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Samuel Kirkland, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 March 6

ms-number: 766206

abstract: Kirkland writes a lengthy letter describing his work among the Senecas, and touching upon, among other things, his concerns regarding Chamberlain and his mission.

handwriting: Informal handwriting is small and frequently difficult to decipher. Kirkland frequently does not pick up his pen between words. Letter case is frequently difficult to discern, and there are several uncrossed t’s and crossed l’s. Due to the length and difficulty of the letter, instances of questionable letters, letter case, and deletions were transcribed as the writer likely intended.

paper: Two large sheets each folded in half to make four pages are in fair condition, with moderate staining, creasing and wear. There is repair work along particularly heavy creases.

ink: Brown ink is faded in spots, and dimmed by the condition of the paper.

noteworthy: On two recto, the identity of the Gentlemen Correspondents is uncertain, and so they have been left untagged. On four recto, the identity of the Onaquaga Sachem is uncertain and so he has been left untagged. This document appears to be a serial letter written over the course of more than one sitting; and there appears to be some text/paper missing between two verso and three recto. If Kirkland's intention regarding a word or abbreviation is uncertain, that word or abbreviation has been left unmodified in the modernized transcription.

signature: The letter is signed twice, both times abbreviated.

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Rev.d & Hond Sir.
I've receivd no Letter from you since last July
nor any particular acct of your Welfare & ye State of your School;— wch in eccesence
is my main support in this gloomy wilderneſs.— I've been feeding myself for sometime
wh a fond hope yt Mr Chamberlain has letters for me, only waits a safe opportunity
of Conveyance.— tis now so long since his return, I quite despair,— have had no word at all
from him— accidentally heard of his safe Arrival here.— I'm afraid my dear Fellow‐
Labourers. M Revd Meſsrs Smith & Chamberlain. will cast me quite out all Society,—
because I'm settled among so bad a people, I being but little better my self.
I can aſsure them, I'm doing my utmost to reform 'em both.—
Revd S.r I woud now give you a short Acct of my Situation.— My Prospects
of succeſs were so dark & discouraging, last fall & begining of winter,— yt I was ready
sometimes to think I must give up ye point,— yt there was no such Thing as getting interest
among this people at present. tho' very neceſsary & important for ye progreſs of
your Design, by Their superiour Number & great Influence over Other Nations.—
I cou'd not feel willing to give up ye Cause whout farther trial. I tho't it my duty to still
use my utmost (tho very feeble) Endeavours, & spare no pains, till I should acquire yr language.
But thro' a kind Providence Things now appear wh another aspect,— somewhat
encouraging.— I have lately spoke to the Chiefs & head Warriours
of this, & several other small adjacent Castles.— The substance of wch , & their
Answer shall only mention to save [illegible] you needleſs trouble.—
I a'cquainted them more fully wt my Design, Disposition, &c— requiring of 'em wt
was their real inclination wh regard to my settling among them.— whether they
were desirous, woud recive & embracing Christianity.— offer'd them several Argu‐
ments to enforce ye Matter, ſhew its Consequence, & desir'd 'em to give it due conside‐
ration.— In Their Answer, said. They had considerd the whole.
of my Speech,— were intirely satisfied wh my Design, & was certainly well disposd,—
had their real good at heart.— yt they believ'd ye Ministers in N– England were very
good men, tho't of nothing but God & heavenly Things.— woud have me proceed in
learning ye Language,— yt they wou'd recve me & embrace ye Word of God.— When I shoud
[illegible] think myself sufficiently acquainted wh yr Tongue to speak in public, they woud
be ready to hear me.— They desir'd me to cleave fast to this Town (call'd Kaunan‐
) & keep as good Orders as poſsible, by private advice & admonitions, 'till
I shou'd be able to ſpeak in public. — This was deliverd to me in presence of
eight persons (Chief & head‐warriours) who said ye greatest part were thus minded,—
& yt they woud use their Influence yt every one shoud give me good treatment &
listen to wt I might say.—
I desir to be Thankful to the Father of Mercies for any
hopeful prospects of succeſs.— The agreeable Alteration in yr Behaviour
towards me adds much to ye peace & comfort of my life.—
I'm yet encouraged to hope yt thro' ye Graicious Bleſsing of God, I may be of

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some service to this people.— Their present Situation & condition appears to me most
miserable & deplorable, I can scarcely find one who is in ye least degree sensible of it,—
or thinks wh any Concern wt will become of their Children after them.—
There are numbers of their most sensible Men, who now often visit me, & enquire wt I
think concerning them.— here & there one I hope begins a little to see ye Case & are Affected wh it
always expreſs a desire of my being able to speak in public.— Tho' They in general
are strongly enclind to think ye God has two distinct ways of Goverment for white
people & Indians,— yt there are two Roads, wch lead to Heaven.— imagine it wont be accept
table or well pleasing to God yt these shoud interfer wh each other.— They bring the
English & Canadian Mohawks for an expample,— whom they look apon as ye worst &
most miserable of all Indians, (tho' they are mistaken as to ye former) wch is wholley owing
to their learning to pray as they call it.—
I have found out all yr Traditions,— dont apprehend they will be any great obstruction to
their receivg ye Goſpel.— The greatist & almost insurmountable difficulty is their
being givin ſo much to strong drink. Their being a people whout any proper form or
kind of goverment make Things appear something dark.— They [illegible] exercise no kind of Au‐
thority, nor have any kind of punishment for ye highest Crime wtever.— Every Town
is like a little Republic,— & again, every Family in some sence, & still farther, every individual .
Houever Notwithstanding these Discouragements, the Gospel of Jesus X
shoud be offerd them.— The work is Gods— poor feeble Man can only be found in
ye Uſe [illegible] of Appointed Means,— must leave ye Bleſsing wh him, who has ye Sole wright
& prerogative to give it,— who orders all Things, according to his own divine Counsel.
— May the ever bleſsed God grant his holy Spirit to accompany ye means
& endeavours his People are now using for this purpose,— whout wch all will be in vain.—
Revd S.r I hope soon to get so much influence as to procure several of
their Youths for your School.— wch when once accomplish'd, opens ye way for farther
improvement & instruction here among them.— I have ye promise of one wch I trust
wont fail & partly of two more.— There are Numbers who are yet jealous of ye English &
have reacd such deep rooted predjudcies against them, y.t affairs of this kind must be
managed wh some tenderneſs & moderation for ye present.—
I'm extreamly sorry my great distance prevents frequent Communication, that
I'm obligd to act whout your Knowledge & advice. It gives me great purplexity &
exercise of mind.— Oh: that I might have divine wisdom & prudence to conduct
suitably in so great an affair,. He kept in ye fear of ye Lord.—
I'm daily gaining Ground, tho' but slowly,— Im inclin'd to think my poverty
slavery, & drudgery I've been oblig'd to undergo, has been no disadvantage to ye Cause.
Neither am I sensible of any Injury to my Constitution by ye hunggry Spell & [illegible]
peculiar hardships I underwent last Summer.— Bleſsed be God I have been hitherto enabled
to [illegible] endure ye hardſhips of an Indian Life.—
Revd Sir. I dont apprehend it will be best for ye Interest of ye Cause yt I return
this spring.— I'm just now as it were begining to get in to yr favour & good esteem,— am
able to liſt a few Things of Gods holy word,— in a fair way for soon acquiring a tole‐
rable knowledge of their Languge, wch I find very difficult.— Several of their Caſtles
begin to have a favourable opinion of my deſign.— But ye Chief Town (calld Ch[illegible])
is not so well disposd to it.— I want to convince ym if poſsible of ye ſincerity & goodneſs
of ye Design, before my return. I purpose God willing to Visit them next summer.

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You will please to write me your advice,— wh wch I shall comply.—
I have labour'd under somany Discouragements & some peculiar Trials (wch I dont think
proper to mention here) yt I have not made yt proficiency in ye Language wch I might
otherwise have done.— I've been apt often to think it woud add much to my com‐
fort & happineſs, if I was able to support my self in this affair, or coud [illegible] poſsibly live
w.hout any charge or expence.— My obligations are so many both from without &
whin,— my unequalneſs & unfitneſs for ye Busineſs, make things very dark
on my side.— The Thoughts of turning out nothing else but an unprofitable
servant & ungrateful wretch, are very hard disagreeable Thoughts.— But I hope
I begin to beleive yt Godlineſs wh Contentment is great gain.— I'm shure tis most
fit & wright yt I shoud intirely acquiesce in ye Dispensation of Gods righteous Pro‐
vidence.— He shurly knows wt is best for me.— my proud corrupt heart some‐
times, tho' very seldom, lets me rejoice in his alwis goverment.— would to
God I might be always be resign'd to his holy & perfect Will.—
I have not enlarged Things, lest your Expectations shoud be to high.
you will doubtleſs acquaint ye Revd , & hon.ble Gentlemen Correſpon.d[illegible] [guess: es]
wh my Situation. & please to present them my most dutiful Rgards.— Tho'
I'm not immediately under their Care, I trust I'm not whout their Remembrances
Their pious Zeal & unfeigned Sincerity in this great Affair, shou'd shurely
be taken as an argument of encouragement & Comfort to the poor Miſs. [illegible]
twa's said of Old ye Prayers of the Rightous avail.— may they live to see
ye fruits of their Labour & answer of their prayers [illegible] their abundant Satisfaction.—
Revd Sir, I return most sincere Thanks for your kind Endeavours
to procure me ye Honours of College. which I suppose coud not be obtain'd.
My humble Duty to Madam— proper Salutation to your family. & my
most humble Regards to Revd Mr Pomrey &c.— I conclude, begging
a near Remembrance it in your Addreſses of ye Throne of Grace.—
wiſhing you ye [illegible] [guess: light] higheſt of Heavens Bleſsings,— & yt your unwearied Labours
may be crowned wh honour & succeſs, is the humble prayer, of,
Revd Sir,
Your most obedt [illegible] [guess: & ever obligd hum.l Sert ]

Samel Kirtland

The Revd Mr Wheelock
P.S. I wrote ye above in such hast, have
omitted several Things,— as ye Opportunity delays
will now mention'em.— I purpose to visit Revd Mr Chamberlain
sometime in ye Spring, & inform him of my Situation,
advising wt him respecting my Return &c— Shall—
[right] doutbleſs_

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doubtleſs go as far as Capt Butlers— I beleive I must run you in deb[gap: tear] [guess: t]
for a few neceſsaries. I have scarcely linen to cover my back, & to make i[gap: tear] [guess: t]
last as long as poſsible, I have not slept in a shirt for Nine Months past.
As to Provisions, I hope wh ye Bleſsing of health, shall be able to endure ye
ensuing Summer. I have afew Bisquet & a little flower yet left,
I have actually learnt to be content wh leſs Victuals, Than ever I was
wont to before.— we very often here postpone Breakfast & Dinner 'till four 'o [right]Clock
in ye After Noon. & sometimes until ye next Day.— This new faſhion was
very disagreeable to me for a long time. nor am I yet perfectly reconciled
to it.— Thro' a kind Providence I enjoy a very comfortable state
of health. I have during ye Winter, excepting a bad cold, catched last fall
by going w.hout shoes—
I have wrote a few Letters in these several Days past,— You will
please to forward them.— If I shant have time, I humbly beg ye
Favour of your writing my kind Friends in Boston, former Benefactors
I hope I have not given em occasion of offence by not writing for so long
a time.— I have scarcely wrote my own Father,— & all my letters to you
were wrote in such hast, & wh so much inconsideration, imprudence, & ten‐
Thousand Blunders, yt I trust you can easily excuse me.—
I'm conscious to my self yt I feel some small Emotions of Gratitude towards them
as well as towards my Revd Pattron.— 'Tis my Sincere & constant Prayer that
I may be enabled so to conduct & behave myself as yt each shalyl have occasion
to rejoice, in having open'd their Hearts & hands for my releif.—
The Honbl S.r W.m Johnson is a very Kind Patron to me in these distant
Parts,— The hopeful prospects of succeſs here I must subscribe chiefly to [gap: worn_edge] [guess: underſed ].
All His Honrs Letters to me are wrote wrote in ye most freindly manner imagenable, &
wh uncommon Condesention,— giving ye strongest Evidence of His Approbation, & good will towards
my design. which adds much to my comfort & encouragement in ye Gloomy Wilderneſs.
I know not how to requite such unmerited Kindneſs.— I hope I may have suitable acknow‐
ledgements of Gratitude, & above all be thankful to the Father of Mercies for His
special Friendſhip to ye Design.—
I shoud be glad to hear if Mr J.h Smith of Boston be returnd from
England.— wt he may bring in favour of your Design.— No more at present
Tuus ut ante K
[left] Rec.d April. 29. 1766.

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if otherwise, I beleive I shall visit you notwithstanding ye many difficulties wch
attend ye journey. you may expect me by ye 14 or 16 of May extraordinaries excepted.
His Honour Sr William, thinks it best & necaſsary yt I return, unleſs by way of writing
I can give you sufficient Knowledge & accquaintance wh ye present state & Disposition
of ye Indians wh regard to receng ye Gospel. tho' yt woud be difficult, & not so well as if I were present.
Time woud fail me, shoud I attempt a plain & full acct of Affairs, & nothing else will
answer in a Case of such importance.— if Things are represented in a superficial in‐
explicit manner, 'twill be of no service to you.—
In case of Sickneſs, or any thing yt may fall out wch shall prevent my return,
at ye time mention'd, you will proceed to execute ye plan you have laid out, but not in
its full extent.— As to Schoolmasters among ye Senecas & Onondages
wt I've wrote in ye fore part of this Letter must answer for ye present, having not
time to enlarge— I find it exactly agreeable to His Honrs Opinion [illegible] [illegible]
of ye Matter.— therefore need say no more.— perhaps it may be thought well for
a young Miſsry to go there in order to learn their Language, open ye way & lay some
foundation for future improvement. of wch I can likely give you sufficient informa‐
tion when I return.— 'Twill be neceſsary yt you sapply ye Mohawks, Onidas
& Ohquages wh Miſsirys & Schoolmasters as before Mentioned. & shoud be constan‐
tly if you really expect & hope [gap: blotted_out] [guess: to] see any fruits of your unwearied Labour
& pains.— if these small beginings at these several places are fnot perfec‐
ted, I imageine there is little hope of succeſs,— but if suitably improved, I can't but
think & do really beleive a Bleſsing may be hoped for whout presumption.—
I hope you may be able to find Such Miſsrys who shall be willing to tarry
wh ye Indians long enough for a proper trial, notwithſtanding ye Many discourag‐
ments, hardſhip, & enconveniencies of Life yt [illegible] must at present accompany ye Busineſs.
If I have any right View of ye Case, I think ye very Life & progreſs of ye
Design depends upon ye Miſsrs — Tho gettings Indian Boys to your School
is encouraging & opens a door for future improvment.—
The often changing of Miſsrs will do more hurt than good. & their
tarrying but a little while among them (or just looking upon them as they call it)
does not forward ye [illegible] Design, but discourages ye Indians & gives occasion of
umbrage to such as are not well dispos'd.— which unfortunately happin‐
ing wh ye Mohawks & Onida's has given ye Onondages , Cayugwa's & Seneca's
a mean opinion of ye Desiggn, & a some suspicion of iNs Sincerity.— Neither
do I apprehend Things are now so forward wh ye [gap: blotted_out] [guess: for] former, as they were
last spring of or fall, excepting Davids fall School, wch thro' a kind providence
has been preserved thro' many discouragments, & now appears very hopefull,
& promises great succeſs, if other proper Means are [illegible] seasonably applied for its
support & future improvments. Viz, A Miſsry constantly residing there, for in‐
structing ye old people & encouraging ye Young. No one can reasonably expect
any great Succeſs from such a School, under such [illegible] Circumstances, whout a
Miſsry to accompany ye Schoolmaster.— I dont Mention this as if I
thought Mr Chamberlain worthy of blame, far from it,— for I suppose
he acted from principles of conscience & sound Judgment in leaving Onida .
the Neceſsity of his continuing there [illegible] [guess: ought] not appear so great as it really

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fwas, for want of farther Knolegdge of their Situation & [illegible] diſposition.—
his long delay in coming to them & sudden leaving them, has given some disgust
& greatly discouraged em.— from my small acquaintance & view of Affairs,
their Situation, was such last fall, & ye Neceſsity so great for ye general
interest of ye Cause, as required ye utmost endeavours to improve & embrace
so favourable an Opportunity.— a proper or improper Support in such
a case I suppose if is quite out of [illegible] [guess: ye ] question,— if it be true wt old experienced
Divines say, yt in a like case if a person shoud give a year or two' service
to ye Lord, without any immediate pay, he will be no looser, find a good pay master
& large interest,— at least a hundred persent.— I wish I might be able to take
this for my present portion, twoud doubtleſs give me much ease, & prevent many
bitter complaints.— I'm very sorry Mr Chamberlain has concluded
it not worth his while to learn an Indian Langugage. I much fear he will
give up his Commiſsion.— his faith, or rathr Expectans were so very high
last Summer when I first saw him, as made me fear they shoud soon come as low.
he told me, he tho't hardly worth his while to learn any Language of ye confederate
, but proceed to those more remote, for he sometimes thought he shoud live
to see ye west fear he really beleived God was going to bring all ye Indians to ye
Knowledg of ye Gospel, & yt in a Natural way, by ye use of appointed Means.
he alſo came fortified against all discouragments, he expected nothing but ye
most vile iungrateful, inhuman & unkind treatment from ye Savages, he knew
Indians & wt he must receve from em.— he never so much as asked me wt I tho't
or Indians or Indians or indian Affairs in one single particular. & I had so
much damnable cursed pride if heart, yt I did not open my self so freely to him as
I ought to have done, (The Lord forgive me for my iniquity). tho' I gave him ye Charac‐
ters of several persons at onida , whose influence was great,— yr favour & esteem
might be well to procure. for wch he Thank'd me kindly.— not yt I blame him So
much as my self. for a proud haughty Miſsry is little Better than ye Devil.—
Oh, yt I may obtain Mercy of God thro' Jesus Christ, for my insincerity & pride of
heart. perhaps it may be well yt you use some care in seeking Miſsrs for so important
a Busineſs.(or poſsibly they may cause you sorrow & trouble as I have done.)
for I sincerely beleive you nothing but ye interest of ye Redeemers Kingdom at heart.
If a persons Eye be single (ye Scriptures say) his whole Body shall be full of light
If they are true, one may know whether ye Glory of God, [illegible] self his upermost.
But wt Im [illegible] [guess: Isaying ]! Revd S.r forgive me this rong. surely such things are
quite improper, unbecoming a youth.— discouver too much Arrogancy & Aſsurance.
would to God I might know my self. & act accordingly. I want your Instruction &
Discipline. bear wh my folly, I mean will.— I really fel your indian Cause [illegible] [guess: ly ]
[illegible] [guess: near] my heart. I'm greeved to think how matters have gon on here, when your
daily Labour & travel of soul is so great for its succeſs. but this again discou‐
vers dambnable pride of heart, wt can I say! May ye Lord be mercefully to me:
but surely I have no Reasion to boost, [illegible] [illegible] [guess: rathr ] to lie in ye [illegible] dust of humiliation.
for you know as well as my self, yt I'm under infinite obligation, both from
within & without, to give my life & service to promote this Indian Cause, while it
shall appear agreeable to his will. but alas, how far short have I fell.
yt I dont deserve even so much praise as is due to a Man for attempting to
do his duty.— oh, yt I may be kept in ye fear & love of God. from Pride & in‐
gratitude on ye one hand, & Despair on ye [illegible] [guess: latter] other.—
[gap: blotted_out] [guess: dont] I pray you wont expose this page to my hurt.

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The Bearer is now waiting to go, quite unexpected to me.—
must omit many things.— please God to spare my Life & health you
may expect me about ye time mentioned before.—
I can only say this [illegible] , yt several Thing have happened lately which may
delay ye progreſs of your Design. Yesterday heard at S.r Williams
ye Ohquage Sachem, deliver an acct & complaint of an Indian Man
being killd near Minisinks or in ye County. belonging to Onida .
ye Indian was butcherd in ye most cruel ihnhuman Manner.—
Also five of ye Senecas [illegible] killed in some parts of pensilvania ,
wch came in a Letter from Gover.r Pen to His Honr S.r Williams.
tis said one of ye Onondages have also shared ye Same fate.—
S.r Willm is much afraid wt ye Consequences will be.—
four of ye Seneca's, I suppose belong'd to ye Castle where I reside.
who went last summer to war [illegible] against ye Cherokeess . & have
been gone two Months longer than ye time they set.—
I have been these three Days past wh His Hon.r Sr Williams
for advice In my affairs &c. &c.— had many things of Consequence
to inform you, since ye last page was wrote.— The Bearer
is impatient to go must leave all, till I see you God Willing
earnestly beg a near Remembrance in you Prayer
Revd S.r in hast
Your ever obed & tho unworthy Servt
S Kirtland
PS. as I have wrote in great hast
I have no Coppy nor time for any Correction.
if any Thing shall appear dark unintelligible
thro' too Great Brevity, I beg your Candour till
I return, when I will endeavour to clear such thing
as shall be superficial & inexplicit..
Capt Butler & Lady give Compliment.— I set off immediately for ye Senecas.
shall return as quick as poſsible [illegible] [illegible] [guess: in] suitabl prudence & Moderation in such
fatiguing Journeys.
tuus ut ante,
SK .
The Revd Mr Wheelock.

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Rec.d April 29. 1766.
M.r Sam.el Kirtland
March 6. 1766
Canadian Mohawks
The term Canadian Mohawks refers to the Catholic Mohawks who moved from New York to Canada at the end of the 17th century. They are also called the Kahnawake Mohawks (often Anglicized as Caughnawaga). Kahnawake was the name of both the group's town in New York (modern day Fonda, east of Canajoharie), and of their new town in Canada. This new town was located on a reservation called Sault St. Louis, which also went by Kahnawake -- the town that many Canadian Mohawks emigrated from, the new town they immigrated to, and the reservation on which their new town was located all went by the name Kahnawake. The Sault St. Louis/Kahnawake Reserve was established by Jesuits in 1667 as a reserve for Catholic Indians. Historian Colin Calloway estimates that by 1700, two thirds of the Mohawk population had relocated to it. The Kahnawake Mohawks are notable as 1) the tribe that adopted Eunice Williams, the daughter of a Puritan minister, after she was captured in the 1704 raid on Deerfield, MA; 2), the tribe of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk woman whom the Catholic Church canonized in 2012 (there is a shrine to her at both towns called Kahnawake); and 3), as a source of students for Moor’s Indian Charity School after Wheelock relocated it to Hanover, New Hampshire.
Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.
Seneca Nation
The Senecas are one of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. They are the Westernmost Haudenosaunee tribe and are known as the “Keepers of the Western door,” just as the Mohawks are the “Keepers of the Eastern Door.” During the colonial period, the Senecas were the largest of the Six Nations, in part because they adopted large numbers of Native Americans and even some Europeans to compensate for losses from disease and warfare. (Their most famous adoptee was Mary Jemison, a Scots-Irish woman who spent her life as an adopted Seneca and whose memoirs were written down and published in 1824.) The Jesuits launched missionary efforts among the Senecas, along with the rest of the Six Nations, in the second half of the 17th century. However, the Senecas received fewer Jesuit missionaries than other Haudenosaunee tribes did. This may have been due in part to their close relationship with the British, to whom the Senecas were loyal allies against the French and the Americans. It could also have stemmed from their conflict with the Hurons, another Haudenosaunee-speaking tribe located to the west of the Six Nations. Although the Hurons and Haudenosaunee spoke related languages, they were fierce enemies; because the Senecas were the most western of the Six Nations, they fought the Hurons more often. The Hurons had close ties to the French and hosted numerous Jesuit missionaries, so the Senecas' conflict with the Hurons may have further alienated them from Jesuit efforts. The Senecas also sided with the British during the Revolution, and, in retribution, General Sullivan destroyed their homes and crops during his 1779 rampage through central New York. The Seneca perspective on Sullivan's campaign survives in Jemison's memoirs. After the Revolution, many Mohawks and Cayugas, who had also allied with the British, left central New York. Some moved west, while others moved to the Grand River Reserve in Canada. The Senecas are notable for staying on their lands, where many of them remain today. Samuel Kirkland, an Anglo-American Moor’s Indian Charity School alumnus most famous for his work among the Oneidas, began his career with a mission to the Senecas between January 1765 and spring 1766. He also was adopted by the Senecas. His mission to the Senecas gave him his reputation as an dedicated missionary because of their perceived savagery. Eleazar Wheelock himself had little contact with the Senecas. Kirkland’s Seneca brother by adoption, Tekanada, suggested that he might send his son to Moor’s Indian Charity School, but does not appear to have done so.
Cayuga Nation
The Cayugas are one of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. Out of the Six Nations, they are the tribe with which Wheelock and other Anglo-American missionaries had the least contact. The Jesuits had a regular missionary presence among the Cayugas from 1654 until 1684, and in 1748 many Catholic Cayugas, like other Catholic Haudenosaunee, moved to villages along the St. Lawrence River. The remaining Cayugas became British allies. Along with most Mohawk, Onondaga, and Seneca, the Cayugas sided with the British during the Revolution. General Sullivan destroyed their towns and lands in 1779, and after the war, many Cayugas followed Joseph Brant to the Grand River Reserve in Ontario. Some remained behind in New York, while others moved west with the Seneca and eventually arrived in Oklahoma. Wheelock never sent missionaries to the Cayugas. They were not as Christianized as the Oneida nor as strategically important as the Senecas and Mohawks. Even Samuel Kirkland, who evangelized the Senecas to the west of the Cayugas, had little contact with them.
Mohawk Nation
The Mohawk Nation is one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. As the “eastern door” of the Confederacy, or easternmost Haudenosaunee nation, the Mohawks were perceived throughout the colonial period as a gateway to wider alliances, trade, and religious influence with the Six Nations as a whole. Thus, they received heavy missionary attention from Jesuits, Anglicans, and Congregationalists as early as the 17th century. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Mohawks and Six Nations more generally were a point of heated competition between Britain and France, as well as between Protestant Christian sects. Wheelock sent several missionaries and schoolmasters to the Mohawks between 1765 and 1767, including Theophilus Chamberlain (Anglo-American), Hezekiah Calvin (Delaware), Abraham Major and Minor (Mohawks), Peter (Mohawk), Moses (Mohawk), and Johannes (Mohawk). The two main towns or "castles" that the mission was based at were Canajoharie and Fort Hunter. Two of the most important figures in Mohawk history as it pertains to Moor’s Indian Charity School were Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant. Sir William Johnson was the British Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northeast, one of the most powerful men in British North America. He married into the Mohawk Tribe and had substantial influence among the Six Nations. Initially he supported Wheelock’s missionary project, but by 1769 he was endorsing Anglican missionaries instead. Joseph Brant was Sir William Johnson’s brother-in-law. He was the first of 19 Mohawk students at Moor’s, where he studied from 1761-1763. Although his time at the school was short, Brant entertained a deep affection for it. He went on to be an influential Mohawk war chief and may have protected Dartmouth College from raids during the Revolution. The Revolution fractured the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, with some tribes siding with the colonists and others with the British. The Mohawks sided with the British, and many of them, Joseph Brant included, relocated to the Grand River Reserve in Canada after the war. There was also a substantial Mohawk settlement established by 1700 at Kahnawake in New France (Canada), which hosted Jesuit missionaries. The Kahnawake Mohawks were often called “Canadian Mohawks” and Wheelock recruited students from them after his move to Hanover.
Onaquagas refers to the Indians who lived in Onaquaga. Onaquaga (over 50 different spellings have been documented) was a cosmopolitan Indian town on the Susquehanna River. It was initially established as an Oneida settlement by those seeking an alternative to the power politics of Kanawalohale and Old Oneida. However, from the end of the 17th century onwards it became an immigration destination for displaced Indians from a wide range of tribes. The Tuscaroras settled at Onaquaga in the early 18th century, and in the decades before the Revolution they were joined by Stockbridge Indians, Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Tutelos, Nanticokes, and others. The relationship between this town and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations was a symbiotic one: displaced peoples gained a home, and the Haudenosaunee bolstered their southern buffer zone against colonial encroachment. Between 1743 and 1775, Onaquaga was evangelized by missionaries from the New England Company (NEC), including Elihu Spencer, Gideon Hawley (especially popular, since he arrived fresh from his mission at Stockbridge), Eli Forbes, Ebenezer Moseley, and Aaron Crosby. A rich indigenous Christian tradition also developed in the town under the guidance of Isaac Dakayenensere and Gwedelhes Agwirondongwas (Good Peter). Onaquaga earned a reputation as an especially Christian, Anglicized town. Its citizens were adept at manipulating their religion towards political ends and negotiating the tricky conflicts between missionary societies (for instance, Eleazar Wheelock’s feud with the New England Company, which manifested itself in 1765 when both sent young missionaries to Onaquaga). From the late 1760s onward, Onaquaga’s cosmopolitan composition proved to be its undoing. The community was fragmented by disputes over the extent of Christian practice and the proper style of Christian practice, with Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant (who owned a farm at Onaquaga) urging Episcopalianism and the NEC urging Congregationalism. An influx of Mohawk immigrants in the years after the 1768 Fort Stanwix treaty led the Onaquagas to side with the Crown in the Revolution, rather than with the colonies as most Oneida towns did, and it became Joseph Brant’s base of operations. The town was utterly destroyed in 1778 in the wave of violence that culminated in General Sullivan’s ravaging of Cayuga and Seneca territory. The area was resettled by Americans after the Revolution, and today it is the town of Windsor, NY.
Oneida Nation
The Oneidas are one of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. During the 18th century, they were largely considered the most Christianized Haudenosaunee tribe. The Oneidas had a rich tradition of indigenous ministers, including Good Peter, Deacon Thomas, and Isaac Dakayenensere, and played host to several Moor’s missionaries, including Samson Occom, David Fowler, Samuel Ashpo, Joseph Johnson, Joseph Woolley, Titus Smith, and Samuel Kirkland (who went on to found Hamilton Oneida Academy, now Hamilton College). They were also the interpreter James Dean’s adoptive tribe. Notable Oneida towns included Onaquaga, Kanawalohale, and Old Oneida. Onaquaga was the central fire of the Six Nations. By the 18th century, it also had a sizeable contingent of Onondagas and Tuscaroras. Good Peter and Isaac Dakayenensere taught there, as did Joseph Woolley. Kanawalohale and Old Oneida were more predominantly Oneida. The Oneidas were involved in several crucial moments in the history of Moor's Indian Charity School. Onaquaga was the site of the 1765 confrontation between Wheelock and the New England Company, in which the New England Company disrupted Titus Smith's mission, first by sending their own missionary, and second by repossessing Elisha Gunn, the interpreter they had agreed to "loan" to Titus Smith. Left without an interpreter, Titus Smith was forced to abandon his mission (Wheelock repaid the favor a few years later by hiring James Dean away from the New England Company). A few years later, in 1769, Deacon Thomas led the Oneidas in withdrawing all their children from Moor's. The Oneidas' departure struck a devastating blow against Wheelock's Indian education plans, and provided more momentum for his shift to educating predominantly Anglo-Americans. The Oneidas sided with the colonists during the Revolution, but they were still affected by the general devastation in Six Nations territory, especially the Sullivan Expedition (1779). After the Revolution, the Oneidas granted tracts of their land to two Christian Indian organizations: the Brothertown tribe, a composite tribe of Moor’s alumni from New England, and the Stockbridge Indians. It was not long before the groups came into conflict with one another. Encroachment from the new State of New York put increasing pressure on Oneida land, and the Oneidas tried to renegotiate their treaties with the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians to compensate. The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians fought back, but by the 1820s all three groups had lost, and many of them relocated to Wisconsin.
Onondaga Nation
The Onondaga Nation, one of the original Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, has its traditional lands on Onondaga Lake in central New York State, just south of Lake Ontario. Their name means "people of the hills." Around 1450, Onondaga was the site of the founding of the Confederacy, when Hiawatha and Deganawidah, the Peacemaker, persuaded the warlike Onondaga chief Tadodaho to accept the Great Law of Peace. Because of its central location, with the Cayugas and Senecas to the west and the Oneidas and Mohawks to the east, Onondaga is where the Haudenosaunee's government historically met and still meets today. Thus, the Tribe is known as the "Keepers of the Fire." By 1677, the Haudenosaunees allied with the English through an agreement known as the Covenant Chain, and together fought the French and their Huron allies, historical enemies of the Confederacy. During the Revolution, the Onondaga Nation was initially officially neutral, but after the Continental Army attacked their main village on April 20, 1779, they sided with the majority of Haudenosaunees and allied with Britain. After the British defeat, many Onondagas followed the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant to Six Nations, Ontario. In 1794, the Onondagas and other members of the Confederacy signed the Treaty of Canandaigua with the US, insuring their right to their homelands. During the 1760s, Wheelock sent several missionaries to the Onondaga Nation as the governing council of the Haudenosaunees, but failed to get tribal approval to station a missionary with them or recruit students. Samuel Ashpo, a Mohegan Indian educated at Wheelock's school, visited Onondaga in 1764, with moderate success. Then, in 1768, Wheelock sent his son Ralph with offers to preach and to recruit students, but the Onondaga chiefs found Ralph's imperious manner insulting, and declined to give a definite answer. At that meeting, an infuriated Onondaga chief shook Ralph by the shoulder, complained of the mistreatment of their children, and said: "Learn yourself to understand the word of God, before you undertake to teach & govern others" (McCallum 287). In 1774, Joseph Johnson, who was probably Ralph’s interpreter at the explosive 1768 conference, confirmed the chiefs' disaffection but hoped to begin preaching to the Onondagas the following year, which would give him access to the other Tribes. The Onondagas, however, remained opposed to Protestant missionaries until the 1830s.
Cherokee Tribe
The Cherokees are a North American Indian tribe, now with a population of about 350,000. They were one of the largest politically organized tribes at the time of European colonization. Their name derives from a Creek word meaning "people of different speech," which is more properly spelled Tsalagi; their original tribal name is Aniyunwiya. Their language, Tsalagi Gawonihisdi, is related to Haudenosaunee. Controlling a large territory in the Appalachian Mountains in parts of present day Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and the western Carolinas, the Cherokees hunted and raised corn, beans, and squash, and had large towns organized around council houses with sacred fires. The Spanish, French and English all attempted to colonize parts of the Southeast; by the 18th century, the Cherokees allied with the British against the French, who were allied with some of their traditional Haudenosaunee enemies. But English settlement destroyed many Cherokee towns and damaged tribal economies. The Cherokees and other neighboring tribes lost territory after the Revolutionary War because of their support of the British, and after 1800, the Cherokees began adopting settler culture, forming a government based on the US model, farming, and developing a written language that promoted almost full literacy among the Tribe and produced the first Indian newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix in 1828. But when gold was discovered on Cherokee land, Georgia disregarded a US Supreme Court ruling in favor of Cherokee sovereignty, and moved the Cherokees from their traditional homes in a forced march in Fall and Winter of 1838-39 known as the Trail of Tears. The main body of Cherokees were resettled in northeastern Oklahoma, where they are today. At the time of removal, some escaped to the hills and remained in western North Carolina. There are now three federally recognized Cherokee Tribes. In 1758, Occom was being considered for a mission to the Cherokees in Virginia, which never happened.
Six Nations
The Six Nations (often called the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois) is a confederacy composed of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, and Tuscaroras. The first five tribes unified at some point before European contact (dates differ by centuries), and the Tuscaroras joined them in 1722, after colonial violence drove the tribe out of Carolina. The Haudenosaunee occupied much of what is now central New York, and, thus, were sandwiched between French, English, and Dutch territories. They allied with the English against the French early on, just as their arch-enemies, the Huron, allied with the French. Despite the Six Nations’ unity, the constituent nations experienced European contact in different ways. The Mohawks and Oneidas, as the two easternmost tribes, had by far the most contact with the English, while the Senecas and Cayugas, the westernmost nations, had little contact with the English (although both hosted French Jesuit missionaries). Mohawk territory was the site of Johnson Hall, the administrative center and home of Sir William Johnson, the British Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the Northeast. The Oneidas, meanwhile, played host to several prominent Anglo-American missionaries and were thought of as the most Christianized Haudenosaunee tribe by many colonists. Eleazar Wheelock became fixated on the Haudenosaunee soon after he established Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754. He saw in them the opportunity for a fresh start, since he believed that New England Indians had assimilated to Anglo-American norms in all the wrong ways (too much rum, too little Christianity). Wheelock established contact with the Haudenosaunee through Sir William Johnson and made the Mohawks and Oneidas the focal point of his missionary efforts for much of the 1760s. The American Revolution had dramatic repercussions for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Mohawks, Senecas, Onondagas, and Cayugas sided with the British, while the Oneidas and Tuscaroras sided with the Americans. Since all Haudenosaunee hold membership in both a tribe (Mohawk, Oneida, etcetera) and a matrilineal clan (bear, wolf, and others), the tribes’ divergent alliances brought about political schism and violence within extended families. Furthermore, Haudenosaunee territory was devastated during the war, especially in General Sullivan’s 1779 raid on Cayuga and Seneca territory. After the Revolution, many Haudenosaunee who had affiliated with the British relocated to the Grand River Reserve in Canada, while many of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras remained in New York. The Haudenosaunee at the Grand River Reserve established their own council fire, which operated in parallel with the original council fire at Onondaga. Today, both council fires are still active, and each tribe also has its own independent government (as do displaced Haudenosaunee populations, such as the Oneidas of Wisconsin).

Kanandasaga (also spelled Kanaudasagea or Canadasaga) was the chief town of the Seneca Nation. Samuel Kirkland, Moor’s alumnus and missionary to the Senecas and Oneidas, lived there during his mission to the Senecas, which lasted from February 7, 1765 until May 1766. Kanadausagea was abandoned during General Sullivan’s 1779 campaign through Six Nations territory, and the settlement and its orchards were destroyed. Kirkland was the chaplain for Sullivan’s army and likely witnessed Kanadausagea’s destruction. After the war, Kanadausagea was occupied by Americans and became the modern day town of Geneva, NY.


The first English immigrant to settle on a peninsula in a harbor on the northeastern coast of North America the local Algonquin Indians called "Shawmet" was William Blackstone in 1629. A year later, John Winthrop arrived with a group of English Puritans and other settlers and named the area Boston after his hometown in Lincolnshire, England. The colony quickly developed representative political institutions that would help shape a democratic nation. Over the next few centuries, Boston emerged as an intellectual and educational center, and, because of its excellent harbor, became a leading commercial hub and a primary port for North America. It is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the largest city in New England. Boston was the home for the Boards of Commissioners of several overseas religious societies who sent missionaries throughout the colonies in the 18th century, and was the site of many important events of the American Revolution.

New England

Oneida is a city in Madison County located at the geographical center of New York state. Before European settlement of the area, the Oneida Tribe, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, inhabited a large territory adjacent to nearby Oneida Lake. Around 1533, they built their first village on the south shore of the lake, at or near the mouth of Oneida Creek. At the end of the 17th century, this area began suffering raids by parties from the French colony of Quebec, in a battle to control the fur trade. In 1696, Oneida village was burned by the French. As a result, the Oneidas moved their chief village east of the original site, called Old Oneida, to a new site called Kanawalohale, also known as Oneida Castle, which was fortified by tall palisades and a moat. This is the site of the present-day village of Oneida Castle, a small hamlet west of the city of Oneida in the northwest corner of the town of Vernon. When used in Occom Circle documents, the place name "Oneida" usually refers to the territory inhabited by the Tribe east of Oneida Lake, but can also refer specifically to Oneida Castle. Although the Oneidas sided with the patriots during the Revolutionary War, much of their territory was sold or appropriated by the state of New York. In 1790, the first European settlers moved into the area of Old Oneida village, and the district began to expand. In the 1830s, the state built a feeder from Oneida Creek through the present city site to provide water for the new canal system, which enabled canal boats to ship freight into the town. Eventually, the railroad came through the town and helped with its expansion. This led to the incorporation of the Village of Oneida in 1848 and the establishment of the Town of Oneida in 1896. The town was chartered as the City of Oneida in 1901, and with two more railroad lines transecting the area, it became a thriving manufacturing center for the first half of the 20th century.

Kirkland, Samuel

Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.

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, John

John Smith was an affluent Boston merchant who supported Wheelock’s school throughout the 1760s. It is likely that Smith and Wheelock were introduced by George Whitefield or someone similarly involved in evangelical and missionary efforts in the British Atlantic world: John Smith made somewhat regular trips to London for business, and had been in contact with Whitefield since the 1740s. Like the other Boston merchants who supported Moor’s Indian Charity School (including Moses Peck, William Hyslop, and Nathaniel Eells), Smith traded with Wheelock and kept him up to date on political developments in Boston, especially as they concerned attitudes towards Moor’s Indian Charity School. However, Smith was better educated (and likely more affluent) than the other merchants that Wheelock worked with, and, correspondingly, played a more important role than his brethren in Wheelock’s efforts. Smith publicized the school independently (his letter to an unnamed friend, catalogued as 764318.2, is one of the most cited letters on the organization of Moor’s) and assisted Wheelock in publishing the Narratives. John Smith’s greatest contribution to Wheelock’s design was his support during Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker’s fundraising tour of Great Britain (1765-1768). Smith set out for Britain in July 1765 to improve his health, and while there, acted as a vanguard for Occom and Whitaker. He managed their correspondence, suggested destinations, and served on an ad hoc advisory council that included George Whitefield, Samuel Savage, Robert Keen, and several other influential men. The pace of the journey caught up with John Smith, however, and he died in 1768 while in Britain.

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.

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.

Butler, John

Captain John Butler was a prominent military officer and loyalist. He was born in New London, CT in 1728, and he received his education there. John’s father, Captain Walter Butler, had served well under Sir William Johnson, prompting Johnson to endorse the family. When Sir William became Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1755, he appointed John Butler and his brother, Walter Butler, Jr., as captains in the Indian Department; the two fought in the battle of Lake George on September 8 of that year. John Butler commanded Indian forces throughout the French and Indian War, and he often acted as an interpreter. He became Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs and a Lieutenant Colonel of the militia. While he lived in NY, he hosted various figures on their journeys to the Oneida Nation. When Sir William died in 1774, General Guy Carleton, the military governor of Quebec, appointed John Butler as the interim Superintendent of Indian Affairs; Sir William’s nephew, Guy Johnson, replaced him in July of 1776. In the summer of 1775, Colonel Guy Johnson, John Butler and his son, Walter, escaped to Canada, but the Revolutionaries seized Butler’s property and carried his wife and children to Albany, where they remained under surveillance. Captain Butler continued to be involved with Indian forces during the Revolutionary War. He commanded Butler’s Rangers, a loyalist special forces team that fought alongside Indians, and he is known for leading the Rangers in the Wyoming Massacre of 1778 in Wyoming Valley, PA. In 1779 the Americans released his family during an exchange of prisoners. They reunited in Niagara, where Butler maintained his headquarters during the war and remained thereafter. Butler secured compensation from London for the property losses he suffered due to the Revolution, and he lived the remainder of his life as a notable citizen in Niagara, serving as judge of the district court and Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He died near Niagara in May of 1796.

Pomeroy, Benjamin

Benjamin Pomeroy was a school friend of Eleazar Wheelock and a lifelong supporter of his cause. Like Wheelock, he was a New Light evangelical and a staunch ally of James Davenport, a radical New Light preacher whose beliefs got him in trouble with the law. After graduating from Yale in 1733, Pomeroy received the ministry at Hebron, CT, in 1734, and assisted Wheelock in myriad ways until his own death in 1784. He kept Wheelock's school during 1746, when Wheelock's first wife, Sarah, was dying, and he tutored Occom (primarily in Hebrew) after Occom had completed his studies with Wheelock. Pomeroy also supported Wheelock as a trustee of Moor's, and, later, Dartmouth, and as a member of the Board of the Correspondents in Connecticut for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Pomeroy and Wheelock also had close family connections: Pomeroy was married to Wheelock’s sister, Abigail, and one of Pomeroy’s daughters, Hannah, married David McClure, one of Wheelock's most illustrious graduates. Outside of his liturgical career, Pomeroy served as an army chaplain in the French and Indian War and the Revolution.

Kirtland, Daniel
Johnson, William

Sir William Johnson was a powerful British colonial official who amassed wealth and influence by integrating into the Mohawk tribe. For a brief window of time (1761-1768), he provided support for Wheelock’s missionary efforts among the Six Nations. He also helped the Brothertown Nation of Indians procure land from the Oneidas. Johnson was born in Ireland in 1715. His family had been part of the Catholic elite, but after William of Orange’s 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne, they at least nominally converted to the Episcopalian Church. In 1738, Johnson emigrated to America to manage his uncle Peter Warren’s estate in Mohawk territory. Over the next decade, Johnson became wealthy in his own right through trade and land sales, acquiring a vast estate crowned by his manor house, Johnson Hall, which became the central location for British and Indian treaty making. In 1745, Johnson began collecting official British titles and positions. He played an important military role in the French and Indian War and was named Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1756 and first baronet of New York in 1757. Much of Johnson’s success was due to his influence among the Mohawks, which he obtained by learning their language and customs and integrating himself into their society. He participated in Mohawk rituals and entered into a common-law marriage with a powerful Mohawk woman, Molly Brant (also called Mary Brant). Because Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) society is matrilineal, this marriage was an essential element of his participation in Indian affairs. Wheelock desperately wanted to wield missionary influence among the Six Nations, and sought to obtain Johnson as an ally in his endeavors. At first, the two found grounds for cooperation. Wheelock sent Occom as a missionary to the Oneidas in 1761 and again in 1762, and sent a substantially larger group of missionaries and schoolmasters in 1765, 1766, and 1767. Johnson, meanwhile, encouraged Haudenosaunee children, including his brother-in-law Joseph Brant, to attend Moor’s. Johnson’s support proved indispensible to missionaries in the field; he helped with supplies, language skills, and relations with the Mohawks and Oneidas. Wheelock also valued Johnson for his influence in Britain, and drew on him for recommendations and public statements of support numerous times. From 1763 on, however, Johnson found himself decidedly uncomfortable with Wheelock’s missionary efforts, and by 1769, their relationship had dissolved completely. In 1766, Johnson was invited to join the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the largest and most influential Anglican missionary society in the 18th-century British-Atlantic world. He began working to place Anglican missionaries, rather than Congregationalist and Presbyterian ones, among the Six Nations, which alarmed Wheelock. Johnson was generally supportive of Native American tribes’ efforts to maintain their land and sovereignty. As the historian Linford Fisher has noted, “virtually every major Native group in southeastern New England successfully petitioned Johnson to act on their behalf during the late 1760s and early 1770s.” Among these groups was the Brothertown Nation, a Christian composite tribe formed by Southern New England Algonquian Moor’s alumni. Johnson helped them negotiate with the Oneidas, which proved essential to their successful land purchase and relocation to central New York.

Penn, John
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.

Butler, Catherine (née Bratt)
HomeSamuel Kirkland, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 March 6
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