Samson Occom, autobiography, undated

ms-number768517

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.

inkBrown.

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

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

Having Seen and heard  Several representations, in  England and Scotland, made by  Some gentlemen in America,  Concerning me, and Finding many    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   hereafter See it, may  Know the Truth Concerning me. — —  Though it is against my mind  to give a history of myself and publish it  whilst I am alive, Yet to do  Justice to myself and to those  who may desire to know some thing concerning me— and for the Honor  [gap: hole][guess: of] Religion I will venture to  give a Short Narrative of  my Life. — — 
From my birth 'til I received  the Christian Religion.— 
I was Born a Heathen and  Brought up In Heathenism  'til I was between 16 and 17 years  of age, at a Place called Mohe gan in New London Connecti cut, in New England  my Parents lived a wandering  life, as did all the Indians at  Mohegan; they chiefly Depended  upon Hunting, Fishing, and Fowling  for their Living  and had no Connections with  the English, excepting to Tr[gap: worn_edge][guess: af] fic with them, in their Smal[gap: tear][guess: l]  Trifles — and they Strictly  maintained and followed their  Heathenish ways, Customs and  Religion — though there was Some  Preaching among them   once a Fortnight, in y[gap: tear][guess: e]  Summer Season, a Minister 
from New London [illegible]used to come  up — and the Indians 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 would  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 man who went   about among the Indian  Wigwams, and wherever  he could find the Indian children  would make them read —  but the Children used  to take Care to keep out off  his way — and he used to Catch  me sometimes and make me  Say over my Letters, and I be 
believe I learned Some of them.  But this was soon over  too — and all this Time there was  not one amongst us, that made a  Profession of Christianity — Neither  did we Cultivate our Land, nor   kept any Sort of Creatures, except  Dogs, which we used in Hunting,  and Dwelt in Wigwams, these  are a Sort of Tents covered with  mats, made  of Flags — And to this Time  we were unacquainted with the  English tongue in general, though there  were a few, who understood a little  of it —– 
From the Time of our Re‐ formation 'til I left Mr. Wheelock 
When I was 16 years of age—  we heard a Strange Rumor among  the English, that there were Ex‐ traordinary Ministers Preaching  from Place to Place and a Strange Concern a mong the white People — this  was in the Spring of the year. 
But we Saw nothing of these  things, 'til sometime in the  Summer, then Some Ministers  began to visit us and Preach  the Word of god; and the  Common People also Came frequent ly , and exhorted us to the things  of god, which it pleased the Lord,  as I humbly hope, to Bless and  accompany with   with Divine Influences, to the  Conviction and Saving Conversi on of a Number of us; Amongst  which I was one that was Impressed  with the things, we had heard  These Preachers did not only  Come to us, but we frequently went to their  meetings and Churches , after I was convicted   I went to all the meetings I could Come  at; and continued under Trou‐ ble of Mind about 6 Months,    at which time I began to Learn the English—  Letters; Got me a primer  and used to go to my English 
Neighbours frequently for  Assistance in Reading, but went  to no School — —  And when I was 17 years of  age, I had as I trust, a Discovery  of the way of Salvation through  J[illegible][guess: esus] and was enabled to put my  trust in him alone for Life and  Salvation, From this Time  the Distress and Burden of my  mind was removed, and I found  Serenity and Pleasure of Soul.  in Serving god, by this time I  Just began 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 brethren According to the  Flesh, I used to wish, I was  Capable of Instructing my  poor Kindred, I use to think  if I could once Learn to Read 
I would Instruct poor Children  in Reading— and used frequent ly to talk with our Indians Con‐ cerning Religion.— Thus I Con tinued, 'til I was in my 19th year;  by this Time I could Read a lit tle in the Bible, 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 would 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 went  up, thinking I should be back  again in a few Days; when  I got up there, he received me  with kindness and Compassion  and instead of Staying a 
Fortnight or 3 weeks, I  Spent 4 years with him —  After I had been with him  Some Time, he began to ac 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 clothes — Then he represented  the Case to the Honorable Com missioners at Boston, who were  Commissioned by the Honorable Socie ty in London for Propagating the  gospel among the Indians in  New England and parts adjacent  and they allowed him 60 £: per  annum: both in old tenor, which  was about 6 £: Sterling, and  they continued it 2: or 3: years  I Can't tell exactly — while I  was at Mr. Wheelocks, I was  very weakly and my Health  much impaired, and at the  End of 4 years, I over strained 
my Eyes to Degree, I could  not pursue my Studies any  Longer; and out of these  4 years, I Lost Just about  one Year; — And was obliged  to quit my Studies — — 
From the Time I left Mr. Wheel  ock 'til I went Europe 
As Soon as I left Mr. Wheelock,  I endeavoured to find Some Em‐ ploy among the Indians; went  to Niantic, thinking, they  may want a schoolmaster, but  they had one; then went to Narragan sett, and they were indifferent  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 November  I agreed to keep a School with  them Half a year, and left it  with them to give me what they  pleased, and they took turns  to Provide Food for me — I had  near 30 Scholars this winter,  I had evening School too for those  that could 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 Shinne cock, 30 Miles from Montauk,  We met together 3 times for Di‐ vine worship every Sabbath  and once on every Wednesday even‐ ing— I read the Scriptures  to them and used to expound  upon Some particular pass ages in my own tongue I  visited the Sick and attended  their Burials — when the half  year expired, they desired me  to continue with them, which  I complied with, for another 
half year, when I had fulfilled  that, they were urgent to have  me Stay Longer So I continued  'til I was Married amongst them  which was about 2 years after  I went there —  And I continued to Instruct them  in the Same manner as I did before  after I was married 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  and of my continuance 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 annum: 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 decide their  Matters between them, and  had visitors of Indians, from  all Quarters; and, as our  custom is, we freely Entertain  all visitors,— And was fetched  often from my Tribe and  from others [gap: stain] See into  their Affairs Both Religious  and Temporal,— besides my  domestic Concerns,— and  it pleased the Lord to increase  my Family fast — and Soon  after I was married, Mr. Horton  left these Indians, and the  Shinnecock Indians and after this I was licenced to preach and then  I had the whole Care of these  Indians at Montauk, and  visited the Shinnecock 
Indians often — used to Set  out Saturdays towards Night  and back again on Mondays  I have been obliged to Set out from  Home after sunset, and Ride  30 Miles in the Night, to preach  to these Indians —  And Some Indians at Shinnecock  Sent their Children to my School  at Montauk, I kept one  of them Some Time, and had  a young Man half year from  Mohegan, A Lad from Ni antic, who was with me  almost a year,—     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 prayed  with them, then began to  hear them, I generally began 
(after some of them could Spell  and Read,) with those, that  were yet in their Alphabets;  So around, as they were pro‐ perly Seat, 'til I got through  and I obliged them to Study  their Books, and to help one  another, when they could 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 the  afternoon — In the Winter  season 6 Time a Day, as  Soon as they could Spell, they  were obliged to spell whenever  they wanted to go out; conclu ded with Prayer, I generally heard my  Evening scholars 3 times Round,  And as they go out the School,  everyone that Can Spell,  is obliged to spell a word,  and So go out leisurely one  after another, — I Catechised 
3 or 4 Times a weeks accor ding to the Assembly's Short er Catechism, and many  Times proposed questions  of my own, and in my  own tongue, — I found  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 them, was  by making an  Alphabet on Small bits  of paper, and glued them  on Small Chips of Cedar,  after this manner   A B etc. I put these on  Letters in order on  a Bench, then point to one Letter  and bid a Child to take notice 
of it, and then I order the Child  to fetch me the Letter from the Bench  if it Brings the Letter, it is well,  if not it must go again and  again 'til it bring the right letter  When they Can bring any   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 them; and they Soon  learn their letters this way —  I frequently discussed or 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  generally Sung Dr. Watts's  Psalms or Hymns, I distinctly,  read the Psalm or Hymn first,  and then give the meaning of  it to them, after that sing, then  Pray, and Sing again, after prayer 
then proceed to Read Some  suitable portion of Scripture,  and So Just give the plain  Sense of it, in Familiar Discourse  and applied to them, So Con  clude with Pray, and Sing ing, In the afternoon 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 in J[illegible]  It is to be observed, before Mr.  Horton left these Indians  they had Some Prejudices infused  in their minds, by Some  enthusiastical Exhorters from  New England, against Mr.  Horton, an[illegible] Many of them 
had left him, by this means  he was discouraged, and Su[illegible]d  a Dismission, and was dismissed  from these Indians, — And being  acquainted with the Enthu siasts in New England, and  the make and the Dispositi ons of the Indians, took a  mil[illegible][guess: e] way to reclaim them,  I opposed them not openly  but let them go on in their  way, and whenever I  had an opportunity, I  would read Such passages  of the Scriptures, as I  thought, would Confound  their Notions, and I would  come to them with all Au‐ thority, Saying thus Saith  the Lord, and by this  means, the Lord was  pleased 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 of my  Circumstances and manner  of living, — I Dwelt in  a wigwam, a Small hut, framed  with Small Poles and covered  with mats made of Flags,  and I was obliged 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 another, they  had their wood,— and I was  obliged to hire my Corn Carted  and my Hay also, — and  I got my Ground plowed every  year, which Cost me about  [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 used in my family  I Hired or Joined with my  Neighbours to go to Mill with  a Horse or ox Cart, or on  horseback, and sometimes  went myself; my Family in creasing fast, and my visitors  also, I was obliged to Continue  every way to Support my  Family; I took all oppor tunities, to get something,  to feed my Family daily, —  I Planted my own Corn, Po‐ tatoes and [illegible]Beans; I use to  be out hoeing my Corn  sometimes before sunrise  and after my School is  dismissed, and by this means I  was able to raise my own  Pork, for I was allowed to keep  5 Swine, Some Mornings and  Evenings I woud be out with  my Hook and Line to Catch 
fish, and in the Fall of  year and in the Spring, I  used my gun, for we lived  very handy for Fowl, and I  was very expert with gun,  and fed my Family with  Fowl, I could more than pay  for my Powder and shot, with  Feathers, at other Times I  Bound old Books for East Hampton  People, Made wooden Spoons  and Ladles, stacked Guns, and  worked on Cedar to make Pails,  piggins and Churns etc. —  besides all these Difficulties  I Met with adverse Providences,  I bought a Mare, had it but  little while, and She fell into  the quicksands 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 supposed Some  Rogue stole her, and got 
another and died with a dis temper, and last of all I bought  a Young Mare, and kept  her 'til She had one Colt, and  She broke her Leg and Died  and Presently after the Colt  Died also, the whole I  Lost 5 Horse Kind, all these  losses 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 interceded with  them for me, and they were pleased  to Vote 15 for my Help; and  Soon after Sent a Letter to my  good Friend at New London,  acquainting him, that they  had Superseded their vote; and  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‐  ton; and he told me they  were much Displeased with  him; and heard also once  and again, that they blamed  me for being Extravagant, I  Cant Conceive how these gentlemen  would have me Live, I am rea dy to [illegible][guess: i]mputed [illegible][guess: it] their Ignorance, and would  wish they had changed circumstances  with me but one Month, that  they may know, by experience  what my case really was, but  I am now fully convinced, that it  was not Ignorance For I believe  it Can be proved 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  one Hundred and 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  missionaries, 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 constrained)  I was my own Interpreter  I was both a schoolmaster,  and minister to the Indians,  yea I was their Ear, Eye and  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 half  as much, they gave a young  man Just mentioned, which  would 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 anything, but  this as a poor Indian Boy  Said, who was Bound out to  an English Family, and  he used to Drive Plow for a  young man, and he whipped  and Beat him almost every  Day, and the young man  found fault with him, and  complained of him to his master  and the poor boy was called to  answer for himself before his  master, — and he was asked,  what it was he did, that he  was So complained of and beat  almost every Day? he Said,  he did not know, but he supposed  it was, because he could 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  Time, because I am an In‐ dian— 
So I am ready to Say, they have  used thus, because I Cant Instruct  the Indians So well as other  Missionaries, but I Can assure  them I have endeavoured 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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