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Sarah Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 April 4

ms-number: 769254.1

abstract: Simon asks for permission to go home and visit her sick mother.

handwriting: Handwriting is somewhat uneven, yet mostly formal and clear. The trailer is written in an unknown hand.

paper: Small single sheet is in good condition, with light staining and wear, and moderate creasing.

ink: Brown-black.


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



 Reverend and Honoured sir
as I have received many kind favours
I desire to beg one humble request and that is whether the
Doctor would be willing to let me go to my home if I would
not be gone no longer than if I only went to Mohegan.
for I want very much to see my Mother I understand
she has met with trouble lately and she wants see me
and she is not able to come to see me. and therefore
I think it my great Duty to go and see her. —
for I do not think that she is long for this world I have
no reason to think so. for she is very weakly and always
sick. my Parent is very near and Dear to me; and
being I do not desire to Ever to go home and live
with her again; I desire to beg that favour to go
and see her as often as the Doctor is willing I —
should for I dont want to offend the Dr. in
the least. but I feel willing to do anything
sir that you think is best for me. —
Oh how I [illegible][guess: ought to] bless and adore that great and
kind God that put it in the hearts some of his people
to take so much Care of the poor Indians [illegible][guess: me] above
all the rest. it seems to me I could go anywhere
or do anything if it would do any good to my poor
perishing brethren.
so I desire to subscribe myself your
ever dutiful servant
Sarah Simon
Sarah Simons
April 4.—1769 —.
To—
the Reverend Mr. Eleazar Wheelock DD
at
Lebanon
Simon, Sarah

Miss Sarah Simon was a member of the Narragansett Simon family: Mrs. Sarah Simon, Miss Sarah Simon, James Simon, Abraham Simon, Daniel Simon, and Emmanual Simon. All five children (there was at least one other) were educated at Moor's, to some degree. The Simon family spells their name Simon, but Wheelock and others vary it. Miss Sarah was one of Wheelock's female students, and wrote a spiritually troubled letter to him before departing (769900.1).

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.

Simon, Sarah

Mrs. Sarah Simon is the matriarch of the Narragansett Simon family, which included herself, Miss Sarah Simon, James Simon, Abraham Simon, Daniel Simon, and Emmanual Simon. All five children (there was at least one other) were educated at Moor's, to some degree. The Simon family spells their name Simon, but Wheelock and others vary it. She sent five children to Wheelock. Although Miss Sarah wrote that Mrs. Sarah was ill in 1769, missionary records indicate that Mrs. Sarah survived until at least 1773.

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