Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
John Secutor, letter to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 March 31

ms-number: 767231

abstract: Secutor writes to ask Wheelock to communicate his disapproval of Hezekiah Calvin’s marriage proposal to his daughter Mary.

handwriting: Handwriting is clear, formal and legible.

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

ink: Dark brown.

noteworthy: Handwriting is similar to 767251, 768371.2, and possibly 765566.1, 767115.1, 767351.1, 767552, 767559, 767562.2, 767630.2, 767660.2. Likely that of Edward Deake, schoolmaster at Charlestown.


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


Rev. Sir,
I gratefully acknowledge your
token of love, and friendship, in the Chris­
tian education you have given, my Daughter,
I esteem it Such a favour, as Justly Demands
Gratitude in the deepest sense. —
I received a letter from Mr. Calvin
which contained the following words.
"It may be no small thing that I have to acquaint
"you with, the design that lays between your
"Daughter Molly, and me, Pardon me if I
"blush to Name it, that is Matrimony but I
"shall not attempt it without your Consent, and
"approbation." This, Sir, I by no means Con­
sent to, and should be very glad if you
would use your reasonable powers to dis
suade my Daughter from such design. — Not
that I have ever heard any thing against the
young man.

 I am, Sir, with great respect, your
most Obedient Humble servant
John Secutor

P. S. The letter that Mr. Calvin wrote
to me, and one from my Daughter,
was sent by the Hand of Sylvester
Athony
, who carried them to the
Sachem Ningrets and were opened
and kept there four weeks before I
heard of them. If Mr. Calvin had
Been acquainted with Sylvester, I
Should have blamed him for sending
by him; but as he knew nothing of
him I don't think much of it. —
Sir please to caution them Who they
Send letters by for the future.
 from Sir, your humble servant
John Secutor


From John Secutor
March 31st. 1767

To
the Rev. Mr. Eleazar Wheelock
at
Lebanon
Blank page.
Secutor, John

John Secutor was a member of the Narragansett tribe in Charlestown, Rhode Island. He was the son of David Seketer and their family was considered to be influential during the Colonial time period. John sent both his daughter Mary (in 1763) and his son, also named John, (in 1767) to Moor's Charity School. In March of 1767 he sought help from Eleazar Wheelock in disuading Mary from becoming engaged to Hezekiah Calvin, a Delaware Indian whom she had met at the school. Though it is not known if Wheelock followed through on this request, Mary and Hezekiah never married.

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.

Secutor, Mary

Mary Secutor, the daughter of John Secutor, grew up on the Narragansett tribal lands. In December of 1763 she became one of the few women to study with Eleazar Wheelock at Moor's Indian Charity School. Upon her arrival she met Hezekiah Calvin and the two remained at school together for a year and a half before Hezekiah was sent to teach school to Mohawk children. Later Calvin requested Mary's father's permission for the two to marry. John did not give his consent and asked Wheelock to intervene. Despite this, the two became engaged. However, Mary and Hezekiah never married. Mary appears to have been a model student initially, but began to falter as time went on. In December of 1767 she confessed to sins, taking the name of God in vain, and lewd behavior in front of male members of the school while intoxicated. She pledged to cease this behavior, but in March of 1768 she confessed again to unseemly conduct while under the infulence of alcohol. In July of 1768 she wrote to Wheelock expressing that she did not feel worthy and no longer wished to attend the school, and asking his permission to leave.

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.

Anthony, Sylvester
Ninigret, Thomas

Thomas Ninigret was the grandson of George Ninigret, the 17th-century Narragansett sachem made famous by his relationship with Roger Williams, the English minister who founded Rhode Island. In 1746, Thomas Ninigret became the Sachem of the Narragansett tribe, a position he would hold until his death. Like his predecessors, Ninigret sold large amounts of historically Niantic land (which the Narragansett sachems took possession of when the Niantics and the Narragansetts merged in 1680) to the colony of Rhode Island. Ninigret also accrued vast amounts of personal debt; his legendary spending is accredited to the time he spent in England receiving education, a period which many of his tribe believe made Ninigret a stranger to the Narragansett way of life. As a result, some Narragansetts attempted to convince the Rhode Island legislature to slow the land sales, and even petitioned for Ninigret's removal from the Sachemship. Wheelock took note of Ninigret's destructive behavior and wrote Governor Hopkins in 1767 to appeal for a moratorium on the sale of Niantic/Naragansett land. Ultimately, land sales did slow as the Narragansett people continued to petition the Rhode Island legislature, but only a small amount of Narragansetts remained living in Rhode Island by 1812. Ninigret, often sarcastically referred to as "King Tom," is remembered as the most costly ruler in the Ninigret line.

HomeJohn Secutor, letter to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 March 31
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only