abstract: Huntington details his visit to Mr. Kirtland’s school, recounting the success of the mission to the Oneidas, and the barriers to further missions.
handwriting: The document is written in Wheelock’s hand. It is small, informal and occasionally difficult to decipher. The signature appears to be in a different hand, possibly Huntington's. The postscript is also in an unknown hand.
paper: Large single sheet is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.
ink: Brown ink appears to be somewhat watery and faded.
noteworthy: It is uncertain to which place Huntington refers when he mentions, on one recto, the lower Oneida Castle, and so it has been left untagged.
May 31. 1769.
while he Should make a Viſit to New England, or (in caſe
his Affairs Should not favour his making his Viſit at this
Time) to go on a Miſsion to remoter Tribes if a Door Should
be opened for it, (after joyning with the Doctor in Solomn Supplica‐
tion to the Throne of Divine Grace, for Protection, and Succeſs in the
important Undertaking,) we arived Safe to the Rev.d M.r Kirtlands at
Kanawarohare on the 8th of June. and was not more rejoyced to See
him than to See and hear the wonders which God had wrought among
the poor Indians. Numbers of them came in to pay their Reſpects to us
and to hear from their Father (the great Miniſter) and Seemd really
to rejoyce and bleſs God for our Safe arrival. they appeared very
fond of Religious Converſation — I was agreably Surprized at the
unaffected Simplicity & love which Appeard in their Deportment
towards, & Converſation with M.r Kirtland, who readily interpreted
what they Said. Their Knowledge in the things of Religion is Surprizing,
their lively Diſcourſe, pertinent Obſervations, and Breathings of
piety were Such as Might provoak to Emmulation very eminent Chriſtians
Lords Day June 11.
worſhip, the word Seemd to be accompanied with Power; the
Indians were very attentive, numbers in Tears. I think it was
the moſt Solomn Aſsembly I ever Saw. My Expectations were
much raiſed by what I had heard of the Work of God's Grace
among them, but what I found among them much exceeded
Communion and a hopeful Proſpect of the Addition of many
more. May it be increaſed with the Increaſe of God.
and uneaſieneſs towards the Engliſh had prevaled among [illegible]
all the Indian Nations, Occaſioned probably by the Artifice &
Inſinuations of the French near the Meſsacippi, or by the
Incroachments of french Settlers near Detroit — a war
Belt was Sent through the Nations which increaſed the
ferment among them — Some of the Senecas this moſt
powerful of the Six Nations, breathed out threatnings againſt
the holy & praying people as they term the Onoidas, to break
off their alliance with them, and even to cut them off if they would
not renounce the Goſpel, In conſequence of, & intimidated by these
Threats the peope of the lower Onoida Caſtle at Some miles Diſ‐
‐tance from M.r Kirtlands laid a Plot to Seize him, & Send him to
the Senecas, as a Merit to Appeaſe, & conciliate the Friendſhips of
that powerfull Nation, but the plot was Seaſonably diſcovered
and hapiely diſconcerted. The Indians now diſown and try to [illegible][guess: ſmuther]
the fact and pretend greater Friendſhip for M.r Kirtland than ever
Situation long enough to accompliſh his viſit to New England.
⇑and I did as I was directed, Submitt the Expediency of my Miſsion to
a remoter Tribe to M.r Kirtlands Determination, He conſulted his people
on the Head, they were of Opinion that as the Temper of the Nations then
were it was not prudent, and that my Life would not be Safe. and
accordingly after delivering the Doctors Meſsage to them, and receiv‐
ing their Anſwer, I took my leave of them. ⇑21 June and left M.r Friſbie in
the School & John Matthews aſiſting M.r Kirtland as a Labourer, and
both ingaged in learning the Indian Tongue.
tachiſt & to keep Mr Kirtlands School & to learn that Lang⇑uage
⇑and Jn.o Matthews a mnaraganset Indian to keep a School among
ye Tuſkaroras or Onondagas as Mr Kirtland should
direct, and Alias a Mohawk deſigned for his Inter
Journal June 1769
Thomas Huntington was Eleazar Wheelock’s maternal cousin. He graduated from Yale in 1768, and, in the spring of 1769, he went on a brief mission with Levi Frisbie and John Mathews to relieve Samuel Kirkland among the Oneidas at Kanawalohale. However, the situation at the time was so volatile that Kirkland could not leave, and Huntington went home after a month. After deciding that a missionary career was not for him, Huntington built a sizable fortune in Ashford, CT, through medicine and trade. He eventually settled in Canaan, CT, where he lived to the age of 91 while practicing medicine and business. Franklin Dexter, the biographer of Yale’s graduates, characterizes him as “somewhat eccentric.”
Levi Frisbie was a very intelligent and unreligious charity scholar. He came to Wheelock with substantial schooling already, and after a few months at Moor's, Wheelock sent him on to Yale. There, Frisbie excelled academically. However, he never wanted to be a missionary. He arrived at Moor's sometime during April of 1767, and by May 5, he was already writing Wheelock asking to be released from missionary obligations. While at Yale, this trend continued: Levi went so far as to confess to Wheelock that he was not even a church member. Although he was not passionate about Scripture, he was quite the classicist. Under the name Philo Musae, he would write Wheelock long chains of heroic couplets styled on epic about the Indian mission. In 1769, Levi went on his first mission (a short stint to the Oneidas). Shortly thereafter, Wheelock pulled Levi out of Yale to help make up Dartmouth's first class. Levi graduated in 1771, and was ordained with David McClure in May 1772. He and McClure set out on a mission on June 19, 1772, but Levi fell ill immediately and stayed at Fort Pitt. It is unclear whether he rejoined McClure on the mission. The two men returned to Hanover on October 2, 1773. Levi stayed involved with Wheelock and the Indian mission for a few years, but by 1776, he had assumed the pulpit at Ipswich, where he remained for the rest of his life. Levi's poetry appears at the end of Wheelock's 1771 Narrative, as well as in McClure and Parish's biography of Wheelock.
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.
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.