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David Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 May 2

ms-number: 765302.2

abstract: Fowler writes to Wheelock about his intention to marry Amy Johnson, and states that he has bought her a ring. He also writes of his worries concerning her health.

handwriting: Handwriting is formal and clear.

paper: Large sheet is folded in half to make four pages. Paper is in good-to-fair condition, with moderate creasing, staining and wear. There is significant tearing near location of seal, but it results in no loss of text. Heavy creases are silked.

ink: Brown-black.

noteworthy:  The trailer is in an unknown hand. A note under the trailer reading "about a wife" is likely 19th-century and has not been transcribed.

layout: The first page of the letter is on one recto, however the second page is on two recto, not one verso.

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

Rev. and Honoured Sir.

According to your desire I now
send you a few Words of our Transaction.—I have determin­
­ed to have Amy for my Companion: I shall marry her as soon
as I return from Oneida, if I find all things well betwixt us—
We have settled all those things I told you of. some she confessed and
some not: I suppose some were false.—I hope, Sir you will
take the best Care you can of her. She wants a Gown very much,
Handkerchief, also I wish you would let her have some fine Lin
nen to make her etc. I don't know what else she wants; it is like­
ly you will when you come up.— I know if you love her
as much as you do me, all what she desires will be given: it is strange
(if Mr. Wheelock, don't love my Rib as well as my whole Body.—
—I have given her a Gold Ring, which cost two Dollars:— I hope
Sir, you won't be displeased with me for that, I think it will do her
good; now she sees my Sincerity towards her. therefore she will put
more Weight upon what I say to her; it will also serve to keep her back from
those things. she has been apprehened too often; though not once since she
came here. She tells me that she is quite contented here and hopes
to tarry all Summer.— Do let her tarry the biggest Part of this Summer,
if you don't design to send her to Boston. Sir you know, Woolly don't
want one so dexterous as I do, at least he can do better with poor one than I can: for
I want one that is Handy in everything; I expect to do great deal in
reforming my poor Brethren both in spiritual and temporal things;
also I shall be always crowded with guests: I believe, you seem to see
how it will be. from these reasons and many others I can produce had
I Time, you may see that I require one that can turn her Hand to
anything that belongs to housewifery.
After I had some conversation with Mrs. Bull about Amy
I understood that she hasn't had one well Day since she came here; I
suppose she catched Cold when I brought her up: She has conti­
­nual Pain in her Side and Head. I am afraid she is in a consumptive Way;
she should go to some skillful physician.— Sir, you dont know how much
it disheartens me, when I consider her Weakness it strikes such
heaviness in my Heart so that I am unwilling to leave her; for
fear, you wont try to get her healed. O pray for her in se
cret and Private, that God would give Her Health and strength
also all the Graces she stands in need of and continue her a long
and rich blessing in the World, that he would make her a
Pattern of Piety and Virtue to all her poor Kindred, who will
Blank page.
be about her. I am cut off from my Expectation,
I thought I found one that was able to go through hard
Work: but I see now I am in the same Difficulty as
before; but I hope for the Better not for the worst. —
I did not hear of her illness 'til after I wrote you one Let
­ter, so I was obliged to write another, that is the reason why I put
it in the last Place. — Poor Girl I cant help loving her, she
is indeed a pretty Girl. And therefore from this Time I shall
keep clear from all Girls whatsoever.
Sir I shall be exceeding glad if you should tell Ja­
to put all my things into Jacob Woolly chest and let not one of them be
May the blessing of Heaven rest on you and Family,
and continue you a long and rich blessing in the World, may God
bless all your undertakings; and give you Skill to conduct and Go­
vern all those that are committed to your Care: is the sincere Pray
er and desire of him, who desires the continuance your Prayers.
your most affectionate,

though unworthy Pupil.
David Fowler

P. S. My Amy
gives kind Respect's
to you and Madam.
Sir, I hope you won't
let this Letter be exposed.
The Rev. Eleazar Wheelock.
From David Fowler
May 2. 1765.

To —
The Rev. Mr. Eleazar Wheelock
Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

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, 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.

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).

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.

Bull, Elizabeth (née Graham)
Fowler, Jacob

Jacob Fowler was a Montauk Indian whose life was dramatically shaped by Samson Occom, his brother-in-law. Occom taught Jacob when he was a child, and in 1762, Jacob followed his older brother David Fowler to Moor's. After three years he was approved as an usher in the 1765 examination, and in 1766 he went to assist Samuel Johnson at Canajoharie. He taught among the Six Nations until at least mid-1767. In early 1770, Occom procured him a job teaching at Mushantuxet through the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Jacob taught and preached among the Pequots at Mushantuxet and Stonington until 1774, when Wheelock hired him to teach at Moor's, which had relocated to Hanover, NH as a complement to Dartmouth College. During this time, Jacob also assisted Joseph Johnson with efforts to rally the New England Christian tribes for a move to Oneida territory (the Brothertown Movement). By 1776, there were no Indians enrolled in Moor's and Jacob moved on to serve Governor John Trumbull of CT as a messenger to the Six Nations during the Revolution. After the Revolution, he continued organizing the Brothertown Movement and was among those who initially emigrated in 1784. He was elected clerk at Brothertown, and died sometime in the spring of 1787.

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