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Samuel Kirkland, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 March 6

ms-number: 766206

abstract: Kirkland writes a lengthy letter describing his work among the Senecas, and touching upon, among other things, his concerns regarding Chamberlain and his mission.

handwriting: Informal handwriting is small and frequently difficult to decipher. Kirkland frequently does not pick up his pen between words. Letter case is frequently difficult to discern, and there are several uncrossed t’s and crossed l’s. Due to the length and difficulty of the letter, instances of questionable letters, letter case, and deletions were transcribed as the writer likely intended.

paper: Two large sheets each folded in half to make four pages are in fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear. There is repair work along particularly heavy creases.

ink: Brown ink is faded in spots, and dimmed by the condition of the paper.

noteworthy: On two recto, the identity of the Gentlemen Correspondents is uncertain, and so they have been left untagged. On four recto, the identity of the Onaquaga Sachem is uncertain and so he has been left untagged. This document appears to be a serial letter written over the course of more than one sitting; and there appears to be some text/paper missing between two verso and three recto. If Kirkland's intention regarding a word or abbreviation is uncertain, that word or abbreviation has been left unmodified in the modernized transcription.

signature: The letter is signed twice, both times abbreviated.



Rev.d & Hond Sir.
I've receivd no Letter from you since last July
nor any particular acct of your Welfare & ye State of your School;— wch in eccesence
is my main support in this gloomy wilderneſs.— I've been feeding myself for sometime
wh a fond hope yt Mr Chamberlain has letters for me, only waits a safe opportunity
of Conveyance.— tis now so long since his return, I quite despair,— have had no word at all
from him— accidentally heard of his safe Arrival here.— I'm afraid my dear Fellow‐
Labourers. MRevd Meſsrs Smith & Chamberlain. will cast me quite out all Society,—
because I'm settled among so bad a people, I being but little better my self.
I can aſsure them, I'm doing my utmost to reform 'em both.—
Revd S.r I woud now give you a short Acct of my Situation.— My Prospects
of succeſs were so dark & discouraging, last fall & begining of winter,— yt I was ready
sometimes to think I must give up ye point,— yt there was no such Thing as getting interest
among this people at present. tho' very neceſsary & important for ye progreſs of
your Design, by Their superiour Number & great Influence over Other Nations.—
I cou'd not feel willing to give up ye Cause whout farther trial. I tho't it my duty to still
use my utmost (tho very feeble) Endeavours, & spare no pains, till I should acquire yr language.
But thro' a kind Providence Things now appear wh another aspect,— somewhat
encouraging.— I have lately spoke to the Chiefs & head Warriours
of this, & several other small adjacent Castles.— The substance of wch, & their
Answer shall only mention to save [illegible] you needleſs trouble.—
I a'cquainted them more fully wt my Design, Disposition, &c— requiring of 'em wt
was their real inclination wh regard to my settling among them.— whether they
were desirous, woud recive & embracing Christianity.— offer'd them several Argu‐
ments to enforce ye Matter, ſhew its Consequence, & desir'd'em to give it due conside‐
ration.— In Their Answer, said. They had considerd the whole.
of my Speech,— were intirely satisfied wh my Design, & was certainly well disposd,—
had their real good at heart.— yt they believ'd ye Ministers in N– England were very
good men, tho't of nothing but God & heavenly Things.— woud have me proceed in
learning ye Language,— yt they wou'd recve me & embrace ye Word of God.— When I shoud
[illegible] think myself sufficiently acquainted wh yr Tongue to speak in public, they woud
be ready to hear me.— They desir'd me to cleave fast to this Town (call'd Kaunan‐
dausagea
) & keep as good Orders as poſsible, by private advice & admonitions, 'till
I shou'd be able to ſpeak in public. — This was deliverd to me in presence of
eight persons (Chief & head‐warriours) who said ye greatest part were thus minded,—
& yt they woud use their Influence yt every one shoud give me good treatment &
listen to wt I might say.—
I desir to be Thankful to the Father of Mercies for any
hopeful prospects of succeſs.— The agreeable Alteration in yr Behaviour
towards me adds much to ye peace & comfort of my life.—
I'm yet encouraged to hope yt thro' ye Graicious Bleſsing of God, I may be of
Some
some service to this people.— Their present Situation & condition appears to me most
miserable & deplorable, I can scarcely find one who is in ye least degree sensible of it,—
or thinks wh any Concern wt will become of their Children after them.—
There are numbers of their most sensible Men, who now often visit me, & enquire wt I
think concerning them.— here & there one I hope begins a little to see ye Case & are Affected wh it
always expreſs a desire of my being able to speak in public.— Tho' They in general
are strongly enclind to think ye God has two distinct ways of Goverment for white
people & Indians,— yt there are two Roads, wch lead to Heaven.— imagine it wont be accept
table or well pleasing to God yt these shoud interfer wh each other.— They bring the
English & Canadian Mohawks for an expample,— whom they look apon as ye worst &
most miserable of all Indians, (tho' they are mistaken as to ye former) wch is wholley owing
to their learning to pray as they call it.—
I have found out all yr Traditions,— dont apprehend they will be any great obstruction to
their receivg ye Goſpel.— The greatist & almost insurmountable difficulty is their
being givin ſo much to strong drink. Their being a people whout any proper form or
kind of goverment make Things appear something dark.— They [illegible] exercise no kind of Au‐
thority, nor have any kind of punishment for ye highest Crime wtever.— Every Town
is like a little Republic,— & again, every Family in some sence, & still farther, every individual.
Houever Notwithstanding these Discouragements, the Gospel of Jesus X
shoud be offerd them.— The work is Gods— poor feeble Man can only be found in
ye Uſe[illegible] of Appointed Means,— must leave ye Bleſsing wh him, who has ye Sole wright
& prerogative to give it,— who orders all Things, according to his own divine Counsel.
— May the ever bleſsed God grant his holy Spirit to accompany ye means
& endeavours his People are now using for this purpose,— whout wch all will be in vain.—
Revd S.r I hope soon to get so much influence as to procure several of
their Youths for your School.— wch when once accomplish'd, opens ye way for farther
improvement & instruction here among them.— I have ye promise of one wch I trust
wont fail & partly of two more.— There are Numbers who are yet jealous of ye English &
have reacd such deep rooted predjudcies against them, y.t affairs of this kind must be
managed wh some tenderneſs & moderation for ye present.—
I'm extreamly sorry my great distance prevents frequent Communication, that
I'm obligd to act whout your Knowledge & advice. It gives me great purplexity &
exercise of mind.— Oh: that I might have divine wisdom & prudence to conduct
suitably in so great an affair,. He kept in ye fear of ye Lord.—
I'm daily gaining Ground, tho' but slowly,— Im inclin'd to think my poverty
slavery, & drudgery I've been oblig'd to undergo, has been no disadvantage to ye Cause.
Neither am I sensible of any Injury to my Constitution by ye hunggry Spell & [illegible]
peculiar hardships I underwent last Summer.— Bleſsed be God I have been hitherto enabled
to [illegible] endure ye hardſhips of an Indian Life.—
Revd Sir. I dont apprehend it will be best for ye Interest of ye Cause yt I return
this spring.— I'm just now as it were begining to get in to yr favour & good esteem,— am
able to liſt a few Things of Gods holy word,— in a fair way for soon acquiring a tole‐
rable knowledge of their Languge, wch I find very difficult.— Several of their Caſtles
begin to have a favourable opinion of my deſign.— But ye Chief Town (calld Ch[illegible])
is not so well disposd to it.— I want to convince ym if poſsible of ye ſincerity & goodneſs
of ye Design, before my return. I purpose God willing to Visit them next summer.
You will please to write me your advice,— wh wch I shall comply.—
I have labour'd under somany Discouragements & some peculiar Trials (wch I dont think
proper to mention here) yt I have not made yt proficiency in ye Language wch I might
otherwise have done.— I've been apt often to think it woud add much to my com‐
fort & happineſs, if I was able to support my self in this affair, or coud [illegible] poſsibly live
w.hout any charge or expence.— My obligations are so many both from without &
whin,— my unequalneſs & unfitneſs for ye Busineſs, make things very dark
on my side.— The Thoughts of turning out nothing else but an unprofitable
servant & ungrateful wretch, are very hard disagreeable Thoughts.— But I hope
I begin to beleive yt Godlineſs wh Contentment is great gain.— I'm shure tis most
fit & wright yt I shoud intirely acquiesce in ye Dispensation of Gods righteous Pro‐
vidence.— He shurly knows wt is best for me.— my proud corrupt heart some‐
times, tho' very seldom, lets me rejoice in his alwis goverment.— would to
God I might be always be resign'd to his holy & perfect Will.—
I have not enlarged Things, lest your Expectations shoud be to high.
you will doubtleſs acquaint ye Revd, & hon.ble Gentlemen Correſpon.d[illegible][guess: es]
wh my Situation. & please to present them my most dutiful Rgards.— Tho'
I'm not immediately under their Care, I trust I'm not whout their Remembrances
Their pious Zeal & unfeigned Sincerity in this great Affair, shou'd shurely
be taken as an argument of encouragement & Comfort to the poor Miſs.[illegible]
twa's said of Old ye Prayers of the Rightous avail.— may they live to see
ye fruits of their Labour & answer of their prayers [illegible] their abundant Satisfaction.—
Revd Sir, I return most sincere Thanks for your kind Endeavours
to procure me ye Honours of College. which I suppose coud not be obtain'd.
My humble Duty to Madam— proper Salutation to your family. & my
most humble Regards to Revd Mr Pomrey &c.— I conclude, begging
a near Remembrance it in your Addreſses of ye Throne of Grace.—
wiſhing you ye [illegible][guess: light]higheſt of Heavens Bleſsings,— & yt your unwearied Labours
may be crowned wh honour & succeſs, is the humble prayer, of,
Revd Sir,
Your most obedt [illegible][guess: & ever obligd hum.l Sert]

Samel Kirtland

The Revd Mr Wheelock
P.S. I wrote ye above in such hast, have
omitted several Things,— as ye Opportunity delays
will now mention'em.— I purpose to visit Revd Mr Chamberlain
sometime in ye Spring, & inform him of my Situation,
advising wt him respecting my Return &c— Shall—
[right]doutbleſs_
[right]Verte
doubtleſs go as far as Capt Butlers— I beleive I must run you in deb[gap: tear][guess: t]
for a few neceſsaries. I have scarcely linen to cover my back, & to make i[gap: tear][guess: t]
last as long as poſsible, I have not slept in a shirt for Nine Months past.
As to Provisions, I hope wh ye Bleſsing of health, shall be able to endure ye
ensuing Summer. I have afew Bisquet & a little flower yet left,
I have actually learnt to be content wh leſs Victuals, Than ever I was
wont to before.— we very often here postpone Breakfast & Dinner 'till four 'o [right]Clock
in ye After Noon. & sometimes until ye next Day.— This new faſhion was
very disagreeable to me for a long time. nor am I yet perfectly reconciled
to it.— Thro' a kind Providence I enjoy a very comfortable state
of health. I have during ye Winter, excepting a bad cold, catched last fall
by going w.hout shoes—
I have wrote a few Letters in these several Days past,— You will
please to forward them.— If I shant have time, I humbly beg ye
Favour of your writing my kind Friends in Boston, former Benefactors
I hope I have not given em occasion of offence by not writing for so long
a time.— I have scarcely wrote my own Father,— & all my letters to you
were wrote in such hast, & wh so much inconsideration, imprudence, & ten‐
Thousand Blunders, yt I trust you can easily excuse me.—
I'm conscious to my self yt I feel some small Emotions of Gratitude towards them
as well as towards my Revd Pattron.— 'Tis my Sincere & constant Prayer that
I may be enabled so to conduct & behave myself as yt each shalyl have occasion
to rejoice, in having open'd their Hearts & hands for my releif.—
The Honbl S.r W.m Johnson is a very Kind Patron to me in these distant
Parts,— The hopeful prospects of succeſs here I must subscribe chiefly to [gap: worn_edge] [guess: underſed].
All His Honrs Letters to me are wrote wrote in ye most freindly manner imagenable, &
wh uncommon Condesention,— giving ye strongest Evidence of His Approbation, & good will towards
my design. which adds much to my comfort & encouragement in ye Gloomy Wilderneſs.
I know not how to requite such unmerited Kindneſs.— I hope I may have suitable acknow‐
ledgements of Gratitude, & above all be thankful to the Father of Mercies for His
special Friendſhip to ye Design.—
I shoud be glad to hear if Mr J.h Smith of Boston be returnd from
England.— wt he may bring in favour of your Design.— No more at present
Tuus ut anteK
[left]Rec.d April. 29. 1766.
if otherwise, I beleive I shall visit you notwithstanding ye many difficulties wch
attend ye journey. you may expect me by ye 14 or 16 of May extraordinaries excepted.
His Honour Sr William, thinks it best & necaſsary yt I return, unleſs by way of writing
I can give you sufficient Knowledge & accquaintance wh ye present state & Disposition
of ye Indians wh regard to receng ye Gospel. tho' yt woud be difficult, & not so well as if I were present.
Time woud fail me, shoud I attempt a plain & full acct of Affairs, & nothing else will
answer in a Case of such importance.— if Things are represented in a superficial in‐
explicit manner, 'twill be of no service to you.—
In case of Sickneſs, or any thing yt may fall out wch shall prevent my return,
at ye time mention'd, you will proceed to execute ye plan you have laid out, but not in
its full extent.— As to Schoolmasters among ye Senecas & Onondages
wt I've wrote in ye fore part of this Letter must answer for ye present, having not
time to enlarge— I find it exactly agreeable to His Honrs Opinion [illegible] [illegible]
of ye Matter.— therefore need say no more.— perhaps it may be thought well for
a young Miſsry to go there in order to learn their Language, open ye way & lay some
foundation for future improvement. of wch I can likely give you sufficient informa‐
tion when I return.— 'Twill be neceſsary yt you sapply ye Mohawks, Onidas
& Ohquages wh Miſsirys & Schoolmasters as before Mentioned. & shoud be constan‐
tly if you really expect & hope [gap: blotted_out][guess: to] see any fruits of your unwearied Labour
& pains.— if these small beginings at these several places are fnot perfec‐
ted, I imageine there is little hope of succeſs,— but if suitably improved, I can't but
think & do really beleive a Bleſsing may be hoped for whout presumption.—
I hope you may be able to find Such Miſsrys who shall be willing to tarry
wh ye Indians long enough for a proper trial, notwithſtanding ye Many discourag‐
ments, hardſhip, & enconveniencies of Life yt [illegible] must at present accompany ye Busineſs.
If I have any right View of ye Case, I think ye very Life & progreſs of ye
Design depends upon ye Miſsrs— Tho gettings Indian Boys to your School
is encouraging & opens a door for future improvment.—
The often changing of Miſsrs will do more hurt than good. & their
tarrying but a little while among them (or just looking upon them as they call it)
does not forward ye [illegible]Design, but discourages ye Indians & gives occasion of
umbrage to such as are not well dispos'd.— which unfortunately happin‐
ing wh ye Mohawks & Onida's has given ye Onondages, Cayugwa's & Seneca's
a mean opinion of ye Desiggn, & a some suspicion of iNs Sincerity.— Neither
do I apprehend Things are now so forward wh ye [gap: blotted_out][guess: for] former, as they were
last spring of or fall, excepting Davids fall School, wch thro' a kind providence
has been preserved thro' many discouragments, & now appears very hopefull,
& promises great succeſs, if other proper Means are [illegible] seasonably applied for its
support & future improvments. Viz, A Miſsry constantly residing there, for in‐
structing ye old people & encouraging ye Young. No one can reasonably expect
any great Succeſs from such a School, under such [illegible] Circumstances, whout a
Miſsry to accompany ye Schoolmaster.— I dont Mention this as if I
thought Mr Chamberlain worthy of blame, far from it,— for I suppose
he acted from principles of conscience & sound Judgment in leaving Onida.
the Neceſsity of his continuing there [illegible][guess: ought] not appear so great as it really
was
fwas, for want of farther Knolegdge of their Situation & [illegible] diſposition.—
his long delay in coming to them & sudden leaving them, has given some disgust
& greatly discouraged em.— from my small acquaintance & view of Affairs,
their Situation, was such last fall, & ye Neceſsity so great for ye general
interest of ye Cause, as required ye utmost endeavours to improve & embrace
so favourable an Opportunity.— a proper or improper Support in such
a case I suppose if is quite out of [illegible][guess: ye] question,— if it be true wt old experienced
Divines say, yt in a like case if a person shoud give a year or two' service
to ye Lord, without any immediate pay, he will be no looser, find a good pay master
& large interest,— at least a hundred persent.— I wish I might be able to take
this for my present portion, twoud doubtleſs give me much ease, & prevent many
bitter complaints.— I'm very sorry Mr Chamberlain has concluded
it not worth his while to learn an Indian Langugage. I much fear he will
give up his Commiſsion.— his faith, or rathr Expectans were so very high
last Summer when I first saw him, as made me fear they shoud soon come as low.
he told me, he tho't hardly worth his while to learn any Language of ye confederate
Nations
, but proceed to those more remote, for he sometimes thought he shoud live
to see ye west fear he really beleived God was going to bring all ye Indians to ye
Knowledg of ye Gospel, & yt in a Natural way, by ye use of appointed Means.
he alſo came fortified against all discouragments, he expected nothing but ye
most vile iungrateful, inhuman & unkind treatment from ye Savages, he knew
Indians & wt he must receve from em.— he never so much as asked me wt I tho't
or Indians or Indians or indian Affairs in one single particular. & I had so
much damnable cursed pride if heart, yt I did not open my self so freely to him as
I ought to have done, (The Lord forgive me for my iniquity). tho' I gave him ye Charac‐
ters of several persons at onida, whose influence was great,— yr favour & esteem
might be well to procure. for wch he Thank'd me kindly.— not yt I blame him So
much as my self. for a proud haughty Miſsry is little Better than ye Devil.—
Oh, ytI may obtain Mercy of God thro' Jesus Christ, for my insincerity & pride of
heart. perhaps it may be well yt you use some care in seeking Miſsrs for so important
a Busineſs.(or poſsibly they may cause you sorrow & trouble as I have done.)
for I sincerely beleive you nothing but ye interest of ye Redeemers Kingdom at heart.
If a persons Eye be single (ye Scriptures say) his whole Body shall be full of light
If they are true, one may know whether ye Glory of God, [illegible] self his upermost.
But wt Im [illegible][guess: Isaying]! Revd S.r forgive me this rong. surely such things are
quite improper, unbecoming a youth.— discouver too much Arrogancy & Aſsurance.
would to God I might know my self. & act accordingly. I want your Instruction &
Discipline. bear wh my folly, I mean will.— I really fel your indian Cause [illegible][guess: ly]
[illegible][guess: near] my heart. I'm greeved to think how matters have gon on here, when your
daily Labour & travel of soul is so great for its succeſs. but this again discou‐
vers dambnable pride of heart, wt can I say! May ye Lord be mercefully to me:
but surely I have no Reasion to boost, [illegible] [illegible][guess: rathr] to lie in ye [illegible]dust of humiliation.
for you know as well as my self, yt I'm under infinite obligation, both from
within & without, to give my life & service to promote this Indian Cause, while it
shall appear agreeable to his will. but alas, how far short have I fell.
yt I dont deserve even so much praise as is due to a Man for attempting to
do his duty.— oh, yt I may be kept in ye fear & love of God. from Pride & in‐
gratitude on ye one hand, & Despair on ye [illegible][guess: latter] other.—
[gap: blotted_out][guess: dont] I pray you wont expose this page to my hurt.
The Bearer is now waiting to go, quite unexpected to me.—
must omit many things.— please God to spare my Life & health you
may expect me about ye time mentioned before.—
I can only say this[illegible], yt several Thing have happened lately which may
delay ye progreſs of your Design. Yesterday heard at S.r Williams
ye Ohquage Sachem, deliver an acct & complaint of an Indian Man
being killd near Minisinks or in ye County. belonging to Onida.
ye Indian was butcherd in ye most cruel ihnhuman Manner.—
Also five of ye Senecas [illegible] killed in some parts of pensilvania,
wch came in a Letter from Gover.r Pen to His Honr S.r Williams.
tis said one of ye Onondages have also shared ye Same fate.—
S.r Willm is much afraid wt ye Consequences will be.—
four of ye Seneca's, I suppose belong'd to ye Castle where I reside.
who went last summer to war [illegible]against ye Cherokeess. & have
been gone two Months longer than ye time they set.—
I have been these three Days past wh His Hon.r Sr Williams
for advice In my affairs &c. &c.— had many things of Consequence
to inform you, since ye last page was wrote.— The Bearer
is impatient to go must leave all, till I see you God Willing
earnestly beg a near Remembrance in you Prayer
Revd S.r in hast
Your ever obed & tho unworthy Servt
S Kirtland
PS. as I have wrote in great hast
I have no Coppy nor time for any Correction.
if any Thing shall appear dark unintelligible
thro' too Great Brevity, I beg your Candour till
I return, when I will endeavour to clear such thing
as shall be superficial & inexplicit..
Capt Butler & Lady give Compliment.— I set off immediately for ye Senecas.
shall return as quick as poſsible [illegible] [illegible][guess: in] suitabl prudence & Moderation in such
fatiguing Journeys.
tuus ut ante,
SK.
The Revd Mr Wheelock.
Rec.d April 29. 1766.
From
M.r Sam.el Kirtland
March 6. 1766
Kirkland, Samuel

Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.

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, John

John Smith was an affluent Boston merchant who supported Wheelock’s school throughout the 1760s. It is likely that Smith and Wheelock were introduced by George Whitefield or someone similarly involved in evangelical and missionary efforts in the British Atlantic world: John Smith made somewhat regular trips to London for business, and had been in contact with Whitefield since the 1740s. Like the other Boston merchants who supported Moor’s Indian Charity School (including Moses Peck, William Hyslop, and Nathaniel Eells), Smith traded with Wheelock and kept him up to date on political developments in Boston, especially as they concerned attitudes towards Moor’s Indian Charity School. However, Smith was better educated (and likely more affluent) than the other merchants that Wheelock worked with, and, correspondingly, played a more important role than his brethren in Wheelock’s efforts. Smith publicized the school independently (his letter to an unnamed friend, catalogued as 764318.2, is one of the most cited letters on the organization of Moor’s) and assisted Wheelock in publishing the Narratives. John Smith’s greatest contribution to Wheelock’s design was his support during Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker’s fundraising tour of Great Britain (1765-1768). Smith set out for Britain in July 1765 to improve his health, and while there, acted as a vanguard for Occom and Whitaker. He managed their correspondence, suggested destinations, and served on an ad hoc advisory council that included George Whitefield, Samuel Savage, Robert Keen, and several other influential men. The pace of the journey caught up with John Smith, however, and he died in 1768 while in Britain.

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.

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.

Butler, John

Captain John Butler was a prominent military officer and loyalist. He was born in New London, CT in 1728, and he received his education there. John’s father, Captain Walter Butler, had served well under Sir William Johnson, prompting Johnson to endorse the family. When Sir William became Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1755, he appointed John Butler and his brother, Walter Butler, Jr., as captains in the Indian Department; the two fought in the battle of Lake George on September 8 of that year. John Butler commanded Indian forces throughout the French and Indian War, and he often acted as an interpreter. He became Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs and a Lieutenant Colonel of the militia. While he lived in NY, he hosted various figures on their journeys to the Oneida Nation. When Sir William died in 1774, General Guy Carleton, the military governor of Quebec, appointed John Butler as the interim Superintendent of Indian Affairs; Sir William’s nephew, Guy Johnson, replaced him in July of 1776. In the summer of 1775, Colonel Guy Johnson, John Butler and his son, Walter, escaped to Canada, but the Revolutionaries seized Butler’s property and carried his wife and children to Albany, where they remained under surveillance. Captain Butler continued to be involved with Indian forces during the Revolutionary War. He commanded Butler’s Rangers, a loyalist special forces team that fought alongside Indians, and he is known for leading the Rangers in the Wyoming Massacre of 1778 in Wyoming Valley, PA. In 1779 the Americans released his family during an exchange of prisoners. They reunited in Niagara, where Butler maintained his headquarters during the war and remained thereafter. Butler secured compensation from London for the property losses he suffered due to the Revolution, and he lived the remainder of his life as a notable citizen in Niagara, serving as judge of the district court and Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He died near Niagara in May of 1796.

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.

Kirtland, Daniel
Johnson, William

Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.

Penn, John
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.

Butler, Catherine (née Bratt)
HomeSamuel Kirkland, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 March 6
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