Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to John Smith, 1761 September 15


abstractWheelock writes of Occom’s mission to the Oneidas, of the preparations of Samuel Kirtland for mission work, and of the general progress of the charity school. In a postscript, Wheelock states that Occom was educated entirely by him, and not at college.

handwritingHandwriting is relatively clear and tidy, with some deletions and additions.

paperLarge sheet folded in half to make four pages is silked along horizontal creases; there is some wear at edges.

inkHeavy and blotchy in spots.

noteworthyOn one recto, second paragraph, the "three Mohawke lads" are Joseph Brant, Negyes, and Center. On one verso, second paragraph, one of the Delaware girls is Miriam Storrs; in the same paragraph "...one of the Girls which I have been so long expecting..." is likely Amy Johnson. On one verso, fourth paragraph, the two Delawares are Joseph Woolley and Hezekiah Calvin. Some contents are similar to those of 761404. Wheelock discusses the belief that Indians are the "10 Tribes of the House of Israel." In the trailer on 2 verso, the date is written as September 13, not 15.

EventsBuilding of Occom’s house

Modernized Version Deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.

  Much respected and Honoured Sir. 
My Affairs have so crowded that I haven't  found leisure to write you of the State of this Indian School, as  you desired and I designed when I had the pleasure you gave me at your House  last Spring. nor can I now more than gratify you with a few  Hints; in Hopes I may have More leisure by and by [gap: tear] or perhaps  the opportunity to wait upon you at your own House [gap: tear][guess: a]gain be ­fore winter.
Mr. Occom, in consequence of the Appointment which I in formed you of, set out on his long journey to the Six Nations, on  the 10th of June last, (accompanied by David the youth who  was with me at your House last Spring) by the way of New­  ­York, where he tarried several Days, and preached in Mr. Bostwick  Meeting House to an assembly vastly Numerous; at which  was collected £ 70. for his use. And the Evening following at the  Baptist's Meeting House £ 13. their currency: And received  the fullest Recommendations from the principle Gentlemen  in the City. I have since received a Letter from him Dated  German Flatts. July 7. Informing that he had met with un­ common kindness, and respect every where. And that Gen.  Amherst had given him the strongest pass, and recommendati ­on to all his Officers, etc.. And also that Gen. Johnson, who  was there on his way to the Detroit, with presents to the Indians  had promised him his assistance, and designed the next Day  to introduce him to the Oneida Nation. I have also of  the Same Date and from the Same Place, a Letter from  Gen. Johnson, which came by the Hands of Three Mohawk  Lads two of which were Sent by the Gen. to this School in  compliance with my desire by Letter to him that he would  send me six promising Youth of those Nations. Three to  be supported by the Honourable Scottish Commissioners, And the  other Three I venture to take in Addition to the six which  I had before to be the Subjects of Such Charities, as God  shall dispose the Hearts of his People to bestow upon this  occasion. And the Gen. informs me, he hopes, as he passes  through the Other Nations on his Way, he shall be able to send  me 3. or 4. more so as to complete the Number which I wrote  for. And I am now daily Expecting them here.
When these came I was much at a loss what might be his  End in coming, who was not recommended by the Gen.; but  since we have learnt to understand them a little better, I am  fully persuaded the case was thus. After the Gen. had sent away  those two, the Other understanding their design, and being desi rous of Learning as well as they, went after the Gen., but he  now got too far on his way to be overtaken, where upon he con­ cluded to run the venture of coming without Recommendation
They all behave very well hitherto. And it is quite agreeable   to see them with the rest Generally so well engaged in their studies.
though one without Experience can well conceive the Difficulty  there is in Educating them.
David is not yet returned nor do I expect him 'til those other  lads come, if before Mr. Occom returns from his mission.  But one of the Girls which I have been so long expecting is yet  come. Mr. Brainerd wrote me in the Spring that those expected  from Delaware, had been detained by sickness, and one was then  not likely to recover, however that I might expect two by the  first vessel.
Mr. Kirtland's Son, a charity­scholar, and promising Youth,  who is now at this School fitting for a mission, is learning the  Mohawk Language of the Boys, as fast as he can under the  disadvantage of having no Books, nor Interpreter to help  him. And So are also several of the Indian Boys.
I here send you enclosed a specimen of the writing of my two  Delawares, and I doubt not you would be much pleased to  hear them read Latin and Greek.
As to those Signatures and Traces of Judaism which have in­ clined me to believe our American Indians to be the 10 Tribes  of the House of Israel, I am not in a Capacity to set them in such a Light as I hope I may be. several of them we discoursed of,   as Their Languages being generally Guttural, and Abounding in prefixes  and Suffixes agreeable to the Hebrew. Their use of the word Higgai­ nan in their Singing, which I suspect to be the Same with Higgaion  used by the Sweet Singer of Israel Their Sacrifices, especially  of the pascal Lamb. (for want of which they use a fawn) so agreea­ ble to the Mosaic Rites. Their cutting out the Hollow of the Thigh  when they can give no reason for it but Tradition, and say that  all good Indians have done so, which I had from an old man  of good credit who was in his youth a Mighty Hunter among  them. Their Avenging murder by the nearest of kin. Their Se­ paration of Women for uncleanness. and their Purification etc.   There Is, besides These, and many Such like, one which I dont rem­ ember to have discoursed with you of, and which is with me as  weighty as almost any I have heard,   your Thoughts upon. I had it from that dear man of God the  Rev. David Brainerd a little before his Death. and perhaps the  discovery never was So fully made by any other. He gave it me  , as he had it from one of their powwows, then  lately converted to Christianity under his ministry among them.  He told me that the spirit which their powwows are at certain Times  inspired with, and under the Influence of, and which  makes them So much the fear and Dread of the Indians, was as exact  an Imitation of a Spirit of prophesy as he could conceive the  Devil capable of. that they were Seers and could See the Hearts  Thoughts, Purposes, and Intentions of others they were concerned with, as  plain as one could see an opaque Body in a transparent glass, they  would charge men with what they had done in Secret and make  them own it. and pretend to 'tell Fatuities, viz. what success the  Enquirers would have in Hunting or War, in which case they are  much used. (and perhaps could 'tell as much as the Devil  Knew in these cases) and when the Spirit was gone from them they  were but as other men.
Now when I consider how the false Spirit has all along imitated the  Time and the great advantage he has thereby made to get the subjects  of it fast in his Snare. and what advantage he may be supposed to  have got of the 10 Tribes in this way, after the Time since of prophecy
was wholly lost among them, and not only a spirit of prophecy  but humane Literature with it. I cant but think there is weight  in it.
as to what has been said by Some that the Names of Several  Animals in their Language are the very Same with the Hebrew: perhaps when we are  able to Send missionaries among them who are well instructed in the  Hebrew Tongue we may be furnished with the fullest Evidence from  that Quarter. I hope my dear Little Jacob, who is now just  out of his 2nd Year at New Jersey College, and is one of the Delaware  Tribe, may be the very man to oblige us with some new discove­ ries of the Nature.
The getting exact Information of these things, and Setting them  in a true and proper Light will require Time and Pains.
I have lately been (I cant Say disagreeably) amazed with a Letter  from Mr. Emrie to Mr. John Erskine in Scotland, in manuscript  wherein he Supposes he has fully proved from the word of God that  The Indians in America are the 10 Tribes of the House of  Israel, banished hither into the wilderness of the Peoples, and their  original concealed under enigmatical prophesies, that they  might not be reckoned among the Nations, 'til Now the Time  of their Deliverance is at Hand. I have only had the Favour.  of a cursory reading of it, I apprehend there is a great deal of  insinuity in what he has wrote if nothing more. —
I was much encouraged in the prosecution of this grand  Affair by what I met with at Boston last Spring, particular­ ly the generous and seasonable bequest, of that truly noble  Lord the Marquess of Lothian , and others. which I looked  upon as an Answer to Prayer, and was encouraged thereby  to enlarge the Number of My scholars, And hope I shall  find what has been done to have been but an earnest of  greater Supplies as they Shall be needed.
I doubt not, my dear Sir, You are ready to do any  thing in Your Power to promote it. And I trust among  the many expressions of your unmerited kindness you will not  fail to remember in your devoutest Hours. him, who is  with most sincere respect, Sir.
Your most Obliged Friend   and Humble servant Eleazar Wheelock 
Mr. John Smith  John Smith September 1761   
My Dear and Honoured Sir. 
not knowing what improvement You may  think fit to make of the enclosed, (as I submit  to your own judgement to send it to your corres­ pondent if you please) I thought proper to im­ prove this Cover to Acknowledge the most  generous expressions of your respect to me  and this Indian Affair in Yours of July 23. 1761  and the Copy of yours to your friend etc.   and Rectify a little mistake or two in your  account to him. viz. Mr. Occom never lived at  College. he had all the Learning which he had  of me and my son in Law, who took my school  when he came out of College and kept it one  year at Hebron, Also the Number of  Charity Indian scholars when I was at your  house was six. Mr. Emries letter mentioned  in the enclosed I had by Mr. William Hyslop's  procurement and I pray you would give him  opportunity to read the enclosed perhaps  there may be something here useful to him  and which he has not yet received from  me. I am with most sincere respect  to you and Madam 
your unworthy brother   and humble servant  Eleazar Wheelock
Mr. John Smith    letter to Mr. John Smith  Boston. September 13.  1761