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Daniel Simon, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1778 December 7

ms-number: 778657

abstract: Simon has been keeping school at Stockbridge, but is now uncertain as to whether he will continue there.

handwriting: Handwriting is small, yet mostly formal and legible. Letter case, especially with regard to the letter S, is frequently difficult to decipher. When in doubt, the transcriber has used the lower case.

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

noteworthy: On two recto, “Taussar’s son” could refer to Benjamin Towsey, a Stockbridge Indian student sent to Dartmouth by his father David Towsey.

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


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



Honoured and worthy
sir,
The duty that I am under to
my worthy Patron, lays me under
the greatest obligation to
write every opportunity not only
to unfold to you my personal
circumstances, but to inquire after
your peace, Health and welfare,
and not only so, but the grand cause
that you are engaged in, my
Education being from there, it
becomes me to speak high of the
College, the generality of the People
speak well Concerning the College,
but here and there one, little tainted
or tardy, — I would inform you, sir,
that I have kept out my time
in keeping school at Stockbridge,
Blank page. and after that — I was sent as an
Agent to the Boston Board for the
Stockbridge Tribe of Indians, and
the memorial and Petition that I
laid before the Board was granted,
which was for the establishment
of a school among this Tribe,
and the Board applied to me how and in
what manner that I would reside
among the Indians, for a number
of years, but finding the depreciation
of the Money is such, — the Board
thought fit to defer my Contract,
and it is to be much with Mr.
sergeant
, at Stockbridge, and it is
some uncertain whether I shall
engage in the business of the Boston
board
, — I don,t know but
that I shall take the English
school, — and and, the stockbridge Tribe of
Indians
are concerned about that
Boy who lives this Side of the College,
Taussar,s son, that he may not
be disposed of in an unlawful
way, and in a clandestine manner
and so remain wishing the peace
and health of your own person and
family and the prosperity of all that
concerns you
Daniel simon
Daniel Simons
Indian
Dec 7. 1778
To —
Eleazar Wheelock
D.D. President
at
Dartmouth College
Simon, Daniel

Daniel Simon was a member of the Narragansett Simon family (Mrs. Sarah Simon, Miss Sarah Simon, Abraham Simon, Daniel Simon, James Simon, and Emmanual Simon—all five children attended Moor’s Indian Charity School for at least some time). Daniel arrived at Moor’s Indian Charity School with his brother Abraham either very late in 1768 or early in 1769. The two brothers remained with Eleazar Wheelock during his relocation to Hanover, New Hampshire. Daniel Simon graduated from Dartmouth College in 1777 (the college’s first Native American graduate, and the only one during Wheelock’s lifetime). He was licensed as a minister by the Grafton Presbytery on January 19, 1778. After a stint keeping school at Stockbridge, MA, he took over John Brainerd’s ministry at Cranbury, NJ in 1783 (John Brainerd, the long-term Anglo-American missionary in the region, had died in 1781). In 1784, Simon was suspended from the ministry on charges of intemperance, and began serving “informally” as minister at Brotherton, NJ, until at least 1788. He married a sister of Hezekiah Calvin (a Delaware who had attended Moor’s, and who became prominent at Brotherton), which may explain why he settled at Brotherton, NJ, instead of Brothertown, NY (where all four of his siblings resided).

Towsey, Benjamin
Towsey, David
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.

Sergeant, Jr., John

John Sergeant Jr., like his father, served as a minister in Stockbridge, MA. In 1773, Stephen West, the minister to the Stockbridge Indians since 1757, decided to leave his post and turned over ministering duties to John Sergeant Jr. Stockbridge, MA, which John Sergeant Sr. helped establish, failed as a Christian Indian town when the Stockbridge Indians lost ownership of their land. When the Oneida Tribe offered the Stockbridgers land in central New York after the American Revolution, many of them moved to the Brothertown and New Stockbridge settlements. The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge funded Sergeant Jr. in 1787 to continue serving as a minister to the Stockbridge Indians who moved to New York. Sergeant travelled from Stockbridge, MA, to New Stockbridge every year to serve as their minister. In 1788, the Stockbridge Indians at New Stockbridge were divided in their support for Occom or John Sergeant as the town’s minister. Mohican sachem Hendrick Aupaumut led the community members who favored Occom. According to Sergeant, 30 members of the Tribe were in favor of Occom while 50 were in favor of him (later, half of Occom’s supporters defected to Sergeant). The relationship between Sergeant and Occom was contentious, with Occom disliking Sergeant’s manner of preaching. Occom moved to Munhegunnack or New Stockbridge in 1791 and suggests in a letter that many of Sergeant’s supporters were shifting support to Occom. In his sermons, Sergeant blamed the Indians’ loss of land on what he described as their drunkenness and idleness. He suggested that the whites’ encroachment on their lands was God’s punishment for their sins. Sergeant remained the New Stockbridge minister until his death in 1824.

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