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Margaret Kayadontyi, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 August 8

ms-number: 766458.1

abstract: Kayadontyi wishes to relay a message to another Mohawk woman under Wheelock's care.

handwriting: Handwriting is small and uneven, yet mostly formal and clear.

paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in fair condition, with moderate-to-heavy creasing, and light-to-moderate staining and wear.

ink: Brown-black.


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



Sir
after my Compliments—
Katrine a Mohawk Woman who I hope is under
Your Inspection / Be so kind as to Inform her it
is my Desire for her to Come up as Soon as possible
as I have Something to Communicate to her;
to her own advantage / I am with Affection although
at a Distance Your Aunt /or in our Language

Your Mother — — Margaret
Capt. Daniels wife / —

P.S. You will please to tell her she Can have what
Education is now on the Carpet from the
new England Schoolmasters now in our parts
Margaret
To Mr. Meriaan./
Please to Excuse my Defects in not
knowing [illegible][guess: From] Exact
Blank page.Blank page.
Margaret Mohawk's
Letter
August 8th 1766
To The Rev.
Eleazar Wheelock

Lebanon
Mohawk Country

Mohawk Country refers to the territory occupied and controlled by the Mohawk Tribe. This territory extends to the north near Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and to the south along the Mohawk River in New York state. The Mohawks were members of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy and were known as the “Keepers of the Eastern Door,” charged with protecting the Haudenosaunee Confederacy from threats to the east. After contact with the Europeans in the 17th century, Jesuit missionaries came to the territory and recruited Mohawks to go north into Canada to practice Catholicism, and in the 18th century, Wheelock’s missionaries travelled to Mohawk Country to recruit students and carry out missionary work. The Mohawks allied with the British during the American Revolution, and at the end of the war many fled to Canada, while others went to the Bay of Quinte, which became known as Tyendinaga.

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.

Kayadontyi, Margaret Hill

Margaret was a Mohawk woman who spent a few months at Moor’s Indian Charity School (September 28, 1766-January 9, 1767), where Sir William Johnson sent her to seek refuge from her abusive husband. Her niece, Katherine, was at Moor’s at the time. Margaret returned to Fort Hunter with Katherine and Mary, another Mohawk woman. She was later described as a widow; perhaps they returned because Daniel had died, although since several women returned at once, perhaps there was another reason. Margaret may have learned English and been literate before arriving at Moor’s. A 1789 land deed from Fort Hunter provides a terminus postquem for her death.

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.

HomeMargaret Kayadontyi, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 August 8
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