Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Jacob Fowler, letter, to Samson Occom, 1775 March 14

ms-number: 774214

abstract: Fowler writes that he can offer Occom no financial assistance, that he has been licensed to preach, and that 16 new members were recently counted in church.

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

paper: Paper is in fair-to-poor condition, with heavy creasing and wear that results in some loss of text.

ink: Dark brown-black.

noteworthy: Although it is uncertain, when Fowler refers, in his closing salutation, to "aged Dadda and Mamma," he is likely referring to James Fowler and Betty Fowler. Although it is uncertain, it is likely that "Miss Walcut" refers to Lucy Wallcut, daughter of Elizabeth Wallcut. This manuscript is improperly named — according to the date of the letter, the manuscript number should be 775214, not 774214. There is a note added to one verso in a different, likely 19th-century, hand that reads "(from fowler, college, 1775)." This note has not been included in the transcription.

signature: The signature is abbreviated.


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



Rev. Sir,
I do actually wish it lay in Power to
help you but how I can I know not, I am disappointed
still every way, I am sensible that your expenses are
great, and stand in Need of Every small advance. —
I am preparing to come out like an old sheeps horn
and hope to shake the walls of Jerico. and do some
good, soon as may be — — — — — —
I think they say — Fowler has passed Examination
and is Licensed to preach I believe 1st of March. —
I [gap: hole][guess: a]m full of [gap: hole][guess: B]us[gap: hole][guess: i]ness and [gap: hole][guess: d]ont s[gap: hole][guess: e]em to get [gap: hole]anything
neither. I am afraid sometimes I never will make
a poor crooked sheep Horn, but Knowledge is said to
grow as does the grass, which starts up, yet not seen
immediately. — — — — — — —
I want much to See yo[gap: hole][guess: u b]ut cant, — — —
I am glad to tell the g[gap: hole][guess: oo]d News of conversion, number
16 were taken in Church the 12 instant which was an
effecting sight. and animating to my drooping
soul.— — — —
 our Love to all your House People —
Duty to aged Dadda and Mamma, et omnia
Jacob Fowler
Miss Wallcutt Sends her Love and Duty to you.
do Send her little Letter.

To
The Rev. Mr. Samson Occom
Mohegan
in
New London
Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is small liberal arts institution in Hanover, New Hampshire. It has about four thousand undergraduate students taking courses in Arts and Sciences, and another two thousand in graduate schools in the Sciences, Comparative Literature, and Liberal Studies, as well as the Geisel School of Medicine, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business. It is a member of the Ivy League, and the ninth oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S. The charter establishing the College was signed in 1769 by John Wentworth, Royal Governor of New Hamsphire, who wanted an academy of higher learning in the colony. Its founder, Eleazar Wheelock, was a Congregational minister from Connecticut who, after his success in educating Samson Occom as a school teacher and Indian missionary in the 1740's, started Moor's Indian Charity School in 1754 to continue what he regarded as a divine mission to educate Native boys and girls to become missionaries. As the school grew, Wheelock began looking for a new location closer to Indian Country where he could expand. But in the 1760's he became disillusioned by the relative failure of his progam and began turning his attention to the education of Anglo-American men as missionaries. After a protracted search, he secured the royal charter in New Hampshire and in 1769 moved his family and base of operations to Hanover, where he established the College. It is named for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, who contributed to the funds raised by Occom and Whitaker on their fund-raising tour of Great Britain in 1766-68 and became a member of the London Trust that administered those funds. The College's charter announced its purpose as "the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land [in] all parts of learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and christianizing children of pagans…, and also of English youth and any others." But Wheelock's priorities were, in reality, the reverse. While he gave public notice in 1770 that "My Indian charity school … is now become a body corporate and politic, under the name of DARTMOUTH COLLEGE," he created this parallel structure to allow him to use the funds that were collected specifically for the education of Indians. Only around 75 Native students enrolled at the College before 1972, when it rededicated itself to educating Indians and established the Native American Studies Program. This is also the year Dartmouth went co-ed. Occom was angry and embittered at Wheelock’s abandonment of his “great design,” for which he had sacrificed so much. Their relations cooled after Occom’s return from England, and he never visited his mentor again, or, for that matter, Dartmouth College.
Mohegan

Mohegan is a village in southeastern Connecticut at the site of the present-day town of Montville, and is the location of the Mohegan Indian Reservation. The village gets its name from the Mohegan Tribe, or wolf people, who split from the Pequots in the early 17th century under the leadership of the sachem Uncas. In the 1720s, the Mohegans requested the colony of Connecticut provide them with an English educator. An English minister and schoolteacher named John Mason (no relation to Captain John Mason) moved to Mohegan in order to provide English-styled education to the Mohegans, convinced his sponsors, the New England Company, to build a schoolhouse at Mohegan, which eventually served as a boarding school for other Native American children from the surrounding area. During the 17th century, the Mohegan Tribe became embroiled in a complicated controversy over control of Mohegan land — known as the Mason Land Case or, more specifically, Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut — that included the village of Mohegan. The Tribe claimed that it never authorized a transfer of their lands, held in trust by the Mason family, to the colonial government. In 1662, the colony of Connecticut was incorporated by a royal charter, which included the disputed tribal land. The land controversy was revived in 1704 when descendants of John Mason, the original trustee, petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, but the suit was finally decided against the Tribe in 1773. Born in Mohegan, Occom became involved in the Mason Land Case and vehemently argued for the rights of the Mohegan Indians to maintain their land, opposing Eleazar Wheelock and other ministers in the area. Although Occom left Mohegan for a 12-year mission with the Montauk Indians of Long Island, he returned at the end of 1763 with his large family to build a house in Mohegan, establishing it as his base of operations. Even after the creation of the Brothertown settlement in Oneida country, for which he served as minister, Occom continued to commute back and forth from Mohegan; he didn't sell his house in Mohegan and move his family to Brothertown until 1789. Many members of his family remained in Mohegan, including his sister Lucy Tantaquidgeon, who lived there until her death at 99 in 1830.

New London

New London is a city located in southeastern Connecticut along an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean called Long Island Sound. The area that would become New London was inhabited by the Pequots who called it Nameaug when the Europeans arrived in North America. Pequot villages bordered Long Island Sound and the Tribe had authority over the neighboring Tribes of the Mohegans and Niantics (all Algonquian-speaking tribes). The Dutch first explored this land in 1614 and established trade with the Native peoples, but the English soon gained possession of the land east of the Hudson in the 1630s. English animosity toward their Indian neighbors led to the Pequot War (1634-38), part of which took place in the present city of New London. The Pequots lost the war and their population deteriorated due to the violence and disease. The General Court of Massachusetts granted John Winthrop possession of Pequot territory in 1644 after which it was to be opened for settlement. By 1646, which is considered the official year of its founding, New London had permanent colonial inhabitants and municipal laws, and jurisdiction was granted to the colony of Connecticut in 1647. In 1658, the inhabitants renamed the town New London after London, England. New London was the colony of Connecticut’s first trading port and was a hub of trade with the West Indies and other colonies. Though initially part of the town of New London when it was first settled by the colonists, Groton, Montville, and Waterford were each separated from New London in 1705, 1786, and 1801 respectively. Present-day Salem was also part of New London when it was settled, but in 1819, it became a separate incorporated town composed of parts of Lyme, Colchester, and Montville. Occom kept a school in New London in the winter in 1748. New London was the home of Captain Nathaniel Shaw, one of the wealthiest merchants in the area, who gave money to Occom in the 1750s for the missionary cause and also sold materials to Occom for the building of his home. However, their positive relationship ended when Shaw refused to provide supplies for Mary Occom while Occom was in England. New London served as the port from which Occom and other missionaries traveled to reach Long Island. During the American Revolution, New London’s location and its status as a seaport made it both vulnerable to invasion and integral to colonial naval operations as well as the exchange of prisoners.New London was incorporated as a city in 1784.

Fowler, Jacob

Jacob Fowler was a Montauk Indian whose life was dramatically shaped by Samson Occom, his brother-in-law. Occom taught Jacob when he was a child, and in 1762, Jacob followed his older brother David Fowler to Moor's. After three years he was approved as an usher in the 1765 examination, and in 1766 he went to assist Samuel Johnson at Canajoharie. He taught among the Six Nations until at least mid-1767. In early 1770, Occom procured him a job teaching at Mushantuxet through the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Jacob taught and preached among the Pequots at Mushantuxet and Stonington until 1774, when Wheelock hired him to teach at Moor's, which had relocated to Hanover, NH as a complement to Dartmouth College. During this time, Jacob also assisted Joseph Johnson with efforts to rally the New England Christian tribes for a move to Oneida territory (the Brothertown Movement). By 1776, there were no Indians enrolled in Moor's and Jacob moved on to serve Governor John Trumbull of CT as a messenger to the Six Nations during the Revolution. After the Revolution, he continued organizing the Brothertown Movement and was among those who initially emigrated in 1784. He was elected clerk at Brothertown, and died sometime in the spring of 1787.

Fowler, James

James Fowler was a notable Montaukett and the father of Mary Fowler Occom, David Fowler, and Jacob Fowler. He married Elizabeth (Betty) Pharaoh, a member of the prominent Pharaoh/Faro family (the current sachem of the Montaukett tribe, as of 2013, is a Pharaoh). When Occom arrived at Montauk in 1749, he took a special interest in the Fowler family and began courting Mary. They married in 1751, and, through Occom’s influence, the Fowler family became quite Christian. David and Jacob Fowler both attended Moor’s Indian Charity School and played important roles in the founding of Brothertown. James’ health deteriorated in the 1760s and 1770s. He died around 1774.

Fowler, Elizabeth (née Pharaoh)

Elizabeth (Betty) Fowler was an influential Montauk woman and the mother of Mary Fowler Occom, David Fowler, and Jacob Fowler. She was a member of the powerful Pharaoh/Faro family, a family which boasts the current (as of 2013) Montaukett sachem. Elizabeth was married to James Fowler. Occom married their daughter Mary, and as a result the Fowler family received extra attention from the minister and became deeply Christian. James Fowler died in 1774, but Elizabeth lived until 1795. She migrated to Brothertown with Mary, David, and Jacob, where she died sometime after 1795.

Wallcut, Elizabeth (née Marshall)

Elizabeth Wallcut was the sister of Colonel Thomas Marshall, a Revolutionary war patriot, and the niece of Susanna Wheatley, mistress of the African slave and poet Phillis Wheatley. Born in 1721 into a Boston family of tradespeople of moderate means and education, Wallcut married and had three sons, Christopher, Benjamin and Thomas, and one daughter, Lucy. Through the Wheatleys, Wallcut was connected to the Christian Evangelical and Indian-mission circles in New England, and was close to Phillis Wheatley. According to family accounts, Wallcut was a person of strong character. In 1770, she sent her youngest son Thomas, then 12, to attend Moor's Indian Charity School, recently removed to Hanover, New Hampshire. Though promising, Thomas was not a good student, and in June 1774, Wheelock sent him, with Levi Frisbie, to Canada to learn Indian languages. Wallcut and her daughter Lucy moved to Hanover as caretakers of the Indians boys, including several Abenakis who had come from Canada to increase the flagging population of Natives at the School to almost 20. They shared lodging with the Indian boys and Jacob Fowler, a former Wheelock pupil and then teacher at the School, and his wife Esther. Thomas entered Dartmouth in 1775, and after he took a job in a hospital in Albany in 1776, Wallcut and Lucy moved back to Boston. Wallcut's son Benjamin was taken prisoner by the British and her son Christopher was killed in battle in 1777. There is some evidence that Phillis Wheatley took refuge in Wallcut's house in Boston after the British left in 1777, and that John Peters, Wheatley's husband, tried but failed to retrieve Wheatley's second manuscript of poems from Lucy. After the War, Wallcut ran a "dame school" in Boston for the children of prominent families. The Boston City Directory for 1789 lists "Walcutt, Widow, school-mistress, Purchase-street."

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

HomeJacob Fowler, letter, to Samson Occom, 1775 March 14
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only