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Samson Occom, autobiography, undated

ms-number: 768517

abstract: Occom writes a second draft of his autobiography.

handwriting: The legibility of Occom's usually clear hand is heavily mitigated by editorial additions and deletions, likely 19th-century.

paper: Several small sheets of paper are folded into a booklet. The booklet appears to have been bound with twine or thread at one time; however, this binding is missing and, aside from the two outside pages, the pages are loose. The inner edges of these loose pages appear to have been trimmed. The paper is in good-to-poor condition with light-to-heavy staining and wear, which results in a minor loss of text. There is some repair work on the outside pages.

ink: Brown.

noteworthy: An editor, likely 19th-century, has overwritten Occom's hand in several places. The transcriber has attempted to decipher Occom's original hand and ignore editorial editions and deletions. There are pencil marks on 13 verso.

events: Occom leaves his studies, Occom's Mission to the Montauketts, Occom's Marriage, Occom's Ordination, Fundraising Tour of Great Britain

Haveng Seen and heard
Several Repreſentations, in
England and Scotland, made wrote by
Several Some gentlemen in America,
Concerning , me, and Finding many
miſsrpreſentations and
groſs Miſtakes in their Ac‐
counts, I thought it my
Duty to give a Short Plain
and Honeſt Account of my
ſelf, that thoſe who may ſee
my Account hereafter See it, may
Know the Truth Concerning me. — —
Tho' it is againſt my mind
to give a Hiſtory of my ſelf & publiſh it
whilſt I am alive, Yet to do
Juſtice to my ſelf and to th[gap: worn_edge][guess: ]e
who may deſire have mind to know Some
thing concerning of me— and for the Honor
[gap: hole][guess: of] Religion I will venture to
give a Short Narrative of
my Life. — —
From my birth till I receivd
the Chriſtian Religion.—
I was Born a Heathen and
Brought up in In Heatheniſm
till I was between 16 & 17 years
of age, at a Place Calld Mohe
in New London Connecti
, in New England
my Parents Livd a wandering
life, So as did all the Indians at
Mohegan; they chiefly Depended
upon Hunting, Fiſhing, & Fowling
and Claming, for their Living
and had no Connections with
the Engliſh, excepting to Tr[gap: worn_edge][guess: af]
fic with them, with the in their Smal[gap: tear][guess: l]
Trifles — and they Strictly
maintain'd and follow'd their
Heatheniſh ways, Cuſtoms &
Religion — tho' there was Some
Preaching among them theſe Indi
ans, once a Fortnight, in y[gap: tear][guess: e]
Summer Seaſon, a Miniſter
from N London [illegible]uſed to come
up — and the Indians uſe to
attend; not that they regard
ed the Chriſtian Religion,
But they had Blankets given
to them every Fall of the year
and for theſe things they woud
attend — and there was a Sort
of a School kept, when I was
quite young,. but I believe
there never was one that
even Learn to read any
thing — and when I was about
10 years of age there was a Sort
of a School again in our
— a man who went uſed to go a
about among the Indian
Wigwams, and where ever
he Coud find the Indian Child,r
he woud make them read —
but the Indian Children uſd
to take Care to keep out off
his way — and he uſ'd to Catch
me Some times and make me
Say over my Letters, and I be
believe I Learnt Some of [illegible]them.
Litters, But this was soon over
too — and all this Time there was
not one amongſt us, that made a
Chriſtian Profeſsion of Chriſtianity — Neither
did we Cultivate our Land, nor and
kept any Sort of Creatures, except
Dogs, which we uſed in Hunting,
and Dwelt in Wigwams, the[illegible][guess: y]
are a Sort of Tents Coverd with
Matts, and theſe Matts are made
of Flags — And to this Time
we were [illegible] unaquainted with the
Engliſh Tonug in general, tho' there
were a few, who underſtood a little
of it the Engliſh —–
From the Time of our Re‐
formation till I left Mr Wheelock
When I was 1[illegible]6 years of age—
we heard a Strange Rumor among
the Engliſh, that there were Ex‐
traordinary Miniſters Preaching
from Place to Place and that
there was
a Strange Concern a
mong the white People — this
was in the Spring of the year.
But we Saw nothing of theſe
things, till Some Time in the
Summer, then Some Miniſters
began to viſit us and Preachd
to us the Word of god; and the
[illegible]Common [illegible]People alſo Came freequent
ly to us, and exhorted us to the things
of god, andwhich it pleaſed the Ld,
as I humbly hope, to Bleſs and
acompaniy with their Endeavours by
withhim Divine Influences, to the
Conviction and Saving Converſi
on of a Number of us; Amongſt
which I was one that was Impreſt
with the things, which we had heard
and tTheſe Preachers did not only
Come to us, but we frequently went to their
meetings and Churches Conſtant
, after I was awakened convicted found Trouble of mind
I went to all the meetings I Coud Come
at; thus I& Continud under Trou‐
ble of Mind about 6 Months,
and almoſt as Soon as I found
uneaſineſs in my Mind,
so I
at which time I began to Learn the Engliſh—
Letters; Got me a Primmer
and uſed to go to my Engliſh
Neighbours freequently for
Aſsiſtance in Reading, budt went
to no School — and my Neighbours
were very ready to help me

And when I was 1[illegible]7 years of
age, I hope I had as I truſt, a Diſcovery
of the way of Salvation through
J[illegible][guess: esus] and was enabl'd to put my
truſt in him alone for Life &
Salvation, From this Time
the Diſtreſs and Burden of my
mind was removd, and I found
Serenity and Pleaſure of Soul.
in Serving god, by this time I
Juſt began to try to Read in
the New Teſtament without
Spelling,— and I had Stronger
Deſire Still to Learn to read
the Word of god, and at the
Same Time, had an uncommon
Pity and Compaſsion to my
Poor Brethern According to the
Fleſh, I uſd to wiſh, I was
Capable of Inſtructing my
poor Kindred, I uſe to thin[illegible]k
if I Coud once Learn to Read
I woud Inſtruct poor Children
in Reading— and uſd freequent‐
ly to talk with our Indians Con‐
cerning Religion.— Thus I Con
tinued, till I was in my 19th year;
by this Time I Coud Read a lit
tle in the B[illegible]ible, at this Time
my Poor Mother was going to
Lebanon, and having had
Some Knowledge of Mr Wheelock
and hearing he had a Number
of Engliſh youth under his Tuition,
I had a great Inclination to go
to him and to be with a week
or a Fortnight, and Deſired
my Mother to Ask Mr Wheelock,
whether he woud take me a little
while to Inſtruct me in Reading;
Mother did So; and when She
Came Back, She Said Mr
wanted to See me
as Soon as poſsible,— So I went
up, thinking I Shoud be back
again in a few Days; when
I got up there, he receivd me
with kindneſs and Compaſsion
and in Stead of Staying a
Fortnight or 3 weeks, I
Spent 4 years with him —
After I had been with him
Some Time, he began to a‐
quaint his Friends of my
being with him, and his Inten
tions of Educating me, and
my Circumſtances,— and the
good People began to give
Some Aſsiſtance to Mr Wheelock,
and gave me Some old and Some
New Cloaths — Then he repreſted
the Caſe to the Honorable Com‐
miſsioners at Boſton
, who were
Commiſsion'd by the Honorable Socie
ty in London for Propagating ye
goſpel among the Indians in
New England and parts adjacent

and they alowed him 60 £: pr
both in old Tennor, which
was about 6 £: Sterling, and
they Continu'd it 2: or 3: years
I Can't tell exactly — while I
was at Mr Wheelocks, I was
very weakly and my Health
much Empard, and at the
End of 4 years, I over Straind
my Eyes to Degree, I Coud
not perſue my Studies any
Longer; and out off theſe
4 years, I Loſt Juſt about
one Year; — And was obligd
to quit my Studies — —
From the Time I left Mr Wheel
till I went and [illegible] Europe
As Soon as I left Mr Wheelock,
I endeavourd to find Some Em‐
ploy among the Indians; went
to Nahantuck, thinking, they
may want a School Maſter, but
they had one; then went to Narogan
, and they were Indeferent
about School, and went back
to Mohegan, and heard a Num‐
ber of our Indians were going
to Montauk on Long Island,—
and I went with them, and the
Indians there were very deſirous
to have me keep a School amongſt
them, and I Conſented, and
went back a while to Mohegan
and Some in November I went
on the Iſland, I think it is 17
17 years ago laſt Novr
I agreed to keep a School with
them Half a year, and left it
with them to give me what they
Pleaſd, and they took turns
to Provide Food for me — I had
near 30 Scholars this winter,
I had evening School too for thoſe
that Coud not attend Day School
— and began to Carry on their meet
ings, T[illegible] they had a Miniſter, one Mr
, the Scotch Society's Miſ
ſionary, but he Spent, I think,
two thirds of his Time at Sheene‐
, 30 Miles from Montauk,
We met together 3 times for Di‐
vine Worſhip every Sabbath
and once on every Wedneſday even‐
ing— I to read the Scriptures
to them and uſed to expound
upon Some perticular Paſ
ages in my own Tonuge I
viſited the Sick and attended
their Burials — when the half
year expird, they Deſird me
to Continud with them, which
I Complyd with, for another
half year, when I had fulfild
that, they were urgent to have
me Stay Longer So I Continud
till I was Married amongſt 'em
which was about 2 years after
I went there —
And I Continu'd to Inſtruct them
in the Same manner as I did before
after I was maried a while, I found
there was need of a Support, more, than
I needed while I was Single,— and
I made my Caſe Known to Mr
and to Mr Wheelock, and
alſo the Needy Circumſtances,
and the Deſires of theſe Indians
& of my Continuence amongſt
them, and Mr Wheelock and
other gentlemen, Repreſented
my Circumſtances and the Cir
cumſtances, and the Deſires of
theſe Indians of my Continuing
amongſt them, and the Com‐
miſsioners were So good as to
grant £15 per An: Sterling — —
And I kept on in my Service as
uſual, yea I had additional
Service, I kept School as I
did before and Carried on the
Religious meeting as often as
ever, and attended the Sick
and their Funerals, and did
what writings they wanted,
and often Sat as Judge
to reconcile and Deſide their
Matters between them, and
had viſiters of Indians, from
all Quarters; and, as our
Cuſtom is, we freely Entertain
all viſiters,— And was fetchd
often from my Tribe and
from others [gap: stain] See into
their Affairs Both Religious
& Temporal,— Beſides my
Domeſtick Concerns,— and
it Pleaſed the Lord to Increace
my Family faſt — and Soon
after I was Maried, Mr Horton
left theſe Indians, and the
Sheenecock Indians & after this I was licencd to p and then
I had the whole Care of theſe
Indians at Montauk, and
uſed to viſitd the Shenecock
Indians often — uſed to Set
out Saturdays towards Night
and back again on Mondays
I have been obliged to Set out from
Home after Sun Set, and Ride
30 Miles in the Night, to Preah
to these Indians at Shenecock
And Some Indians at Shenecock
Sent their Children to my School
at Montauk, I kept one
of 'em Some Time, and had
a young Man half year from
Mohegan, A Lad from Na‐
, who was with me
almoſt a year,— [illegible] & had
had very little for all theſe
and had little or nothing
for Keeping them, —
My Method in the School
was, as Soon as the Children
got together, and have took
their proper Seats, I Prayd
with them, then began to
hear them, I generaly began
(after some of 'em Coud Spell
and Read,) with thoſe, that
were yet in their Alphabets;
So around, as they were pro‐
perly Seat, till I got thro'
and I obligd them to Study
their Books, and to help one
another, when they Coud not
make out a hard, they
Brought to me — and I Uſu‐
ally heard them, in the Sum
mer Seaſon 8 Times a Day
4 in the morning, and in ye
after Noon — In the MWinter
Seaſon 6 Time a Day, as
Soon as they coud Spell, they
were obligd to spell when ever
they wanted to go out; Conclud‐
ded with Prayer, I generally heard my
AEvening scholars 3 T Round,
And as they go out the School,
every one that Can Spell,
is obligd to spell a word,
and So go out Leaſurely one
after another, — I Catechiſed
3 or 4 Times a weeks accor
ding to the Aſembly's Short
er C[illegible]atechiſm, and many
Times Propoſ'd Queſtions
of my own, and in my
own Tonugue, — I found
Som D[illegible][guess: e]fficulty with Some
Children, who were Some‐
what Dull, moſt of theſe
Can Soon learn to say over
their Letters, they Diſtinguiſh
the Sounds by the Ear, but
their Eyes Can't Diſtinguiſh
the Letters, and the way
I took to cure 'em, was
by taking making an
Alhphabet on Small bits
of paper, and glued them
on Small Chips of Cedar,
after this manner [illegible]
A B [right]&c. I put theſe on
[right]Letters in order on
a Bench, than point to one Letter
and bid a Child to take notice
of it, and then I dorder the Child
to fetch me the Letter from ye Bench
if it Brings the Letter, it is well,
if not it muſt go again and
again till it bring ye right Lr
Wheny they Can bring any of
Letters, this way, then I Juſt
Jumble them together, and
b[illegible]d them to Set them in Al‐
phabetical order, and it is
a Pleaſure to 'em; and they Soon
learn their letters this way —
I freequently Diſcouſd or [illegible]Exhor
ted my Scholars, in Religious
matters — My Method in
our Religious Meetings was
this; Sabbaths Mornings we
Aſsemble together about 10:o.C.
and begin with Singing; we
generaly Sung Dr Watts's
Psalms or Hymns, I diſtingly,
read the Psalm or Hymn firſt,
and then give the meaning of
it to them, after that sing, then
Pray, and Sing again, after Prayr
then proceed to Read Some
Sutable portion of Scripture,
and So Juſt give the plain
Senſe of it, in Familiar Diſcourſe
and applyd to them, [illegible]So Con
[illegible]clude with Pray, and Sing
ing, In the after-Noon and
Evening we Proceed in the
Same Manner, and So in
Wedneſday Evenings, — Some
Time after Mr Horton left
theſe Indians, there was
a remarkable revival of
religion among theſe Indi
ans and many were hope
fully Converted to the Saving
knowledge of god a in J[illegible]
It is to be obſerved, before Mr
left theſe Indians
they had Some Prejudices infuſd
in their minds, by Some
Inthuſiaſtical Exhorters from
N. England, againſt Mr
, an[illegible] Many of 'em
had left him, by this means
he was[illegible] Diſcourag'd, and Su[illegible]d
a Diſmiſsion, and was diſmiſt
from theſe Indians, — And being
acquainted with the Enthu‐
Siaſts in New England, &
the make and the Diſpoſiſti
ons of the Indians, took a
mil[illegible][guess: e] way to reclaim them,
I oppoſd them not openly
but let them go on in their
way, and when ever I
had an opportunity, I
woud read Such paſages
of the Scriptures, as I
thought, woud Confound
their Notions, [illegible] and I woud
come to them with all Au‐
thority, Saying thus Saith
the Lord, and by this
means, the Lord was
pleaſd to Bleſs my poor
Endeavours, and they were
reclaimed, and Brought to
hear moſt any of the Miniſ‐
ters — I am now to
give an Account o[illegible]f my
Circumſtances and manner
of Livineng, — I Dwelt in
a wigwam, a Small Hutt, fraimd
with Small Poles and Coverd
with Matts made of Flags,
and I was oblig'd to move
twice a year, about 2 Miles
Diſtance, by reaſon of the
Scarcity of wood, for in our
Neck of Land they Planted
their Corn, and in anather, they
had their wood,— and I was
obligd to hire my Corn Carted
and my Hay alſo, — and
I got my Ground Plow'd every
year, which Coſt me about
[illegible][illegible] 12 an Acre; and I kept
a Cow and a Horſe, for
which I paid £ 21: every year
York Currency, And went 18
miles to Mill for every Duſt
of meal we uſ'd in my family
I Hired or Joined with my
Neighbours to go to Mill wit[illegible]h
a Horſe or ox Cart, or on
Horſe Back, and Some times
gowent my ſelf; my Family In‐
creaſing faſt, and my viſiters
alſo, I was obligd to Continue
every way to Support my
Family; I took all opper‐
tunities, to get Some thing,
to feed my Family daily, —
I Planted my own Corn, Po‐
tatoes and [illegible]Beans; I uſe to
be out whoeing my Corn
Some times before Sun Riſe
and after my School is
Diſmiſt, and by this means I
was able to raiſe my own
Pork, for I was alowd to keep
5 Swine, Some Mornings &
Evenings I woud be out with
my Hook and Line to Catch
fiſh, and in the Fall of
year and in the Spring, I
uſ'd my Gunn, for we livd
very handy for Fowl, and I
was very expert with gunn,
and fed my Family with
Fowl, I Coud more than pay
for my Powder & Shott, with
Feathers, at other Times I
Bound old Books for Eaſthampton
People, Made wooden Spoons
and Ladles, Stackd Guns, &
workd on SCedar to make Pails,
Piggans and Churns &c —
beſides all theſe Difficulties
I wMet with adverſe Providences,
I bought a Mare, had it but
little while, and She fell into
the Quick Sands and Died, after
a while Bought another, I kept
her about half Year, and She was
gone, and I never heard nor
Seen her from that Day to
this, it was Suppoſd Some
Rogue Stold her, and got
another and Dyed with a Diſ
temper, and laſt of all I Bout
a Young Mare, and kept
her till She had one Colt, and
She broke her Leg and Died
and Preſently after the Coldt
Died alſo, In the whole I
Loſt 5 Horſe Kind, all theſe
Loſes helped to pull me down
and by this Time I got greatly
in Debt, and acquainted my
Circumſtances to Some of my
Friends, and they Repreſented
my Caſe to the Commiſsioners
of Boſton
, and Interceeded with
them for me, and [illegible]they were pleaſed
to [illegible]Vote 15 for my Help; and
Soon after Sent a Letter to my
good Friend at N. London,
acquainting him, that they
had Superſeded their vote; &
my Friends were So good as to
repreſent my Needy Circumſtances
Still to them, and they were So
good at Laſt, as to vote £15
and Sent it, for which I am
very thankful, and the good Mr Buell
was So Kind as to write in my
behalf to the gentlemen of Bos‐
; and he told me they
were much Diſpleaſ'd with
him; and heard alſo once
and again, that they blaimed
me for being Extravagant, I
Cant Conceive how theſe gentlen
woud have me Live, I am rea
dy to [illegible][guess: i]mputed [illegible][guess: it] their Ignorance, and woud
wiſh they had Changd Circumſtanes
with me but one Month, that
they may know, by experience
what my Caſe really was, but
I am now fully Convincd, that i[illegible]t
was not Ignorance For I believe
it Can be provd to the world, that
theſe Same Gentlemen, gave a
young Miſsionary, a Single
man, one Hundred Pounds for
one year, and fifty Pounds for
an Interpreter, and thirty Pounds
for an Introducer, So it Coſt them
[illegible]one [illegible]Hundred & Eighty Pounds
in one Single year, and they
Sent too where there was no
Need of a Miſsionary,
Now you See what difference
they made between me and other
Miſsionarys, they gave me
180 Pounds for 12 years Service,
which they gave for one years
Service in another Miſſion —
In my Service, (I Speak like a
fool, but I am Conſtrain'd)
I was my own Int[illegible]erpreter
I was both a CSchool maſter,
and Miniſter to the Indians,
yea I was their Ear, Eye &
Hand, as well Mouth, — I
leave it with world, as wick
ed as it is, to Judge, whether
I ought [illegible] not to have had haldf
as much, they gave a young
man Juſt mention'd, which
woud have been but £50 a Year;
and if they ought to have
given me that, I am not un
der obligations to them, I owe
them nothing at all; Now what
Can be the Reaſon? that they
uſed me after this manner; I
Can't think of any thing, but
this as a poor Indian Boy
Said, who was Bound out to
an Engliſh Family, and
he uſ'd to Drive Plow for a
young man, and he whipt
and Beat him allmoſt every
Day, and the young man
found fault with him, and
Complaind of him to his maſter
and the poor boy was Calld to
anſwere for himſelf before his
maſter, — and he was aſk'd,
what it was he did, Cthat he
was So Complaind of and beat
almoſt every Day? he Said,
he did not know, but he Suppoſd
it was, becauſe he Coud not drive any
better, but Says he, I Drive as
well as I know how and at other
Times he Beats me, becauſe he
is mind to beat me, but Says,
he, I believe he Beats for the moſt of the
[illegible] Time, becauſe I am an In‐
So I am ready to Say, they have
uſd thus, becauſe I Cant Inſtruct
they Indians So well as other
Miſsionaries, but I Can aſure
them I have endearvourd to teach
them as well as I how — but I
muſt Say, I believe, it is,
becauſe I am poor Indian,
I Cant help that [illegible] God has
made me So; I did not make
my Se[illegible][guess: ft] So —
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Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

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.

Occom, Sarah

Sarah Occom was Samson Occom's mother. There is some evidence that she was a member of the Groton Pequots, a remnant of the once powerful Pequot Tribe that was decimated by the war with the Puritans in 1636-37. (The Pequots and Mohegans were once a unified people until the Mohegan chief Uncas and a band of followers split off after a dispute with Sassacus, who became sachem of the Pequots.) One genealogy gives Sarah's birthdate as 1694, her maiden name as Wauby Sampson, her father as Sabientouset II (known as General Samson) and her mother as Hannah Wequot Uncas, of the line of the Mohegan's first sachem. Sarah married Joshua Occom (or Tomockham), a Mohegan, and they may have had up to five children: Joshua Jr., Samson, Jonathan, Lucy, and Sarah. In Samson's "Short Narrative" of his life, he notes that his parents "led a wandering Life up and down in the Wilderness" around Uncas Hill. Sarah was an early convert to Christianity during the revivals that swept the area, and Occom recounts that when he told her he wanted education in order to serve his Tribe, she went to Wheelock in nearby Lebanon, CT, because she heard "he had a Number of English youth under his Tuition," to request he take in her son. By 1743, Sarah was a widow, and Samson continued to visit and stay at his mother's house in Mohegan through the 1760s, though one source gives her death as 1782.

Horton, Azariah

Azariah Horton was an Anglo-American missionary who conducted a 10-year mission (1741-1751) to the Montauketts and Shinnecocks of Long Island before being replaced by Samson Occom in 1750. After graduating from Yale in 1735 and briefly preaching in Turkey, NJ, Horton was ordained and commissioned by the New York (later New Jersey) Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK) to serve as a missionary on Long Island. His territory was extensive: in addition to the Montauketts and the Shinnecocks, Horton ministered to Indian tribes on the Wyoming and Delaware rivers where the Brainerd brothers were later quite successful. Horton kept a diary during the first three years of his mission (1741-1744) in which he records his extensive travels between sites. By the late 1740s, however, he was residing solely at Shinnecock and spending almost all of his time there. Perhaps his health had decayed and he was unable to travel, or perhaps he had simply given up on his mission (the sources are unclear). Whatever the cause, his neglect left the Montauketts ripe for Samson Occom’s missionary efforts. Horton encouraged Occom’s ministry, and the two stayed in contact (Occom visited him at least once, in 1760). However, when Horton retired, the SSPCK retired his mission with him. They believed that it was a fairly fruitless enterprise, which is likely at least part of the reason why they were disinclined to pay Occom for his efforts. After leaving Montauk, Horton became the pastor at Bottle Hill, NJ (sometimes described as South Hanover). He retired of his own volition in October 1776 and moved to live with his son in Chatham, NJ, where he died in 1777 after being exposed to smallpox while ministering to the dead and dying in George Washington’s army.

Buell, Samuel

Buell was a popular Presbyterian minister during the second half of the 18th century in Long Island, as well as a close friend of Samson Occom. He was ordained in November 1743, and was a popular itinerant minister before settling at Easthampton. He preached at Occom's ordination, published the sermon in 1761 to raise funds for Occom (he also wrote the letter addressed to Bostwick prefacing his publication), and stayed in close contact with Occom even after Occom's public break from Wheelock. Occom's diary is full of references to visiting Buell and to their close friendship. During the Revolution, Buell was the only minister on Long Island for 40 miles, and was very active in assisting the American cause. He also founded Clinton Academy on Long Island in 1785, which was the first private school chartered by the New York Board of Regents. This academy was also remarkable in that it admitted women. Multiple historical sources have misconstrued Samuel Buell as Sol or Solomon Buell, likely because Buell sometimes signed his name Sa.l, a creative abbreviation of Samuel. However, there was no Reverend Solomon Buell in Easthampton, or, it seems, Long Island, in the second half of the 18th century: Samuel had no brothers, and were there to be two Reverend S. Buell's within 10 miles of one another during the same period, related or not, doubtlessly someone would have commented on it. In addition, the handwriting in letters ascribed to "Sol" and those assigned to Samuel is identical. Lastly, the only source besides collection manuscript 765530.3 describing a "Solomon Buell" is an anthology of letters from the Revolution, which contain letters from a Rev. Sol. Buell, or S. Buell, about aiding the American cause. These letters correspond well with descriptions of Samuel's life in an 1809 biography of his life, and, as he was the only Reverend but one for 40 miles during the Revolution, it is likely that these letters belong to him.

Watts, John
Occom leaves his studies
Occom's Mission to the Montauketts
Occom's Marriage
Occom's Ordination
Fundraising Tour of Great Britain
HomeSamson Occom, autobiography, undated
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