Skip to main content
 Previous Next
  • Zoom In (+)
  • Zoom Out (-)
  • Rotate CW (r)
  • Rotate CCW (R)
  • Overview (h)
Isaac Dakayenensere and Adam Waonwanoron, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 31

ms-number: 765431

abstract: Dakayenensere and Waonwanoron write to say that they are ready and willing to receive missionaries and to accept help in setting up mills and learning husbandry. They warn that they will not sell their land.

handwriting: Unknown hand is clear and legible.

paper: Single sheet is in fair-to-good condition, with light wear and staining.

ink: Faded brown.

noteworthy: This doucment is possibly a copy. For Wheelock's response to this letter, see document 765469.

signature: Two signatures appear to be in the same hand.

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

We were informed by our mes;­
senger, that we sent you last Spring, that you would
not only assist us by sending us ministers to
teach us Christianity; but also that you would
assist us, in setting up husbandry, by sending a Num­
ber of white people to live with us; who when come
should build us Mills, teach us husbandry, and furnish us
with Tools for husbandry etc.—
we greatly rejoiced at hearing of it, and expected
them this Spring; but are disappointed, at which we
are very sorry; but we hope that we may yet re­
ceive them, and should much rejoice in it should
you send them to us —
We would have you understand Brethren that
we have no thoughts of selling our Land to any that
come to live among us; for if we should sell a little
land to any, by and by they would want to buy a little
more and so our Land would go by Inches 'til we should
have none to live upon — yet as those who come to
instruct us must live, we have no objections against
their improving as much Land as they please; yet the
Land shall remain ours
We have Brethren never petitioned to you
yet for any to assist us, but only those that come with
Gods News; yet as you have offered to assist us like­
wise in teaching of us husbandry, we greatly rejoice
in it; and think that they should go together, the one
as well as the other; and that we want instruction in
Brethren we send our kindest Love to you, and remain
your Brethren.
Isaac Dakayenensere
& Adam Waonwanoron

from Isaac Dakayenensere
& Adam Waonwanoron
July 31st 1765

Otsego Lake

Otsego Lake is located in upstate New York directly north of Cooperstown, and it serves as the source for the Susquehanna River. In the 18th century, the lands surrounding Lake Otsego were inhabited by the Mohawk, Oneida, and Tuscarora Tribes. It is from these Tribes that the lake received its name. In 1739, William Johnson described the lake in his journal, writing, “[The lake] is a bright gem set in the dark forest.” The Mohawks used Otsego Lake for hunting and fishing. In 1754, John Christopher Hartwick purchased 24,000 acres of land surrounding the lake from the Mohawks. Hartwick planned to start a school for Mohawk children in the area, which was eventually built in 1764. This school was set up at the foot of Otsego Lake and run by a Mohawk named Moses who was one of Wheelock’s former students. James Fenimore Cooper took the lake as the setting in several of his Leatherstocking Tales, naming it Glimmerglass. Cooper’s daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper, reflected on the Lake’s Native American inhabitants in her book Rural Hours (1887), which serves as a later record of Native Americans on Otsego Lake.

Dakayenensere, Isaac

Isaac Dakayenensere was a chief and spiritual leader at Onaquaga. Dakayenensere worked closely with Good Peter to minister to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) community at Onaquaga, a predominantly Oneida town with a diverse population. After converting during the 1740s, both men took up the mantle of evangelism and Christian education at Onaquaga. They cooperated with Gideon Hawley, an Anglo-American missionary, throughout his missions in the 1750s, and in the 1760s they began writing to Wheelock for missionaries and assistance with farming. They received Joseph Woolley, who kept school at Onaquaga from late August/early September of 1765 until his death at the end of that November, but they do not seem to have received the promised farming assistance. Dakayenensere’s daughter, Neggen Aoghyatonghsera (alias Margaret or Peggie) married Joseph Brant, a Moor’s alumnus and famous Mohawk war chief. In some scholarship, Isaac is misidentified as a Mohawk.

Waonwanoron, Adam

A resident of the Oneida community in Onaquaga, New York, and cosigner, with Isaac Dakayenensere, of correspondence with Wheelock requesting advice on and assistance with farming, milling, and religious education.

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.

HomeIsaac Dakayenensere and Adam Waonwanoron, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 July 31
 Text Only
 Text & Inline Image
 Text & Image Viewer
 Image Viewer Only