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
Tri-County Genealogy & History Sites Home Page
How to Use This Site
Warning & Disclaimer
Elmira Page
More Diaries & Letters
No Unauthorized Commercial Use
Say Hello to Joyce
Joyce's Search Tip - December 2010
Do You Know that you can search just the 355 pages of our
Diaries and Letters
on this site  by using the Diaries button in the Partitioned search engine at the bottom of the Current What's New Page? But diaries and letters are wonderful sources to understand the culture of time and place. Read them and enjoy them slowly.

Nov 1st 1840 Sabbath. This AM have heard one of the most plain forcible & interesting sermons on the religious education of children & on the responsibility of parents, from Rev Mr White of Owego. I do not recollect ever to have heard a sermon so simple yet full of depht & conclusive reasoning on this often neglected subject. The training of children to make them useful & pious citizens, good men & true to every relation of life is an object worthy of a master hand. So Christ thought, so experience shows it. To the efforts of a kind Mother I owe my character & to the pious teachings of my dear Mother I owe the conversion of heart if indeed a change so needful has ever been known. Gratitude will ever glow warmly toward that being — that kind heart to whom thro’ God I am indebted for what I am. And in my case I date the habits & turn of mind peculiar to myself, & the serious reflections of youth to the early & effectual efforts of my Mother. When a lad of eight, ten, or twelve I imbibed sentiments which will go with me thro’ life, perhaps thro’ eternity. Could I say it — I would urge parents & young mothers especially to neglect no favorable moment for teaching their children the principles of religion of honesty, sobriety, modesty, virtue, benevolence, & all that adorn the man & makes society better & full of worth.

Have heard two excellent discourses this PM & Evening from Mr White tho’ of more common nature, this AM sermon being one of an unusual character.

Nov 2d Monday 1840. Being a delightful day & circumstances as favorable as usual I have felt in good spirits comparatively to last evening. The excitement of politics serves as diversion to the mind & subject of conversation at all times & places.

As a matter of no consequence yet showing something I was weighed to-day & found myself gaining. For the four or five years past my weight summer & winter has been between 122 & 124 lbs. This spring I lost for the first time from 6 to 8 lbs & have now nearly made good the loss, weighing to-day 122.

Evening pleasantly spent with Miss T— in singing &c with some cheering & sympathetic talk. If depressed I know where to go, to rid myself, & if in full flow of spirits where to find a place to give loose to them. On the whole I feel grateful that Providence has favored me in all times & places with friends & warm friends.

Nov 5th 1840 Thursday. This has unquestionably been one of the proudest & most glorious days in the history of our country. A day in which Gen Wm H Harrison is chosen by a great majority of electoral votes of the states whose elections have been held the number of which is large. My attention for two or three days has been very much enlisted in politics & I have hailed the day as the victory of principles over party power. How the event will prove I cannot of course say but doubt nothing less than that every effort will be made to bring matters to their proper situation. My country ever has & ever will, I trust, occupy a dear relation to my heart, & gratitude is due to God for the blessings, thus far, of peace & the enjoyments of a free government.

I have been looking long for letters from Franklin, Ithaca, & about but not one makes its appearance. I wonder at their silence & must wait patiently for favors long desired, long expected.

Nov 8th [1840] Sabbath. Week after week rolls by & month follows month yet all remains the same. The same lonely & silent stillness rests upon everything. If I go into company no Julia–like spirit greets me with a cheerful voice, & if I spend an evening with a friend tho’ pleasant for the time, yet when in my room all is more lonely than before.

Nov 9th [1840] Monday. Spent the afternoon in reading Anatomy & the evening with Miss Tuthill. After my return I sat myself down to copying letters. Have copied out nearly all of Julia’s letter dated Feb 12th ‘39. Wrote to Caroline yesterday & this PM. Received a letter from ECS on Friday last & am full of wonder at the silence of W.S.F. Regular fall weather.

Nov 11th [1840] Wednesday PM. Rec’d a paper from W.S.F. this AM from which I concluded he had not rec’d my letter & have now written him again. Have written also to Cousin Maria M Potter enquiring after my prospects of getting to Cazenovia this winter being under the tuition Uncle Stephen — (Dr Potter).

Hopeful I may be successful in getting an answer to some of my letters before long or I shall forget who my correspondents are.

Nov 12th [1840] Thursday. This date brings me upon a subject than which no other can be more important save that awful one more directly affecting my individual existence. A day the reccurence being the remembrances of that most solemnly interesting time when all I held dear vanished from earth leaving a void the world can never fill. Six months are gone since Julia left this scene of sorrow for regions of joy. O that I could know where that spirit is, at this moment & if looks upon this world with that love she once bore to its sojourners. Tell me oh tell me! Where shall I go to find that glorified being? Is she far away beyond those bright twinkling orbs, is she gone thro’ illimitable space to a seat prepared in heaven? Where then is heaven where that blissful abode? May I think of her as hovering with angelic hosts over those left behind being a guardian spirit to watch solace & comfort in distress?

Does no one answer – is all silence unbroken – can no messenger from the land of departed ones give me this most desirable intelligence? Oh must I live on without ever another cheering word from Julia?

Ah perhaps she has been near me thro’ this day & watched me as I have sported thoughtlessly, & laughed & talked to keep myself from thinking – perhaps has mourned my forgetfulness of the past & flown away sorrowful — Six months? Six long months! longer than six years & more replete with interest. What a scene could it be drawn upon canvass in one full panoramic view! But why I should long so much to know whence has gone the loved one, is more than I can tell.

Nov 14th [1840] Saturday. This morning bro’t me a letter from WSF & was really a feast. I had been looking so long that its value was increased in proportion to the length of time passed.

Nov 15th [1840] Sabbath. Have heard, last Sabbath & to-day a series of discourses on baptism from Mr. Fowler — & this evening a review of the three sermons on that subject. It seems strange to me how any one can feel at a loss on that point. The discourses of Rev Mr Platt of Homer satisfied me perfectly on that subject.

Nov 17th [1840] Tuesday. The long expected letter from home came in to-day — wishing me to come out & talk over matters & I confess it affords me little or no satisfaction to think of visiting home & for reasons I cannot explain even to myself.

Not that I regard home any less worthy or my parents any the less dear for they will ever hold full possession of my filial affections. Probably the business of the season in connection with my loss of Julia — & each being subjects of painful importance & knowing that they will as a matter of course be all reviewed, is in part the cause of my reluctance to see home or scenes from which ever tie seems to have been torn away in the death of my wife. Whatever the reasons may be certain it is, that I would by considerable prefer remaining here or any where, to going back to Willseyville for the winter. Yet God will order all wisely & I should acknowledge all to be for my best good.

Nov 19th [1840] Thursday. This day has passed like many others of late by arising about seven, making a Fire, reading a little, breakfasting, going down-town, talking most of the AM, coming to my room, renewing my Fire, changing my boots for slippers my coat for an old one & seating myself to study — dining — then study for the afternoon — tea — then reading till six or seven — visit to Tuthills with sociable company & kind feeling kind-hearted friends — here this evening offers an exception to the general rule as I have just returned from a supper of the Whigs as a rejoicing for their triumph.

Generally however get to my room between nine & ten — read or write an hour or less or more — resign myself to the care of Providence — & sleep as I hope I may till morning. This short review presents many changes from the days of a year just gone – & I often seek society as an antidote for the lonely condition in which I find myself at all times when I think of my former happy portion. Yet the society I find cannot restore nor does it fill the vacancy I have in my heart — a vacancy that each day widens and deepens. And tho’ I often am merry & gleeful or appear so – yet it is most painfully true, that "the mask of pleasure is often assumed to hide an aching heart." "Gayety is seldom the test of happiness" is equally true. Let no one suppose that every heart is bouyant with cheerfulness and delight, that seems most noisy or joyous in company, for the reverse is very often the most like reality.

Nov 20th [1840] Friday. I have concluded to go home & shall probably leave in the morning for Ithaca where I may remain till Monday & then go to Willseyville — but more of this on my return if ever. It is with regret I leave Elmira for there is something here to which I am strongly attached. I know not what in particular as there seems to be a general union of associates, no single object has any very powerful influence. I anticipate no great degree of pleasure in my visit either at Ithaca or home, for all will be so different from last year or last spring.

Nov 20th [1840] Left Elmira on Sat morn Nov 21st and after a pleasant ride to Ithaca arrived there in good time. Having a few errands to do I stopped at the Tompkins House and done my business, took tea and then sought out the new home of Mother Sage & family. Found them easily & was disappointed in seeing them so well settled in their new & most comfortably finished house. With the exception of a general attack of colds they were in good health & I was most gladly welcomed to my home no, not home but what would have been home had the tie that bound me to it, been with me. Still I cannot but feel grateful for the affectionate & hearty reception I have ever met with, in that loved family.

[Nov 22d, 1840] Sabbath passed in attending church & in thinking over the scenes of the few past months. – Sometimes depressed in spirits when thinking of my present situation, then drawn away from myself by the cheerful conversation of the family day after day wore away scarcely giving notice of its flight till Saturday morning when I left for Willseyville really reluctant to go on several accounts. I had seen Ma but once & then but a moment, Pa I had not seen & the others but rarely since spring, making me feel lonely & unhappy at the thought of meeting them while my dear wife was no more with me to greet them & enjoy the visit. Beside I wished not to think of the seasons business & knew that one object of my visiting home was to look over such affairs. I knew also that in doing it I subjected myself to censure which justly deserving yet dreading to hear. After all I was disappointed in the result for the business had yeilded much better than I had expected making the profits just about balance the expenses.

Fortunately Pa was in good spirits and considoring the loneliness of the place & it seems more lonely each time I visit there — the time went pleasantly by. I could but sympathize with Ma, being so situated that she feels herself out of house & home & scarcely knowing where next she will find herself, she seems really unhappy. I regret much that circumstances are so much against her doing as she would most like to do. But for this & some other reasons of minor importance I could visit home with pleasure but there is no satisfaction in visiting friends where discontent & discord renders them anything but amiable in feeling or action.

[Nov. 27, 1840] I left for Ithaca Friday PM being nearly two weeks passed of my absence from Elmira & was again greeted most cordially by the friends of other days & friends of those present. I went out to a temperance meeting in the evening & while there the thought struck me of going to Auburn & I was resolved on it at the moment. Went home told Mother & she seemed surprised but was willing. Had my name entered and in the morning was bound to meet my dear friend Franklin. About six PM I was in Auburn & bent my steps toward the Theo Seminary where I expected to find him being fortunate enough to meet him in his room being a complete surprise on his part. Let imagination describe our meeting but silence be upon my pen. Friendship long strong & true, can tell the story. My ride was a cold one and the travelling being extremely rough. We enjoyed ourselves in the peculiar and agreeable manner that always characterizes our visits making each other happy in sleeping & waking talking & walking, eating & drinking, singing & praying, happy most happy. Sabbath heard Dr Mills proffessor in the Sem & in the PM Dr Lathrop. Was highly gratified in hearing Dr Lathrop.

Snow fell from 11 AM till six PM making about 12 inches. It fell rapidly & very dry.

[Nov. 30, 1840] Monday Franklin & myself went to Skaneateles to visit Harriet N P— and the circumstances were somewhat embarrassing & beyond her or our control being connected with the family where she was visiting, yet our visit was one full of interest. For myself I cannot say it was a happy one although there was much to interest me while in the society of Franklin & Harriet. My thoughts ran back to the days but a little while gone when Julia would show to me all that tenderness & affection so plainly to be seen in Wm & H. Now the contrast in our condition was too great to allow of my saying much to interest. Our stay was short & we returned to Auburn, making the first sleigh ride of the winter.