In July 1848, James Griffing wrote to his friend Augusta, telling her all the news from home, and mentioning the activities of the Missionary Society:
I have deferred until the present writing to you hoping that I might receive some valuable news from Owego to communicate, but as yet, it has been in vain. And that I might not seem unsociable and forgetful of the obligations which you tried to make out was resting upon me, I have concluded to occupy the little leisure I have this afternoon in writing to you. I received a letter from [my] brother Samuel last week stating that a general state of health prevailed in that section and that nothing of particular importance had occurred there of late. They were making preparations for a celebration in the grove on the fourth [of July]. Rev. Mr. [William H.] Pearne was to be the orator and Col. B. C. Whiting, Esq. -- Reader [of the Declaration of Independence]. I expect they had a good time. F. J. Foy was to deliver an oration in Spencer [New York]. My brother [Samuel] is at present engaged as clerk for Mr. [Thomas] Chatfield. He receives very good wages and will probably remain with him some time. Owego is improving considerable this summer owing to the rapidity with which they are carrying forward the railroad.  They are fencing in the park  very neatly and making great improvement by paving the streets and flagging the sidewalks &c. I have about given up the idea of going home this next vacation and shall endeavor to spend my time in some profitable way in this section.
The anniversary of our nation was scarcely recognized by the citizens of this place, and were it not for the case that a real "yankee" (that he might add to his coffers) had not devized a plan of recreation, I presume that the factories would have observed their usual clattering upon that day. At a grove a short distance from [Middletown], he erected a huge swing making revolutions like a water wheel, having four shafts at the extremities of which were small cars sufficiently commodious for containing 3 persons each.  It being rather a novel affair, he had more applications for swinging than he could possibly accommodate. Notwithstanding, he charged 12 1/2 cents each for swinging 15 minutes. Besides the swing, he has constructed well arranged walks throughout the grove, erected commodious seats, and has given names to different parts of the grove such as, "Washington's Parade Ground", "Union Place", "Park" &c. and has also erected a temporary building for trafficking in deserts. He has named the place the "Hoboken of Middletown" and I think perhaps may become a place of considerable resort. 
I heard that the day was to be celebrated in a grove by a parish about 3 miles out of the city and that some of the students had been selected to deliver addresses on the occasion. Being kindly invited, I concluded that I might perhaps pass my time more pleasantly there than anywhere else and consequently went. It proved to be a celebration of a division of the Sons of Temperance. The addresses were short but frisky and appropriate, after which we were seated around a table which for a variety and taste exhibited in the arrangement, would have dishonoured no city. After refreshing ourselves, a large company of us walked about a mile through a wild, yet romantick country to visit the "Middlefield Falls."  The body of water is nearly as large as the Owego Creek and falls over a ledge of sloping rocks about 45 feet, somewhat resembling Ithaca Falls, if you have ever visited them. After entertaining ourselves nearly an hour, we returned home well satisfied with our celebration of the fourth. I suppose you had an interesting time in Hartford for I learned that there was a "general turn out" there. Please give some of the particulars when you write.
We had an interesting time here last evening at the dedication of our new Missionary and Theological debating room. An entertainment was provided in the Hall by Ladies of the city, the benefits of which were to be applied for Missionary purposes. The room was dedicated by our President Dr. Olin and a sermon preached for the occasion by the [Baptist minister,] Dr. [Robert] Turnbull of [Hartford] city. Several interesting pieces were sung by the choir and a piece written for the occasion by Mrs. [Lydia] Sigourney  was sung in the tune of Old Hundred by the congregation. The following is a copy of the verse:
to the pomp and pride of life
But to their self devoted toil
deeds like these with fervent prayer
power to break Guadama's chain 
when their work on earth is 'oer
so this place where now we pray
There was quite a concourse of people present and I guess the highest expectations of all concerned were fully realized. And I believe many left that room fully resolved that they hereafter would endeavor to be more alive to the interests of the heathen. Such a room has been long needed and doubtless will not fail to add greatly to the religious interests of the College, and I hope be the place where more than one soul shall resolve to offer itself exclusively to the work of their salvation. Our religious meetings are well attended and a willing and obedient spirit is manifest. And we do hope 'ere long we may witness the tears of the penitent and the rejoicing of newly adopted children into our Father's family, for this in weakness are we laboring, for this praying, confident that in due time we shall reap if we faint not. Yet Oh! If in everything we but strived to imitate our Savior, how much greater would be our influence? How much greater our usefulness? How very soon would there be a breaking in the ranks of the enemies of Christ. Especially if that scripture is true which says that one humble Christ like child shall chase a thousand enemies and two put ten thousand to flight. Humility and Christian boldness are jewels that should shine brightly whilst they adorn the true Christian. They are the torch lights that are to shine forth dispelling darkness and revealing Heaven. They are the Christian's strength, his solace, and a guarantee of his heavenly reward. That they may be the crowning virtues of your life, and your support in death is the prayer of your friend -- James.
Shortly after the close of his Sophomore year, James received a letter from a fellow New York classmate named George Washington Cole who had dropped out of college due to a severe illness. George's older brother Cornelius Cole also graduated from Wesleyan University and became a lawyer, a California forty-niner, a senator from California, and eventually a close friend and confidant of Abraham Lincoln during his administration. George W. Cole would eventually regain his health, receive a Medical Degree from the Medical College in Geneva, New York, and become a physician in New York State. During the Civil War, he was a captain and later Major General of Cavalry. He died due to wounds received during the war in 1875 in Mora, New Mexico. 
Seneca County, New York
Dear [James] Griffing,
How do you find yourself? Where will this scrawl find you? When and how? I hope not on a sick bed, but on a bed “laying off” or perhaps on the bed of luxury among your old friends where you taught school.
As for me, this leaves me “in status quo” at my home, my corporeity diminished from 180 to 150 pounds which, however, is in advance of some 20 lb. upon the last few weeks so I will not complain. The fact is I have had a sick time of it since I left Middletown, both bodily and mentally. I have lost a sister by death who was, how dear to me, under circumstances most painful. I have seen my parents upon the very verge of the grave. I have seen my own bright hopes and anticipation recede from my grasp and I know not how distant the time may be when I may again live, for this dull monotonous existence cannot be called by that name.
Griffing! For the last 9 or ten months I have not been able to read hardly a dozen pages (and I think now even Kichner would be a relief). Dr. [Claudius C.] Coan of Ovid [New York] (Samuel Hall Herrington knows him) says I will not be able in more than a year to come [back to college], though I hope he only wants to scare me into an observance of his prescriptions. I have in the time done not a week’s work at any labor so you can guess how dull time is. But I am making great calculations when I do recover my dear sight, for I look upon my health as already reinstated.
I’m bound to get it yet if it must be some time distant, but you may well guess I should like to be a Junior!!! with the rest of you, but it will be my turn to shine some day, though I joy in your prosperity now, and should like to grasp your hands again, all of you.
I received a letter from [Ebenezer] Hodsdon a few days ago since and all my goods and chattels all safe. He said he left with you a table, mirror, washstand, and 2 chairs. These you may sell if you please and send me a bill, the loose change over which you can keep for yourself for your trouble, for I am not particular. And [even] if I were, you could not send change in a letter, you know. Sell them soon if you can for what you wish and can – the more the merrier.
Remember me to your chum and (I was about to say Gould before I thought.) But his spirit is now as near to me as you. Poor [Thomas] Gould. How I was shocked to hear of his death [last November], but “pallida mors acquo &c.” you know.
[My brother] Cornelius [an 1847 graduate of Wesleyan University] is home an admitted lawyer [and] has a case once in a while. He sends his compliments. If you see our Middletown friends, remember me to them but I will not “bore you” any longer this time. Write, write. Remember me to all. Call if you ever come near here.
As ever yours, – G. W. Cole
James concluded his sophomore year of classes with his annual examinations during the last few days of July 1848. How he spent his next four weeks of vacation remains a mystery though it appears likely he remained in Middletown. It is certain that he did not return home to Owego to visit his mother whom he had not seen in over two years. On August 31st, the fall term began and, once again, James roomed with George Stillman. This time they were assigned to room 59, Middle Section, of the Dormitory. On September 13, 1848, James settled up his miscellaneous debts to the University by paying for his last three terms, a total of approximately $15. It is presumed that he made this payment with money received from his brother-in-law, Rev. Charles W. Giddings, as there are several entries in his journal showing monies received from that source, carefully recorded so as to ensure that the money would not be forgotten, but dutifully repaid.
 In June, 1849, the New York and Erie Railroad was completed between New York City and Owego.
 The "park" was the Owego village green. A Greek revival style courthouse originally stood at the northeast corner of the green, a few feet north of the Owego Academy where James went to school. Both structures stood facing west on the village green. Eventually, the old court house was demolished and a new one [still present today] was built in the center of the green.
 The "swing" that James is describing in this letter may be the first record of a crude, first generation "Ferris Wheel" in the U.S. In the September/October issue of American History Illustrated, contributor Jack Klasey (“Who Invented the Ferris Wheel?”) says, “Certainly the notion of using vertical passenger-carrying wheels for amusement did not originate with Ferris. A book by the 17th-century English traveler Peter Mundy depicts a hand-operated vertical wheel with ten passengers seated in trapeze-like swings around its rim. Amusement wheels carrying four or more people were common at fairs in Europe and England during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Visitors to the 1849 New York State Fair in Syracuse may have been the first in the United States to see such a device. The first U.S. patent for a “Rotary Swing” went to I. N. Forrester of Bridgeport, Connecticut in November 1867.”
 The money grabbing "Yankee" described in this letter, had actually created what was to become an American institution -- the Amusement Park.
 Judging from the distance that James and the other students walked from Middletown, it is likely that the "Middlefield Falls" they visited are known today as "Wadsworth Falls." They are located about three miles from Wesleyan University and are part of a state park. The "Ithaca Falls" are located near Ithaca, New York. The woodcut of the water fall shown in this chapter is Westfield Falls, near Middletown, Connecticut.
 Lydia Sigourney, of Hartford, was described as "the over fertile queen bee of American female poets in the mid-1850's" by J. C. Furnas in his book, The Americans, p. 78. She was featured along with 78 other female poets in a book entitled, The Female Poets of America, in 1852.
 Guadama lived 625 years before Christ and was considered by the Buddhists living in Burma to be the noblest of men. His laws and sayings became the foundation for their religion. American Missionaries sent to Burma from the Methodist and Baptist missionary societies considered the Buddhists to be living in darkness. James Griffing longed to be such a missionary and envied his boyhood friend John R. Nisbet when he was sent to Burma by the Baptists in the early 1850's.
 Hollis Palmer, an author of several true crime stories, is currently researching material for another book in which George Washington Cole was involved. According to Hollis, "Cole was a very noble man. Prior to the Civil War he was a State Senator from the Syracuse area. He resigned to join the Union Army. After a few months he left the army and joined the New York State Cavalry, where he had a very distinguished career. He resigned from the State Cavalry to take command of the "colored cavalry." In taking this position he knew that if captured he would be shot on the spot -- the Southern punishment for any white officers leading "colored troops." Because he was leading "colored troops," he was not discharged until 1867.
When he got home he learned that his wife had had an affair with Luther Harris Hiscock, the man who took his position as State Senator. He boarded a train from Syracuse to Albany. He found Hiscock in a hotel across from the State Capital. He walked up to Hiscock and in front of three other Senators and a newspaper reporter shot Hiscock dead. Cole was not convicted on the grounds of "Momentary insanity." A prominent defense attorney named William A. Beach represented Cole."