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Samson Occom, journal, 1777 September 13-26

ms-number: 777513

abstract: Occom records his travels as an itinerant preacher in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

handwriting: Occom's handwriting is mostly clear and legible.

paper: Two small sheets folded into a booklet are in fair condition, with moderate staining and wear.

ink: Brown ink is faded.

noteworthy: On two recto, in the entry for Monday the 22nd, "Asphos" refers to Samuel and Robert Aspho. If Occom's intention regarding a person or place name is uncertain, it has been left untagged. An editor, likely 19th-century, has added several notes and overwritten large portions of the text. These edits have not been transcribed.

Sepr 13: 1777

[top] Beriah Willis at Gui[illegible][guess: lf]
Comer Smith
Left home and reachd voluntown
Lodgd with Mr John Gordon
[illegible] Preachd at the place all Day

[illegible][guess: 15:] Monday

went a little way eaſt
and Preachd, after meeting
went on Eaſtward, arrivd to
Scituate, put up at one Mr
Samuel Angell
's a Preacher.
preſently after I got there a
number of People Came together
and I gave them a word of Exhorn

16: TueſDay

had another meeting

17: Wedneſday

went to Gloceſter 8 miles
and Preachd in Elder winſer's
meeting Houſe, after meeting
went Houſe with Deacon Brown
and Lodged there —

18: Thirdſday

went back to [gap: faded][guess: Scituate]
and there met Mr Kelley [gap: faded][guess: S & R]
Ashpo at one Mr Modburys and
and had meeting there S. Ashpo
Spoke — had another meeting in
the Same Houſe in the evening, I
[illegible]went home with Mr Abm Angell
and there Lodgd, —

19: Fryday

went to Johnſon Mr
S Angel
went with me, Preachd
in the meeting Houſe, in the Eveng
Preachd again, in a privet H
Lodgd at Esqr Balknap's my
old Friend, —

20: Saturday

morning went on
my way towards the Eaſt Esqr
went with me, we Stopt
at one Esqr Mantans and we
took our Breakfast, after Brea
went on and Calld on Widow Pain
from Long Island, the Esqr feft
me at Prodvidence, I kep on
Eastward, got to Mr John Allens
about 2 in the afternoon in
Rehoboth, Dind there Soon after
Dinner went to Mr Pecks [illegible][guess: and]
S[illegible][guess: e]pper at Miniſter of the Plac
and there Lodgd —

21: Sabbath

Preachd in Mr Pecks
meeting H all Day, — went
Home with Mr Deacon Blanding
had meeting there and Lodgd —

22: Monday

went towards Bridge
wat[illegible][guess: t]er
Deacon B: went with
me [illegible] about 3 miles and Saw
Kelley And Ashpos again[illegible]
after Dinner went on my way
towards Bridgewater: got to
Tanton, and there Stopt at
Mr Hoſkins a Seperat Preacher
and Lodgd there. —

23 Tuſeday

went to meeting at the
place heard one Mr Willis a Bapt
preacher, after he had Spoke I
gave a word of Exhortation, and
then went home with Mr Hoſkins
and Tarried there all Day, and
in the Evening had a meeting
at the Same Houſe, Lodged
there again —

24: Wedneſday

went off early in
the morning and Stopt Mr Deans
and a meeting there, in the after
noon went into Town & had another
meeting there in the [illegible] Houſe, abot
Sun Set tooke Tea with Mrs Mcwa
Lodgd where Mr Jones
Boarded, a Young Preacher, —

25 Thirdſday

got up very early
and went on towards Freetown
Stop at Mr Tobe's in Bartly &
took Breakfaſt there, Soon after
went on, arrivd to Freetown
about 11: Calld on Mr Walcut
a Young Preacher was there
a Little while and went on a
gain Mr Walcut went with me
to the Indian Place got there
Some Time before Sun Set I
Lodgd at Daniel wards the
principle Indian in the Place

26 Fryday

about 10 in the Morn
had a meeting and there was a
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.

Ashpo, Samuel

Ashpo was born into a very powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and became an influential Mohegan preacher. He was converted at Mohegan during the Great Awakening, and became a schoolteacher among the Indians at Mushantuxet from 1753 until 1757 and from 1759 until 1762, when he left to attend Moor's. Between 1757 and 1759, he worked as an interpreter, and supposedly struggled with alcohol. He attended Moor's for only six months, and then continued his teaching and missionary career on successive trips to Chenango (the first was cut short because of violence in the region). On July 1, 1767, the Connecticut Board dismissed him from their service because of further charges of drinking. He continued to preach successfully to various New England Indian tribes until his death in 1795. The variations of his name exist in part because Ashpo is an abbreviated form of Ashobapow.

Ashpo, Robert

Robert Ashpo was the brother of Samuel Ashpo, the influential Mohegan preacher. They were born into a powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and Robert became a tribal leader. We have no specific evidence of his education or conversion. But he was one of the signers of at least three important petitions that were submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly. The first, entitled "Appeal of the Mohegan Indians agst the Colony of Connecticut & Others" is dated July 23, 1746; Ashpo was one of over 80 signatories. The second was written by Occom in 1785 on behalf of five other signatories: Henry Quaquaquid and Robert Ashpo of the Mohegan Tribe and Phillip Cuish, Joseph Uppuiquiyantup, Isaac Uppuiquiyantup of the Niantics, expressing their dismay over restrictive fishing prohibitions (manuscript 785340). The third from May 14, 1789 is signed by Ashpo and Henry Quaquaquid, and using the metaphor of the "dish," complains bitterly about the loss of Mohegan territory and asks the Assembly to divide the "common dish" of the Tribe into individual dishes so each may do "as he pleases." These petitions invoke Tribal sovereignty, show collaboration between tribal leaders, and also employ the rhetoric of "improvement" to save their lands. Occom and Joseph Johnson record Ashpo's speaking and leadership at several meetings at Mohegan and elsewhere in the 1770s and 1780s. Ashpo did not move to Brothertown and remained in Mohegan.

Willis, Beriah
Gordon, John
Angell, Samuel

Unidentified Smith.

Angell, Abraham
Allen, John
Peck, Samuel

Samuel Peck was a New Light Separatist minister in Rehoboth, MA. Although he came from a prominent local family and prepared for college, he never attended. Instead, he was ordained in October 1751 by several Separatist ministers. He led a Separate congregation, which was technically classified as Baptist, in Rehoboth until his death in 1768. Occom visited him in 1777.

Ward, Daniel
HomeSamson Occom, journal, 1777 September 13-26
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