Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dr. John W. Potter and the Mineral Spring

By George Henry, Historian

John W. Potter was born May 15, 1821 in Vine Valley Yates County On Aug 4, 1846 he married Mary Lucetta Cornell in Albany NY. After her death he married Mary Catterson (or Mary Catherson depending on the source). He died Jan.17, 1889 in Canandaigua NY. That is the beginning and the end of Dr. Potter's life. It is the middle that makes him interesting and a part of the history of the Town of Gorham.

Dr. Potter was educated at Alfred Academy, Genesee Wesleyan Academy and Albany Medical College. He practiced medicine in Albany County and in Glen Aubrey, Broome County. He was supposedly a surgeon during the Mexican War.

In 1856 he went to Kansas but returned and settled in Tidioute, Warren County PA. It was during this time that the oil fields were being developed. Dr. Potter speculated in the buying and selling of land, example according to his Federal Income Tax, he made $10,000.00 within that year. He was somehow also involved in the oil business. He became a wealthy man during his stay in PA.

While he was still in Warren Co. PA. he prepared for his move to Canandaigua. On July 7, 1866 he purchased part of lot 31 in Canandaigua and 100 acres from James and Ellen Whorral of Canandaigua near Main St.

Mary Jane Potter describes her father's reason for moving to Canandaigua in her April 20, 1869 diary as follows. " We leave this place with the intention of going to Canandaigua and building a water cure at the springs on Cananadaigua Lake."

Dr. Potter made much money in the buying and selling of land in PA and he continued to do the same in Canandaigua. During the period between 1869 and 1876 he purchased nine properties. He and his sons were actively involved in the operation of some of these farms. He was also a very active in breeding of race horses and in horse racing. In 1869 his horses took first prize at the Rushvlle Fair and two week later first prize at the Reed Corners Fair.

Dr. Potter felt that mineral springs water could cure people. He often went to Burdick's Water Cure in Buffalo, to one in Rochester and the Clifton Springs Spa. On April 4 1869 he purchased for $5500.00 from John and Elizabeth Salisbury of the Town of Gorham 40 acres plus 4 1/2 acres on the lake for the mineral springs. This included "right" at all times to go on the land to repair, take away and put down pipes running from the spring.

This 40 acres was in the north west corner of what is now the Martin Farm on East Lake Rd. There is a small stream running through it. In talking to the people that operate the Martin Farm this is what I learned. There was/is a spring about 1/2 mile from the road. Several years ago it was dug out to form a pond about 10-12 feet down at the bottom of the pond was a large boulder. When this stone was moved the water came gushing out. It was a vile smelling and tasting water. So we have Dr. Potter's water cure spring.

The description of the mineral springs from the Potter family genealogy by Harry G. Tuttle. " The mineral spring was about 5 miles down the East lake Rd. The spring was not on the road, the water was piped down about a mile . It had a strong sulfur smell, there was always an accumulation around the edge of the pipe". As of Aug 17,1869 his price was five cents a gallon.
Dr. Potters dream of a water cure spa did not advance beyond the finding of and piping the spring water to the road and his house.

Source material
The Potter Descendants of Avery Potter, James G. Potter and George W. Potter
By Harry G. Tuttle.
Record of deeds-- County Archives

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