Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Samson Occom, undated journal fragment

ms-number: 003218

abstract: A single journal page in Occom’s hand appears to refer to a sermon given at Niskayuna.

handwriting: Clear and legible.

paper: Small single sheet appears to have been separated from a journal by the wear along the left edge (one recto). It is in fair condition, with moderate staining and wear.

ink: Dark brown.

noteworthy: A small check mark in the upper left corner of one recto is likely in a different hand.


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


Niskayuna Peter IV.7
Blank page.
Niskayuna

Niskayuna is a town in east central New York State on the Mohawk River, just east of the city Schenectady. The name Niskayuna means "extensive corn flats," and is said to come from the Connestigione Indians who occupied a large area on both sides of the river when Dutch settlers arrived around 1642. The Dutch negotiated land deals with several Connestigione chiefs, and began to build homes and farms in the area in the 1660's. In 1746, George Clinton, Governor of New York colony, built one of a line of blockhouses ranging from Fort Massachusetts to Fort Hunter in Niskayuna, and in 1799, the Albany-Schenectady Turnpike (now Route 5) was built through the town. In 1822, the Erie Canal crossed the Mohawk River into Niskayuna, and in 1843 the Troy and Schenectady Railroad was built along the Mohawk River with a station in Niskayuna. The reformed Church of Niskayuna, organized around 1750, is the church at which Occom mentions preaching in his journal of 1787. Around the time that Occom and other Moor's graduates founded Brothertown on Oneida land in upstate New York, Occom commuted back and forth from Mohegan to Brothertown, often stopping to preach to large, enthusiastic crowds in churches and settlements in the area. He mentions preaching at Niskayuna and staying with acquaintances in 1786, 1787 and 1790, often in winter and braving difficult traveling conditions. He likely traveled on the trail that in 1799 became the Albany-Schenectady Turnpike.

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.

HomeSamson Occom, undated journal fragment
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only