Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Samson Occom, journal, 1750 June 21 to 1751 February 9

ms-number: 750421

abstract: Occom details his travels along the East Coast from the autumn of 1750 to the late winter of 1751.

handwriting: Handwriting is largely clear and legible. As is common with Occom, there are some uncrossed t’s and crossed l’s; they have been corrected by the transcriber.

paper: Small sheets folded into a booklet are in fair-to-poor condition, with heavy staining and wear that results in some loss of text.

ink: Brown ink sustains varying degrees of fading.

noteworthy: On one recto, Occom has written random words, some possibly in Mohegan, many illegible. The word "Sarah" (Occom’s mother) is written backwards. Also on one recto, an editor, likely 19th-century, has written: "June 21, 1750 to Saty Feb. 9. 1751. [at Montauk] Tuesd. Feb. 12]". This same editor has made underlinings and overwrites throughout the document; these have not been transcribed. When Occom mentions an "Indian Town" he is likely referring to the Indian villages associated with each place that he visits.

events: Occom’s Mission to the Montauks

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

Samson Sarah

Handkerchief 1 - 5 - 0
a Quire of Paper - 0 - 11 - 0
a pair of Stockings - 1 - 12 - 0
Blank page.

Thursday June the 21st 1750

I set out from Montauk for
East Hampton and got there
Some time before Night, and
tarried at Rev. Mr. Buell's that

Friday June the 18 22th

John Ashpo Came to me from
Montauk, about 10 in the morning
and we immediately set out from
thence for South Hampton, and
got there About 4 in the afternoon
and tarried at Deacon Tuttles, and we
stayed there amongst our Country
Men 'til Monday June the 25, and
then we returned from thence to
wards Montauk, and we got there
Some time before Night Safe and
Sound —

Saturday August the 4 AD 1750

I set out from Montauk for East Hampton
and got there before Night and
Lodged at Mr. William Hedge's that —
and Monday just at Night
I Came a way from East and got
to Montauk just after sunset —

Monday September the 10 AD: 1750

I Left
my School and to Napeague, and
got there just after sunset
and we went further in the Night

Saturday September the 15:

we set
Sail from Long Island
for main, and got over a
bout 1 o'Clock in the after
Noon [illegible] , and I was Landed
at Stonington and
I set out from thence
for mohegan and got
there Some time in the
Night and found most
of my [illegible]Relations well

Thursday September the 20 AD: 1750

I set out from Mohegan for
Lebanon and Got to Mr. Williams
just before sunset and lodged
there and was kindly entertained.

and Friday September the 21

Early in
the Morning, I set out from
thence to Crank and got to Mr. Wheelock
before Noon and found madam
and Theodora very Sick. and I
stayed there 'til after Noon,
and then I set out from thence
for Hebron, and got there just
after sunset and found most
of them Well, and Monday September
the 24th
I set out from Hebron for
Mohegan, and got there Some time
in the Night, — and Friday
September the 28th
I set out from
Mohegan for Noank
and got there just before
sunset and tarried with
one Lemuel Burrows and Satur
day morning set out from
thence for Narragansett

and got there Some time
in the Night and lodged
with one James Simon, and
was kindly Entertain by my
Friends etc. etc. —

Thursday October the 4th AD: 1750

I set out from Narragansett
for Noank and got
there Some time in the Night
and lodged at Toowis's Wig‐
wam and Friday morning set
from thence for New London,
and got there about 9 in the
morning, and from thence
straight up to Mohegan — and

Monday October the 8

went Down to
New London in order to go
over to Long-Island etc. etc.

and Tuesday [gap: stain][guess: October] the 9th

at New London all the

and at Night about 1 or 2
o' C[gap: stain] set-Sail from New‐
for Montauk, and
got ashore just before Sun
rise at fort pond and I set
from there Directly for the
Indian Town, and went a
mong the People to get Some
Sweet Corn, and then I went
to Napeague, and back again
to Indian Town and got there
in the Evening etc. —

Saturday October the 13

I went
from Montauk for East and
tarried there Sabbath and

Monday October the 15th

I returned
to Montauk again —

Thursday October the 18

we set
out from Montauk, for East
and tarried that Night and
Friday Morning we set a
way from thence for Shinne‐

Shinnecock and we got there at mr Ho[illegible]
about 9, about 11 we went
the Indian Town, there we heard
Mr. White Preach a thanksgiv
ing Sermon to the Indians, and
we tarried there 'til Monday fol‐
lowing October the 22 then we returned
to Montauk again and we got
there about 7 at Night etc. —

Wednesday November the 14 1750

I set out from Montauk
for East to thanksgiving
and Friday November the 16 I re
turned again to Montauk
and got there just before
sunset and So forth

Saturday December the 1: 1750

I set out from Montauk for
Sag to See Mr. Maltby
and I got there just before
sunset and lodged at Mr.

was kindly entertained, and
Next Day I heard Mr. Maltby
preach, and was with him
in the afternoon, at Mr.
's, and tarried at Night
with Mr. Maltby, And Monday
I part with him at Mr. Gulson[illegible][guess: 's]
and Came away towards
home to Montauk and got there
at Night, etc.

Saturday February the
9 1750

[illegible: [guess: — 1]] I went to East Hampton
and participate with them
the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper
and Tuesday February the
I returned to Montauk

[illegible] to John Ashpo
from Hannabel, 8 5 Due to
Cyrus from John Ashpo

Mary George
Mary Ashpo
Theatre Thessalonians
[illegible] 12 Samson Occom

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.

Occom, Sarah

Sarah Occom was Samson Occom's mother. There is some evidence that she was a member of the Groton Pequots, a remnant of the once powerful Pequot Tribe that was decimated by the war with the Puritans in 1636-37. (The Pequots and Mohegans were once a unified people until the Mohegan chief Uncas and a band of followers split off after a dispute with Sassacus, who became sachem of the Pequots.) One genealogy gives Sarah's birthdate as 1694, her maiden name as Wauby Sampson, her father as Sabientouset II (known as General Samson) and her mother as Hannah Wequot Uncas, of the line of the Mohegan's first sachem. Sarah married Joshua Occom (or Tomockham), a Mohegan, and they may have had up to five children: Joshua Jr., Samson, Jonathan, Lucy, and Sarah. In Samson's "Short Narrative" of his life, he notes that his parents "led a wandering Life up and down in the Wilderness" around Uncas Hill. Sarah was an early convert to Christianity during the revivals that swept the area, and Occom recounts that when he told her he wanted education in order to serve his Tribe, she went to Wheelock in nearby Lebanon, CT, because she heard "he had a Number of English youth under his Tuition," to request he take in her son. By 1743, Sarah was a widow, and Samson continued to visit and stay at his mother's house in Mohegan through the 1760s, though one source gives her death as 1782.

Buell, Samuel

Buell was a popular Presbyterian minister during the second half of the 18th century in Long Island, as well as a close friend of Samson Occom. He was ordained in November 1743, and was a popular itinerant minister before settling at Easthampton. He preached at Occom's ordination, published the sermon in 1761 to raise funds for Occom (he also wrote the letter addressed to Bostwick prefacing his publication), and stayed in close contact with Occom even after Occom's public break from Wheelock. Occom's diary is full of references to visiting Buell and to their close friendship. During the Revolution, Buell was the only minister on Long Island for 40 miles, and was very active in assisting the American cause. He also founded Clinton Academy on Long Island in 1785, which was the first private school chartered by the New York Board of Regents. This academy was also remarkable in that it admitted women. Multiple historical sources have misconstrued Samuel Buell as Sol or Solomon Buell, likely because Buell sometimes signed his name Sa.l, a creative abbreviation of Samuel. However, there was no Reverend Solomon Buell in Easthampton, or, it seems, Long Island, in the second half of the 18th century: Samuel had no brothers, and were there to be two Reverend S. Buell's within 10 miles of one another during the same period, related or not, doubtlessly someone would have commented on it. In addition, the handwriting in letters ascribed to "Sol" and those assigned to Samuel is identical. Lastly, the only source besides collection manuscript 765530.3 describing a "Solomon Buell" is an anthology of letters from the Revolution, which contain letters from a Rev. Sol. Buell, or S. Buell, about aiding the American cause. These letters correspond well with descriptions of Samuel's life in an 1809 biography of his life, and, as he was the only Reverend but one for 40 miles during the Revolution, it is likely that these letters belong to him.

Ashpo, John
Hedges, William

William Hedges was a resident of Easthampton, Long Island, and a supporter of Occom during his mission at Montauk. He was the second son of William Hedges (b. 1679, d. November 4, 1768) and and Abiah Mulford (b. August 20, 1685, d. October 27, 1763). Both were descendants of the original settlers of Easthampton; Hedges' father was the grandson of the original William Hedges, a devout Puritan who fled with his wife from Kent in England to Lynn, Massachusetts in 1644, and finally moved to the new settlement of Easthampton on Long Island in 1650. There is little in the records about Hedges and his activities. He was close enough with Occom and his family on Long Island to be entrusted with the funds collected from local Long Island congregations to support the Occom family during Occom's first and second missions to the Oneidas, when the New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge grew lukewarm about the missions. Hedges was also a close friend of Samuel Buell, the Presbyterian minister who sponsored Occom's ordination. Buell entrusted Jacob, one of the young Indian boys from Wheelock's school visting on Long Island, to Hedges' care.

Williams, Solomon

Solomon Williams was a Congregationalist pastor in Lebanon, CT from 1722 until his death in 1776. As pastor at Lebanon, Williams rose to prominence as a theologian and engaged in extensive correspondence and debate with some of the most eminent minds of the day. He was one of the rare truly moderate New Lights during the Great Awakening: he managed to maintain the respect of both Charles Chauncy, the rabid anti-revivalist, and George Whitefield, the famous evangelical. Williams also established a library in Lebanon and a very well-known grammar school, which became something of a feeder for Yale. Williams supported Eleazar Wheelock and Moor’s Indian Charity School through much of the 1750s and 1760s. He was something of a mentor to Samson Occom, and he became president of Wheelock’s Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK). It is unclear why Williams is not named as a trustee of Moor’s in Wheelock’s 1768 will; perhaps Wheelock feared that Williams would not outlive him. Williams continued to run the Connecticut Board even after Wheelock relocated to New Hampshire in 1770. Despite the SSPCK’s disappointment in Wheelock, Williams and Wheelock seem to have remained on cordial terms. Their correspondence ceased in 1772, after Wheelock tried (and failed) to open a New Hampshire Board to replace the one in Connecticut (with, it might be added, the Connecticut Board’s blessing).

Wheelock, Eleazar

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.

Wheelock, Theodora
Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)

Mary Wheelock was born Mary Brinsmead on July 26, 1714 in Milford, Connecticut. In the year following the death of his first wife, Eleazar began to court Mary Brinsmead, and the two married on November 21, 1747. Mary and Eleazar had five children together, including John, who would succeed his father as President of Dartmouth College. Little appears in the historical record about Mary, but many of the people who wrote to Wheelock, especially his Native correspondents who often lived with the family, referred to her warmly. In September 1770, Mary dismantled her longtime home in Connecticut, and travelled with her children to the Wheelocks' new home in the wilderness of New Hampshire. They rode in a coach sent over from England by John Thornton, accompanied by 30 Charity School students on foot. Eleazar, who had gone ahead to build housing for everyone, wrote a letter to Mary with many instructions about the move; the disposition of domestic animals, people, supplies; and the acquisition of money that suggests she was an able and trustworthy manager (manuscript 770510.1; this manuscript is not included in Occom Circle documents). She died in 1784 in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery.

Burrows, Lemuel
Simon, James

James Simon was a semi-itinerant Pequot preacher who was active in the early 1750s. Little is known about his life outside of his conflict with Samuel Niles at Charlestown in 1752. Simon arrived at Charlestown in the late 1740s or early 1750s, just as separatism was dividing the Christian population. In 1750, the Anglo-American Baptist Stephen Babcock led away part of Joseph Park’s Congregationalist church. Many Narragansett Indians, under the influence of their charismatic spiritual leader Samuel Niles, went with him. However, by 1752, Niles faced a challenge for leadership of the Narragansett separate community: many Narragansett preferred James Simon as a minister. Babcock sided with James Simon and ordained him, leading Niles to host his own ordination. It seems that Niles was able to drive Simon out, because by late 1752, Simon was preaching farther afield, for instance in Titicut, MA. It is unclear where his career took him from this point forwards. Although James Simon shares a surname with Sarah Simon, a Christian Narragansett woman who sent five children to Moor’s Indian Charity School, it is unlikely that he was her husband. W. D. Love suggests that Sarah’s husband was a John Simon, but as often, his sources are unclear. Love’s conclusion seems reasonable, if only because of the brief time which James Simon spent in Charlestown and the number of Sarah’s children.

George, Mary
Ashpo, Mary
Occom’s Mission to the Montauks
HomeSamson Occom, journal, 1750 June 21 to 1751 February 9
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only