to see Ma, but on the whole I have concluded that I will write instead of going. I do not wish to go for several reasons. To go there & see all the family & see the Ithaca family too, would only make me more melancholy & call up feelings I had rather keep under.

My health too is not benefited by such jaunts & I should come back out of health or at least out of my uniform state of the system. — Much as I could wish to see them yet I know it can do no good & to see Ma with my present state of mind would be to call up feelings of the most trying character. Business may perhaps call but I have concluded to write first at any rate & hope they will not ask me to come there. I pity my parents from my heart & feel deeply for them & I could for this reason wish to stay that I may spare their feelings, by an acknowledgement of my past errors in becoming so much involved in debt the last season. I do not wish to tell Pa yet & when the time shall come shall consider it a privilege to tell him all.

I know too well the load of care he now carries & without adding more I would endeavor if possible to lessen it by every means in my power. May God keep him and that kind mother in health & give them a life of comfort & peace.

Had a paper from E.C.S. She started this morning from Conn. & I hope she may return fully improved in health & spirits.

July 26th [1840] Sabbath. Having heard a preparatory discourse in the AM I once again commemorated the dying love of that dear Saviour who by his glorious atonement has made it easy for all to come to him & receive forgiveness of their transgressions. This is certainly a solemn & interesting season to the Christian heart, a season intended to renew & call to mind what should never be forgotten, that Christ the Son of God died for those who trust in him, a season when love should burn with peculiar ardor in every soul.

These seasons were peculiarly dear to my departed Julia, dear to her as they should be to every one. She loved the sanctuary & delighted to dwell upon the glories of God in the redemption of man.

The Sabbath school too, was ever a place of the most pleasing interest. Ah who can tell how great may now be her joy in finding souls made happy in that loved place & by her own efforts?

Each day makes me the more deeply feel that I am alone & that I can never again in life see Julia or enjoy her ever-desirable companionship. I am destitute of every inciting motive for which to labor or live. My soul is in deep waters & the waves of despondency roll over my head. Oh God be thou my support in this my hour of need.

July 27th 1840 Monday. This has been one of the many summer days of the present season. Rarely if ever have I known so delightful & propitious a year for every thing as has been this as yet. Crops of all kinds are unusually bountiful & God in his Providence smiles upon the world.

Business is rather dull & prospects somewhat gloomy. Very little promise of improvement this season.

July 31st 1840 Friday. Once again I am brought to notice the departure of another month. July is gone — gone save three hours. Summer fast waning & time flies on wings of fleetness. To me it is of little consequence for I feel that the passing days are only carrying me on to the goal for which I live. I know no reason why time should cease its onward way for it matters little while my cheif joy is gone from earth. — For the few days past I have felt desponding & downcast. I can scarcely sustain myself & yet what is the most gloomy thought of all — I know of nothing — nothing can restore me to my once bouyant & aspiring spirits.