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Samson Occom, Journal Fragment

ms-number: 003217

abstract: Fragment of a journal describes Occom's travels along the Connecticut coast and Long Island.

handwriting: Handwriting is clear and legible.

paper: Single small sheet folded into four pages is in fair-to-poor condition, with heavy creasing, staining and wear. Wear in the upper outside corners results in some loss of text.

ink: Brown ink is faded in spots.

noteworthy: There are red pencil marks on two verso. An editor, likely 19th-century, has underlined portions of the text in black ink and, on two verso, added the note:

/ If common year, 1 day of January
1758
was Sunday.. Then 1749, 1769, and 1775
If leap year, then Saturday 1st January:
and year was 1780.. ([illegible] likely)
the reverend from Montauk to
Mohegan in 1764 - 1765.


Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.


Montauk May the 4th [gap: worn_edge]

a few of us set out from
Montauk to visit our Brethren
at Mystic, and got So far
Hay ground at Night,
[illegible][guess: Fri]day Morning set out
from hayground, and got So
far to [illegible][guess: one] Homans, Saturday
from Thence and got to Mys‐
tic
about Noon and found
our Brethren generally well
etc. — and had a Meeting
with them at Night — But
nothing Special appeared — at
that — Sabbath May [illegible][guess: the] 7
held a meeting with them
again all Day But
nothing very remarka‐
ble
[gap: tear][guess: yet] they were very at
[illegible][guess: t]entive to hear the very
word — Monday May the
8 we Came away, and
had a Short Meeting at
Mr. Henry Haven's, and
the People seemed to attend
with good attention, — and
from thence we went to
Moriches,^ and had meeting at Ben‐
Castle
s Wigwam, and in
the morning May the 9
we set out from thence to‐
wards home and to So far
as Shinnecock, and had
a meeting there with the
Indians
, but nothing re‐
markable appeared a‐
mongst them — Wednesday
may the 10 we set out
from there and got
Blank page.Non-contemporary text not transcribed.
Shinnecock Tribe
The Shinnecock Tribe is an Algonquian-speaking people descended from the Pequot and Narragansett Nations of southern New England. Their name means “people of the stony shore,” because their ancestral lands were on the southeastern edge of Long Island, south of Great Peconic Bay. They were a sea-faring people noted for their manufacture of beads from the Northern quahog clam and whelk shells called wampum, used by many Indians as currency, in trade, and for recording important events on ceremonial belts. European settlers arrived on eastern Long Island in the mid-17th century, bringing Presbyterianism, buying land, and creating homesteads and villages, which expanded through the 18th century, encroaching on Native lands. Diseases also decimated the Native population. The Shinnecocks and their neighbors to the east, the Montauketts, were targets of Christian missionizing early on, since it was an easy sail from southern Connecticut across the Long Island Sound. When the Society in Scotland for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge sent the Presbyterian missionary Azariah Horton to Long Island in 1741, he found a warm reception and evidence of previous missionizing among the Indians in the eastern half of the Island. Occom arrived a decade later after his education at Wheelock’s school, settling in Montauk and starting a school there, but also visiting and ministering to the nearby Shinnecock Indians in their various villages. Dwindling land and economic resources led many Shinnecock Indians to move to Brothertown on Oneida land in western New York after the Revolutionary War. In 1792, the New York State legislature imposed a system of tribal government that consisted of three elected trustees, whereas traditionally, decisions were made by consensus of all adult male members. Since the mid-19th century, the Shinnecocks have had a reservation of about 800 acres within the town of Southampton, a fraction of their traditional lands. In 2007, the Shinnecock Tribe went back to its traditional governing structure, now including adult women, and installed a Tribal Council. In 2010, they succeeded in a 30-year-long struggle for federal recognition, and now number over 1400 people.
Montauk

Montauk is an unincorporated hamlet located on the eastern tip of Long Island in southeastern New York. The town was named after the Montaukett Indians who lived on much of eastern Long Island when Europeans first made contact in the 17th century. Archeological records show that Native Americans occupied eastern Long Island at least 3,000 years prior to European contact. The Montaukett Indians derived their name from the land they lived on, Montaukett meaning hilly country. The Montauketts made great use of Long Island’s abundant resources, and the nation subsisted by growing crops such as corn, squash, and beans as well as gathering berries, herbs, and roots. In addition to game such as deer and fish, the Montauketts also hunted whales and used every part of the whale, including its oil, which they burned in large clamshells. Living on an island at first isolated the Montaukett people, but they soon became a strong economic force in the region thanks to the production of the American Indian currency wampum. Wampum was constructed out of polished sea shells, which were found in abundance along Long Island’s beaches. The Montauketts' rich resources, however, led to wars with surrounding Indian nations, including the Pequots and Narragansetts to the north. The Pequots eventually forced the Montauketts to forfeit wampum as tribute. By the early 17th century, the Montauketts were faced with wars against surrounding Native Americans and an onslaught of European diseases, and in order to preserve his nation’s territorial integrity, the Montaukett sachem, Wyandanch, established an alliance with English settlers in Connecticut in 1637. Over time, however, the Montauketts' began selling off land to the English settlers, and disease further decimated their numbers. A 1650 smallpox epidemic killed around two-thirds of the Montaukett people. In 1665, Wyandanch granted the English permission to pasture livestock on Montaukett lands. In 1686 a group of East Hampton settlers known as the Proprietors bought the territory of Montauk from the Montauketts, and would continue to hold on to the land in a joint trust for the next 200 years. Despite attempts over the years, the town has never been incorporated as a village. Many years later, the Montauketts attempted to reassert their land rights on Long Island by petitioning New York State Judge Abel Blackmar in 1909. Blackmar refused to recognize the Montauketts as an Indian tribe, which has to this day left them without a reservation on the land that still bears their name.

Mohegan

Mohegan is a village in southeastern Connecticut at the site of the present-day town of Montville, and is the location of the Mohegan Indian Reservation. The village gets its name from the Mohegan Tribe, or wolf people, who split from the Pequots in the early 17th century under the leadership of the sachem Uncas. In the 1720s, the Mohegans requested the colony of Connecticut provide them with an English educator. An English minister and schoolteacher named John Mason (no relation to Captain John Mason) moved to Mohegan in order to provide English-styled education to the Mohegans, convinced his sponsors, the New England Company, to build a schoolhouse at Mohegan, which eventually served as a boarding school for other Native American children from the surrounding area. During the 17th century, the Mohegan Tribe became embroiled in a complicated controversy over control of Mohegan land — known as the Mason Land Case or, more specifically, Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut — that included the village of Mohegan. The Tribe claimed that it never authorized a transfer of their lands, held in trust by the Mason family, to the colonial government. In 1662, the colony of Connecticut was incorporated by a royal charter, which included the disputed tribal land. The land controversy was revived in 1704 when descendants of John Mason, the original trustee, petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, but the suit was finally decided against the Tribe in 1773. Born in Mohegan, Occom became involved in the Mason Land Case and vehemently argued for the rights of the Mohegan Indians to maintain their land, opposing Eleazar Wheelock and other ministers in the area. Although Occom left Mohegan for a 12-year mission with the Montauk Indians of Long Island, he returned at the end of 1763 with his large family to build a house in Mohegan, establishing it as his base of operations. Even after the creation of the Brothertown settlement in Oneida country, for which he served as minister, Occom continued to commute back and forth from Mohegan; he didn't sell his house in Mohegan and move his family to Brothertown until 1789. Many members of his family remained in Mohegan, including his sister Lucy Tantaquidgeon, who lived there until her death at 99 in 1830.

Hayground
Shinnecock

Shinnecock, NY, was a village within the town of Southampton, NY occupied by the Shinnecock Indians. While this village no longer exists, the Shinnecocks have preserved some of their ancestral land through the Shinnecock Indian Reservation. The name Shinnecock means "people of the stony shore," in reference to the rocky southeastern edge of Long Island where the Shinnecocks lived. Shinnecock's proximity to Connecticut by way of the Long Island Sound meant that the village and its tribe experienced more missionary activity from New England than towns in the Western half of Long Island. European settlers first encountered the Shinnecocks in 1640, when they founded Southampton after purchasing land from the Tribe. During this period of colonization, the village of Shinnecock remained an enclave for the Tribe as the rest of Long Island was increasingly divided into English towns. Unlike the Montauketts to the East, the Shinnecocks were able to retain a land base, their own distinct village. From 1749 to 1761, Occom maintained a school and mission 30 miles east of Shinnecock in Montauk and often made trips to the village on his preaching tours of Long Island and New York, where he preached to largely Indian audiences. By the 1780s, however, English encroachment on Shinnecock land led many of the Shinnecocks, with Occom's encouragement, to leave Long Island for Brothertown. Those who remained in Shinnecock were subjected to a system of tribal governance that the New York State Legislature imposed in 1792, a system that lasted until 2007, when the Shinnecocks on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation reasserted their traditional governing structure.

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.

Haven, Henry
Castle, Ben
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