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Account of money owed for the building of Occom’s house, 1764 October 22

ms-number: 764572

abstract: A list of bills that have arisen in the building of Samson Occom's house.

handwriting: Handwriting is formal, clear and legible.

paper: Single medium-sized sheet is in good condition, although one particularly heavy crease is beginning to wear. The top edge appears to have been trimmed.

ink: Brown-black.

noteworthy: There is some text at the top of one recto that has been cut away. Given the context, it possibly says, “Asa Peabody." For the sake of clarity, several dashes and dots have not been transcribed.

events: Building of Occom’s house

Revd Sir According to your Requeſt I have Uſed my Utmoſt
Indevours to Collect and tranſmitt the Several Bills that have
Ariſsen in the afare of Building a hous for the Revd Mr Occom
and thare are Mr Grays act & Mr Roth, Do I Cant Com at without
Extreordinary Expence and tharefore have Given my beſt Judgment
thareon; Till the time I Recd your Letter the acts will Stand
Nearly thus
Revd Eleaz.r Whelock to Gerſhom Breed
as Pr his ac.t hearwith tranſmitted — —
£42:19:7 1⁄2
To Aſa Peabody as pr act £5:1:7 Contra C..r> as pr act £4:1:7 3⁄4
To Benja Gray about £10:0:0 Contra C..r £0=8=3
To Robart Roth Do £1:10:0
To Amos Smith as pr act £6:11:6 Contra C..r as pr his ac.t 0:6:7
£66:2:8 1⁄2 £4:16:5 3⁄4
an act of the Expence Charged to M..r Occom for Servis on Sd: hous
Since the other acts ware [illegible]Cloſed —
Pr.. Jacob Hoſcot as pr ac.t £2:1:6
Pr..[illegible] Criſtopher Squibb £1:2:6 Contra by [illegible]Sundreys in Breeds bill £0=10=10 1⁄2
Pr Caleb Whitny 2:10:0
Pr Mr Will.m Daviſon: Maſon 2=10:0
Pr John Duntuiquechen £0:18=6
Pr Thos Occom £0:6=0
Pr Noah Uncas £0=9=0
Pr Joſeph Shauntup 0:9=0
Pr Aſee Peabody 2=18=0 Contra — Cr £0=8=[illegible]8
£13=4=6 £0:19:6 1/2
Theſe Sir are the acts ariſen in the afare of Sd hous truly and
Juſtly Stated Pr Aſa Peabody Attorny to Rev.d Mr Samſon Occom
[left]Cap.t Backuses act he tells me he gave to you
Blank page.

Norwich is a city in New London County in the southeast corner of Connecticut. It was founded in 1659 when Major John Mason and Reverend James Fitch led English settlers inland from Old Saybrook, CT, on the coast. They bought land from Uncas, sachem of the local Mohegan tribe, and divided it into farms and businesses mainly in the three-mile area around the Norwichtown Green. In 1668, a wharf was built at Yantic Cove and in 1694 a public landing was built at the head of the Thames River, which allowed trade with England to flourish. The center of Norwich soon moved to the neighborhood around the harbor called "Chelsea." During the revolutionary period, when transatlantic trade was cut off, Norwich developed large mills and factories along the three rivers that cross the town: the Yantic, Shetucket and Thames, and supported the war effort by supplying soldiers, ships, and munitions. Norwich was the largest town in the vicinity in which Occom, Wheelock and their associates lived and worked, and it was possible to get there by water because of the harbor and access to the Long Island Sound. Lebanon, CT, the site of Wheelock's school, is 11 miles north and present-day Uncasville, the center of the Mohegan tribe, is a few miles south of Norwich. James Fitch did missionary work among the Mohegans in Norwich until his death in 1702, and Samuel Kirkland, the most important Protestant missionary to the Six Nations trained by Wheelock, was born in Norwich in 1741. On his evangelical tour of North America in 1764, George Whitefield planned to travel to Norwich to meet with Wheelock. The Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge frequently met in Norwich, and many letters by people involved in the missionary efforts of Wheelock were written from Norwich.


Benjamin Gray was a builder in southern Connecticut who contributed to the construction of Occom's house in Mohegan. He appears in the historical record as building a sawmill in Ledyard, CT (then known as North Groton) with his neighbor Joseph Lee (1732-1820), on Lee's Brook. Both the Gray and Lee families lived in the area for generations in the 1700s and into the 1840s. Gray lived a few miles from the mill in a house he built around 1760, which still stands today near Spicer Hill Road, formerly known as Gray's Hill. His son Philip Gray 3rd (1775-1838), also a carpenter and builder, justice of the peace and member of the Connecticut General Assembly, bought the mill from his cousin Stephen Gray, who owned it for a short period in 1804, and rebuilt the mill on Lee's Brook. Benjamin Gray was one of the witnesses attending the lease agreement. Traces of the sawmill pond are visible today, a few hundred yard upstream from Sawmill Park. Benjamin Gray also served in the Revolutionary War.

Hoscot, Jacob
Occom, Thomas
Roth, Robart
Shauntup, Joseph
Uncas, Noah
Breed, Gershom

Breed was a vendor who traded with Occom and Wheelock. His wares included food, building materials, alcohol, clothing, and finished metal goods. He was a staunch Wheelock supporter, and helped hold and deliver mail for Wheelock, as well as sending his (possibly first-born) son, John McLaren Breed, to Wheelock's school (J. Breed went on to graduate from Yale in 1768). While Occom was abroad, he was more lenient in supplying goods to Mary Occom than other local vendors, such as Captain Shaw, but eventually, he too refused to sell to her on credit.

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.

Peabody, Asa Jr
Squib, Christopher
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.

Smith, Amos

Amos Smith helped build Occom's house, and struggled to get payment for his work. Historical records give conflicting dates for his birth, death, and marriage.

Davison, William
Whitney, Caleb
Tantaquidgeon, John

John Tantaquidgeon, son of Ester Uncas and John Tantaquidgeon, was a Mohegan Indian who acted as a counselor to Ben Uncas III. He married Samson Occom’s sister, Lucy, and they had at least three children. He is a forefather of the modern-day Tantaquidgeon family.

Building of Occom’s house
In December 1763, Occom returns to Mohegan to choose a site for his house, close to the Mohegan Chapel. The project engages several Indian laborers, cost about £100, and is a notable structure, clapboarded with cedar.
HomeAccount of money owed for the building of Occom’s house, 1764 October 22
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