Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Joseph Woolley, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 6

ms-number: 765406.2

abstract: Joseph Woolley writes to Wheelock with news from his mission to Onaquaga. He mentions the smallpox epidemic, the Shawnees' and Delawares' confirmation of the Covenant Chain, his cousin Jacob Woolley, and David Fowler’s abuse of his Indian students.

handwriting: Handwriting is largely clear and legible.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear.

ink: Brown.

noteworthy: Woolley makes unusual use of quotations to indicate asides placed in the left margin.

Rev.d S.r
We have awaited for the M.eſsurs Smith &
Chamberlain, four Days, and I dont think it is best for
me to wait any longer. then next Monday, I think
Providence calls me to go away from here ſoon.
The epidemical Small pox Diſtemper is here, & proves very
mortal among the Indians — The Squash Cutter
died with it about ten Days ago; another died
last evening & was buried this afternoon here.
This poor Man was left destitute by all his Friends
& Relations, had nobody to tend him, "I felt So con‐
cillegibleearned for him I like to gone there myself."
I illegibleam ſorry & greaved to ſee in the Indians ſo much Brutallyity, that
they caired no not more for each other than the Beaſts do
"(tho I believe if a Horſe knew there was ſomething of a Mat‐
ter with his Mate, he would come and leap over him)
but there appeared no ſuch Affection among them;"
however, ſome of them made out to go and aſsiſt in bury‐
ing him. — — —
The Shawanees & Dellawars came here the Day
before yesterday the in order to confirm the Covenant
Chain, which Captain Kill-Buck Chief of the Dellawares has been upon
ever ſince last Spring — to whom, I had the Honour
a Head Warrier
of the Delawares
who has done ſo much
miſchief & exercſed
ſo much Inhumanity
to the Engliſh

This man with the
Squash Cutter
were there as Hoſtages
from that Tribe

of Interpreting thoſe Letters & the Parchment in which the
Covenant was written; & to his greatest Satiſfaction.
This Man Kill-Buck would feaign have me go to
Allegany with him to his own Home, & to Spend my
Life amongſt them There — But I have Diſcourige‐
‐ments from thoſe that have been there."
As we was paſing thrō Sheffield, one a Man
call'd out to me, and ask'd me whether I was
not the ſame Man that lay ſick there laſt Fall."
and enqured asked into my Name — But I told him not
who I was & what I was, that I might have the better
Chance to know what he had to ſay about him — well, hereupon
he biegan to tell what he did after he got well with
the Pluriſie — That he taught young Men & Chilren
to Sing read and write & cypher; That he had his Learn‐
‐ing from Mr Wheelock, and went to the Jerſey College, and in his
Laſt Year went back again to Mr Wheelocks. and after‐
ward ran away from him & went into the Service. i.e of the War
Moreover, he told me what that young Man ſaid — The
Reaſon why he ran away, that he was affraid Mr Wheelock
would make him Preach; Therefore now he determins ne‐
ver to ſee you.— But I could get no Intelligence which
Way he went, whether he is alive or no. he told it to
me in ſuch a light I could not help but thinking it was
Couſin Jacob Wooley."
I have not heard about of your the Dutch Horſe I am affraid
he is loſt, and if itſo [illegible]it ſois [illegible]a great Loſs.
I have been out of Health ever ſince I arrived
here, a Sharp Pain in my Breaſt and ſo thrō on
the other Side, continues bad.
"I have heard of Fowler to Day that he is yet
alive and well, begins to beat his Schollers
very much, ſ makes their Hands to Swell very much
which the Indians dont like very well; They
ſay, he ought to have ſuppreſsed it longer, & not be‐
gin ſo ſoon — " I have no more Special to ſay, you
know I was never a good News Monger. —
Pray Pleſe S.r to accept my DHumble Duty, to you & Mrs
, and tell her I hope her unwearied Pains
for me wont be qute Loſt, but that I shall improve the
beſt of my Ability to my People — among my poor Brethren & alſo Duty to kind Ma‐
ster Lathrop
— I remain
your Dutiful,
 & very Humble Servt

Joseph Wooley

from Joſeph Woolley
July 1765
The Rev.d M.r Eleazer Wheelock
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).

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.

Smith, Titus

Titus Smith was a Yale graduate whom Wheelock trained and ordained as a missionary and sent to the Six Nations with the 1765 mission. Together with Theophilus Chamberlain, a Yale student with whom he was examined and ordained, Smith led the band of newly-examined schoolteachers and ushers into the Six Nations to set up day schools. After Ebenezer Moseley replaced him, Smith retired from the missionary life and became an itinerant preacher in Connecticut until 1768, when he converted to Sandemanianism and was re-ordained. Because of his religion (Sandemanians opposed violence), as well as his Tory politics, Smith found himself in danger when the Revolution broke out. His family fled to Long Island, and from there to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Smith lived out his remaining years.

Chamberlain, Theophilus

Theophilus Chamberlain was a Yale graduate and missionary employed by Wheelock. His interest in Indian ministry may have started during the French and Indian War, when he was taken captive by a tribe allied with the French (it is unclear which tribe) at Fort William Henry and spent a year in Nova Scotia. After his return to New England, Chamberlain attended Yale. Wheelock recruited Chamberlain, along with fellow Yale graduate Titus Smith, to spearhead Moor's 1765 mission to the Six Nations. Chamberlain was examined as a missionary on March 12, 1765, and ordained on April 24, 1765. During the mission, he was stationed at Canajoharie (the Mohawk "Upper Castle") and oversaw the mission to the Mohawks. While on his mission, he converted to Sandemanianism, a decision that profoundly shaped the rest of his life. It is difficult to evaluate his efficacy as a missionary: he had high praise for himself, and David Fowler said the Mohawks were affectionate towards him, but Occom described him as overzealous. Chamberlain served the duration of his contract, but clashed with Wheelock afterwards over who was responsible for debts he had incurred on his mission (e.g. transportation costs, support for schoolmasters and interpreters). After departing from Wheelock's service, Chamberlain was ordained as a Sandemanian bishop. He fled to New York and later Nova Scotia during the American Revolution because of his religious and political beliefs. In Nova Scotia, Chamberlain oversaw the establishment of the settlement of Preston.

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.

Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)

Mary Wheelock was born Mary Brinsmead on July 26, 1714 in Milford, Connecticut. In the year following the death of his first wife, Eleazar began to court Mary Brinsmead, and the two married on November 21, 1747. Mary and Eleazar had five children together, including John, who would succeed his father as President of Dartmouth College. Little appears in the historical record about Mary, but many of the people who wrote to Wheelock, especially his Native correspondents who often lived with the family, referred to her warmly. In September 1770, Mary dismantled her longtime home in Connecticut, and travelled with her children to the Wheelocks' new home in the wilderness of New Hampshire. They rode in a coach sent over from England by John Thornton, accompanied by 30 Charity School students on foot. Eleazar, who had gone ahead to build housing for everyone, wrote a letter to Mary with many instructions about the move; the disposition of domestic animals, people, supplies; and the acquisition of money that suggests she was an able and trustworthy manager (manuscript 770510.1; this manuscript is not included in Occom Circle documents). She died in 1784 in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery.

Lathrop, John

John Lathrop was mentored by Eleazar Wheelock and taught at Moor's Indian Charity School for several years after his graduation from Princeton. In 1765, he became minister of the Old North Church (Second Church) in Boston. He first wife was Mary Wheatley, who first taught the slave poet Phyllis Wheatley to read and write. John's cousins Daniel and Joshua Lathrop had business dealings with Wheelock and the Charity School.

HomeJoseph Woolley, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 6
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only