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Isaac Dakayenensere, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 October 9

ms-number: 766559

abstract: Dakayenensere writes to Wheelock on behalf of the Onaquagas, explaining that they now understand that his mission is separate from that of the New England Comapany, and requesting Wheelock to write to them again.

handwriting: Handwriting is formal, clear and legible.

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

ink: Strong brown-black.

noteworthy: The trailer lists a date different from that of the letter's dateline.


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



Brother —
By your writing to us last
we understand that you and the Boston
Board
are different, we always thought
before you were one, and that the missio‐
naries came all from one place, but now
we think otherwise —
Brother We are poor Creatures we know
and we think you know it, for we have
often told you So, and we always exceeding
Glad when you Send us a minister —
Brother we desire you to write to us again, we
receive much comfort from your Letters
it Seems you don't forget us, we hope
this will find you well and your assistants
this leaves us all well —
Isaac in the Name of the Council

To the Rev. Mr. Wheelock
Blank page.Blank page.
Isaac Dakayenensere
August 9. 1766

To
The Rev. Eleazar Wheelock
Lebanon Crank
The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America
The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America was a missionary society active in America from 1649 until 1786. It was first called the "New England Company" in 1770. Most secondary literature uses that name for convenience and to distinguish it from other missionary societies. The company was first chartered in 1649 as the "President and Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England," largely in response to John Eliot's missionary efforts. After the Restoration (1660), it was rechartered as the "Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America." The New England Company was very powerful and influential, in large part because it was a coalition between Anglicans and Dissenters. It supported a range of missionaries from the Mayhews to the Sergeants to Moor's alumnus Samuel Kirkland. After the Revolution, the New England Company refocused its attentions on New Brunswick and Canadian Indians. Wheelock had a very rocky relationship with the New England Company. Initially, it supported Wheelock's efforts. The Company funded Occom's education at Moor's and paid him a small salary during his time among the Montauketts. However, from 1765 onwards, its relationship with Wheelock rapidly deteriorated. The Company opposed the fundraising tour of Great Britain and went so far as to interfere with it by sending a widely circulated letter to England questioning Occom's background. The New England Company also interferred with Titus Smith's mission to Onaquaga by sending a rival missionary, Mr. Moseley, and stealing Titus' interpreter, Elisha Gunn. In 1767 it formally withdrew its financial support from Wheelock on the grounds that the fundraising tour had raised sufficient money. It is unclear what led the New England Company to suddenly change its stance towards Wheelock. Perhaps it wanted exclusive power over missionary distribution in New England, or perhaps it was thought that focusing on education over numbers in the field was counterproductive. Most secondary sources have conflated the New England Company's Boston Board and the Society in Scotland for Promoting Christian Knowledge's Boston Board, an easy mistake to make since both are sometimes referred to as the Boston Board and both vigorously opposed Wheelock. Any secondary source's statement about either should be carefully researched.
Onaquagas
Onaquagas refers to the Indians who lived in Onaquaga. Onaquaga (over 50 different spellings have been documented) was a cosmopolitan Indian town on the Susquehanna River. It was initially established as an Oneida settlement by those seeking an alternative to the power politics of Kanawalohale and Old Oneida. However, from the end of the 17th century onwards it became an immigration destination for displaced Indians from a wide range of tribes. The Tuscaroras settled at Onaquaga in the early 18th century, and in the decades before the Revolution they were joined by Stockbridge Indians, Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Tutelos, Nanticokes, and others. The relationship between this town and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations was a symbiotic one: displaced peoples gained a home, and the Haudenosaunee bolstered their southern buffer zone against colonial encroachment. Between 1743 and 1775, Onaquaga was evangelized by missionaries from the New England Company (NEC), including Elihu Spencer, Gideon Hawley (especially popular, since he arrived fresh from his mission at Stockbridge), Eli Forbes, Ebenezer Moseley, and Aaron Crosby. A rich indigenous Christian tradition also developed in the town under the guidance of Isaac Dakayenensere and Gwedelhes Agwirondongwas (Good Peter). Onaquaga earned a reputation as an especially Christian, Anglicized town. Its citizens were adept at manipulating their religion towards political ends and negotiating the tricky conflicts between missionary societies (for instance, Eleazar Wheelock’s feud with the New England Company, which manifested itself in 1765 when both sent young missionaries to Onaquaga). From the late 1760s onward, Onaquaga’s cosmopolitan composition proved to be its undoing. The community was fragmented by disputes over the extent of Christian practice and the proper style of Christian practice, with Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant (who owned a farm at Onaquaga) urging Episcopalianism and the NEC urging Congregationalism. An influx of Mohawk immigrants in the years after the 1768 Fort Stanwix treaty led the Onaquagas to side with the Crown in the Revolution, rather than with the colonies as most Oneida towns did, and it became Joseph Brant’s base of operations. The town was utterly destroyed in 1778 in the wave of violence that culminated in General Sullivan’s ravaging of Cayuga and Seneca territory. The area was resettled by Americans after the Revolution, and today it is the town of Windsor, NY.
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.

Onaquaga

Onaquaga (more than 50 different spellings have been documented) was a cosmopolitan Indian town on the Susquehanna River, now the site of the town of Windsor, New York. It was initially established as an Oneida settlement by those seeking an alternative to the power politics of Kanawalohale, the new chief village of the Oneidas, and Old Oneida, the former capital. However, from the end of the 17th century onwards it became an immigration destination for displaced Indians from a wide range of tribes. Yet, from the late 1760s onward, Onaquaga’s cosmopolitan composition proved to be its undoing. The community was fragmented by disputes over the extent and the proper style of Christian practice, with Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant (who owned a farm at Onaquaga) urging Episcopalianism and the New England Company urging Congregationalism. An influx of Mohawk immigrants in the years after the 1768 Fort Stanwix treaty led the inhabitants of Onaquaga to side with the Crown in the Revolution, rather than with the colonies as most Oneida towns did, and it became Joseph Brant’s base of operations. The town was destroyed by the Continental Army in 1778 as part of the wave of violent retaliation for British and Indian attacks on frontier communities that culminated in General Sullivan’s ravaging of Cayuga and Seneca territory. The area was resettled by Americans after the Revolution.

Lebanon Crank

Lebanon Crank was the name of an area in the northwest part of the town of Lebanon, Connecticut, on both sides of the Hop River, which was created by the Connecticut legislature in 1716, in response to the demand of residents who did not want to travel to the First Church in Lebanon proper for services. It was also known as Lebanon North Parish and the Second Society or Second Church in Lebanon, names that refer to religious organizations of the Congregational Church. The two dozen families who started the parish built their first meetinghouse near the site of the present structure, around which the religious and political life of the community revolved. Eleazar Wheelock served as minister in this parish from 1735 to 1769, and his house, built around 1735, is the oldest building still standing. Lebanon Crank played a major role in his life. It was his base of operations when he became an itinerant mininster during the religious awakenings of the 1730s and 1740s, and he presided over a revival in the Second Church in 1740. His Indian Charity school was located nearby in Lebanon, and his students attended the Second Church in Lebanon Crank as part of their education. The parish was so invested in Wheelock's School that they tried to keep him from moving it up to New Hampshire when he founded Dartmouth College, but failed. Lebanon Crank was subsequently renamed Columbia and established as a separate town in May 1804.

Dakayenensere, Isaac

Isaac Dakayenensere was a chief and spiritual leader at Onaquaga. Dakayenensere worked closely with Good Peter to minister to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) community at Onaquaga, a predominantly Oneida town with a diverse population. After converting during the 1740s, both men took up the mantle of evangelism and Christian education at Onaquaga. They cooperated with Gideon Hawley, an Anglo-American missionary, throughout his missions in the 1750s, and in the 1760s they began writing to Wheelock for missionaries and assistance with farming. They received Joseph Woolley, who kept school at Onaquaga from late August/early September of 1765 until his death at the end of that November, but they do not seem to have received the promised farming assistance. Dakayenensere’s daughter, Neggen Aoghyatonghsera (alias Margaret or Peggie) married Joseph Brant, a Moor’s alumnus and famous Mohawk war chief. In some scholarship, Isaac is misidentified as a Mohawk.

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.

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