This new series will be focusing on people you may not have heard of, but they are at eternal rest in the cemeteries of Cortland County. We’ll be exploring their contributions and stories in Slumbering Souls.
Leman W. Potter began his life in Cortland County on April 26, 1853, when he was born in Scott to E.H. Perry Potter and Roxanna Burdick. The Potter family’s roots were in Rhode Island, where Leman’s grandparents Ezekial Potter and Abigail West originally hailed from. Grandfather Ezekial was a miller and served in the War of 1812, winning honors for his service as a “post rider.” The Potters moved their family to Scott in 1819 where Ezekial left his profession as a miller and became a farmer. The family included six children, and their son E.H. Perry was just one year old when he became a citizen of Scott. The Potter family belonged to the Seventh Day Baptist Church, and Leman’s father Perry, as he was called, served as a deacon in the church.
Leman W. Potter was one of six children born to Perry and Roxanna. Leman attended district schools in Scott as well as the Homer Academy and Cortland Normal School. Later, he would attend college at Alfred University, graduating in 1876. Leman worked as a schoolteacher before and after college, and one of the places he taught was in a school district in Scott Hollow where United States President Millard Fillmore had taught. Not content to be a teacher, Potter would become a principal for two years in Hope Valley, Rhode Island. Leman met and married Nellie Phillips in Rhode Island, but they did not remain there for long.
Leman must have had a sense that teaching was not for him because when he and Nellie returned to New York, they settled in Homer where he read medicine under Dr. L.D. Eaton. He acquired his medical education at the New York Homeopathic Medical College and returned to Scott in 1880, where he briefly practiced medicine. In 1881 he purchased Dr. Eaton’s practice in the village of Homer, and he would remain there for the rest of his career.
Dr. Potter excelled as a physician and was progressive in his methods. He was studious and alert to discoveries that could mean life or death for his patients. Leman Potter utilized every means of helping his patients and was respected for his ethical nature and professionalism. He built a large practice because of his honest and dependable nature.
Outside of his vocation, Dr. Potter was interested in the best things for his church, school, and community, and he dedicated time to many positions of service which allowed him to help guide the institutions of our community. He served as a member of the board of trustees for the village of Homer four times for a total of eleven years. He served seven years as the president of the village. He was a member of the board of education for the Homer Academy for many years and president of the board of education for seven years. Dr. Potter was the coroner for years and was a member of both the Cortland County Medical Society and the Homer Grange. Dr. Potter was also a dedicated Mason.
Leman and Nellie Potter had three children, two sons and one daughter. One of their sons followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a physician. Leman Potter was a devoted husband and father, and at the time of his death, he was on a “motor car trip vacation” with his family, including his son, Dr. Winfred L. Potter. The Potter family had been to Washington, D.C. and was in Richmond, Virginia when the elder Dr. Potter had a stroke. A second stroke followed three days later, and the family waited for him to recover enough to return home. They set out for home accompanied by a physician from Richmond, but once they were home, complications arose, and he passed quietly away on October 11, 1924. Dr. Leman William Potter is at rest at Glenwood Cemetery with his family.
If you are curious to learn more about the Potter family, your own family, or other local history, please visit us at CCHS to immerse yourself in the past.
 ~Tabitha Scoville, CCHS Director