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Joseph Woolley, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 6

ms-number: 765406.2

abstract: Joseph Woolley writes to Wheelock with news from his mission to Onaquaga. He mentions the smallpox epidemic, the Shawnees' and Delawares' confirmation of the Covenant Chain, his cousin Jacob Woolley, and David Fowler’s abuse of his Indian students.

handwriting: Handwriting is largely clear and legible.

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

ink: Brown.

noteworthy: Woolley makes unusual use of quotations to indicate asides placed in the left margin.

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Rev.d S.r
We have awaited for the M.eſsurs Smith &
Chamberlain, four Days, and I dont think it is best for
me to wait any longer. then next Monday, I think
Providence calls me to go away from here ſoon.
The epidemical Small pox Diſtemper is here, & proves very
mortal among the Indians — The Squash Cutter
died with it about ten Days ago; another died
last evening & was buried this afternoon here.
This poor Man was left destitute by all his Friends
& Relations, had nobody to tend him, "I felt So con‐
cillegibleearned for him I like to gone there myself."
I illegibleam ſorry & greaved to ſee in the Indians ſo much Brutallyity, that
they caired no not more for each other than the Beaſts do
"(tho I believe if a Horſe knew there was ſome thing of a Mat‐
ter with his Mate, he would come and leap over him)
but there appeared no ſuch Affection among them;"
however, ſome of them made out to go and aſsiſt in bury‐
ing him. — — —
The Shawanees & Dellawars came here the Day
before yesterday the in order to confirm the Covenant
Chain, which Captain Kill-Buck Chief of the Dellawares has been upon
ever ſince last Spring — to whom, I had the Honour
a Head Warrier
of the Delawares
who has done ſo much
miſchief & exercſed
ſo much Inhumanity
to the Engliſh

This man with the
Squash Cutter
were there as Hoſtages
from that Tribe

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of Interpreting thoſe Letters & the Parchment in which the
Covenant was written; & to his greatest Satiſfaction.
This Man Kill-Buck would feaign have me go to
Allegany with him to his own Home, & to Spend my
Life amongſt them There — But I have Diſcourige‐
‐ments from thoſe that have been there."
As we was paſing thrō Sheffield, one a Man
call'd out to me, and ask'd me whether I was
not the ſame Man that lay ſick there laſt Fall."
and enqured asked into my Name — But I told him not
who I was & what I was, that I might have the better
Chance to know what he had to ſay about him — well, hereupon
he biegan to tell what he did after he got well with
the Pluriſie — That he taught young Men & Chilren
to Sing read and write & cypher; That he had his Learn‐
‐ing from Mr Wheelock, and went to the Jerſey College , and in his
Laſt Year went back again to Mr Wheelocks. and after‐
ward ran away from him & went into the Service. i.e of the War
Moreover, he told me what that young Man ſaid — The
Reaſon why he ran away, that he was affraid Mr Wheelock
would make him Preach; Therefore now he determins ne‐
ver to ſee you.— But I could get no Intelligence which
Way he went, whether he is alive or no. he told it to
me in ſuch a light I could not help but thinking it was
Couſin Jacob Wooley ."
I have not heard about of your the Dutch Horſe I am affraid
he is loſt, and if it ſo [illegible] it ſois [illegible] a great Loſs.

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I have been out of Health ever ſince I arrived
here, a Sharp Pain in my Breaſt and ſo thrō on
the other Side, continues bad.
"I have heard of Fowler to Day that he is yet
alive and well, begins to beat his Schollers
very much, ſ makes their Hands to Swell very much
which the Indians dont like very well; They
ſay, he ought to have ſuppreſsed it longer, & not be‐
gin ſo ſoon — " I have no more Special to ſay, you
know I was never a good News Monger. —
Pray Pleſe S.r to accept my DHumble Duty, to you & Mrs
, and tell her I hope her unwearied Pains
for me wont be qute Loſt, but that I shall improve the
beſt of my Ability to my People — among my poor Brethren & alſo Duty to kind Ma‐
ster Lathrop
— I remain
your Dutiful,
  & very Humble Servt

Joseph Wooley

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from Joſeph Woolley
July 1765
The Rev.d M.r Eleazer Wheelock
Shawnee Tribe
The Shawnee Tribe is an Algonquian-speaking people, who originally occupied lands in southern Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. Their name comes from the Algonquian word “shawum” meaning “southerner,” and refers to their original location in the Ohio Valley south of the other Great Lakes Algonquian Tribes. Their history is one of displacement, wandering, and rebellion. The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) drove them from this region around the 1660s because they wanted their rich hunting lands, and the Shawnees scattered. By 1730, most of them had returned to their ancestral homeland in the Ohio Valley, where they became embroiled in the unrest that characterized that period. In 1761, the Senecas circulated a war belt calling for a general uprising against the British, and the Shawnees were one of only two tribes who responded. This rebellion was discovered and stopped by Sir William Johnson, the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The Shawnees also joined the Ottawa Chief Pontiac in his uprising against the British in the spring of 1763. Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the British military commander in North America, ended the siege. Joseph Woolley writes to Wheelock in 1765 about the Shawnees and Delawares coming to Johnson Hall to “polish the covenant chain” with the Haudenosauanees. The Shawnee Tribe participated in the large congress at Fort Stanwix in 1768, and in the summer of 1774, Occom records in his journal that the Shawnees fought with the Virginians in what would become Lord Dunmore’s War, and were rousing other tribes to join them. But because they were severely outnumbered, their chief Cornstalk signed a treaty relinquishing all Shawnee claims south of the Ohio River. Eventually, the tribe scattered again. One band migrated to Missouri, becoming the Absentee Shawnee. Another settled in eastern Oklahoma, and the band that is called the Shawnee Tribe (or Loyal Shawnee, because they fought on the side of the Union during the Civil War) relocated to a small reservation in Kansas. The Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother the Shawnee Prophet led another ill-fated uprising against American settlers in the border wars of the Ohio Valley at the turn of the 19th century, founding the pan-Indian Prophetstown settlement in 1808 and fighting on the side of the British in the War of 1812. After Kansas became a state, the non-Indian citizens demanded the removal of all Indians; in 1869 the Loyal Shawnee moved to land in Oklahoma offered to them by the Cherokees, though some Shawnees remained on the reservation in Kansas. In the 1980s, the Shawnees began the process of gaining a separate tribal status; they became a federally recognized tribe in 2000.
Delaware Tribe
The Delaware Tribe, or Lenape Tribe, is a conglomeration of linguistically and culturally similar Native American groups that initially inhabited the mid-Atlantic region, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, eastern Connecticut, and southeastern New York. The three main groups comprising the Delawares are the Munsees, Unamis, and Unalaqtgos. Several Delawares attended Moor’s Indian Charity School, including some of Wheelock’s earliest students. Because the Delawares were not a politically unified entity, contact with Europeans and subsequent conflict over land and trade proved especially devastating for them. During 17th-century battles over trade access, the Delawares found themselves in conflict with the Dutch and the English as well as with other Native American groups that wanted to trade with Europeans. By the time the Dutch left in the mid-17th century, the Delawares were tributaries of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois). Scholars estimate that by 1750, through a combination of war and disease, the Delaware population had fallen by as much as 90 percent. Many Delawares responded to the situation by leaving. Some migrated west with Moravian missionaries; others joined different tribes, including the Cayugas in New York and the Stockbridge Mahicans in Massachusetts (who later migrated to Oneida territory, near Brothertown, NY, and from thence to Wisconsin). Still others migrated to Ohio and ended up in Kansas or Oklahoma as a result of American expansion. Those who stayed oversaw a century of complex treaty negotiation, including two of the more egregious instances of Native American dispossession: the infamous "walking treaty" between the Delawares and the colony of Philadelphia in 1686, and the American government's (unfulfilled) promise to give the Delawares their own fully-enfranchised state in the union for their support during the Revolution. The Delawares played an important role in the history of Moor’s Indian Charity School. John Brainerd, a Presbyterian missionary to the Delaware and a friend of Wheelock’s, sent Wheelock his first “planned” Native American students from among the Delawares in 1754. J. Brainerd also oversaw the establishment of a Christian Delaware settlement at Brotherton, New Jersey in 1758 (not to be confused with Brothertown in Oneida, New York).
Princeton University
Princeton University is a College and Graduate School of liberal arts and sciences located in the town of Princeton, New Jersey. A member of the Ivy League, it enrolls about 8,000 students. When it was chartered in 1749, it was known as the College of New Jersey. It was founded by New Light Presbyterians as the educational arm of Scotch-Irish religion, and is the fourth institution of higher education established in British North America. For its first 50 years, the College was housed in Nassau Hall, one of the largest buildings in colonial America, set on land donated by Nathaniel Fitz Randolph. When expansion earned the College university status in 1896, it was officially renamed Princeton University, after the town. After the untimely deaths of its first five presidents, including Aaron Burr, Sr., and the noted Protestant theologian Jonathan Edwards, a prominent evangelical Presbyterian minister from Scotland named John Witherspoon took the helm in 1768. Witherspoon trained a generation of men who would lead the American Revolution, including James Madison, Aaron Burr, Philip Freneau and John Breckenridge. As a New Light minister, Wheelock was part of the same evangelical movement, and the College of New Jersey played a significant role in his educational experiment. Jacob Woolley, one of the first students at Moor's Indian Charity School, went on to enter the College of New Jersey in 1759, leaving in his senior year under a cloud of scandal. Several of Wheelock's Anglo-American students who studied at his Latin School and at the Indian Charity School graduated from "Nassau Hall" and became missionaries or schoolmasters in his "great design."
Allegheny River

The Allegheny Ohio is region in lower western New York State and western Pennsylvania named for the Allegheny River that runs through it. The Allegheny River is about 320 miles in length, with its origin in the springs of northern Pennsylvania. From these springs, the Allegheny travels into northern New York before it moves into southwestern Pennsylvania where it meets the Monongahela River in present-day Pittsburg, at which point the two rivers feed into the Ohio River. By the 18th century, the Delaware Indians, or Lenni Lenape Tribe, had been driven from their ancestral lands along the Delaware River west to the Allegany river valley, which they called Alligewinenk, "a land into which they came from distant parts." (The Haudenosaunee called the river Ohio, a variant name.) The Lenni Lenapes displaced the Haudenosaunees in western Pennsylvania, and the basin of the Allegheny River served as hunting grounds and homeland for the Senecas, Delawares, and Shawnee Indians.

Johnson Hall

Johnson Hall, which still stands today, refers to a Georgian house located in the present-day town of Johnstown, New York. It also denoted the small village surrounding the hall that became Johnstown. Its namesake is Sir William Johnson. Following the close of the French and Indian War in 1763, Johnson moved from what was known as Fort Johnson located in the present-day town of Amsterdam, New York to Johnson Hall, which became an important site in the history of Indian-white relations in the area. Johnson lived out the rest of his life there, dying in 1774 following a fraught conference regarding the mistreatment of the Shawnees by the British. Johnson wrote several letters to Wheelock from Johnson Hall with news of the Indians and council meetings with their representatives. David Fowler and Joseph Woolley, missionaries trained by Wheelock who went to work with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), both called on Johnson, spending time at and writing letters from Johnson Hall about their work.


Connecticut is a state in southern New England that borders Massachusetts to the north and the Long Island Sound to the south. Its name is derived from the Algonquian "Quonehtacut," meaning "long river," referring to the Connecticut, which runs from the border with Canada into the Long Island Sound. The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Pequots, Mohegans, and Quinnipiacs. European settlers took advantage of tribal divisions to establish dominance in the region. Dutch explorer Adrian Block sailed up the Connecticut River in 1614, establishing an active Dutch trading post at what is now Hartford. English claims to Connecticut began in 1630, but settlement truly began when Thomas Hooker, a Congregationalist minister now known as "The Father of Connecticut," left Boston to found Hartford in 1636. Hartford became the center of the Colony of Connecticut, which did not receive its charter until 1662 when Governor John Winthrop, Jr. secured it from Charles II. In 1665, the Colony of New Haven, established in 1638 by the Puritan minister John Davenport, joined the Colony of Connecticut under this charter. Early settler relations with local Indians were tense, and encouraged the New England colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven to unify as the "United Colonies" or "New England Confederation" and fight together, with Indian allies, in the Pequot War and again in King Philip's (Metacom's) War. These wars helped establish a specifically Connecticut and specifically American identity; the latter drove the colony to join the rebellion against Britain in 1776. Occom, born into a Mohegan household in Connecticut, was closely associated with the Colony and retained strong ties to the region throughout his life. He converted to Christianity in 1743 when the Great Awakening spread through Connecticut, and inspired Wheelock's Indian Charity School, which was founded in Lebanon, CT in 1754. He also became involved in the Mason Land Case, a long-standing dispute over the ownership of reserve Mohegan lands in Connecticut. Wheelock also had strong ties to Connecticut, moving his Indian Charity School only when the colony would not grant it a charter.

Woolley, Joseph

Joseph Woolley was a Delaware who died of consumption while keeping school at Onaquaga. He came to Wheelock in 1757 as a replacement for John Pumshire, and although Wheelock labeled him as "fit for college" in late 1761, he never attended. In the fall of 1764, Joseph went to the Six Nations with Kirkland to learn the Mohawk language and keep school, and in March 1765, he was officially approved as a schoolmaster and returned to Onaquaga to teach. He was very popular there, but died unexpectedly in late November 1765. Joseph was engaged to Hannah Garrett, who later married David Fowler, but a letter from David (765302.2) suggests that Joseph may also have pursued Amy (David's object of interest before Hannah).

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, Titus

Titus Smith was a Yale graduate whom Wheelock trained and ordained as a missionary and sent to the Six Nations with the 1765 mission. Together with Theophilus Chamberlain, a Yale student with whom he was examined and ordained, Smith led the band of newly-examined schoolteachers and ushers into the Six Nations to set up day schools. After Ebenezer Moseley replaced him, Smith retired from the missionary life and became an itinerant preacher in Connecticut until 1768, when he converted to Sandemanianism and was re-ordained. Because of his religion (Sandemanians opposed violence), as well as his Tory politics, Smith found himself in danger when the Revolution broke out. His family fled to Long Island, and from there to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Smith lived out his remaining years.

Chamberlain, Theophilus

Theophilus Chamberlain was a Yale graduate and missionary employed by Wheelock. His interest in Indian ministry may have started during the French and Indian War, when he was taken captive by a tribe allied with the French (it is unclear which tribe) at Fort William Henry and spent a year in Nova Scotia. After his return to New England, Chamberlain attended Yale. Wheelock recruited Chamberlain, along with fellow Yale graduate Titus Smith, to spearhead Moor's 1765 mission to the Six Nations. Chamberlain was examined as a missionary on March 12, 1765, and ordained on April 24, 1765. During the mission, he was stationed at Canajoharie (the Mohawk "Upper Castle") and oversaw the mission to the Mohawks. While on his mission, he converted to Sandemanianism, a decision that profoundly shaped the rest of his life. It is difficult to evaluate his efficacy as a missionary: he had high praise for himself, and David Fowler said the Mohawks were affectionate towards him, but Occom described him as overzealous. Chamberlain served the duration of his contract, but clashed with Wheelock afterwards over who was responsible for debts he had incurred on his mission (e.g. transportation costs, support for schoolmasters and interpreters). After departing from Wheelock's service, Chamberlain was ordained as a Sandemanian bishop. He fled to New York and later Nova Scotia during the American Revolution because of his religious and political beliefs. In Nova Scotia, Chamberlain oversaw the establishment of the settlement of Preston.

Woolley, Jacob

Jacob Woolley, a Delaware, was one of Wheelock's first two Indian students. He was the cousin of Wheelock's third student, Joseph Woolley. John Brainerd sent Jacob Woolley, along with John Pumshire, to Wheelock late in 1754. While Pumshire died in 1757, Jacob continued studying with Wheelock and entered the College of New Jersey in 1759. He studied there until 1762, when he was expelled for failing his studies and abusing alcohol. It is also likely that there was a woman involved. In 1763, Jacob briefly returned to College before running away and enlisting in the army. Joseph Woolley met a man in Sheffield who described someone like Jacob Woolley teaching there in the fall of 1764, but this identification is not definite. Jacob never seems to have been very invested in becoming a missionary. Especially after his expulsion from the College of New Jersey, he expressed doubts about Wheelock's plans for him and struggled with alcohol. It is likely that he ran away primarily because Wheelock was non-responsive to these concerns.

Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)

Mary Wheelock was born Mary Brinsmead on July 26, 1714 in Milford, Connecticut. In the year following the death of his first wife, Eleazar began to court Mary Brinsmead, and the two married on November 21, 1747. Mary and Eleazar had five children together, including John, who would succeed his father as President of Dartmouth College. Little appears in the historical record about Mary, but many of the people who wrote to Wheelock, especially his Native correspondents who often lived with the family, referred to her warmly. In September 1770, Mary dismantled her longtime home in Connecticut, and travelled with her children to the Wheelocks' new home in the wilderness of New Hampshire. They rode in a coach sent over from England by John Thornton, accompanied by 30 Charity School students on foot. Eleazar, who had gone ahead to build housing for everyone, wrote a letter to Mary with many instructions about the move; the disposition of domestic animals, people, supplies; and the acquisition of money that suggests she was an able and trustworthy manager (manuscript 770510.1; this manuscript is not included in Occom Circle documents). She died in 1784 in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery.

Lathrop, John

John Lathrop was mentored by Eleazar Wheelock and taught at Moor's Indian Charity School for several years after his graduation from Princeton. In 1765, he became minister of the Old North Church (Second Church) in Boston. He first wife was Mary Wheatley, who first taught the slave poet Phyllis Wheatley to read and write. John's cousins Daniel and Joshua Lathrop had business dealings with Wheelock and the Charity School.

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