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Samson Occom, Journal Fragment

ms-number: 003217

abstract: Fragment of a journal describes Occom's travels along the Connecticut coast and Long Island.

handwriting: Handwriting is clear and legible.

paper: Single small sheet folded into four pages is in fair-to-poor condition, with heavy creasing, staining and wear. Wear in the upper outside corners results in some loss of text.

ink: Brown ink is faded in spots.

noteworthy: There are red pencil marks on two verso. An editor, likely 19th-century, has underlined portions of the text in black ink and, on two verso, added the note:

/ If common year, 1 day of Jan. Thursday
Then 1747, 1761.. 1778, 1758
If leap year was Sunday.. Then 1749, 1769, & 1775
If leap year, then Saturday 1st Jan:
and year was 1780.. ([illegible] likely)
the reverend from mauntauk to
mohegan in 1764 - 1765.


Montauk May ye 4th [gap: worn_edge]

a few of us Sot out from
Montauk to viſit our Brethren
at Maſtick, and got So far
[illegible] Hay ground at Night,
[illegible][guess: Fry]day Morning [illegible]Sot out
from hayground, and got So
far to [illegible][guess: one] Homans, Saturday
from Thence and got to maſ‐
tick
about [illegible]Noon & found
our Brethren generaly well
&c — and had a Meetitng
with them at Night — But
nothing Special Appeard — at
that — Sabath May [illegible][guess: ye] 7
held a meeting with them
again all [illegible] Day But
nothing [illegible] very remarka‐
ble
[gap: tear][guess: yet] they were very at
[illegible][guess: t]entive to hear the very
word — Mon[illegible]day May ye
8 we Came a way, and
had a Short Meeting at
Mr Henry Haven's, and
the People Seem'd to attend
with good attention, — and
from thence we went to
Moriches,^ and had meetg at Ben‐
Caſtle
s Wigwam, and in
the morning May ye 9
we Sot out from thence to‐
wards home and to So far
as Shenegecock, and had
a meeting there with ye
Indians
, but nothing re‐
markable appeard a‐
mongſt them — Wedneſday
may the 10 we Sot out
from there and got home
Blank page.Non-contemporary text not transcribed.
Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

Haven, Henry
Castle, Ben
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