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Samson Occom, journal, 1790 February 21

ms-number: 790171

abstract: Occom details his travels around New York State from February to March of 1790.

handwriting: Handwriting is largely clear and legible. There are some crossed l’s and uncrossed t’s that have been corrected by the transcriber.

paper: Small pages folded vertically and sewn into a booklet are in fair condition, with light-to-heavy staining and wear. The edges on one recto and verso appear to have been trimmed, and the page is separated from the rest of the booklet. There is some preservation work on particularly worn edges.

ink: Brown.

noteworthy: Part of this journal appears to have been lost. There are several blank pages, including four (five verso through seven recto) that are uncut at the top and, consequently, were not scanned. On seven verso, an editor, likely 19th-century, has added notes that have not been transcribed. There are red pencil marks sprinkled throughout. Individuals and places with names that are not legible have not been tagged.

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and there was A large Nr
of People, and I Spoke from
[gap: omitted] and the People attend
ed well — after meeting I went to Deacon's Swans, and
Lodged there —

Monday Febr 22

after B
went on my way to Albany
Stopt but a litle while, Dind
with Mr John Andrews, in
the after Noon, went on a
gain, towards Bought [illegible] got
to one Eqr Ot[illegible]ts and there
Lodgd, and was very kindly
entertaind, — —

Tueſday Febr 23:

after B
went on again, Calld on
two or three Friends, and So
paſt on to half Moon Point
Calld on old Mr Bogardus
and there took DTea
in the evening went to the

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Point, Calld on my good Friend
Mr J: Vanderwariker, and
had a meeting at a widow
Womans Houſe — and there
was much People, and I Spoke
from Eph 2: [gap: omitted] and the People
behaved well — Lodgd at Mr
s — —

Wedneſday Febr 24:

Soon after
eating I went back to Bought
and in the Evening had a met
at old Mr Fero's, and there was
a large N:r of People, and
I Spoke from [gap: omitted]
and the People attended well
Lodgd at the Same Houſe—

Thirdsday Febr 25:

after Breakfaſt, took lea
of the Family and went
on towards Balls Town

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got to Neſcayouna towards
Night, I put up at one Mr
s,— and in the evening
we had a meeting, and there
was alarge number of People
and I Spoke from [gap: omitted]
Lodgd at theſame Houſe —

Fryday, 26

after Breakfaſt
I went to Mr Gernſy s, and
there all Night — —

Saturday Febr 27

Some Time
in the Morning, I went back
to Mr Thomas Smiths, and
there in the evening we had
a meeting, Chiefly for Singing
Andres, John Quinny Solon
and his wife were at the
meeting — Lodgd at the Same
Houſe and reſted well—

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Sabb Febr 28:

aſ o Soon as
eating was over, Mr Smith
took me in his Slay, and we
went to meeting at one Mr
[gap: omitted] and there was a
great Number of People
and I Spoke from Jeſus Chriſt
the Same &c — and the People
attended well, Soon after m
I went with Mr Gernſy . in
his Slay,— and toward Night
we had a meeting in his
Houſe, and the People Coud
not all get in, I Spoke
from the words Sin is the
Tranſgreſsion of the Law, —
Lodgd at the Same Houſe —

Monday March 1

all Day at the Same Houſe
I had forgot my Bag —

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Tueſday March 2,

Soon after
eating I went off, went to See
my Daughter Chriſtiana in
Balls Town , got there Some
in the after Noon, and was
there a while, and then went
on to Freehole ,— got to Mr
s in the Evening
and there Lodgd — — —

Wedneſday March 3:

went to See
my Daughter Olive, and
found them well, but
Cinhia Wawcus , She was
poorly,— Soon went back
and at about 11: we had
a meeting, and there was
a Conſiderable number
of People, and I Spoke from
Gala — I am afraid of you
and the People attended well

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Soon after meeting took
Dinner, and then went off
got to Mr Grotes and Lodged
there and was well Treated —

Thirdsday March the 4:

up early, and took B:
with them; Soon after went
on my way, got to Capt
s and Lodged there and
was kindly receivd. —

Fryday March 5:

Breakfaſt, went on again
Stopt a while at Mr Deans
in Fort Plain, I heard Bro
ther David
and his wife were
about a Mile off, went on
again, and got to Esqr
s in the Evening
he and his wife were not
at Home, and Lodged there

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Saturday March 6:

Time in the morning I
over to Fort Dayton Calld
on Mr Talcut, but he &
his wife were not at home
and was there a while, and
returned back with a Certain
man to Esqr Franks again

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Albany is a city located in eastern New York. When Netherlander Henry Hudson arrived in what would become Albany in 1609, the Mohican Indians lived in several villages in the area. The Mohicans gave Hudson’s crew furs, and the Dutch East India Company sent representatives to trade with the Native peoples. The Dutch established the village of Beverwyck within the territory of the New Netherlands. Beverwyck hosted a diverse population of Germans, French, Swedes, English, Irish, Scots, Dutch, and Africans. After the fall of New Netherlands to Britain in 1664, Beverwyck was renamed Albany in honor of the colony’s proprietor James, Duke of York and Albany. In 1686, Albany was granted a charter that incorporated the city and provided it the sole right to negotiate trade with Native Americans. During the French and Indian War, Albany was designated as the British military headquarters in the Americas. During the Revolutionary War, most Albany residents supported the revolution because of their opposition to British trade restrictions.


Halfmoon is a town located fifteen miles north of Albany at the convergence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers in central New York's Saratoga County. The Mohawk and Mohegan Indians first occupied the area, eventually engaging in a prosperous fur trade with Europeans along both rivers. Europeans began to settle the area after 1664 when Mohegan Indians sold two Dutchmen a tract called Halve Maen, a name that refers to the the crescent shape of the land between the Mohawk and Hudson. Settlement increased after the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, which marked a formal end to regional conflicts between the English, French, and local Indians. Halfmoon saw little action during either the Revolution or the War of 1812. Occom visited the town often in the late 1780s during his preaching tours along the Mohawk River when most of the town's settlement was clustered around the southern Halfmoon Point. Occom preached at the yellow Halfmoon Meeting House, which likely became the town's Presbyterian Church. Halfmoon was incorporated in 1788 but lost much of its area after the formation of the town of Waterford in 1816. The Erie Canal opened in the southern part of Halfmoon in 1825, and today the town serves as a "bedroom" community for Albany.


Ballston is a town in central New York state, north of Albany. The area was occupied by Mohawk Indians, who resented the appropriation of their sacred grounds by European settlers. The first settlers, the MacDonald brothers, built a homestead on the west bank of Ballston Lake in 1763. Reverend Eliphalet Ball arrived in 1770 with his three sons and members of his congregation from Bedford, NY, bought the land from the MacDonalds, named it Ball's Town, and established a Presbyterian church there in 1771. Soon, settlers arrived from other parts of New England, New Jersey, Scotland and north of Ireland. In 1774, a stockaded fort was built in Ballston, which was attacked by the British and their Indian allies from Canada in 1780 and 1781. It became a town of Albany county in 1785 and was part of the religious circuit in upstate New York in which Occom travelled.


Niskayuna is a town in east central New York State on the Mohawk River, just east of the city Schenectady. The name Niskayuna means "extensive corn flats," and is said to come from the Connestigione Indians who occupied a large area on both sides of the river when Dutch settlers arrived around 1642. The Dutch negotiated land deals with several Connestigione chiefs, and began to build homes and farms in the area in the 1660's. In 1746, George Clinton, Governor of New York colony, built one of a line of blockhouses ranging from Fort Massachusetts to Fort Hunter in Niskayuna, and in 1799, the Albany-Schenectady Turnpike (now Route 5) was built through the town. In 1822, the Erie Canal crossed the Mohawk River into Niskayuna, and in 1843 the Troy and Schenectady Railroad was built along the Mohawk River with a station in Niskayuna. The reformed Church of Niskayuna, organized around 1750, is the church at which Occom mentions preaching in his journal of 1787. Around the time that Occom and other Moor's graduates founded Brothertown on Oneida land in upstate New York, Occom commuted back and forth from Mohegan to Brothertown, often stopping to preach to large, enthusiastic crowds in churches and settlements in the area. He mentions preaching at Niskayuna and staying with acquaintances in 1786, 1787 and 1790, often in winter and braving difficult traveling conditions. He likely traveled on the trail that in 1799 became the Albany-Schenectady Turnpike.

Fort Plain

Fort Plain is a village on the Mohawk River in central New York's Montgomery County. The area's original inhabitants were the Mohawks, who also built fortifications in the bordering settlement of Canajoharie. By the 1660s, Dutch settlers began to encroach on Mohawk land, but the major wave of European settlement to Fort Plain began in the early 1700s with the arrival of Palatinate German immigrants. The Protestant Palatinates arrived in New York to escape persecution at home, and in return for their labor in work camps along the Hudson, they received land on the Mohawk River in 1718 in what would become Fort Plain. There may have been a fort in Fort Plain during the French and Indian War in order to protect both European settlers and Canajoharie, but Fort Plain's namesake fort was not built until the eve of the Revolution. Fort Plain was located on a hilltop at the junction of the Mohawk and Osquaga Rivers and gave the patriots a view of the surrounding area. It was briefly known as Fort Rensselaer until General Rensselaer fell out of favor with the colonial army. In 1778, the Fort and its surrounding settlements became an established village as more and more white settlers sought refuge nearby, and in 1780 Fort Plain became the primary fort in upstate New York. In 1783, after news of the American victory spread to the entire upstate New York region from Fort Plain, General Washington used it as the base for his visit to the area. Occom often visited Fort Plain in the late 1780s into the early 1790s when he travelled along the Mohawk River from his home in Brotherton. Fort Plain was home to James Dean, the Dartmouth graduate and Oneida interpreter, whom Occom visited at least once. Today, the village remains very small at about 2,000 residents.

Fort Dayton

Fort Dayton, located in what is now the town of Herkimer in central New York, was part of a defensive chain of forts built along the Mohawk River to fend off British and Indian attacks from Canada. It was constructed in 1776 by troops of the Fourth New Jersey Regiment under the command of Colonel Elias Dayton, on the north side of the Mohawk River at West Canada Creek in a settlement then called German Flatts because of the large population of German immigrants. Built on the site of the earlier Old Fort Herkimer, a dilapidated wooden blockhouse from the French and Indian War, it should not be confused with Fort Herkimer, which was located two miles east on the south side of the Mohawk River. Both forts offered the area's settlers protection during conflicts and a place to store their goods. On August 4, 1777, the Tryon County Militia mobilized about 900 men within the stockade of Fort Dayton, and General Nicholas Herkimer led this regiment from the Fort to relieve the British siege of Fort Stanwix. Enroute they engaged British troops in a small ravine near Oriskany, and though Herkimer was wounded, he won what later was determined to be one of the decisive battles that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War in favor of the Americans. After Herkimer's death a few weeks later, the area's inhabitants renamed their settlement "Herkimer" in his honor. On August 22, General Benedict Arnold (later to become the notorious traitor), also mustered a large army at Fort Dayton, which became a starting point for many military expeditions. It became the westernmost fort in the Mohawk Valley after the destruction of Fort Stanwix in 1781, and was besieged by the Mohawk leader Joseph Brant in 1782. General George Washington visited Fort Dayton in July 1783 on his tour of the fortifications of the Mohawk Valley. Fort Dayton was eventually abandoned and razed in 1832 to make way for the Erie Canal. It is the setting for the historical novel "Drums Along the Mohawk" (1936) by Walter D. Edmonds, which was made into a film in 1939 directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, and John Carradine. Occom visited friends and preached in Fort Dayton in 1789 and 1790.

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.

Andrews, John
Vasnderwarker, John
Fisher, Daniel
Smith, Thomas
Quinney, John
Solomon's wife
Paul, Christiana (née Occom)

Christiana Occom was born in 1757 in Mohegan, CT as the ninth child of Samson Occom and Mary Fowler. Christiana spent her childhood in Mohegan, where she married the Reverend Anthony Paul in 1777. The couple eventually settled in Brotherton in 1784. There, they raised at least six children, four of which Samson Occom baptized. Occom's journals tell of many joyful visits he paid to his daughter and son-in-law while on his travels. Christiana and Anthony finally left Brotherton in 1797 to settle in Lake George, NY.

Adams, Olive (née Occom)

Olive was the fourth child and third daughter born to Mary Fowler Occom and Samsom Occom during their residence in Montauk on Long Island, where Occom served as minister and schoolteacher to the Montaukett Indians. She would have moved with the family back to Mohegan in Connecticut in 1763, but little else is known about her life. From a letter Occom wrote to Joseph Johnson on April 14, 1775 (manuscript 775264), we know that Olive married Solomon Adams, a Farmington Indian. Love reports that they had three children, that Solomon died around 1783, and that Olive lived on her husband's land in Farmington. However, Occom records in his journal for 1786 visiting Olive on his preaching and fundraising tours of New England to raise money for the Brothertown project, and she is living between Old Windsor and Bolton, CT, a location northwest of Farmington and on the other side of Hartford. The following year, Occom twice mentions in his journal "Olive's affair," that he "searched into" it "and Say Writings about it to my Satisfaction," and then "left" it with a Mr. Wadsworth (manuscript 787660.1). Love notes that Olive emigrated to Brotherton, and that her children sold the family plot at Farmington in 1801. J. Brooks speculates that the "affair" Occom negotiated for his daughter probably concerned the disposition of Olive's husband's Farmington lot.

Walkus, Cinhia
Dean, James

James Dean, an adopted member of the Oneida tribe, was an interpreter and American government agent. When he was nine years old, his parents sent him to live with the Oneidas at Onaquaga; they may have thought that interpreting would be a secure career, or they may have acted out of a missionary impulse. Dean lived at Onaquaga for four or five years and was formally adopted by the Oneidas. He may have lived at Good Peter's house. Dean learned an array of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Indian languages. In 1762, Rev. Forbes retrieved Dean on a mission to Onaquaga under the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. After that Society folded, the New England Company educated Dean and employed him as a missionary. Naturally, Wheelock coveted the services of this Anglo-American boy who was fluent in multiple Indian languages. Dean was also interested in working for Wheelock because he wanted a college education, which the New England Company was not going to provide. Thus, Dean became yet another point of contention between Wheelock and the New England Company: the New England Company's Boston Board accused Wheelock of trying to poach their best interpreter, while Wheelock maintained that it was Dean who was pursuing him. Dean finally joined Dartmouth College in November of 1769; as Chase points out, by this time Wheelock's relations with the Boston Board were irreparable and he had nothing to lose by accepting Dean as a student. Dean graduated from Dartmouth in 1773 and served Wheelock for the next two years. He worked primarily with Abenakis in Canada and the Oneidas, and was often paired with Kirkland. In August of 1775, Wheelock gave Dean his blessing to leave the missionary service and work as an interpreter and Indian agent for the Continental Army. Dean interpreted at several important conferences and, along with Kirkland, was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to side with the colonies during the Revolution. After the war, Dean continued to work as a liaison between Indian tribes and American governments, especially between the Oneidas and the New York Government. Although one might expect Dean to have protected his adoptive tribe's interests, he did not. Dean was heavily involved in land speculation, and did not see a cooperative future between Indians and Anglo-Americans. He helped New York State acquire massive amounts of Oneida land, and amassed substantial territory for himself in the process. While Dean did not help the Oneidas hold on to their land, he did make some efforts to defend Oneida sovereignty from New York intervention. Dean farmed his land and turned it into the settlement of Westmoreland. He was a prominent citizen in Central New York: he served as a judge and assemblyman and played an important role in establishing the region's trade lines. Occom refers to visiting Dean several times in his later diaries.

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.

Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)

Hannah Fowler (née Garrett) was a Pequot woman who married David Fowler. The Garrett family boasted sachems and interpreters and was influential among the Stonington Pequots. Hannah grew up among the Charlestown Narragansetts, as her parents had affiliated with that tribe (a not-uncommon occurrence, given the close ties between the groups, especially in the realm of Christian spirituality). At Charlestown, Hannah received her basic education and was recruited for Moor’s Indian Charity School. She studied at the school from 1763 until she married David Fowler in 1766. Hannah and David’s marriage is especially noteworthy because it is the only instance where a female Moor’s student married a Native American missionary from Moor’s and joined him on missions — which had been Wheelock’s intent in admitting Native American women in the first place. Hannah assisted David on his mission to Kanawalohale from the time of their marriage in 1766 until his departure for Montauk in 1767. In 1783, the pair moved to Brothertown, where their house was the town center. Both Fowlers proved influential in town affairs, and their children and grandchildren also played a central role in the town’s administration.

Frank, Lawrence

Lawrence Frank, also identified in histories of Frankfort as "Lewis," was one of the earliest settlers of the town of Frankfort (originally Frank's Ford), located east of present-day Utica, which was named in his honor. He was the son of Henry Frank (c 1725-1790) and Maria Catharine. Henry immigrated to Pennsylvania from Germany, probably Bavaria, with his brother Christopher in 1740 and was a trader between the Mohawk and Lehigh Valleys in the 1740s and 50s. He settled in German Flatts, an area originally belonging to the Mohawk Nation but populated with German immigrants who bought up the fertile river lands. Lawrence married Mary Myers in 1769 and they helped found the new town of Frankfort on land originally bought from the Mohawks by Dutch settlers. The land was set off as a separate town from German Flatts by an act of the NY Legislature on February 5, 1796. Lawrence Frank owned a large tract of land, and town history reflects that he actively promoted the industrial and agricultural progress of Frankfort, which was severely damaged in the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars. In fact, Frank and a group of other patriots were taken as prisoners of war during the Revolution and housed in Quebec from August 31 1778 until May 15 1781, when he was released and made his way back home. His popularity is reflected in the fact that the village of Howard's Bush was renamed Frankfort Center and McGowansville was renamed East Frankfort. Later in life, Frank moved with some of his family to a new settlement called Busti in Chautauqua County, NY, which is where he died. On his first journey to the Oneidas in 1761, Occom records paying for lodging at Mr. Franks, a tavern keeper in German Flatts. Although there is no historical record of such a place, Occom returned to this tavern many times on his preaching tours of the area between 1786 and 1790. Frank's Tavern must have been a major establishment because in early July of 1761, Occom notes that William Johnson met him and David Fowler there, and that the next day Johnson met with chiefs of the Oneidas to work out an agreement about an Oneida who killed a Dutchman. In June 1789, Occom records preaching in Esquire Frank's barn to "a vast number of people."

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