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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Brainerd, 1761 November 6

ms-number: 761606.1

abstract: Wheelock updates Brainerd on the progress of various Indian students at the school.

handwriting: Handwriting is informal and occasionally difficult to decipher.

paper: Large single sheet is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear that leads to a minor loss of text. There is preservation work along particularly heavy creases.

ink: Black.

noteworthy: This document appears to be a draft. On one recto, in the first paragraph, an unknown editor, possibly 19th-century, has added the note "Woolley" in pencil above the word "Joseph." This edit has not been transcribed.



Rev.d and Dear Brothr
Upon my return from Boſton abo.t 4
[left]weeks ago I met yours, with Miriam at My House. I am well
pleaſed with [illegible][guess: Miriam]the Girl, ſhe is in good Health, & well
contented, ſhe has a kind Miſtreſs who ſays She learns
well ſo far as ſhe has had Opportunity to ſee & know
Amie y.e other India[illegible]n Girl 13. years old who is Mated with Miriam
and boards about [illegible][guess: 10][illegible][guess: 20] Rods from her (So y.t y.a Lodge togethr)
has made ſurprizing proficiency in learning ſince ſhe
came laſt Spring. ſhe then ſcarſely knew her Letters.
(and indeed is more backward in reading than in other
parts of her Learning) will now write a good hand conſiderably well
ſhe kept House for her Miſs. while ſhe was gone on a viſit
near a fortnit and did it well, underſtands tending a Dary, and has
lately [illegible] her a Pocket & done it well. &c. You may
tell the Parents of Miriam there ſhall nothing be wanting
for her within my Power. Joseph is well fitted for College
and I have this Year Entred ſeveral not better fitted
than Hezekiah. I deſigned they ſhould have made
a viſit to their Friends [illegible] this fall and the week for their
going was appointed but for ſeveral Reaſons years I have
made them willing to defferr it till ſpring. it had
got to be ſomething late in ye fall & no Opport[gap: worn_edge][guess: uny]
of a Paſsage by water preſented. &c but principally
[left]been that Hezekiah after I [illegible]was almoſt got quite diſcouragd
with him has been under Convictions for several Months and is ſo ſtill
which has made a ſurprizing Change in him, and I
feard y.t ſo long a Diverſion would prove be unfriendly to it.
Joseph & Hezekiah have now ye beſt Opportunity to learn
the Mohawke Language of these Mohawke Boys I have [illegible][guess: ſet]
them about moved them to. it. I hope, as it is to be learnt without
Book it wont greatly hinder them in their other ſtudies.
I have ſent my poor weekley Son Radulphus to your
College in [illegible][guess: Ho]ping yt he may profit ſomething by living [gap: worn_edge][guess: there]
and I ſend him with [illegible][guess: a] Hopes y.t ye Honle Com̅iſs.rs will take
Joseph as they Did Jacob under their Patronage and
ſtill continue him with me and let my ſon have his
ſupport. the weight upon me is great, and I dont well
know how to get along without Such an advantage.
will you think favourably of it Dear Sir and use your Intreſt
in my Favour?
as to ye other Girl I’ll Expect her as ſoon as you
can ſend her.
I want [illegible] an opportunity to ſay a 1000 things to you.
Br. Pomeroy or My Son if when you ſee them him can give you a prticular accot
of ye School and So[illegible]me New & encouraging Proſpects.
Letter to M.r Brainerd
Nov.r 6. 1761.
Miriam Come.
Wheelock, Eleazar

Eleazar Wheelock was a New Light Congregationalist minister who founded Dartmouth College. He was born into a very typical Congregationalist family, and began studying at Yale in 1729, where he fell in with the emerging New Light clique. The evangelical network that he built in college propelled him to fame as an itinerant minister during the First Great Awakening and gave him many of the contacts that he later drew on to support his charity school for Native Americans. Wheelock’s time as an itinerant minister indirectly brought about his charity school. When the Colony of Connecticut retroactively punished itinerant preaching in 1743, Wheelock was among those who lost his salary. Thus, in 1743, he began operating a grammar school to support himself. He was joined that December by Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian, who sought out an education in hopes of becoming a teacher among his people. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to train Native Americans as missionaries. To that end, he opened Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754 (where he continued to train Anglo-American students who paid their own way as well as students who functionally indentured themselves to Wheelock as missionaries in exchange for an education). Between 1754 and 1769, when he relocated to New Hampshire, Wheelock trained approximately 60 male and female Native American students from nearby Algonquian tribes and from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of central New York. At the same time, he navigated the complicated politics of missionary societies by setting up his own board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, although he continued to feud with the Boston Board of the SSPCK and the London Commissioners in Boston (more colloquially called the New England Company). By the late 1760s, Wheelock had become disillusioned with the idea of Native American education. He was increasingly convinced that educating Native Americans was futile (several of his students had failed to conform to his confusing and contradictory standards), and, in late 1768, he lost his connection to the Haudenosaunee. With his inclination and ability to sponsor Native American missionaries largely depleted, Wheelock sought instead to fulfill his ultimate ambition of obtaining a charter and opening a college, which he did in 1769. To fund this new enterprise, Wheelock drew on the £12,000 that Samson Occom had raised for Moor’s Indian Charity School during a two-and-a-half year tour of Great Britain (1765 to 1768). Much of this money went towards clearing land and erecting buildings in New Hampshire for the Charity School’s relocation — infrastructure that also happened to benefit Dartmouth. Many of Wheelock’s contemporaries were outraged by what they saw as misuse of the money, as it was clear that Dartmouth College was not intended for Indians and that Moor’s had become a side project. Although Wheelock tried to maintain at least some commitment to Native American education by recruiting students from Canadian communities, the move did a great deal of damage to his public image. The last decade of Wheelock’s life was not easy. In addition to the problems of trying to set up a college far away from any Anglo-American urban center, Wheelock experienced the loss of relationships with two of his most famous and successful students, Samson Occom and Samuel Kirkland (an Anglo-American protégé). He also went into debt for Dartmouth College, especially after the fund raised in Britain was exhausted.

Brainerd, John

John Brainerd was an ardent missionary with an important role in Wheelock's design. He was the younger brother of the famous missionary David Brainerd, who died as a young man after being expelled from Yale and serving as a missionary to New Jersey tribes. John completed his Yale degree and was immediately commissioned to replace David. Even in his own time, he was seen as a man as pious as, but less talented than, his brother, though Brainerd missioned to Indians during a more volatile period, and saw his congregation forcibly removed from their lands in 1755 and relocated at Brothertown in 1758 (this Brothertown should not be confused with the one founded in New York after the Revolution by many Moor's alumni). Brainerd was extremely devoted to the Indian cause. He often had the opportunity to serve wealthy English congregations, but preferred to remain an Indian missionary. He invested signficant sums of his own money into his missions, for which he was never reimbursed. Brainerd was a very prominent Presbyterian figure, active in the Presbytery and Synod of New York, holding several elected positions, and in the Presbtery and Synod of New York and Philadelphia once the two reunified in 1758. He was a Trustee of the College of New Jersey from 1754 until his death, and a member of the New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Occom had planned to work with Brainerd in 1750, but political upheaval prevented it. Brainerd was one of several men nominated to accompany Occom to England, but the New York Board refused to let him go. While Brainerd and Wheelock were not close personal friends, the two had a similar interests and a long-lasting correspondence. John Brainerd sent Wheelock his first Indian boys, and also recruited female students in the 1760s. Throughout their lives, Brainerd and Wheelock updated one another on Indian missions, and Brainerd seems to have been one of Wheelock's "point people" in the Presbyterian Church.

Storrs, Miriam
Johnson, Amy

Amy Johnson was a Mohegan woman who was the first female student at Moor’s Indian Charity School. She came to Moor’s in 1761 at age 13, perhaps because her brother Joseph Johnson was also a student there. She left the school at the beginning of 1766. According to W. D. Love, she then lived (and, presumably, worked) at the Bull’s Tavern in Hartford, CT for some time. During this period, she was courted by David Fowler, who gave her a gold engagement ring. Their relationship ended, although it is unclear why; he may have been concerned about her poor health (his main concern in a wife was finding a partner for missionary service), or she may have rejected him (Amy was the first of the three Moor’s students whom Fowler courted). Sometime before 1772 Amy married Joseph Cuish, son of the Niantic Baptist preacher Philip Cuish. The family had close ties to the Occoms and several Cuishes moved to Brothertown, although Amy and Joseph do not seem to have done so. Most of our information about Amy comes from her relationships to important men: she was sister to Joseph Johnson, student to Wheelock, the temporary object of David Fowler’s affections and, eventually, wife to Joseph Cuish. From a historical standpoint, our sources on Amy speak to the increasingly patriarchal element that Christianity brought into Algonquian society as well as the fundamentally inter-tribal nature of Algonquian relations during this period.

Woolley, Joseph

Joseph Woolley was a Delaware who died of consumption while keeping school at Onaquaga. He came to Wheelock in 1757 as a replacement for John Pumshire, and although Wheelock labeled him as "fit for college" in late 1761, he never attended. In the fall of 1764, Joseph went to the Six Nations with Kirkland to learn the Mohawk language and keep school, and in March 1765, he was officially approved as a schoolmaster and returned to Onaquaga to teach. He was very popular there, but died unexpectedly in late November 1765. Joseph was engaged to Hannah Garrett, who later married David Fowler, but a letter from David (765302.2) suggests that Joseph may also have pursued Amy (David's object of interest before Hannah).

Calvin, Hezekiah

Hezekiah Calvin was one of Eleazar Wheelock's first Native American students. Like Wheelock’s other early Delaware students, he was sent by the minister John Brainerd. Calvin was certified as a schoolteacher on March 12, 1765, and was sent to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter in June 1765. The Mohawks threw him out at the end of September 1766, and he returned to Moor's. Samuel Johnson, an Anglo-American Yale student who replaced Calvin at Fort Hunter, reported that the residents unanimously accused Calvin of being abusive and rude. Calvin, in turn, maintained that the Fort Hunter Mohawks had mistreated him. Calvin’s second stint at Moor’s did not go well. He wrote several confessions for drunkenness and bad behavior, and frequently spoke ill of Wheelock. He left the school in the spring of 1768, and took up residence with the Secutor family (Narragansett) at Charlestown, Rhode Island. Calvin left the Narragansetts sometime late in 1768, presumably after the dissolution of his relationship with Mary Secutor. Wheelock heard reports early in 1769 that Calvin had been imprisoned at Little Ease, NJ, for forging a pass for a Black man (Calvin does not appear in the county records, so either he was never indicted or Wheelock had his information wrong). By 1777, Calvin was in a position of prominence at Brotherton, NJ (a town of Christian Delawares founded under John Brainerd’s ministry). At some point after 1788, Calvin moved west with the Delawares: he may have moved directly to join the Delawares in Ohio territory, or he may have relocated to Stockbridge in 1802 and then moved west.

Wheelock, Rodulphus

Ralph Rodulphus Wheelock was Wheelock's oldest son and heir apparent. While Wheelock believed that Ralph showed great aptitude for the "Indian business," others saw Ralph as arrogant and abrasive. He also suffered from epilepsy, which seriously impeded his ability to work. He died in Hanover as an invalid under almost constant care and guardianship. Wheelock's struggle to accept his son's illness and his son's struggle to overcome it provide an undercurrent for some of the stranger events in the history of Moor's Indian Charity School and Dartmouth College. Ralph grew up surrounded by and dedicated to Indian education, but also with an inflated sense of Wheelock's, and his own, importance, which stayed with him for much of his life. Joseph Brant recounts a telling anecdote: Ralph once ordered William Major, Sir William Johnson's son, to saddle his horse on the grounds that he was the son of a gentleman and William Major was not. Ralph was unable to finish coursework at the College of New Jersey, which he attended from 1761-1763, although he graduated from Yale in 1765. He made three tours of the Six Nations (in 1766, 1767, and 1768), assisting ministers in bringing back children and negotiating with tribes. He taught at Moor's for two years, and was briefly considered as a companion for Occom on the Fundraising Tour. Wheelock formally named him as his heir in the 1768 draft of his will. However, Wheelock's reliance on Ralph brought disastrous consequences for the school. In the spring of 1768, Wheelock sent Ralph to the Onondagas and Oneidas to negotiate about schoolmasters and missionaries. Once there, Ralph managed to offend the assembled chiefs beyond repair. Ralph blamed his failure on Kirkland, and it was not until 1772 that Wheelock learned the truth of the matter. It is likely that Ralph's conduct influenced the Oneidas' decision to pull their children out of Moor's later in 1768: Wheelock himself implied as much in his 1771 Journal. By the early 1770s, Wheelock had realized that Ralph was never going to take over Dartmouth College. In a later will, Wheelock provided Ralph with £50 per annum for his care, to be paid out by the College, and stipulated that his other heirs should look after his oldest son. Because Ralph was unable to serve as Wheelock's heir, the presidency of the College passed to John Wheelock, a soldier who had no theological training or desire to run a college.

Woolley, Jacob

Jacob Woolley, a Delaware, was one of Wheelock's first two Indian students. He was the cousin of Wheelock's third student, Joseph Woolley. John Brainerd sent Jacob Woolley, along with John Pumshire, to Wheelock late in 1754. While Pumshire died in 1757, Jacob continued studying with Wheelock and entered the College of New Jersey in 1759. He studied there until 1762, when he was expelled for failing his studies and abusing alcohol. It is also likely that there was a woman involved. In 1763, Jacob briefly returned to College before running away and enlisting in the army. Joseph Woolley met a man in Sheffield who described someone like Jacob Woolley teaching there in the fall of 1764, but this identification is not definite. Jacob never seems to have been very invested in becoming a missionary. Especially after his expulsion from the College of New Jersey, he expressed doubts about Wheelock's plans for him and struggled with alcohol. It is likely that he ran away primarily because Wheelock was non-responsive to these concerns.

Pomeroy, Benjamin

Benjamin Pomeroy was a school friend of Eleazar Wheelock and a lifelong supporter of his cause. Like Wheelock, he was a New Light evangelical and a staunch ally of James Davenport, a radical New Light preacher whose beliefs got him in trouble with the law. After graduating from Yale in 1733, Pomeroy received the ministry at Hebron, CT, in 1734, and assisted Wheelock in myriad ways until his own death in 1784. He kept Wheelock's school during 1746, when Wheelock's first wife, Sarah, was dying, and he tutored Occom (primarily in Hebrew) after Occom had completed his studies with Wheelock. Pomeroy also supported Wheelock as a trustee of Moor's, and, later, Dartmouth, and as a member of the Board of the Correspondents in Connecticut for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Pomeroy and Wheelock also had close family connections: Pomeroy was married to Wheelock’s sister, Abigail, and one of Pomeroy’s daughters, Hannah, married David McClure, one of Wheelock's most illustrious graduates. Outside of his liturgical career, Pomeroy served as an army chaplain in the French and Indian War and the Revolution.

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