abstract: Suhnaugearot thanks Wheelock for educating his son.
handwriting: Handwriting is that of Samuel Kirkland. It is formal and clear. The trailer is in an unknown hand.
paper: Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light creasing, staining and wear.
noteworthy: There is text in, presumbably, Oneida on two verso beneath the address; its meaning is unknown. As noted in an N.B., Kirkland served as interpreter.
signature: Signed Suhnaugearot, but in Kirkland's hand.
Modernized Version -- deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.
To the great Minister that takes the Care of Indians.
to you. we thank God we are alive. we hope you are yet
alive, and that all Things are well with you. —
Father, we are we are very thankful for the Care you have
taken of our Son. yes Father we thank you heartily.
we are exceedingly pleased with the Instruction you have given
our Son. he was always dear to us — and appeared a good
child — but now much better. you have made his mind
more straight and upright, we are greatly rejoiced to see it.
Father, we desire you would go on to take the Care and instruction
of our Son — for which we shall be ever Thankful, and we thank
God too. — we think perhaps in two years more — he may be
fit to return. we hope you will keep him closely to his
books now, that he may Make the greater speed. If he should
be sick and like to die, you will please to send us word. This
is all we have to say. — and once more give our hearty
service to you.
of my Blood, and belongs to me, he is
something of a bad child, rough Temper
and not wise, I desire Father, you exert yourself
in administering means for forming his Temper and mind straight [illegible]
and making him wise, — and If you find you cant master it, and are
quite discouraged, send me word, and I will let you know mind —
December 28. 1767
The Rev. Dr. Wheelock
ne dorheans nongade.}
Suhnaugearot was an Oneida Indian and father to William, who attended Wheelock's Charity School (where he died in 1768). It is possible that Suhnaugerot is a variant spelling of Saghuagarats, an Onedia chief who figured largely in the land negotions between the Oneidas and the Brothertown Indians, however that connection is uncertain.
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.
William Oneida was an Oneida boy, the son of Suhnaugearot, who attended Moor’s from June 27, 1766 until the spring of 1768, when he died at school. He had studied with David Fowler at Kanawalohale, and came to Moor's with the latter upon his return. He should not be confused with another William Oneida, Deacon Thomas’ son. It is unclear whether either of them was called William Minor.
Peter was an Oneida boy who spent two years at Wheelock's school. In 1769, Peter was pulled out of Wheelock's school along with the rest of the Oneida children. This event was one of the major reasons why Wheelock began to focus more on educating English youths. Another Oneida Peter was at the school from 1768-1769 but does not appear in the Project's manuscripts.
Dawet, also called David, was an Oneida student who attended Moor’s Indian Charity School beginning June 12, 1765. The details of David’s time at Moor’s are unclear. Historian Colin Calloway dates his attendance as from 1765-1766, but account statements exist for him during 1767, 1768, and 1769. Eleazar Wheelock’s account statements place him at the school as late as September 1769, although the Oneida deacon Thomas pulled the Oneida children out of the school in January of that year. Wheelock’s accounts contain expenses for Dawet visiting the Narragansett and for “working abroad,” so it is possible he was employed as a schoolmaster while he continued his studies, and stayed at Moor’s later than other Oneida students for that reason.
Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.