Occom, Talitha

Birth: 1761 (?) in Montauk, Long Island
Death: Before June 26, 1785 in Farmington, CT
Affiliation:

Mohegan Tribe

Education:

Likely literate, because her father was Samson Occom

Nationality:

Mohegan

Marital status:

Talitha had at least one child (possibly three) but information about her marital status is not available.

Biography:

Talitha Occom was Samson Occom and Mary Fowler Occom’s sixth daughter. The only primary source references to her are two entries in Samson Occom’s 1785 diary, in which he records her death (June 26th, 1785, and September 26th, 1785). She lived somewhere between Farmington (CT) and Canaan (CT), and had at least one child (possibly at least three: Occom describes visiting her “youngest child.”) Because Talitha does not appear in any other primary source, some scholars have concluded that she did not exist. Joanna Brooks transcribes Talitha as Tabitha (although in manuscript 785301, the letter is very clearly an l rather than a b), and thus places Tabitha’s death at 1785 (although other records indicate that she survived her second husband, Joshua Cooper, who died in 1807), while Laura Murray suggests that Talitha is a metaphor for a daughter’s spiritual death. It is more likely that Talitha really was one of Occom’s daughters. First, Occom does not record the birth of any of his children in his diary, so it is no surprise that only one reference to Talitha survives. Second, Occom seems genuinely distraught about Talitha’s death. It could also be hypothesized that Talitha is a byword for “little girl” or daughter (borrowed from a resurrection story in the Gospel of Mark 5, in which Jesus tells a little girl, “talitha koum,” or, “little girl, get up”), and thus that Occom is writing about the death of a different daughter. However, based on genealogical data, there is no other daughter who could have died in 1785. William DeLoss Love recorded that Talitha was born in 1761, but, as often, it is unclear where he got this data from.

Documents written: retrieve them
Documents received: retrieve them
All related documents: retrieve them
Sources:

Brooks, Joanna. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan: Leadership and Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Native America. Oxford 2006. Love, Deloss. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Pilgrim Press 1899. Murray, Laura J. To Do Good To My Indian Brethren: The Writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751-1776. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press 1998.