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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Oct 2d 1840. Yesterday was another interesting point in time being a second return of the day on which Julia & myself stood side by side at Goodwin’s Falls & felt & truly felt that each loved the other & was beloved. I should have noticed it last evening had it not been late when I came in & being fatigued I did not feel like dwelling upon a scene so interesting unless I could do it with some degree of interest & thought.

Weather for the few days past has been quite like Autumn & the forests show plainly the effects of frost & cold. But a more delightful season I rarely ever saw, was the last summer, & the present is equally agreeable thus far. Oh how often is the thought in my mind, that if Julia had lived but a little longer & could have felt the effects of fine weather that she might have retained yet longer – but Heaven knew best & I should yeild to the will of Omniscience.

Oct 4th [1840] Sabbath. Oh what a delightful day! Full of the soft & melancholy beauty of an autumn day. The winds begin to assume the strength & the forests the appearance of departed summer.

Have heard Mr. Fowler thro’ the day & bid good-bye to Br AFP &Maria this PM with a heavy heart. I feel myself alone & am glad to have some one near me in whom I can feel an interest. After they left (for the Horseheads) I wandered away to the grove just west of the village & there spent an hour in sweet musing on the past present & future. Have heard the lecture this evening & would like to have some dear friend with whom to spend the remainder of the evening whose soul has some congeniality with mine. O the change a year has wrought. A year gone & the beloved Julia sat by my side & I felt that Heaven had smiled — She is gone — I can have her society no more! How often such thoughts pass thro’ my mind every time I seat myself in this room or repose upon that bed! Yet God is the same – wise, gracious, just, & good. Oh that my heart was more fully alive to these cheering truths.

Well do I know that I am quite too much disposed to draw my comforts from the world & from the scenes which life presents — rather than look to Him who hath given himself a sacrifice to the world that Julia, that the world, that I might be admitted to the abode of heavenly rest. How vastly superior must be the enjoyment of that blessed spirit, at this time where no sorrows are, & where holiness & undisturbed peace & joy reign, than it could be under the most pleasing condition on earth? When this thought keeps my heart I wonder that I ever allow myself to cast a repining look upon the past & feel that all is right & just as I could wish it even if I had supreme control.

October 5th [1840] Monday. A more beautiful day rarely cheered the world than the one just now gone. A bright blue sky a cool bracing air, with a warm & softly beaming sun, with zephyr gently rustling the faded leaf — everything was pleasing — the evening bright with the moons silver rays gives rest to the pleasure of the day & makes one feel impatient while confined in the house. — The evening I have spent in a variety of ways. The later portion with Gregg and Tuthill and have been so far above my feelings as to lose sight of all propriety or reflection. Oh may these flights of an over abundant supply of spirit lead me into no evil. Yet how often after spending an evening so idly do I contrast them with those spent in the company of the absent one & feel yet more sensibly her loss to me as a companion and friend.

Those outbreaks of spirit last for a time but like the storm they leave their track & require time to restore order and peace.

October 10th [1840] Saturday. For the few evenings past I have been quite irregular being in company with E. Tuthill & finding her lively chat as an opiate to my feelings & have been there quite often & indeed some three or four evenings in succession. Yet all her kindly and heart felt sympathies tho’ they are ingenuous and unexpected yet they are of service only so far as they tend to restore that equilibrium which the absence of one once mine, now gone beyond life’s confines, has created. I shall ever feel grateful for such interest in myself & hope that she may receive a reward I cannot give for her kindness. Any one who I know thinks of me, calls out my feelings in their behalf. — Oh what a world is this! A world abounding in iron bound & chilling hearts — hearts whose interest know no aim out of reach if they can but attain a desired object, & hearts whose ingenuousness & philanthropic feelings lead them to sacrifice the self interests so near to all — to make happy the depressed, & unhappy.

Oct 11th [1840] Sabbath. Have felt very dull through the day and derived but little benefit from the sermons.

The evening service was omitted & I think it well to do so occasionally to let one know how much they do from mere habit. So accustomed have I been to attending the evening lecture that without it, the time seems long & perhaps I might add burdensome — but this would be wrong for if Providence should deprive me entirely of Sabbath exercises I ought to find just as much interest & profit from the day, as now. Custom makes a considerable portion of religion with many judging from appearances, & unless all the exercises of the Sabbath & week are regularly & promptly attended there can be but little piety, an opinion I cannot but look upon as erroneous. Yet I know my condition is anything but desirable & it may be I am not in a Ft mood for deciding.

Oct 18th [1840] Sabbath. Truly the Sabbath when rightly improved is an interesting day — and when the sanctuary adds interest to the gospel advantages so fully enjoyed & so little prized, the day glides imperceptibly by, & one feels that he has made a journey homeward, where no week day toil & sin can affect our enjoyment.

‘Tis good to hear the destitution of the world & our country & thus learn to feel our own responsibility & privileges. The agent of the H M Soc addressed the church to-day & was gratified in the raising of a good subscription.

Mr Barnes from N York lectured this evening on the subject of temperance & I have rarely been more delighted with the efforts of a young man than in his. On the whole the day has been full of interest. Oh may gratitude long live in my heart for blessings I can never deserve.

Oct 19th [1840] Monday. Have been out this evening. Spent the time with Miss E Tuthill, & in fact if it was not for her, I should be entirely destitute of all society in Elmira. I have passed many, very many pleasant hours with her, & tho’ I may trespass quite too often upon her time & patience yet I am well paid the time. — For two or three weeks past I have been altogether too negligent in study, business, & every thing. My feelings have been of a peculiar nature & my mind has been unfitted for all duties. Society has afforded me some satisfaction & knowing her to be engaged & firm to her engagement I have felt a freeness & enjoyed a pleasure I would not otherwise have felt in her company. Oh how ungrateful am I for the blessings which God has thrown thickly round me, & how often do I forget that I have any benefits — thinking my condition the most wretched of all! May Heaven forgive.

Oct 25th [1840] Sabbath. One of Autumn’s days being chilly & accompanied with snow squalls, the first snow of any consequence this season.

Heard Mr Fowler preach a most interesting sermon this AM from the appellation of Wonderful, given to Christ. Truly Christ has combined in himself all that is mysterious and wonderful. I could review the discourse but will not.

This PM was communion. And what shall I say of myself. After taking a usual dinner for Sunday I sat down by a good Fire in my room & was soon lost in sleep. Wholly unconscious of being sleepy I was soon gone & when I woke the bell for church had rung & tolled & the service half over. I went to the Epis ch — condemning myself for such needless & careless state of feeling.

Oh what a heart is mine. Full of everything save that deep-toned piety which gives life to the Christian. How often do I feel myself wholly destitute of that active principle so necessary to a full enjoyment of religion. And when I think of one day entering the world of spirits a dark cloud of doubt hangs over my destiny. To think of being received into the abode of unending peace & joy is more than I dare to expect & yet more awful is the thought of living on thro’ eternity in ever-increasing misery of which life knows nothing here. Thro’ redemption a way is opened but I have proved a wayward & forgetful pilgrim. Still would I cling to Christ for where else is there hope, & in whom can I trust — & truly he is worthy & able to deliver. A character more lovely no intelligent being need ever expect to find & power is in His hand. Tho’ the world may for a time occupy an undue portion of my heart & tho’ I may cease to mention the name of Christ, yet unless I am most deeply deceived, my trust is in that savior in whom I place my entire confidence & whose character is to me most lovely, precious in the hour of affliction, a refuge in every present trouble. Oh may the Spirit revive in my heart a flame of piety & gratitude which shall burn thro’ life to the good of the world.

This evening heard the agent of the Sabbath School Union. He was eccentric & impressive. —— Long shall I remember the day in which I slept away the time for attending the communion service & with shame look upon my careless state of mind that should allow me to sink so easily into forgetfulness at so important a moment. May God look graciously upon me & may Jesus pardon the many & great evils of my life. And may the Spirit guide me thro’ the path of usefulness & truth. May I at last see the realms of glory & live forever.

Oct 26th [1840] Monday. Have occupied my room thro’ most of the day in reading anatomy writing & thinking. Have written WSF. This evening I spent with Miss Tuthill & have had some good sober chat. When the silent hours of night come then can I most distinctly feel that I am alone and when no cheerful word is spoken feel that the tie that bound me so strongly to earth is severed. I have for the week or two past sought society & to a certain extent have found the object sought — i. e. a diversion of thought. I have to regret the levity in which I indulge quite too much in company only to come home & repent of it.

Oct 29th [1840] Thursday. Rain has been the order of the day & evening, there being from morn till night the heaviest fall of water in any day since last May at least, 7/10 besides the rain this evening is a great fall for 24 hours. The night being dark I have remained in my room occupying my time in copying the letters of Julia’s & mine. I have copied only twenty three & find it very tedious yet pleasant. — My reading (professional) goes on more regular of late & I find myself much interested & if ever there was a time when prospects for gaining a competence for support & usefulness were fair they are so now in the promise of the course undertaken. Yet bitter indeed is the reflection that if Julia had lived she must have known embarassment & perhaps poverty & want. The thought at times unmans me & am ready to sink under the trial which it seems God had wisely ordered she should never see. Bitter is the thought that she was taken from the evil to come, especially when I am forced to look upon myself as the source of the evil. Still I can see the wisely designed event & tho’ it has rendered me destitute of the Julia I so devotedly loved yet all has been done in the best possible manner.

Oct 30th [1840] Friday. I copy here a letter which perhaps is a tolerably fair state of my mind in a portion of time. I copy it because I find it often the case that I give a better description of my feelings in letters than in my journal altho’ the contrary is often true. I find it a most difficult task to attempt a description of feelings so different & so varied are they by a thousand circumstances over which one has no control.

Oct 30th/40 Elmira

Dear Sister Lucy,

The present offering itself as a favorable time for writing I resolve to devote a portion of it to yourself. You may have noticed my apparent neglect for the few weeks past in writing but rest assured it has been from no decline in my affection to your beloved family but from a general carelessness of correspondence & in fact of myself. It has been of but little consequence to me when I was or what, whether friends favored me with their once highly prized communications or were silent & forgetful. Little difference whether I was among friends or surrounded with the heartless clamor of the world.

If I found myself in society it was only to rid myself of myself & drown for the time every thing in the excitement of the moment. If alone I found my supply of enjoyment in looking upon the past wreckless where the future would carry me. Thro’ the kindness of Providence I have been favored with a few friends & altho’ I prize them above wealth or fortune, yet they too have become of little worth since the death of Julia for thro’ her I was firmly attached to my friends. This will in a measure explain the cause of my irregularity in writing & for my seeming carelessness of mind. I have not heard a word from Franklin since I left him at Aurora & wonder at it altho’ I did not write him till within a few days which may have been the reason. Give yourself no uneasiness about myself so far as health is concerned for with my present feelings I shall not allow my health to suffer. Being resolved to keep the ascendency over myself it becomes me to maintain all the rules for the safe keeping of my system. Since my return from Ithaca I have been inclined to see more society & having two or three pleasant places to call at I have been at times quite like myself for a while at least. One of my places to call at is the family in which A O Hyde will probably one day become a member. I know not that it is in fact toto a match but what everybody says is true, & if so, it is so in this case. He has chosen a most affectionate kind-hearted & fine disposition, ingenuous & intelligent companion & may Heaven smile on them. With her & the family I feel as much at home as I could anywhere I am grateful for the society of some one who cares a little for me, even tho’ I care but little for myself. I have heard nothing from Mrs Butler whether she has fallen or been restored to health. You mentioned her in your last letter. Let me know the result.

Your favor dated Oct 6th was gratefully received & read with pleasure & is the only letter I have seen since my return. Under usual circumstances & in my usual frame of mind I should have felt most wretchedly to have passed a month without a friendly line from those separated by distance.

Well Lucy I suppose while I wrote you are moving round the new house & arranging matters for a stay of (may God grant) long years of peace & domestic enjoyment. I am glad that everything is so comfortably arranged for the happiness of Mother & hope that while life shall make your home her residence she may see all the comfort that life & children whose hearts are full of filial affection can bestow. May Heaven bless that loved, that dear Mother & so long as life shall spare her to us, it will afford me the greatest pleasure to see her free from anxiety & drawn away from her own peculiar troubles, to the kindly hearts of her family. Lucy, few know how to prize a good Mother like yours, once mine, now only in the deep rooted ties of the heart. To think of visiting Ithaca again, with me really seems painful & gladly would I never look upon that loved place. So changed are all relations to that spot. That village will ever be hallowed by associations which life can never destroy & I would gladly think of it only as it was when hope & Julia were mine. To go there & find all so different, so unlike former days will be to give up all claims to what was once dear to me as my own existence. But why should I render you unhappy by telling you feelings that might better have been known only to my own heart. Lucy when you hear from me you must not expect to find the nonsensical & merry-making letters of the past for when I of writing to Ithaca my heart is full of reflections which if I write at all must have vent. I often suppress expressions and it would be better for you if I should suppress letters & I often feel so disposed as I can afford no pleasure to any one by my dolorous to any and uncouth affairs in letter shape. My love to the family. Ever yours A.M.P.

Oct 31st 1840 Saturday. Time variously employed thro’ the day in studying writing talking politics calling &c. This PM I wrote to SS Benedict an old school mate & chum at Homer whose correspondence was regularly & interestingly maintained for three or four years & dropped in 1837 since which time I have heard but rarely from him & never by letter. A true friend should not be lost without a struggle & on my return from Blossburg fortunately falling into company with a cousin of Benedicts I learned he had been unfortunate in business and seemed discouraged. He had spoken of me & wondered at my silence having heard nothing from me for years in this accounting to me for his silence. I shall hope to get an answer in good time. This evening spent with Miss E F Tuthill very pleasantly.