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Joseph Woolley, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 22

ms-number: 765422

abstract: Woolley writes that he has been taken very ill, and updates Wheelock on the whereabouts of other charity school students.

handwriting: Handwriting is small and loose, yet clear and formal. There are several uncrossed t’s that have been corrected by the transcriber. The trailer is in an unknown hand.

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

ink: Ink is heavily faded to a light grey-brown.

noteworthy: On one recto, when Woolley mentions "the 2 Abrams," he is referring to Abraham, and Abraham. On two verso, there are random calculations written over the address; these calculations have not been transcribed. There are upward slashes scattered seemingly randomly on the document.



Rev.d & Hond Sr.
You may well know by
the firſt Sight there is ſomething of the
Matter with me &c. —
The Lord Allmighty hath been pleaſ‐
‐ed by his Sovereign goodneſs to lay me in the
Bed of Sickneſs; whereby I have been wholly diſabl[illegible][guess: d]
to help myself— However at this Time I am able
to ſit up for [illegible] a fue Minutes; improving, the lit‐
‐tle Strength, yet remaining in writing to you.,
I arrived here the 9th of this Inſtant, & the
Miſsionaries about the 7th.
I tried to go to Onohoquage the next Day
but returned with good Peter the ſelf same Day
meeting him about 6 miles from the Town.
[left]July 11th. I was unfortunately taken very Ill, together
with a very high Fever, but the Fever is now [illegible]
gone, & left me Weekneſs. Bleſsed be God I am
revivid from the Raking Pain.
I affrighted poor Mr Smith, he thout I had
the Small Pox, becauſe I had told him I had
[left]been where People had been ſick & died with it, and
that was the Reaſon we could not ſee him at
Johnſon-Hall.

At turns, O Mr Wheelock I felt ſome Sweetneſs!
and the Love of Jeſus Chriſt which ſeem‐
ed to take the Anguiſh of my Pain.
My Heart would ſeem to run out after him
& O how ſeewt it felt at ſuch Times!
Mr Smith & Gunn & Moſes are gone to
[illegible][guess: This] Lake where the Indians are, Mr Chamberlain
& Hezekiah — & John to Onoyeda, the 2
Abrams & Peter at Kanajuharee Keeping
School, but poor me left alone here.
We don't expect to go to Onohoquage
'till about 4 Weeks.
I am here lying at expence I shall
come very Short of Money. if I don't feel
better nor worſe I shall endeavour to come
Home very ſoon. I have no more to ſay.
I have now loſt my Senſes Duty

from your very unwarthy
Servant

Joseph Woolly.
[left] Joſeph Woolley's Letter
from Chery Valley July 22d
1765. which he brought with him
Blank page.
To The
Rev.d M.r Eleazer Wheelock
Connecticut
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).

Abraham

Abraham major (aka Abraham primus), a Mohawk Indian, served as an usher or junior teacher along with Abraham Secundus and Peter. All three kept separate schools. Abraham major's school, a short ride from Abraham minor’s, was outside of Canajoharie; it began Friday, July 12, 1765. As of July 17, 1765, he had 15 or 16 students, primarily male. These schools seem to have operated from July 1765 (they were still traveling in June, and Theophilus Chamberlain described their schools in late July) until December 1765, when Chamberlain reported that the Abrahams had departed, and that Abraham major was in Schoharry. Both Abrahams' schools were taken over in 1766. Abraham major must not be confused with Greater Abraham, a high-ranking Mohawk, the brother of King Peter Hendrick and uncle of Chief Abraham (not to be confused with Little Abraham, the Moor's student), who lived in Canajoharie at the same time.

Abraham

Abraham, known as Little Abraham, was an usher or junior teacher along with Abraham major and Peter. All of them kept separate schools. Abraham major's school began Friday, July 12, 1765, and presumably Little Abraham’s began at or around the same time. Little Abraham’s school was a two mile ride from Canajoharie, and as of July 17 1765, he had 11 or 12 students of both genders. These schools seem to have operated from July 1765 (they were still traveling in June and Chamberlain describes their schools in late July) until December 1765, when Chamberlain reports that the Abrahams have departed. Both Abrahams' schools were taken over in 1766. Little Abraham then taught a school at Willheske, 8 or 10 miles below Fort Stanwix, for an indeterminite time. He is not to be confused with another Little Abraham, the Canajoharie Mohawk who was Sachem from 1755 until his death in 1780.

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.

Agwirondongwas, Gwedelhes

Gwedelhes Agwirondongwas, also known as Good Peter, was an Oneida Christian leader who played a prominent role at Onaquaga (a composite Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois, town in Oneida territory) throughout the second half of the eighteenth century. He received missionaries from Eleazar Wheelock and worked with Samuel Kirkland, a Moor’s alumnus who conducted a mission to the Oneidas from 1766 until his death in 1808. Elihu Spencer, a Yale-educated Anglo-American missionary, converted Good Peter to Christianity in 1748 and taught him to read and write Mohawk (a language very similar to Oneida). By 1757, Peter was preaching and leading services among the Oneidas. Along with Isaac Dakayenensere, another Oneida Christian leader, Good Peter sought missionaries (and, more especially, husbandry aid) from Eleazar Wheelock. He carried messages for General Schuyler during the Revolution, and was imprisoned by the British. After the Revolution, he worked vigorously to oppose illegal Oneida land sales and general exploitation by the state of New York. Good Peter worked closely with Samuel Kirkland throughout his mission and served as one of his deacons, even though he was cognizant of and opposed Kirkland’s role in promoting illegal land sales.

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.

Gunn, Elisha

Elisha Gunn was a gunsmith who resided in Onaquaga for a number of years and served as an interpreter for several different missionary societies. Although he was a well-known interpreter in missionary circles, there is little information about him. He is identified as a resident of Montague, MA, where his three children were born, but he and his family seem to have spent much of the 1760s living in Onaquaga. It is unclear where Gunn learned Haunenosaunee (Iroquois) languages, but his services were certainly in high demand: he was the interpreter over whom the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK and the Boston Board of the New England Company clashed in 1765. One of Wheelock's main goals was to train missionaries who could serve as their own interpreters, because he believed that existing interpreters were too scarce, too expensive, and too untrained in theology. What little we know of Gunn certainly supports Wheelock's arguments. He seems to have been one of the few available interpreters (if not the only one), his services cost the New England Company £50 sterling a year (more than three times Occom's salary at the same time), and his surviving letters show a reliance on extremely phonetic spelling and suggest a lack of formal education. NB: One genealogical website puts Gunn's birth year at 1723, a decade earlier. It would be easy for a researcher to mix 1723 and 1733, especially if the record is poorly written, and neither year is unreasonable.

Moses

Moses was a Mohawk Indian and Wheelock student who was part of the mission to the Canajoharie, Onaquaga, and Cherry Valley areas from 1765-1766. He taught the displaced Oneidas under Good Peter and Isaac Dakayenensere at Lake Otsego (next to Cherry Valley), along with Smith and Gunn. He taught reading and writing to between eight and 12 students. Although Joseph Woolley was initially supposed to teach this school, he fell ill and Moses replaced him. Moses also subbed for Woolley when Woolley visited the Tuscaroras. Like the other schoolteachers, Moses left over the winter of 1765 and returned to Wheelock, but he was back at Canajoharie by the next fall to teach with Samuel Johnson and Jacob Fowler. Theophilus Chamberlain speculated they could set up a third school for Moses, but this did not come to pass because by December 1st, less than a month after Chamberlain’s letter, Moses had traveled to Wheelock and back to Fort Hunter delivering letters. The Indians at Fort Hunter would not take him as a teacher because they preferred Johnson and distrusted unknown teachers after their experience with Hezekiah Calvin (according to Johnson). Moses appears to have continued working in the area, because in 1768 he refused Aaron Kinne’s request that he act as interpreter.

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.

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.

Johannes

Johannes was a Mohawk who studied at Moor’s Indian Charity School from 1761 until 1765. He was approached as an usher (junior schoolteacher) on March 12, 1765, in the Moor’s graduation orchestrated by Wheelock in preparation for a mass mission to the Mohawk and Oneida. Johannes kept school at Old Oneida during the summer of 1765, but did not continue his post. A variety of Anglo-American Moor’s-affiliated missionaries, including Aaron Kinne and David Avery, sought his services as an interpreter, but there is no indication that Johannes accepted any of their invitations. It is more likely that, like other Haudenosaunees (Iroquois) who studied at Moor’s, Johannes rapidly reintegrated into Haudenosaunee society. Shortly after returning to Haudenosaunee territory, Johannes was too preoccupied with managing his family’s horses to serve as an interpreter (manuscript 765673), and a few years later, he was unable to respond to Aaron Kinne’s request because he was out hunting (manuscript 768363.1). Thus, in Johannes’ disappearance from Anglo-American records, we can read a polite rejection of the assimilation project that was Moor’s Indian Charity School’s raison d’etre.

Peter

Peter was an usher (although described as “keeping school” by Woolley) at Canajoharie, along with Moses, Johannes, and the Abrahams. All of them kept separate schools. Great Abraham’s school began Friday, July 12, 1765, and presumably Peter’s started around the same time. He was sick in October 1765, and could not teach school. Since Wheelock mentions him in a 1767 letter, he must have survived. Peter is not to be confused with Good Peter, an Oneida at Onaqauga who visited Moor’s, but was not educated there. Information about Peter generally appears in lists of the men he graduated with and taught with.

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