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Sarah Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 [month unknown] 16

ms-number: 769900.1

abstract: Simon writes to Wheelock that she fears she is irretrievably in the grip of the Devil.

handwriting: Handwriting is small, yet largely clear and legible.

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

ink: Brown-black.


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



Rev. and Honoured Sir
I have been this Some time back
thinking upon things of religion; and I think they
do not look So plain to me as I have Seen them and I have great ma
ny wicked thoughts and I do not know what I
Shall do if I do not ask somebody's advice about
it for I feel very bad about it; I have thought a gr
eat while that I would Come and talk with the Doctor
but then I thought again that it will not do me
any good; for I have talked with the Doctor great many
times and If I do not mind them words that has
been already Said to me I Shall have the more to an
swer for; So I thought I would not go nowhere to
hear anything or no ask any questions about any

but I fear it is the works of Satan; and I have [illegible][guess: mind]
it 'til I am undone forever and I believe that
Satan is [illegible][guess: besser] with me than anybody else in
this world Even when I go to Read he takes all
my thoughts away upon something else
and my temptation he lays before me I thought
I never would not tell anybody of it but as
I was at home this afternoon all alone I was
thinking upon these things and wondering
what I should do and I thought of a book I [illegible][guess: heard]
Read once that when anyone was at lost
about any thing they must go to their —
minister and inquire of them and there
will lead you into it, and then I think it is my duty
to Come and take your advice. and I what want to know

is this am I incurable or not; the devil is [illegible][guess: just]
ready Sometimes to make me think that because I have
made a perversion and do not always keep upright.
and it seems to me all the true Christian never
meets with Such a struggle with Satan as
I do and so that makes me fear that I am
a Christian because the Devil is so be[illegible: [guess: s]]e with
me more than he is with any one else. for wh
en I go to try to pray he tell me that it
will not do any good neither will it merit
anything so he tries everything to put
me back. and o what shall I do it seem
to me I could write all this right to you
if it would do any good but i fear it will
not. —

So I desire to subscribe my
self your most humble and Ever
Dutiful Servant
Sarah Simon

From Sarah Simons
16th 1769.

for —

the Rev. Mr. Eleazar Wheelock DD
at
Lebanon
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.

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.

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.

HomeSarah Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1769 [month unknown] 16
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