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Joseph Woolley, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 August 17

ms-number: 765467

abstract: Woolley asks Wheelock to write to Mr. Garrett about Woolley's proposal to his daughter Hannah.

handwriting: Handwriting is heavily slanted, yet largely clear and legible.

paper: Single sheet is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate creasing, staining and wear that results in some blurring of text.

noteworthy: A trailer has been added in a different, likely 19th-century hand; this trailer has not been transcribed.


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



Rev. Sir
I forgot to beg of Mr. Wheelock one
Thing, which is this; that you would write to
Mr. Garrett in Favour of the cause, which
his Daughter and I have been about.
She had no Time to settle the Affair
with me; makes me to Request such a Favour
and after Mr. Wheelock has known send me
a Word. I cant take it well from her, if at
Just at the End, She Should turn the Contrary.
But O Mr. Wheelock! let me leave
myself with the Living and true God.
Sir My horse yesterday went conside‐
rable Lame, So that I could hardly keep up
with Mr. Peck. No more to add but
my Duty to you etc. in haste, from,
Sir,
your unworthy Servant

Joseph Woolley
To
Rev. Mr. Eleazar Wheelock
Lebanon
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).

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.

Garrett, Benjamin

Benjamin Garrett was a Stonington Pequot Indian from a prominent family of sachems and Christian converts. He was the great grandson of Hermon Garret or Wequash Cook (Wequashcuk), an early convert to Christianity who played a role in the Pequot War of 1637; and grandson of Catapezet (Kottupesit), who had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph, sachem of the Niantics of Lyme, CT, was the interpreter for the New England missionary Experience Mayhew (1673-1758) and helped him translate the Lord's Prayer into Pequot. Mayhew also met Benjamin, who spoke some English and, according to W. DeLoss Love, had a seven-year-old son he was "willing to devote to learning so that he may be a minister." That boy was Benjamin Garrett, father of the Hannah Garrett who married David Fowler. Further information on Benjamin Garrett and the spelling of his surname is sometimes conflicting, leading scholars to speculate that there was more than one person of this name. The historical records show that between June 1741 and July 1742, 15 members of the extended Garrett family affiliated with one of the three Stonington churches, five of them on the same day at the First Stonington Church. There is also a record of the Stonington magistrates giving financial aid to a Benjamin Garrett in 1793-4. It is possible that Benjamin was the brother of Elizabeth Garrett, the mother of Joseph Johnson, a Moor's alumnus, Occom's son-in-law, and co-founder of the Brothertown movement. That would make him Johnson's uncle, a term Johnson uses in his journal for Benjamin that could be familial or honorary. At the very least, Garrett was part of an extended Christian Indian network that sustained the work of Occom and Johnson.

Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)

Hannah Fowler (née Garrett) was a Pequot woman who married David Fowler. The Garrett family boasted sachems and interpreters and was influential among the Stonington Pequots. Hannah grew up among the Charlestown Narragansetts, as her parents had affiliated with that tribe (a not-uncommon occurrence, given the close ties between the groups, especially in the realm of Christian spirituality). At Charlestown, Hannah received her basic education and was recruited for Moor’s Indian Charity School. She studied at the school from 1763 until she married David Fowler in 1766. Hannah and David’s marriage is especially noteworthy because it is the only instance where a female Moor’s student married a Native American missionary from Moor’s and joined him on missions — which had been Wheelock’s intent in admitting Native American women in the first place. Hannah assisted David on his mission to Kanawalohale from the time of their marriage in 1766 until his departure for Montauk in 1767. In 1783, the pair moved to Brothertown, where their house was the town center. Both Fowlers proved influential in town affairs, and their children and grandchildren also played a central role in the town’s administration.

Peck, Moses

Watchmaker Moses Peck took collections for Occom, and Wheelock had an account with him that involved shipping items to Lebanon and debits/credits for funding Occom. It is possible that Peck was Occom’s credit source in Boston. He was enthusiastic about and involved in the Indian education mission, and offered Wheelock advice about how to deal with Anglicans. Wheelock had Peck print his brief defense of Occom to counter the London Society’s rumors. Peck paid to send his son Elijah to school with Wheelock, although Elijah eventually failed his graduation examinations.

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