Theophilus Chamberlain, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 29

ms-number765429.1

abstractChamberlain writes from his mission with an account of work among the Indians, occurrences of problem drinking, a funeral, and weddings.

handwritingHandwriting is formal and clear, yet letter case is often difficult to discern. There is some variation in size and uniformity as the letter progresses. The trailers are in an unknown hand.

paperThree large, separate sheets are in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-heavy staining, creasing and wear. There is some reinforcement along particularly heavy creases. The pages may have been, at one time, larger sheets folded into pages that were later separated.

inkBlack-brown ink varies in intensity.

noteworthyThe letter appears to be written over the course of more than one day. In spots, it is written almost entirely in the present tense.

  Revd Sir
I wrote my laſt from Capt Butlers being  then down to Speak with Sir William Johnston about Setting up  A School at ye Lower Mohawk Caſtle. In ye afternoon of ye  day I wrote you, with mr Kirtland, I waited on his honour; but had  no Oppertunity so much as to propoſe my Buiſeneſs to him; and hav‐ ing promiſed the Indians of Kanajohara to be there on Sunday, I  returnd ye next day without ever viſiting ye lower Caſtle. the ne  next Tuſday, I returnd went to Sir Willims again for his Advice.  found him Sick. could not speak with him. The next day mr Kirt‐ land and I set out for fort hunter. (ye Caſtle) met mr Occum,  he went over with us. a few Indians came together. it was pro‐ poſd to them leaving Calvin who was with us a School‐ Maſter amongſt them if they would maintain him, &, Send  there Children to School. they ansſwer they cant determine till  they love a meeting. at length they conclude to keep Calvin  till they meet; so I muſt go down again to hear their Reſult  and intend to carry Paper for the School Mr Kirtland says  the Indians think ^it^ very hard that they muſt maintain  their Schoolmaſters; but the Indians here say not a word  againſt it; which (I think) is a Sufficent Motive to us,  not to comply with the unreaſonable Ingratitude of the  other.— The same Day I rode up the River about a  Dozen Miles. Mr Occom comes up. Great Abraham  comes crying to me, says, "Peter says, I git drink. I too  "much mad. I muſt go home. I perſwade him to stay. he  appears averſe to it. I tell mr Occom wat ails Abraham  Mr Occom Joins me. at length in some Meaſure over‐ come he concluds to stay for the Preſent.
I go to Peter. talk with him on ye affair. he says, People tell him so.  "what he School‐Maſter, he git drunk too. I aſk Peter when he got  drunk. he says he went to Mowing to day and came out of the field  drunk. Mr Occom and I both saw him coming out of the field, we  nither of us preceivd it. I am much perplext about the affair. fear  what the Event will be; but Abraham behaves him so well in  other Reſpects, I hope it ^is^ all a [illegible] flam. we ride to the german flats  to viſit the Onoydas there, intending if poſible to set up a School  at thear hunting houſes. find them so scattered we think it imprac‐ ticable. Saturday I return home, Mr Occom stays to preach, if he  can get the Indians together. Lords Day we have a Funeral this morning.  Three men wading the River the Night before laſt, one of them is  taken with the Cramp, and drownds. I attend the funeral. his  Wife, Children and friends howl like — — — — — I dont know what.  I make a Prayer at the houſe. go to the grave intending there  to make an addreſs to the Indians on the Occation. An old  man makes a short speach in Indian. throws a handfull of  dirt into the Coffin; the young men fill up the grave.
Before this is half done the People scatter, every one his   way, home as I thought. I stay with an old man till the  grayve is finiſhed, then return. aſk the old man, why the  People go off so soon. he tells me they are gon to the houſe of  morning. It is I conclud to drink away their Sorrow, for they  they come back merry, and some of them come to meeting half  drunk. In speaking to them from theſe Words except you repent  you Shall all likewiſe periſh, I indevourd to shew them, that all  of them who had not repented of their Sins were in great danger  of being taken out of the world. ^by some suden judgment of God^ and sent to hell. And if God  lets them live and they dont repent, they grow worſe and worſe  and will be more miſerable at laſt, becauſe God has waited on  them so long. But what signifies preaching to People drunk.  I would have intirly omited it today, ^except to a few^ were it not for giving offence.
This Practice of Drinking away Sorrow, as far as I can learn,  is very frequent amongſt the Indians this way; and I don't  know but every where; and it being one of thoſe heatheniſh  Practices[illegible], which Chriſtianity alone can put an End to, it is so far  from being a diſcouradgment to thoſe who would spread the goſple  amongſt them; that I hope it will make me more erneſt  and induſterous in Spreding it.— Monday, a great wedding here  to day; Joſeph Brant, marries Nieggen Aoghyatonghſera,— Pegge  daughter of Isaac, from Onohoquage. She is handſome, Sober,  diſcreet & a religious young woman. Kyaka, Brother [illegible][guess: / per]  Patrem/ to your Willm major, mar^r^ies a handſome Engliſh girl.  
said to be daughter to a Gentleman in Virginia. she was taken  some years ago by the back Nations, and brought in, to Sir Willam  laſt fall. She Speaks a Number of Indian languages and  the Engliſh very well. [illegible] a third  cupple I have this day to marry are common Indians. a  great feaſt is now making. an Ox is kild, all to be dreſsd.  seven or eight Cags ^holding two or three gallons each^ of Rum and Wine broght in; Corn boiling  Pies making. Indian flocking together.— but mr Occom is  come I relieve your Patience
The mariage was attended without  a great deal of Indecency / I mean amongſt the Indians/ of any  Kind. how i conducted, upon this unuſual occaſion you muſt  g^u^eſs. the firſt of my marriing. Mr Occom and I saw the new‐  married Pares at ye Table with their Parents, aſked a Bleſs‐ ing for them, and having ourſelves before dind, we set off for  Cherry Vallye hoping to find mr Smith and Mr Gun there.  Tuſday we arived at Cherry Valle. Mr Smith and Mr Gun left  this laſt friday for the Lake. Wenſday: we return to Kanojohare  without seeing them. we find there was a great drunken  frolic after we left this. two Indians were Stabd, one of them  very dangeroſly, in his Back and Breaſt ^if he dies a Relation kills his murder, it is said^. Another accident wh  happened I leave Mr Occom to tell you. Thurſday Mr Occom stayed  with me expecting Mr Kirtland. He dont come. to day we examine  a certain affair, find it not so bad as we feard. Friday Mr Occom  leaves me for Sir Willms & fort Hunter. — — I viſit the Schools; find  nither Maſter nor Scholars at l Abrahams, at Night call the Boys  together, find yt the Neglect of little Abrahams School was thru  a miſtake between him and . J[illegible]ohn. examine the Boys about  family Worſhip find they hear nothing of it in the Place. I  pray with them, order them to come together every Night for  Prayers. which they have since done and I intend they shall  conſtantly. they read a Chapter in the Bible and sing a Pſalm.  Joſ. Brant Joiyns with us. — — — Sunday I preach to ye Indians;  but moſt of them pay but little reguard to Preaching. Monday  I muſt set off to day for fort Hunter where I left Calvin the Week  before laſt, to see him and to receive the Anſwer of the Indians  about a School there; thō I hope there has been one ever Since I  was there. In the mean Time: I shall Starve for Money in about  a Month. Six or eight Pound I shally really want, and dont see  how I can do without it. — — — — Revd Sir, if I write too much, tell  me so, and I will curtaile my Accounts. — — I have had no oppertu‐ nity to mention Capt Ledles Affair, or even our own to Sir Willm,  my duty to Maddam, love to the family, Mr Lathrop and School  I remain in due Reſpect to you and yours
your servant Theop[illegible][guess: ls] Chamberlain
To  The Rvd Eleazer Wheelock  In Connecticute  Newengland    ^[right]from Mr Chamberlain July 29th^
from Mr Chamberlain  To  The Revd Eleazer Wheelock  In Connecticute  NewEngland  ^[left]Pr Favour^  ^[left]Rvd Mr Occom^
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