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Jacob Fowler, letter, to Samson Occom, 1775 March 14

ms-number: 774214

abstract: Fowler writes that he can offer Occom no financial assistance, that he has been licensed to preach, and that 16 new members were recently counted in church.

handwriting: Handwriting is formal and clear. Letter case with regard to the letter S is frequently difficult to decipher.

paper: Paper is in fair-to-poor condition, with heavy creasing and wear that results in some loss of text.

ink: Dark brown-black.

noteworthy: Although it is uncertain, when Fowler refers, in his closing salutation, to "aged Dadda and Mamma," he is likely referring to James Fowler and Betty Fowler. Although it is uncertain, it is likely that "Miss Walcut" refers to Lucy Wallcut, daughter of Elizabeth Wallcut. This manuscript is improperly named — according to the date of the letter, the manuscript number should be 775214, not 774214. There is a note added to one verso in a different, likely 19th-century, hand that reads "(from fowler, college, 1775)." This note has not been included in the transcription.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.



Rev.d Sir,
I do actually wish it lay in Power to
help you but how I can I know not, I am diſappointed
still every way, I am sensible that your Expences are
great, and stand in Need of Every small advance. —
I am preparing to come out like an old sheeps horn
and hope to shake the walls of Jerico. and do some
good, as soon as may be — — — — — —
I think they say — Fowler has past Examination
and is Licenced to preach I believe 1.st of March. —
I [gap: hole][guess: a]m full of [gap: hole][guess: B]us[gap: hole][guess: i]neſs and [gap: hole][guess: d]ont s[gap: hole][guess: e]em to get [gap: hole][guess: a]ny thing
neither. I am affraid sometimes I never will make
a poor crooked sheep Horn, but Knowledge is said to
grow as doth the Graſs, which starts up, yet not seen
immedeately. — — — — — — —
I want much to See yo[gap: hole][guess: u b]ut cant, — — —
I am glad to tell the g[gap: hole][guess: oo]d News of Converſion, Numbr
16 were taken in Church ye 12 Ins:t which was an
effecting sight. and animating to my drooping
soul.— — — —
 our Love to all your House People —
Duty to aged Dadda and mMamma, et omnia
Jx Fowler
[left]Miſs Wallcut Sends her Love and Duty to you.
do Send her little Letter.


To
The Revd M:r Samson Occom
Mohegan
in
New London
Fowler, Jacob

Jacob Fowler was a Montauk Indian whose life was dramatically shaped by Samson Occom, his brother-in-law. Occom taught Jacob when he was a child, and in 1762, Jacob followed his older brother David Fowler to Moor's. After three years he was approved as an usher in the 1765 examination, and in 1766 he went to assist Samuel Johnson at Canajoharie. He taught among the Six Nations until at least mid-1767. In early 1770, Occom procured him a job teaching at Mushantuxet through the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Jacob taught and preached among the Pequots at Mushantuxet and Stonington until 1774, when Wheelock hired him to teach at Moor's, which had relocated to Hanover, NH as a complement to Dartmouth College. During this time, Jacob also assisted Joseph Johnson with efforts to rally the New England Christian tribes for a move to Oneida territory (the Brothertown Movement). By 1776, there were no Indians enrolled in Moor's and Jacob moved on to serve Governor John Trumbull of CT as a messenger to the Six Nations during the Revolution. After the Revolution, he continued organizing the Brothertown Movement and was among those who initially emigrated in 1784. He was elected clerk at Brothertown, and died sometime in the spring of 1787.

Fowler, James

James Fowler was a notable Montaukett and the father of Mary Fowler Occom, David Fowler, and Jacob Fowler. He married Elizabeth (Betty) Pharaoh, a member of the prominent Pharaoh/Faro family (the current sachem of the Montaukett tribe, as of 2013, is a Pharaoh). When Occom arrived at Montauk in 1749, he took a special interest in the Fowler family and began courting Mary. They married in 1751, and, through Occom’s influence, the Fowler family became quite Christian. David and Jacob Fowler both attended Moor’s Indian Charity School and played important roles in the founding of Brothertown. James’ health deteriorated in the 1760s and 1770s. He died around 1774.

Fowler, Elizabeth (née Pharaoh)

Elizabeth (Betty) Fowler was an influential Montauk woman and the mother of Mary Fowler Occom, David Fowler, and Jacob Fowler. She was a member of the powerful Pharaoh/Faro family, a family which boasts the current (as of 2013) Montaukett sachem. Elizabeth was married to James Fowler. Occom married their daughter Mary, and as a result the Fowler family received extra attention from the minister and became deeply Christian. James Fowler died in 1774, but Elizabeth lived until 1795. She migrated to Brothertown with Mary, David, and Jacob, where she died sometime after 1795.

Wallcut, Elizabeth (née Marshall)

Elizabeth Wallcut was the sister of Colonel Thomas Marshall, a Revolutionary war patriot, and the niece of Susanna Wheatley, mistress of the African slave and poet Phillis Wheatley. Born in 1721 into a Boston family of tradespeople of moderate means and education, Wallcut married and had three sons, Christopher, Benjamin and Thomas, and one daughter, Lucy. Through the Wheatleys, Wallcut was connected to the Christian Evangelical and Indian-mission circles in New England, and was close to Phillis Wheatley. According to family accounts, Wallcut was a person of strong character. In 1770, she sent her youngest son Thomas, then 12, to attend Moor's Indian Charity School, recently removed to Hanover, New Hampshire. Though promising, Thomas was not a good student, and in June 1774, Wheelock sent him, with Levi Frisbie, to Canada to learn Indian languages. Wallcut and her daughter Lucy moved to Hanover as caretakers of the Indians boys, including several Abenakis who had come from Canada to increase the flagging population of Natives at the School to almost 20. They shared lodging with the Indian boys and Jacob Fowler, a former Wheelock pupil and then teacher at the School, and his wife Esther. Thomas entered Dartmouth in 1775, and after he took a job in a hospital in Albany in 1776, Wallcut and Lucy moved back to Boston. Wallcut's son Benjamin was taken prisoner by the British and her son Christopher was killed in battle in 1777. There is some evidence that Phillis Wheatley took refuge in Wallcut's house in Boston after the British left in 1777, and that John Peters, Wheatley's husband, tried but failed to retrieve Wheatley's second manuscript of poems from Lucy. After the War, Wallcut ran a "dame school" in Boston for the children of prominent families. The Boston City Directory for 1789 lists "Walcutt, Widow, school-mistress, Purchase-street."

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

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