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David Crosby, letter to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 August 19

ms-number: 769469

abstract: Crosby writes to introduce his brother William, who wishes to enter the school.

handwriting: Handwriting is formal and clear, yet letter case is frequently difficult to decipher, especially with regard to the letter S.

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

ink: Black-brown.

noteworthy: In instances where there is some question as to whether a word is spelled with an “e” or an undotted “i,” an “e” has been used. The right edge of two recto shows on the scan of one recto. It is possible that when Crosby refers to his father, he is in fact referring to his father-in-law (Crosby's wife's maiden name was Thomas).

signature: Letter is signed David Crosbey, as opposed to the verified spelling, Crosby.

layout: The first page of letter is on one recto, but second page of letter is on two recto, not one verso.


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


Reverend and honoured Doctor
After due respects to you, and yours in their several characters,
I beg leave to inform you that I had wrote you a Line about
three weeks ago, in which I gave you to understand that my
little Brother William had come a long journey to see me, and also
hinted his views and motives herein. viz the Hopes he had entertained
(after reading your narrative of the Foundation, rise, and design of the Indian
charity School
at Lebanon) of your taking him under your Patronage
I gave you further to understand that I proposed to bring or send him
soon to solicit your friendship for him. unless I should
first receive a Line from you advising otherwise.
A favorable opportunity of sending him (with my wifes Brother
Joel and sister Sibbel who are on a visit here) does now present. and not
having heard from you since I wrote, I have ventured to send him to you
and join with him in requesting your friendship and Favour for him.
If you should please to question the Child you will doubt
less soon be satisfied in his ardent desires after knowledge and
of exercising his little talents for god's glory and the good of
mankind. I am satisfied the Child is better able to give you a satis
fying account of his circumstances and desires than I am, and think
best there to leave the Event. Only I would add thus much, I
believe the simplicity, openness and freeness of the Childs disposition
will render him Incapable of imposing upon you in anywise or
of putting any false gloss on his own character or circumstances.
If it should be your pleasure to keep the Child a Day or two.
in order to satisfy yourself whether or no he can fill a Place in
your School with any tolerable prospect of furthering the good design
of it. I am content he should stay 'til you know what is best,
otherwise you may send him to my Father Tommas who will
send him home to me so soon as convenient. Or if you should
like to talk with me on the premises you may write a Line
or let Billy write and I will endeavour to wait on you
Blank page.
and if it should be thought necessary for me to go to Hardwick (where
my Mother lives, and where the Child's acquaintance are) to do
any business that may subserve the propose I will go

 I am obliged to break off here and only beg leave
only to subscribe myself. Rev. Sir yours in all respects

 David Crosby
East Hartford
August 19. AD. 1769
Mr. David Crosby's
August 19th 1769

To the Rev.
Eleazar Wheelock
DD at
Lebanon Crank
Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
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.

Hardwick

Hardwick is a town in central Massachusetts. Arrowheads found in Hardwick fields suggest that Native Americans were at least hunting in this area prior to Metacom’s War. At the end of the War, some Nipmuc Indians settled in this area and made a claim to the land, which the English recognized. In 1687, John Magnus and other sachems sold a 12-by-eight-mile tract of land to eight inhabitants of Roxbury. In 1739, town inhabitants petitioned for incorporation, which they were granted, and named their town Hardwick after Lord Hardwicke, an English nobleman. Hardwick was a market-based and prosperous town in the mid-18th century. In a 1769 letter to Wheelock, David Crosby writes that he would like his brother to attend Wheelock’s school, and he offers to go to Hardwick, where his mother lives, to fulfill any business Wheelock might think necessary.

East Hartford

As its name suggests, East Hartford is located east of the town of Hartford, Connecticut. What were known as the River Tribes, including the Podunks, lived in what would become East Hartford. Thomas Burnham purchased “a large tract of land of Tantinomo, the ‘one-eyed’ Sachem of the Podunks” that covered East Hartford (Goodwin 58). The residents of East Hartford petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly to grant East Hartford the privileges of a distinct town on five separate occasions (1726, 1728, 1737, 1769, and 1774), but East Hartford did not officially become a town separate from Hartford until 1783. An aspiring minister for the Connecticut Indians, David Crosby, wrote Eleazar Wheelock several correspondences from East Hartford.

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.

Crosby, David

David Crosby was born, 1729, in Billerica, MA to David Crosby and Sarah Foster. There is very little information about his life. He married Elizabeth [Unknown] in 1756. They would have three children. By Sept. 1766, Crosby was acquainted with Eleazar Wheelock, whom Crosby admired and championed. He wrote and visited Wheelock at least through the late 1760’s. It is likely that Elizabeth died within the few months following November 1767. Mentioning his own mortality and his wish for a useful life, Crosby writes to Wheelock in March 1768 offering to indenture himself in order to join Wheelock’s school and be prepared as a missionary. Sometime after June 10, 1768, he married Anne Thomas of Lebanon, CT. They would have four children together. Crosby then returned to or settled in East Hartford where he died in 1819; Anne died there also the following year.

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.

Crosby, William
Foster Crosby, Sarah
HomeDavid Crosby, letter to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 August 19
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