Samson Occom, autobiography, undated


abstractOccom writes a second draft of his autobiography.

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

paperSeveral 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.


noteworthyAn 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.

EventsOccom 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 gan in New London Connecti cut, 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 give^n^  to them every Fall of the year  and for theſe things they wou^d^  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  Place— 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, excep^t^  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 amon^g^  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 freequen^t^ ly to us, and exhorted ^us^ to the things  of god, and^which^ it pleaſed the Ld,  as I humbly hope, to Bleſs and  acompaniy ^with^ their Endeavours by  ^with^him Divine Influences, to the  Conviction and Saving Converſi on of a Number of us; Amongſt  which I was one that was Impreſ^t^  with the things, which we had hear^d^  and tTheſe Preachers did not only  Come to us, but we ^frequently^ went to their  meetings and Churches Conſtant ly, 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 Wheeloc^k^  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  Wheelock wanted to See me  as Soon as poſsible,— So I wen^t^  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 adjacen^t^  and they alowed him 60 £: pr  An: 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  ^ock^ 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, bu^t^  they ^had^ one; then went to Narogan ſet, 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 deſirou^s^  to have me keep a School among^ſt^  them, and I Conſented, and  went back a while to Moheg^an^  and Some in November I wen^t^  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  Horton, the Scotch Society's Miſ ſionary, but he Spent, I think,  two thirds of his Time at Sheene‐ cock, 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 befor^e^  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  Buell 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 Increac^e^  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 Prea^h^  to the^se^ 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‐ hantuck, 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^ Rou^n^d,  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 Shor^t^ 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 Diſtingu^iſh^  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 Ben^ch^  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 diſting^ly^,  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  Horton left theſe Indians  they had Some Prejudices infuſd  in their minds, by Some  Inthuſiaſtical Exhorters from  N. England, againſt Mr  Horton, 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, fraim^d^  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 tim^es^  go^went^ 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 Eaſthamp^ton^  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 Providence^s^,  I bought a Mare, had it bu^t^  little while, and She fell into  the Quick Sands and Died, after  a while Bought another, I kep^t^  ^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 Bou^t^  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 acquain^t^ed 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 Circumſta^nces^  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‐  ton; 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 Circumſtan^es^  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 believ^e^  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 wha^t^  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 him^ſelf^ 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‐ dian— 
So I am ready to Say, they have  uſd thus, becauſe I Cant Inſtru^ct^  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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