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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Brainerd, 1761 November 6

ms-number: 761606.1

abstract: Wheelock updates Brainerd on the progress of various Indian students at the school.

handwriting: Handwriting is informal and occasionally difficult to decipher.

paper: Large single sheet is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear that leads to a minor loss of text. There is preservation work along particularly heavy creases.

ink: Black.

noteworthy: This document appears to be a draft. On one recto, in the first paragraph, an unknown editor, possibly 19th-century, has added the note "Woolley" in pencil above the word "Joseph." This edit has not been transcribed.


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



Rev. and Dear Brother
Upon my return from Boston about 4
weeks ago I met yours, with Miriam at My House. I am well
pleased with the Girl, she is in good Health, and well
contented, she has a kind mistress who says She learns
well so far as she has had Opportunity to see and know
Amy the other Indian Girl 13. years old who is Mated with Miriam
and boards about [illegible][guess: 20] Rods from her (So that they Lodge together)
has made surprising proficiency in learning since she
came last Spring. She then scarcely knew her Letters.
(and indeed is more backward in reading than in other
parts of her Learning) will now write considerably well
She kept House for her mistress while she was gone on a visit
near a fortnight and did it well, understands tending a dairy, and has
lately [illegible] her a Pocket . etc. You may
tell the Parents of Miriam there shall nothing be wanting
for her within my Power. Joseph is well fitted for College
and I have this Year entered several not better fitted
than Hezekiah. I designed they should have made
a visit to their Friends this fall and the week for their
going was appointed but for several reasons I have
made them willing to defer it 'til spring. it had
got to be something late in the fall and no opportunity
of a passage by water presented. etc. but principally
been that Hezekiah after I discouraged
with him has been under Convictions for several Months and is so still
which has made a surprising Change in him, and I
feared that so long a diversion would prove unfriendly to it.
Joseph and Hezekiah have now the best Opportunity to learn
the Mohawk Language of these Mohawk Boys I have
moved them to. it. I hope, as it is to be learnt without
Book it wont greatly hinder their other studies.
I have sent my poor weakly Son Rodulphus to your
College [illegible][guess: Ho]ping that he may profit something by living [gap: worn_edge][guess: there]
and I with Hopes that the Honourable Commissioners will take
Joseph as they Did Jacob under their Patronage and
still continue him with me and let my son have his
support. the weight upon me is great, and I dont well
know how to get along without Such an advantage.
will you think favourably of it Dear Sir and use your interest
in my Favour?
as to the other Girl I’ll Expect her as soon as you
can send her.
I want an opportunity to say a 1000 things to you.
Brother Pomeroy or My Son when you see him can give you a particular account
of the School and Some New and encouraging prospects.
Letter to Mr. Brainerd
November 6. 1761.
Miriam Come.
Mohawk Nation
The Mohawk Nation is one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. As the “eastern door” of the Confederacy, or easternmost Haudenosaunee nation, the Mohawks were perceived throughout the colonial period as a gateway to wider alliances, trade, and religious influence with the Six Nations as a whole. Thus, they received heavy missionary attention from Jesuits, Anglicans, and Congregationalists as early as the 17th century. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Mohawks and Six Nations more generally were a point of heated competition between Britain and France, as well as between Protestant Christian sects. Wheelock sent several missionaries and schoolmasters to the Mohawks between 1765 and 1767, including Theophilus Chamberlain (Anglo-American), Hezekiah Calvin (Delaware), Abraham Major and Minor (Mohawks), Peter (Mohawk), Moses (Mohawk), and Johannes (Mohawk). The two main towns or "castles" that the mission was based at were Canajoharie and Fort Hunter. Two of the most important figures in Mohawk history as it pertains to Moor’s Indian Charity School were Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant. Sir William Johnson was the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northeast, one of the most powerful men in British North America. He married into the Mohawk Tribe and had substantial influence among the Six Nations. Initially he supported Wheelock’s missionary project, but by 1769 he was endorsing Anglican missionaries instead. Joseph Brant was Sir William Johnson’s brother-in-law. He was the first of 19 Mohawk students at Moor’s, where he studied from 1761-1763. Although his time at the school was short, Brant entertained a deep affection for it. He went on to be an influential Mohawk war chief and may have protected Dartmouth College from raids during the Revolution. The Revolution fractured the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, with some tribes siding with the colonists and others with the British. The Mohawks sided with the British, and many of them, Joseph Brant included, relocated to the Grand River Reserve in Canada after the war. There was also a substantial Mohawk settlement established by 1700 at Kahnawake in New France (Canada), which hosted Jesuit missionaries. The Kahnawake Mohawks were often called “Canadian Mohawks” and Wheelock recruited students from them after his move to Hanover.
The New York/New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge
The New York/New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge was the Presbyterian SSPCK board in the colonies and oversaw the Society's missionary efforts in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It was established in 1741 at the request of Jonathan Dickinson, Aaron Burr (Sr.), and Ebenezer Pemberton, who employed several missionaries including Azariah Horton and both David and John Brainerd. Since these same men founded the College of New Jersey (Dickinson was the first president, Burr the second), the New York Board became somewhat conflated with the trustees of the College of New Jersey. The two bodies were not formally combined in the eyes of the SSPCK until February 1769, but as early as 1765, Wheelock wrote addressing the "Board of Correspondents in the Province of New York and New Jersey." The New York Board was almost exclusively Presbyterian, and many of Wheelock's Presbyterian acquaintances, including David Bostwick, Aaron Burr, John Brainerd, etc., were involved in it. The Board as a whole does not seem to have been particularly helpful or hostile towards Wheelock and his plans. They certainly supported missionary efforts for Native Americans, but refused to release John Brainerd from missionary obligations to accompany Occom to England.
Princeton University
Princeton University is a College and Graduate School of liberal arts and sciences located in the town of Princeton, New Jersey. A member of the Ivy League, it enrolls about 8,000 students. When it was chartered in 1749, it was known as the College of New Jersey. It was founded by New Light Presbyterians as the educational arm of Scotch-Irish religion, and is the fourth institution of higher education established in British North America. For its first 50 years, the College was housed in Nassau Hall, one of the largest buildings in colonial America, set on land donated by Nathaniel Fitz Randolph. When expansion earned the College university status in 1896, it was officially renamed Princeton University, after the town. After the untimely deaths of its first five presidents, including Aaron Burr, Sr., and the noted Protestant theologian Jonathan Edwards, a prominent evangelical Presbyterian minister from Scotland named John Witherspoon took the helm in 1768. Witherspoon trained a generation of men who would lead the American Revolution, including James Madison, Aaron Burr, Philip Freneau and John Breckenridge. As a New Light minister, Wheelock was part of the same evangelical movement, and the College of New Jersey played a significant role in his educational experiment. Jacob Woolley, one of the first students at Moor's Indian Charity School, went on to enter the College of New Jersey in 1759, leaving in his senior year under a cloud of scandal. Several of Wheelock's Anglo-American students who studied at his Latin School and at the Indian Charity School graduated from "Nassau Hall" and became missionaries or schoolmasters in his "great design."
Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
Lebanon

Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Boston

The first English immigrant to settle on a peninsula in a harbor on the northeastern coast of North America the local Algonquin Indians called "Shawmet" was William Blackstone in 1629. A year later, John Winthrop arrived with a group of English Puritans and other settlers and named the area Boston after his hometown in Lincolnshire, England. The colony quickly developed representative political institutions that would help shape a democratic nation. Over the next few centuries, Boston emerged as an intellectual and educational center, and, because of its excellent harbor, became a leading commercial hub and a primary port for North America. It is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the largest city in New England. Boston was the home for the Boards of Commissioners of several overseas religious societies who sent missionaries throughout the colonies in the 18th century, and was the site of many important events of the American Revolution.

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.

Brainerd, John

John Brainerd was an ardent missionary with an important role in Wheelock's design. He was the younger brother of the famous missionary David Brainerd, who died as a young man after being expelled from Yale and serving as a missionary to New Jersey tribes. John completed his Yale degree and was immediately commissioned to replace David. Even in his own time, he was seen as a man as pious as, but less talented than, his brother, though Brainerd missioned to Indians during a more volatile period, and saw his congregation forcibly removed from their lands in 1755 and relocated at Brothertown in 1758 (this Brothertown should not be confused with the one founded in New York after the Revolution by many Moor's alumni). Brainerd was extremely devoted to the Indian cause. He often had the opportunity to serve wealthy English congregations, but preferred to remain an Indian missionary. He invested signficant sums of his own money into his missions, for which he was never reimbursed. Brainerd was a very prominent Presbyterian figure, active in the Presbytery and Synod of New York, holding several elected positions, and in the Presbtery and Synod of New York and Philadelphia once the two reunified in 1758. He was a Trustee of the College of New Jersey from 1754 until his death, and a member of the New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Occom had planned to work with Brainerd in 1750, but political upheaval prevented it. Brainerd was one of several men nominated to accompany Occom to England, but the New York Board refused to let him go. While Brainerd and Wheelock were not close personal friends, the two had a similar interests and a long-lasting correspondence. John Brainerd sent Wheelock his first Indian boys, and also recruited female students in the 1760s. Throughout their lives, Brainerd and Wheelock updated one another on Indian missions, and Brainerd seems to have been one of Wheelock's "point people" in the Presbyterian Church.

Storrs, Miriam
Johnson, Amy

Amy Johnson was a Mohegan woman who was the first female student at Moor’s Indian Charity School. She came to Moor’s in 1761 at age 13, perhaps because her brother Joseph Johnson was also a student there. She left the school at the beginning of 1766. According to W. D. Love, she then lived (and, presumably, worked) at the Bull’s Tavern in Hartford, CT for some time. During this period, she was courted by David Fowler, who gave her a gold engagement ring. Their relationship ended, although it is unclear why; he may have been concerned about her poor health (his main concern in a wife was finding a partner for missionary service), or she may have rejected him (Amy was the first of the three Moor’s students whom Fowler courted). Sometime before 1772 Amy married Joseph Cuish, son of the Niantic Baptist preacher Philip Cuish. The family had close ties to the Occoms and several Cuishes moved to Brothertown, although Amy and Joseph do not seem to have done so. Most of our information about Amy comes from her relationships to important men: she was sister to Joseph Johnson, student to Wheelock, the temporary object of David Fowler’s affections and, eventually, wife to Joseph Cuish. From a historical standpoint, our sources on Amy speak to the increasingly patriarchal element that Christianity brought into Algonquian society as well as the fundamentally inter-tribal nature of Algonquian relations during this period.

Woolley, Joseph

Joseph Woolley was a Delaware who died of consumption while keeping school at Onaquaga. He came to Wheelock in 1757 as a replacement for John Pumshire, and although Wheelock labeled him as "fit for college" in late 1761, he never attended. In the fall of 1764, Joseph went to the Six Nations with Kirkland to learn the Mohawk language and keep school, and in March 1765, he was officially approved as a schoolmaster and returned to Onaquaga to teach. He was very popular there, but died unexpectedly in late November 1765. Joseph was engaged to Hannah Garrett, who later married David Fowler, but a letter from David (765302.2) suggests that Joseph may also have pursued Amy (David's object of interest before Hannah).

Calvin, Hezekiah

Hezekiah Calvin was one of Eleazar Wheelock's first Native American students. Like Wheelock’s other early Delaware students, he was sent by the minister John Brainerd. Calvin was certified as a schoolteacher on March 12, 1765, and was sent to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter in June 1765. The Mohawks threw him out at the end of September 1766, and he returned to Moor's. Samuel Johnson, an Anglo-American Yale student who replaced Calvin at Fort Hunter, reported that the residents unanimously accused Calvin of being abusive and rude. Calvin, in turn, maintained that the Fort Hunter Mohawks had mistreated him. Calvin’s second stint at Moor’s did not go well. He wrote several confessions for drunkenness and bad behavior, and frequently spoke ill of Wheelock. He left the school in the spring of 1768, and took up residence with the Secutor family (Narragansett) at Charlestown, Rhode Island. Calvin left the Narragansetts sometime late in 1768, presumably after the dissolution of his relationship with Mary Secutor. Wheelock heard reports early in 1769 that Calvin had been imprisoned at Little Ease, NJ, for forging a pass for a Black man (Calvin does not appear in the county records, so either he was never indicted or Wheelock had his information wrong). By 1777, Calvin was in a position of prominence at Brotherton, NJ (a town of Christian Delawares founded under John Brainerd’s ministry). At some point after 1788, Calvin moved west with the Delawares: he may have moved directly to join the Delawares in Ohio territory, or he may have relocated to Stockbridge in 1802 and then moved west.

Wheelock, Rodulphus

Ralph Rodulphus Wheelock was Wheelock's oldest son and heir apparent. While Wheelock believed that Ralph showed great aptitude for the "Indian business," others saw Ralph as arrogant and abrasive. He also suffered from epilepsy, which seriously impeded his ability to work. He died in Hanover as an invalid under almost constant care and guardianship. Wheelock's struggle to accept his son's illness and his son's struggle to overcome it provide an undercurrent for some of the stranger events in the history of Moor's Indian Charity School and Dartmouth College. Ralph grew up surrounded by and dedicated to Indian education, but also with an inflated sense of Wheelock's, and his own, importance, which stayed with him for much of his life. Joseph Brant recounts a telling anecdote: Ralph once ordered William Major, Sir William Johnson's son, to saddle his horse on the grounds that he was the son of a gentleman and William Major was not. Ralph was unable to finish coursework at the College of New Jersey, which he attended from 1761-1763, although he graduated from Yale in 1765. He made three tours of the Six Nations (in 1766, 1767, and 1768), assisting ministers in bringing back children and negotiating with tribes. He taught at Moor's for two years, and was briefly considered as a companion for Occom on the Fundraising Tour. Wheelock formally named him as his heir in the 1768 draft of his will. However, Wheelock's reliance on Ralph brought disastrous consequences for the school. In the spring of 1768, Wheelock sent Ralph to the Onondagas and Oneidas to negotiate about schoolmasters and missionaries. Once there, Ralph managed to offend the assembled chiefs beyond repair. Ralph blamed his failure on Kirkland, and it was not until 1772 that Wheelock learned the truth of the matter. It is likely that Ralph's conduct influenced the Oneidas' decision to pull their children out of Moor's later in 1768: Wheelock himself implied as much in his 1771 Journal. By the early 1770s, Wheelock had realized that Ralph was never going to take over Dartmouth College. In a later will, Wheelock provided Ralph with £50 per annum for his care, to be paid out by the College, and stipulated that his other heirs should look after his oldest son. Because Ralph was unable to serve as Wheelock's heir, the presidency of the College passed to John Wheelock, a soldier who had no theological training or desire to run a college.

Woolley, Jacob

Jacob Woolley, a Delaware, was one of Wheelock's first two Indian students. He was the cousin of Wheelock's third student, Joseph Woolley. John Brainerd sent Jacob Woolley, along with John Pumshire, to Wheelock late in 1754. While Pumshire died in 1757, Jacob continued studying with Wheelock and entered the College of New Jersey in 1759. He studied there until 1762, when he was expelled for failing his studies and abusing alcohol. It is also likely that there was a woman involved. In 1763, Jacob briefly returned to College before running away and enlisting in the army. Joseph Woolley met a man in Sheffield who described someone like Jacob Woolley teaching there in the fall of 1764, but this identification is not definite. Jacob never seems to have been very invested in becoming a missionary. Especially after his expulsion from the College of New Jersey, he expressed doubts about Wheelock's plans for him and struggled with alcohol. It is likely that he ran away primarily because Wheelock was non-responsive to these concerns.

Pomeroy, Benjamin

Benjamin Pomeroy was a school friend of Eleazar Wheelock and a lifelong supporter of his cause. Like Wheelock, he was a New Light evangelical and a staunch ally of James Davenport, a radical New Light preacher whose beliefs got him in trouble with the law. After graduating from Yale in 1733, Pomeroy received the ministry at Hebron, CT, in 1734, and assisted Wheelock in myriad ways until his own death in 1784. He kept Wheelock's school during 1746, when Wheelock's first wife, Sarah, was dying, and he tutored Occom (primarily in Hebrew) after Occom had completed his studies with Wheelock. Pomeroy also supported Wheelock as a trustee of Moor's, and, later, Dartmouth, and as a member of the Board of the Correspondents in Connecticut for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Pomeroy and Wheelock also had close family connections: Pomeroy was married to Wheelock’s sister, Abigail, and one of Pomeroy’s daughters, Hannah, married David McClure, one of Wheelock's most illustrious graduates. Outside of his liturgical career, Pomeroy served as an army chaplain in the French and Indian War and the Revolution.

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