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Samson Occom, journal, 1784 May 8 to 1785 April 26

ms-number: 784308

abstract: Occom details his travels and activities during the period of May 8, 1784, through April 26, 1785.

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

paper: Small sheets folded into a booklet and bound with thread or twine are in good-to-fair condition, with some staining, fading and wear that results in a minor loss of text. There is a large tear on the bottom outside corner of 12 recto/verso; this tear is apparently contemporary, as Occom has written around it.

ink: Brown ink varies in intensity throughout.

noteworthy: On one verso, the identification of “New City” is uncertain, and so it has been left untagged. On four recto, Occom mistakenly notes the date as "Sabbath May 29," when the date is actually May 30; this error carries over into May 31. On six recto, it is uncertain whether “Mr. Maples” refers to John or Josiah Maples, and so it has been left untagged. For this reason, “his wife” has also been left untagged. On seven recto, Occom mistakenly writes “Febr 6” instead of March 6. There are occasional red pencil marks throughout. An editor, likely 19th-century, has overwritten Occom's hand in several places. These edits have not been transcribed. Where appropriate, the transcriber has used her discretion to judge what is original and what is not, guessing at some uncertain elements and leaving some completely obscurred elements untranscribed.

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

N [illegible][guess: 1]
Saturday May 8; 1784;

we Sat[gap: tear]
very early in the morning from
New London for Albany in Capt.
s Sloop called Victory there
was a number of English and
Indian Families; and we had
very Small wind, 'til towards
night, then the wind Sprung up
about southwest, and we direct
ed our course to Long Island, and
dropped Anchor near the Shore
sometime in the evening, —

Sabbath May 9:

was very
Calm, and the People desired
me to give a discourse; and I
Complied, I expounded Some
part of 25 chapter of Matthew and
the People attended with good
attention — In the afternoon
the wind Sprung up about South
and we pushed on our way
and sometime in the evening
we Anchored again —

May 10:

it was very Calm agai[gap: worn_edge][guess: n]

[gap: worn_edge]ut the wind rose early, and
we went on, and about 6 o'clock
in the afternoon we got to New
, —

Tuesday May 11

9 o'clock we hoisted Sail again
and went into North River and
about 12: Jacob and I went a
shore to wait upon Dr. Leving
and Dr. Rodgers the
principle ministers in the City
and they gave us encouragement
that they would try to get Some
thing for the Indian Families
that are going up to Oneida
to Settle we Lodged
in the City this Night —

day May 12:

we went aboard
of a Certain Sloop belonging to
Albany, one Mr. Waters master
of her, and there was a number of
Very agreeable gentlemen there
were four colonels, and esquire and
two Young agreeable gentlemen

these colonels and [illegible][guess: esquire] were
members of New Yorks Assembly
and they were greatly pleased
with our Indians moving up to
Oneida Country to Settle, and
all these gentlemen were very
Friend to us, I eat and Drank
with them everyday while we
were together — we got up a little
way up in the North River and
dropped Anchor —

Thursday May 13

went on again a little way the
was Very Small and Contrary

Friday May 14:

moved very
Slowly again Wind Small and
Contrary, —

Saturday May 15

Sailed very Slowly yet, —

may 16

about 2 in the afternoon went
ashore a number of us and had
a meeting in a Dutchmans house
and I gave them a Short discourse
and they made me a Collection
gathered about [illegible][guess: 3] dollars after
meeting we went aboard again
in the evening sailed a little way
the wind was Contrary and hard

Monday May 17:

had good wind
and went up the River fast and
got to Albany before night, —
Capt. Hayley and Capt. Billings
just got up there — and we found
them all well, — And we made
applications to the Chief men of
the City for assistance, and there
was no provisions to be had for
Indians, which used to be allowed,
in Times past; — however, our
Folks were allowed to put up
in the hospital, and the People
of the City were very kind to us
and were very much taken
with our Indians, —

Wednesday, May 19:

I was in
vited to preach to the prisoners
and I complied, —


preached in Mr. Westerlos Church
and the People made a Collection
for our People, — we got about
9 pounds —

Saturday May 22

our Folks left Albany and they
on towards Schenectady, and
I tarried Still at Albany, —

Sabbath may 23:

I preached
twice in the Presbyterian
Meeting House
, and they a
Collection for our Folks; they
Collected 8: pound, —

May 24:

John Paul went af
ter our Folks, and carried the
Collection to our People, —

Tuesday May 25

in the morning
Anthony Paul and his Family
and his Mother and I went up
together in a wagon to the the
New City, in the afternoon
I preach in the Place to a large
Congregation, and the[illegible][guess: y] made
a Small Collection, [illegible][guess: i]n the
evening I returned back 3 miles
towards Albany on the other Side
of the River, where I left my
Daughter Christiana and her
Family and her Mother in Law
from this Place Athony went up
to Saratoga for a horse to help
up his Family there, where
my Daughter and Children

intends to Stay this Summer
and in the Fall they will proceed
to Oneida

Wednesday May 26

Early in the morning, I went
into a wagon to Albany got
there about 9: o'clock and found
the vessel, that I was to go in to
New York was just gone and
Luckily I found another that
is to Sail the next Day, —

Thursday May 27:

about 12
I went of a Sloop Capt. Bogat
and a number of gentlemen
also went in the Same vessel, and
they were very agreeable and
great Dr. Young was one
of the Company and we went
down the River about 20: Miles and
dropped Anchor, — Friday we had
very Small wind, and Slow way
down, Yet we down Some distance
that Day and the Night following,

Saturday May 2:9:

we had a fine
wind and as much as we wanted
and we got down to new York,

about 6: o'clock in the afternoon
and I immediately went ashore
and went home with Mr. John
, a good Friend
we found when we stopped here
the other Day going up — I sat
down but few minutes, and then
went to See Dr. Levingston and
Dr. Rodgers Dr. Levingston
was at home but Collected no
thing for us; and Dr. Rodgers
was not at Home and his People
had Collected nothing, and I was
good Deal disappointed, for I
had given my Note of Hand
for 36 Dollars for the passage
of our People from New London
to Albany, —

Sabbath May 29

was at New York and went to
hear Mr. Gano in the morning
and at noon he invited me to
go home with him to take din
ner — and desired me to preach
to his People on Monday evening
in the afternoon I went to hear

Mr. Mason the seceder of the
Church of Scotland but he did
not Preach, So I went to my
Lodgings I was fatigued walk
ing, and went to no meeting in
the afternoon, —

Monday May 30

was in the City, — in the evening
about Seven, I preached at
Mr. Ganos Meeting house he
is a Baptist minister the
meeting house was very full
and they made a Collection,
made out five pounds, one
Shilling just in York Curren
cy — So I Continued in the City
'til Friday,

June 4:

the evening at eight o'clock I
preach in a Methodist
and it middling
full and they Collected 3
Dollars and Seven Shillings
in York Currency —

June 5 Saturday,

in the after
noon went aboard of a
little mast Boat, Capt. Harris

of New London Harbor's Mouth.

Monday June 7:

just after
sunrise we got to Capt. Harriss
house, and took break
fast with him, after breakfast
I Bought a mare of him, and
So I went on directly home
ward, — I got Home about 11 and
found all my Family in
good State of Health, But
Taby, She had been very
Sick with Swelling in her
Throat but through Mercy She
was now much better, bless
ed be god for his goodness to us
Since I have been gone from
Home. —

 Mohegan January 23: 1785

Made a Public confession of my
misconduct, and was received
universally by the People, and
immediately preached to the People
and there was great and [illegible][guess: a]ffectio
nate attention among the People

and in the Evening we had a
meeting in my house and
we felt Some love —

 January 28

Preached in our School house
and there were many People
both Indians and English and
there was good attention —

 January 30

Preached at Mohegan in Deacon
s house to a crowded assem
bly, and I had some freedom to
Speak and many of the People
he[illegible][guess: a]rd with flow of Tears from
their Eyes — in the Evening
we met at Henrys and we gave
encouragements to one another
and I believe the Lord was
present with us —

 February 6: 1785.

preached at Mr. John
Heart Adgate
s and there was a
bundance of People, both Eng
lish and Indians, and I believe
I had Some help from above
to Speak to the People and there

was great Solemnity, and Some
affection among the People —
in the Evening we had a meet
ing in Deacon Henrys and
our Hearts were melted down
before the Lord in Some mea
sure, glory be to god —

 February 10: 1785

At Mr. Josiah Mapless in evening and
there was a great many People
and attention becoming Ratio
nal Creatures, 'til I had done
Speaking, and then was some
Levity among the Young People
but Mr. John Maples was So
good as to give them a reproof
and they Soon desisted, — and I
lodged at the house that night
by the desire of Mr. Maples and
his wife, and we had very a
greeable Evening, they were
very free of their own accord
to relate to me their Spiritual
exercises, and I believe the Lord
will manifest himself to them

more and more —

 February 11 in the evening

gave a word of exhortation to
a few People —

 February 13: on Sabbath —

was at Mr. John Browns and there
was a great Number of People
though it was uncomfortable walk
ing, and I think I had Some
sense of Divine things, there
was great Solemnity among
the People —

 February 20 on Sabbath

Preach at at Mohegan in Deacon Henry
house, to a large number of
People the house was crowded
Chiefly white People and I be
lieve there was a moving of
the Spirit of god in the assem‐
bly for I took notice of many
Tears —

 February 24:

had an Evening meeting at
Mrs. Fitches and it was amaz
ing to See how many People

Collected together, and we had
a Solemn meeting; I believe
the Lord assisted both the Speaker
and the Hearer and we parted
in Peace and Love for I think
I felt calmness and Love —

 February 27: Sabbath

Preach at Mr. Darts to a crowd
ed audience and well behaved
People, and Some were affected
with the word, —

 March 4: 1785

Preach at Dr. Alpheus Rogers
in the parish, to a great many
People, and many were much
affected, with the word, —

 February 6 on Sabbath

Was at Mohegan in Deacon
s, and there was many
People and I believe the Lord
was present with us by his
Divine Spirit — Deacon Henry Robert Ashpo
and went

March 12: ˄ Evening

had an unexpected meeting
at one Sherrys house a negro
man, there was not more

than an Hours Notice given
of the meeting, and the People
crowded in Directly and I
preached to the word of god to
them and they attended with
great eagerness and affection
they Seemed to have a taste
for the Word of god — and when
the People were dispersing
one Capt. Troope invited me
to go Home with him, but I
did not love to go out after
exercise. — Lodged at Sherrys

 March 13: on Sabbath —

Robert Ashpo and I went
to Mr. Downer's about a mile
and half, before breakfast
and were received with all
kindness and Brotherly affec
tion and took breakfast,
with them — and it was a
Snowy uncomfortable Day
Yet the People began to flock
together presently and there
was great Multitude of

People got together more than
the house Could Contain, they
crowded in every Corner even
up in the Chambers — and I
preached to them the word of
the Lord, and it fell heavy
upon the People it produced
many Tears and deep sighs
though there was one man mani
fested a displeasure at my
Saying something about
Universal Scheme, he Spoke
out in the meeting, but he
did not Say much neither did
he disturb the People any —
in the afternoon we removed
the meeting to another house a
few Rods off, which was very
Large, and the People increased
and they crowded that house
also, and they attended with
uncommon solemnity and af
fection Tears flowed Down from
many Eyes freely; I cant help
thinking, that god is about
to work amongst this People,
in the Evening, we had a

a meeting again in Brother
s and there was a great
number of People again
and I preach again, and
we had a Comfortable meet
ing the Lord refreshed the Chil
dren, and they manifested
Love to one another; I lodged
here this Night, went to bed
late in the Evening. the
Lord be praised for his good
ness to us thus far —

 March 14: monday

I preached at one Mr.
s began about 11 o'clock and
there was good many People
though it was a Snowy Day and
extremely bad riding or wal
king, and there was great atten
tion, and I believe Some felt
the Power of god, the man of
the house gave me a Text and
I Spoke from it, which I

never Spoke from before, it
is written in the first Epistle
of John 5:5: after meeting we
stayed Some Time, took Dinner
with them, and we set off for
Home, about 3 o'clock we got home just in the
dusk of the Evening, found my family
in Health Thanks be to god
for his goodness to me —

 March 20 on Sabbath —

Preached at Mrs. Fitch's in the
North Parish of New London
and there was a large congrega
tion of People, and they attended
with great Solemnity and Affecti
on, the Lord was present with
his word, I believe in Some
measure — Took Dinner with
them after meeting, and then I went
Home — The week past has
been very remarkable for Cold
and Snow deep and crusty and
it has lain Steady almost all
winter except 3 Days in January
it went off then, and Come on
again, directly and it has not been

off Since and it has been very
Steady Cold all winter, very
Spe[illegible]ding for Creatures of all
kinds, — but the Lord takes
Care of the World, and he doe[illegible]s
all things well, if we dont
See it, it must be all right —

March 23.

It was very Cold, windy
and blustering last Night, and it Con
tinues all this Day, it is remark
able Windy Cold Day and a crusty
hard Snow is now above a foot
Deep in many Places — —

 March 26; 1785 on Saturday

Went from Home about noon towards
one Mr. Averys about 5 miles north
west from the City of New London
Snow Continues to lie upon the ground
and it is hard crusty, and it has
been Cold all this week, stopped at
Mr. Darts, and the old Folks were
not at Home, and So I went to Mr.
's and was very kindly enter
tained, took Supper with them, after
sunset went back to Mr. Darts and
Lodged there, and was most kindly
and Friendly treated,

March 27

Mr. Dart and his wife and daughter
set out with me to meeting, about

three miles, got there before 11
and the People began to Come to
meeting, and there was a vast
concourse of People, there were
near as many outdoors as in,
and preached to them the Word of
the Lord, and the People behaved
Decently, and heard with great
Solemnity, a many with affection
in the afternoon preached again
and suffered greatly with Cold
was much chilled before I had done
the People attended with great
Solemnity — after meeting took
Dinner with Mr. Duglas he lived
one end of the house, — just be
fore sunset, took leave of the
People of the house and went to
Mr. Robert Douglas's about half
a mile eastward, found him
very ill with a bad Cough and
shortness of Breath, he Set up
in a great Chair most all the
Times, Night and Day, he is
very old nearly ninety, and I be‐
lieve an old disciple his wife
is not so old, very agreeable.
old People they were very kind
to me, Lodged there,

March 28:

got up in the morning, prayed with
the Family, had free and agreeable conversation
with them last Night and this morn
ing about the great Concerns,
after breakfast took my leave
of them in Peace and friendship
and set off for New London, got
to the City about 10: Call upon
Mrs. Shaw, found her little
Complaining of her Health, be
ing troubled with Cold, — Sat a
while, then went to the Ferry, called
at Mr. Baileys a Tavern, and
sat down to write, and while I
was writing, Mr. Rathbond
Came in I suppose to See me
he was put in Jail Some Time
back, it is Said for defamation
in his Preaching, he is one of
those that are styled Shaking Qua‐
, and we had a long dis
course together — He is a young man
of good sense, but in my opinion
he is altogether carried away with
very St[illegible]ng enthusiasm and I am
afraid a bad one there is good
enthusiasm and there is a bad
one, he Says they go by imme

diate operation of the Spirit
of god, their Bodies are great
ly agitated very often when
they are in Divine Exercise
in various ways their arms
are stretched straight sometimes
which they Call a Sign, they
must go that way that their
hands point to, — and they Say
they have new Tongue [illegible][guess: giv]
[illegible][guess: en] many Times, though I perceive
they dont retain them, and he
Says they have gifts of Healing
but I cant find out, that they
have done any remarkable
miracle, — and they dont allow
their brethren and sisters that
were married before they Came
into this way, to use the means
for Propagation of their
Species, — and the unma
rried not to marry,
yet he Says he forbids
none to marry — he
Calls this way that
he is in, a New Dis
pensation, which
will diffuse through the

the World; — and he has a Noti
on too, they attain to sinless
Perfection in this Life —
In the whole I believe he
has got into another gospel
if it is right to Call it gospel
I cannot See it to be the Gospel
of Jesus Christ, which his Apos
tles preached, — and the Lord
have mercy upon them and
bring them to the Knowledge
of the Truth as it is in Jesus —
Toward Night, went out of the
the City, stopped awhile at
Capt. wheeler's, and then went
to old Master Jonathan Smith's
and Lodged there and was
kindly received, he is
troubled with many
Infirmities besides
old age —

march 29:

took leave
of them early and
set off for Home

and it was prodigious bad rid
ing north Side of the Hills glazed
with Ice, and South Sides horse
break through the Ice, I was obliged
to go afoot sometimes, and be
ing lame I made Slow progress
I got home near noon, found my
Family well through the goodness of
a merciful god, — The Night
following, proved very Stormy
of Snow Hail and Rain, and
it froze, as it fell, and it Con
tinued very Severe next Day
like a winter Storm —
This winter past and the Spring
thus far, is Judged by the oldest
men we have, to be the hardest
in their memory, the most Spend
ing, for no Creature that is kept
by man Can get nothing to eat
only what is given them. —

(April 1 1785 on Friday

from my house afoot down to Mr.
John Hart Adgate's, and got his Mare
set off from there for New London
stopped awhile at Capt. Wheelers)

Sabbath April 3: 1785.

went from my house to one
Mr. John Brown's about 3 miles
and it was very uncomfortable
riding I ever known for the Time
of the Year, Snow is now above
foot Deep and very hard, the roads
are bare on the sunny Side of the
Hills and very miry, — got to the
house, before 10: the People had not
began to Collect, but presently after
they did, and large Company got
together presently, though it was very
bad traveling, and between 11 and
12 I began the Divine Exercise
and I not not much Light and free
dom, Yet the People were greatly
attentive after meeting sat in
the house with Mr. William Comstock
a Preacher and the man of the
house, had friendly conversation
took a Comfortable Dinner with
them just at Night Night I set
off for Home, and as I was going
out Mr. Brown gave me a pair
of Shoes, and I accepted of them
thankfully, in the dusk of the
Evening I got Home

April 7: 1785

got up very early, and a little
after sunrise I set off from my
house afoot to Mr. John Hart Adgates, got
his mare and took breakfast with
them, and then went down to New‐
, got to the City about 10 o'clock
and went over to groton, and got
to Mr. Jabez Smiths about 1 in the
afternoon, to Dinner there, and
about half after 2: went back
towards the Ferry, and I turned to
the Northward from the meeting
house, to one Capt. Robert Latham
got there sometime before sun
set, — and had a meeting in this
house, and there was a great Num
ber People, considering the extreme
bad traveling both on Foot and
horseback, and I preached to them
the word of god, and I had Some sense
of Divine things, and the People
attend with Solemnity and Some
affection, I believe the Lord was
present with us in Some measure
Thanks be to his name — After meet
ing, took Comfortable Supper with
the Captain, his wife looks quite
young, and they are very agreeable
discreet Couple, — after Supper
we had little exercise, with my

Printed, versified Notes or Chris
tian Cards, and it was very a
greeable exercise, I hope it may
do them Some Benefit, — went to
bed I believe near 12: took Com
fortable, — got up very early and
they all got up took breakfast
with them; and Soon after eating
took Friendly leave of them, and
the Captain Sent a present of Tea t to
my Wife, went to the Ferry and
So over to the City of New London
went to See alderman Thomas Shaw
but he was not at Home, and I
set off for Home, stopped awhile
at Capt. Wheelers, and then went
to Mr. Jabez Smith's, called for Dinner
there, and after I had eat, I set
off again, and it began to rain
and it was a terrible Storm,
stopped a good while at Mr. Haughton's
Dried me, and after a while
went on again, and it rained
very hard and it was windy and
Cold, got Home sometime
before Night, and I was much
wet, and Cold, found my Family
well through the goodness of god —

April 10: 1785: on Sabbath:

Preached at Henry's in Mohegan
there was considerable number
of People Chiefly Young People
and white People mostly, and
they behaved well in the Room
but noise was out of Doors, and
I felt Some strength in delivering
the word and I believe Some had moving
in their Minds —

Saturday April 16: 1785

Set off from my house for Pres
, got there at Deacon Avery's
about sunset, and found them
well, and was affectionately re‐
ceived by them, lodged there. —

Sabbath April 17:

went to meet
ing with them, represented Some
thing of my past trials and
Troubles, and also my missteps
and asked their forgiveness, and
was accepted, and I preached
all Day, and I believe had Some
assistance, and the People attend
ed with great Solemnity and with
many Tears — and when I had done
Mr. Park the Minister of the Churc[illegible][guess: h]
administered the Sacred Ordinance
of the Lords Supper, and it was
a Solemn Season, and it revivin[gap: worn_edge][guess: g]

and refreshing Time with my Soul
[gap: faded][guess: a]fter participation of the Holy Sup
per, Several Christians broke out
in praises and adorations to God
with floods of Tears of Joy, and
having Sung two or three Times
in Divine Love and fellowship
we parted in Peace and Love —
went to the Deacons, took Dinner with
them, after Dinner took my leave
of them, and parted in Love — I
went to one Mr. Winter, an old
disciple, and was kindly entertained
in the Evening, had agreeable exer
cise with my Christian Cards, with
the whole Family — about 9 o'clock went
to bed with thankful Heart in
Some measure, the Lord be praised
for the mercies, Favours and the
privileges of the Day past —

Monday April 18:

got up very
early, prayed with the Family,
and then went off for Home, got
Home about 10: found my Fa
mily well, and I went on di
rectly to Mr. Haughtons to meet
our Honorable Overseers, and
did our Tribe business, before
Night, and got back to my house

Little after sunset —

Wednesday April 20: 1785

It was general Fast in Connec
, I preached at Widow Fitchs
and there was a goodly number
of People, though it was very bad
riding, and going afoot, by rea
son of the Dreadful Storm the
Day before, both of Rain and
Hail, Hail was two or three
Inches Deep this Morning, and
it was Cold, — the People attended
with great attention, — after meet
ing, I sat awhile in the house
took Dinner, — and then went
to Mr. Josiah Mapless and preached
there to considerable number of
well behaved People — about
sunset went Home, Thus far
has the Lord lead me on, and
thanks be to his Holy Name —

Thursday April 21:

about 12
set off for Lebanon, went via
Norwich Landing, got to Capt.
's about sunset and a
meeting there, and there was

considerable number of People
and they attended well, — Lodged
at the Same house, and was kindly

 Friday April 22:

got up
very early, and took breakfast
and then went to See Col. William
, found him at Home
and did business with him in
an instant — and went back
to Capt. Troops, and in the after
noon about 3: o'clock we had a
nother meeting, and a Number
of People and they Heard with
great attention and Solemnity
I Lodged there again,

Saturday April 23:

got up
very early but I did not Set
out 'til about 8 o'clock got down
to Norwich Landing about 12
and So went on my way, went
by my house down to Mr. Haug[illegible][guess: h]
s got there about 2: and
was there a Little while and
then went back to my house
got Home sometime be

fore Night

 April 24: on Sabbath morning

got up very early and went Long
, and preached there at one
Mr. Nathan Standishs, and there was
a great number of People, and
there was great attention, the
word fell with great weight, and
there was flow of tears from many
Faces, the Lord gave me Some
sense of Divine Things and freedom
of Speech — Soon after meeting
had Dinner, and then set off for
Home, called at a Certain house
near Norwich Landing, and
were five or Six women, and an
old woman of the house desired
to have a meeting there as Soon
as I could, and I told her I would
we had a little exercise with my
Christian Cards, and there was
Solemnity and affection amongst
Especially two Young women —
were much affected, — and about
sundown left them and went
on my way, got home about
daylight in — found my house

almost empty, my Folks were
all gone to fishing, and I went
to bed Soon, the Lord be thanked
for his goodness to us thus far

 Tuesday April 26: 1785

We met our Honorable Overseers at
Mr. Haughtons, upon application
of a Number of Merchants of the
City of Norwich, to purchase a
piece of Land near our River
to make a Landing Place, but
none Came from Norwich but
Mr. Howland, in behalf of the
rest, — but we could not agree
at this Time, and So we parted
Not transcribed.Blank page.
New York State Legislature
The Legislature of the State of New York is composed of two houses: the Senate, or upper house, led by the President (a post held ex officio by the Lieutenant Governor but usually filled by the Majority Leader), and the Assembly, or lower house, led by the Speaker. It meets at the New York State capitol in Albany. Members of both houses are elected for two year terms. The number of Senators varies, according to population, and stands now at 63. The Assembly has 150 members. The Legislature originated in the revolutionary New York Provincial Congress, assembled by patriots during the Revolutionary War, and has had a history of corruption. It is empowered to make laws subject to the governor's veto, which may be overridden by a two-thirds majority. It can also propose amendments to the New York State Constitution. In the late eighteenth century, this Legislature played a key role in the establishment of Brothertown. On a preaching tour of New York in 1784 to raise funds for Indian families moving up to Oneida country, Occom reported meeting a group of "agreeable" gentlemen who were members of the New York Assembly on a sloop he took to Albany, who are very pleased by the prospect of New England Indians moving to New York. Occom's journals for this period indicate that he was actively campaigning for the move, raising monies and meeting sympathetic ministers in upstate New York. He apparently made a good impresion, becaue in 1791, the New York Assembly and Senate paid Occom £15 for expenses to attend the Legislature on behalf of the Brotherton and New Stockbridge Indians (ms. 791174), indicating recognition of Occom's leadership. But the new settlement was beset with land troubles. In Fall 1786, the Oneidas, who had granted the New England Indians a tract of land in 1774 without reservations, wanted them to surrender the grant. Occom advised the Brothertown group to reject this dangerous proposal. When the Oneidas ceded all their lands to the State of New York in the Fort Schuyler Treaty of 1788, the Legislature intervened to recognize the Brothertown deed of 1774. But Occom and his group could not form the town's government and elect trustees until they ejected a group of whites who had won a ten-year lease from a group of trusting Indians. Again, the Legislature took action, passing the Act of March 31, 1795, insuring a large part of the Brothertown and New Stockbridge lands. Occom was responsible for this important measure, but it only slowed down the land grabbing that, after Occom's death, would eventually force the Brothertown Indians to move further west.
Tribal Overseers
Several of the early colonies appointed prominent men called overseers as "guardians" of Indian interests and affairs, especially concerning the sale of lands and the rights to land use. In the Colony of Connecticut, overseers dealt directly with Tribes on behalf of the General Assembly and reported to it, and were allowed to levy fines on white settlers for abridgment of Native lands rights. These were particularly thorny issues for tribes like the Mohegans, who had long-standing treaties and understandings with the Colony and shared lands under dispute with white settlers in the contentious Mason Land Case. Although the position of overseer was created to apprise Indians of their rights and protect them, the historical record indicates that overseers intervened in and disrupted Mohegan tribal governance and served colonial interests. In March 1764, tribal overseers met with the Mohegan sachem Ben Uncas III, considered by Occom and others as a puppet of the Colony, and received a lease of Mohegan lands from Uncas for a white farmer. This violated previous agreements about land between the Mohegans and the tribal overseers and also disregarded traditional Mohegan protocols of consensus. Occom complained to Wheelock about this situation in a letter of May 7, 1764 (J. Brooks 71). The overseer arrangement continued, at least in Connecticut and Massachusetts, after statehood.
Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church is a branch of Protestantism that traces its origins to Martin Luther, a German priest and scholar who posted a list of 95 grievances against the Roman Catholic Church on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517. Twenty years later, a French theologian living in Switzerland named John Calvin further refined this criticism into what became known as Reformed theology, which was brought to Scotland by John Knox, a Scotsman who studied with Calvin in Geneva, and then spread to England. This new theology, eventually codified in the Westminster Confession of Faith, emphasized literacy, education, and lifelong study and interpretation of the scriptures. It also advocated an ascending order of church governance beginning on the local level with the congregation, led by ministers and elders; they were ratified by the next level of governance called a presbytery (from the Greek for “elder”), which was a district court made up of representatives from individual churches. Presbyteries were governed by a synod. This system distinguished Presbyterianism from congregationalism, in which power lies with the local churches, and episcopacy, in which power lies with bishops. In 1640, a congregation in Southampton, Long Island, organized what is considered the oldest Presbyterian church in America. The eastern portion of Long Island, where Occom lived and was ordained, was largely Presbyterian and was culturally more a part of southern New England than New York, an important religious and kinship connection for both Indians and English. The Saybrook Platform, adopted by Connecticut Congregationalists in 1708, acknowledged Presbyterian polity in its creation of “consociations” of regional supervision, an influence that spread through central and western Massachusetts, and later New Hampshire, due to the trade and travel along the Connecticut River. The College of New Jersey (now Princeton), though non-denominational, was founded by a Presbyterian and disseminated those beliefs. In 1741, the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge sent the Presbyterian missionary Azariah Horton to eastern Long Island where he met with some success until Occom arrived, and Samuel Buell, the Presbyterian minister who presided over Occom’s ordination in 1759, led the church at East Hampton, the closest English church to the Montauketts. For teaching and missionary purposes, Occom used the standard Calvinist Presbyterian and Congregational catechism, dating back to 1647. He preached at many Presbyterian churches across New England throughout his career, and in 1791 reported that the new church in New Stockbridge, near Brothertown, which he helped found, “willingly and Cheerfully adopted The Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church of the United States in America” (manuscript 791676).
Church of Scotland
The modern Church of Scotland (also called the Kirk, a Scots term) is Protestant and presbyterian in structure. It began in about 400 AD when St. Ninian established the first Christian mission to Scotland. In the 6th century, St. Columba crossed over from Ireland to establish a community of monks who spread the Gospel throughout Scotland and northern England. Because the Scottish Church adopted Roman practices, the papacy allowed it to be independent of the English Church. The Reformation in Scotland flowered in the 1560s under the zealous leadership of John Knox, a student of John Calvin. The reformed church developed a presbyterian governing structure, with a system of courts (today, the General Assembly, presbytery, and kirk session), an emphasis on Scripture, and a strong tradition of preaching. But after James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, his descendants tried to control the Kirk, which led to many years of violent struggle. When Protestants William and Mary succeeded to the throne in 1688, the Kirk became the national Church of Scotland in 1690. In the next decades, the Kirk became active in missionizing to the Scottish Highlands, whose isolated populations remained Episcopalian and retained their own Scots Gaelic language and clan structure of local governance. In 1709, a Royal Charter established the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SSPCK), which created schools to spread the Kirk's program of education ("civilization"), English language imposition, and religious conversion. In 1730, the SSPCK brought the Kirk's agenda overseas, initiating a Board of Correspondents in Boston to spread its program to the Native peoples of North America and compete with the Anglican missionary societies operating in the colonies. The SSPCK and its various American chapters would play a major role in the lives of both Samson Occom and Eleazar Wheelock. During 1750-1850, controversies raged over the State's intervention in the appointment of ministers to the Kirk and in 1843, a major split occurred in which about a third of the Kirk separated into what is called the Free Kirk. Some of these divisions have healed and today the Church of Scotland is the largest Protestant church in the country. Women were made eligible for ordination in 1968.
Baptists/Seventh Day Baptists
The Baptists were a dissenter sect that became especially popular in New England after the First Great Awakening. They diverged from Protestant belief mainly in insisting that only believers should be baptized, and that it should be done by immersion in water and not by sprinkling or pouring water, but they represented the most radical of the radical New Lights and were known for lay preaching and personal spirituality. Wheelock and most of his former students were more moderate New Lights and opposed this sort of radical Christianity. Occom, however, had many connections with Baptist ministers in central New York. On his preaching tour in 1774, he records visiting several Baptist ministers, largely white, and speaking to large crowds, sometimes in the woods. He also records meeting with a "Seven Day Baptist" minister. The Seventh Day or Sabbatarian Baptists differ from Baptist beliefs mainly in observing the Sabbath on Saturday, in accordance with the ten commandments. Baptist belief held a strong attraction for Native peoples because it protected their autonomy and embraced preaching and leadership by lay people. Divides over theology became problematic at Brothertown, where Occom’s moderate sect clashed with the more Baptist sect over whether or not to lease their land to Americans. After Occom’s death, Samuel Ashpo, a Baptist Mohegan minister known for his separatism, began spending more time at Brothertown and built up a substantial Baptist congregation there.
Methodism is an 18th-century revivalist movement founded by John Wesley that sought to reform the Church of England from within, but separated in 1795 to form a vigorous and influential Protestant sect. The movement was led by Wesley and his brother Charles, who were joined for a time by the English evangelist George Whitefield, all of whom had connections to the North American colony of Georgia. Their open air, extemporaneous preaching of personal, experiential redemption and the necessity of a new birth attracted many people who felt neglected by the Anglican Church in England and by the Congregational and Presbyterian churches in New England. As a New Light minister, Wheelock supported the revivalist movement, but many in the upper eschelons of society, whom Wheelock wanted to interest in his "great design" of Indian conversion, regarded it and Methodism in particular as partisan and overly radical. Some Native evangelists were drawn to Methodism in the 18th-century, though Occom remained a staunch Presbyterian all his life. In particular, William Apess (1798-?), a mixed blood Pequot, turned to Methodism during the Second Great Awakening (1800-1830s), and became an ordained Methodism minister and preacher, a prolific writer, and the leader of the Mashpee Indian revolt of 1833, which represented a noteworthy push for Indian self-governance.
New London

New London is a city located in southeastern Connecticut along an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean called Long Island Sound. The area that would become New London was inhabited by the Pequots who called it Nameaug when the Europeans arrived in North America. Pequot villages bordered Long Island Sound and the Tribe had authority over the neighboring Tribes of the Mohegans and Niantics (all Algonquian-speaking tribes). The Dutch first explored this land in 1614 and established trade with the Native peoples, but the English soon gained possession of the land east of the Hudson in the 1630s. English animosity toward their Indian neighbors led to the Pequot War (1634-38), part of which took place in the present city of New London. The Pequots lost the war and their population deteriorated due to the violence and disease. The General Court of Massachusetts granted John Winthrop possession of Pequot territory in 1644 after which it was to be opened for settlement. By 1646, which is considered the official year of its founding, New London had permanent colonial inhabitants and municipal laws, and jurisdiction was granted to the colony of Connecticut in 1647. In 1658, the inhabitants renamed the town New London after London, England. New London was the colony of Connecticut’s first trading port and was a hub of trade with the West Indies and other colonies. Though initially part of the town of New London when it was first settled by the colonists, Groton, Montville, and Waterford were each separated from New London in 1705, 1786, and 1801 respectively. Present-day Salem was also part of New London when it was settled, but in 1819, it became a separate incorporated town composed of parts of Lyme, Colchester, and Montville. Occom kept a school in New London in the winter in 1748. New London was the home of Captain Nathaniel Shaw, one of the wealthiest merchants in the area, who gave money to Occom in the 1750s for the missionary cause and also sold materials to Occom for the building of his home. However, their positive relationship ended when Shaw refused to provide supplies for Mary Occom while Occom was in England. New London served as the port from which Occom and other missionaries traveled to reach Long Island. During the American Revolution, New London’s location and its status as a seaport made it both vulnerable to invasion and integral to colonial naval operations as well as the exchange of prisoners.New London was incorporated as a city in 1784.


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.

Long Island

Long Island is an island located in southeast New York State. In 1824, historian Silas Wood claimed that 13 different tribes inhabited the island when the Dutch and English arrived in 1639: the Canarsie, the Rockaway, the Matinecock, the Merrick, the Massapequa, the Nissequoge, the Secatoag, the Seatuket, the Patchoag, the Corchaug, the Shinnecock, the Manhasset, and the Montaukett. This is the commonly accepted tribal history of Long Island, and Wood’s theory is taught in New York textbooks today. Yet, in 1992, historian John Strong challenged this dominant narrative, arguing that tribal systems did not develop on Long Island until after Europeans arrived. Based on Dutch and English colonists’ accounts, the Algonquian communities on western Long Island likely spoke the Delaware-Munsee dialect and those to the east spoke languages related to the southern New England Algonquian dialects. These indigenous peoples organized themselves by language and kinship, but beyond village systems and the occasional alliance, there existed no formal tribal structure. Rather, internal structures arose among the Montauks, the Shinnecocks, the Poospatucks, and the Matinnocks to cope with English settlers, and became integral to these peoples’ survival. Although new diseases and land negotiations severely encroached on the freedom of Long Island’s Native population, these groups that developed tribal structures retain a sense of community today. By the 18th century, much of the island had fallen into the hands of the English, who were the sole European power on Long Island once the Dutch relinquished their claims to the land after the second Anglo-Dutch War in 1664. During the Great Awakening of the 18th century, Occom spent 12 years serving as a missionary to the Montaukett Indians of Long Island, along with Presbyterian minister Azariah Horton. Today, the western half of the island is densely populated due to its proximity to Manhattan, and its eastern half is mainly devoted to resort towns. The Shinnecocks and the Poospatucks retain autonomous reservations on Long Island.

New York City
Hudson River

The Hudson River, frequently referred to as the North River in Occom Circle documents, runs 315 miles from Newcomb in upstate New York to the Long Island Sound. The Algonquin-speaking tribes that originally inhabited both sides of the river called it Mahicantuck, or river that flows both ways. In 1609, Henry Hudson, an English explorer employed by the Dutch East India Company, sailed up the river while looking for a passage to India and instead found thousands of Algonquians living in the river's valley. Hudson sailed as far north as Albany before turning back. Dutch traders settled the river’s banks and established trade in the colony that would become New Netherland. The Dutch called it Noort Rivier, or North River, by contrast to South River, the Delaware River. Only when the English began to assert their claim over the North River in the 1600s did it become commonly referred to as the Hudson River, to emphasize its "discovery" by an Englishman. The Dutch eventually ceded the river to the English in 1674 under the Treaty of Westminster, but the name North River persisted into the early 20th century. In their writings, Occom and his contemporaries refer to the Hudson as North River. Occom travelled along the North River from Mohegan to Albany during his preaching tours in the mid-1780s. Eventually, Occom sailed up North River for good, settling in New Stockbridge in 1789. Today, the name North River still refers to the section of the Hudson between New Jersey and New York City.

Oneida Country

Schenectady is a city located in eastern New York State. The area that would become Schenectady was originally controlled by the Mohawk Indians, the easternmost and most powerful of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. The land making up Schenectady was one stop on the much larger Mohawk Trail, which extended from Schenectady to what would become Albany, New York. The name of Schenectady was a derivation of the Mohawk word, Schau-naugh-ta-da, which meant the place beyond the open pines. The first Europeans to arrive at Schenectady were the Dutch who established a settlement there in 1661. Schenectady would come under British control as Dutch power in the Americas waned and the British established the colony of New York. In 1690 during King William’s War, Schenectady became the target of French and Indian soldiers who attacked the town and killed 60 of its residents, an event that became known as the Schenectady Massacre. There was a smallpox outbreak in Schenectady in 1767, as noted in this collection’s documents. In 1780, Oneidas found refuge from Loyalist and Mohawk attacks in Schenectady, and the town served as a stop on the way to Brothertown, the pan-Indian settlement founded by Occom and other graduates of Wheelock’s school. Schenectady was designated a borough in 1765 and eventually incorporated as a city 1798.


Oneida is a city in Madison County located at the geographical center of New York state. Before European settlement of the area, the Oneida Tribe, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, inhabited a large territory adjacent to nearby Oneida Lake. Around 1533, they built their first village on the south shore of the lake, at or near the mouth of Oneida Creek. At the end of the 17th century, this area began suffering raids by parties from the French colony of Quebec, in a battle to control the fur trade. In 1696, Oneida village was burned by the French. As a result, the Oneidas moved their chief village east of the original site, called Old Oneida, to a new site called Kanawalohale, also known as Oneida Castle, which was fortified by tall palisades and a moat. This is the site of the present-day village of Oneida Castle, a small hamlet west of the city of Oneida in the northwest corner of the town of Vernon. When used in Occom Circle documents, the place name "Oneida" usually refers to the territory inhabited by the Tribe east of Oneida Lake, but can also refer specifically to Oneida Castle. Although the Oneidas sided with the patriots during the Revolutionary War, much of their territory was sold or appropriated by the state of New York. In 1790, the first European settlers moved into the area of Old Oneida village, and the district began to expand. In the 1830s, the state built a feeder from Oneida Creek through the present city site to provide water for the new canal system, which enabled canal boats to ship freight into the town. Eventually, the railroad came through the town and helped with its expansion. This led to the incorporation of the Village of Oneida in 1848 and the establishment of the Town of Oneida in 1896. The town was chartered as the City of Oneida in 1901, and with two more railroad lines transecting the area, it became a thriving manufacturing center for the first half of the 20th century.


Mohegan is a village in southeastern Connecticut at the site of the present-day town of Montville, and is the location of the Mohegan Indian Reservation. The village gets its name from the Mohegan Tribe, or wolf people, who split from the Pequots in the early 17th century under the leadership of the sachem Uncas. In the 1720s, the Mohegans requested the colony of Connecticut provide them with an English educator. An English minister and schoolteacher named John Mason (no relation to Captain John Mason) moved to Mohegan in order to provide English-styled education to the Mohegans, convinced his sponsors, the New England Company, to build a schoolhouse at Mohegan, which eventually served as a boarding school for other Native American children from the surrounding area. During the 17th century, the Mohegan Tribe became embroiled in a complicated controversy over control of Mohegan land — known as the Mason Land Case or, more specifically, Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut — that included the village of Mohegan. The Tribe claimed that it never authorized a transfer of their lands, held in trust by the Mason family, to the colonial government. In 1662, the colony of Connecticut was incorporated by a royal charter, which included the disputed tribal land. The land controversy was revived in 1704 when descendants of John Mason, the original trustee, petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, but the suit was finally decided against the Tribe in 1773. Born in Mohegan, Occom became involved in the Mason Land Case and vehemently argued for the rights of the Mohegan Indians to maintain their land, opposing Eleazar Wheelock and other ministers in the area. Although Occom left Mohegan for a 12-year mission with the Montauk Indians of Long Island, he returned at the end of 1763 with his large family to build a house in Mohegan, establishing it as his base of operations. Even after the creation of the Brothertown settlement in Oneida country, for which he served as minister, Occom continued to commute back and forth from Mohegan; he didn't sell his house in Mohegan and move his family to Brothertown until 1789. Many members of his family remained in Mohegan, including his sister Lucy Tantaquidgeon, who lived there until her death at 99 in 1830.


Groton is a town located in southeastern Connecticut between the Thames and Mystic Rivers. This land was originally settled by the Niantic tribe, who were forced out in the early 1600s by the Pequots. During the Pequot War in 1637, Captain John Mason’s soldiers and Indian allies attacked the Pequot’s Mystic fort, burning down the fort, killing mostly women and children, and largely displacing the Pequots. John Winthrop Jr. and his Puritan followers first settled Groton in 1646 as part of New London. In 1705, the General Court allowed the Groton inhabitants to incorporate as a separate town due to its increased population. The town was named Groton after Winthrop’s England estate. Farming, shipbuilding, and maritime trading sustained the Groton economy throughout the eighteenth century. Beginning in 1712, land disputes between the Connecticut government and the Pequot tribe in Groton ensued, and the Pequots sent many petitions and grievances to the Connecticut government. Legal battles concerning the colonists’ leasing of the 1,700 acres on which the Pequots lived continued throughout the 18th century, as missionaries came to the area to teach religion and establish schools. After the Revolutionary War, many Groton Pequots joined other Connecticut tribes and moved to the Brothertown settlement in upstate New York.


Connecticut is a state in southern New England that borders Massachusetts to the north and the Long Island Sound to the south. Its name is derived from the Algonquian "Quonehtacut," meaning "long river," referring to the Connecticut, which runs from the border with Canada into the Long Island Sound. The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Pequots, Mohegans, and Quinnipiacs. European settlers took advantage of tribal divisions to establish dominance in the region. Dutch explorer Adrian Block sailed up the Connecticut River in 1614, establishing an active Dutch trading post at what is now Hartford. English claims to Connecticut began in 1630, but settlement truly began when Thomas Hooker, a Congregationalist minister now known as "The Father of Connecticut," left Boston to found Hartford in 1636. Hartford became the center of the Colony of Connecticut, which did not receive its charter until 1662 when Governor John Winthrop, Jr. secured it from Charles II. In 1665, the Colony of New Haven, established in 1638 by the Puritan minister John Davenport, joined the Colony of Connecticut under this charter. Early settler relations with local Indians were tense, and encouraged the New England colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven to unify as the "United Colonies" or "New England Confederation" and fight together, with Indian allies, in the Pequot War and again in King Philip's (Metacom's) War. These wars helped establish a specifically Connecticut and specifically American identity; the latter drove the colony to join the rebellion against Britain in 1776. Occom, born into a Mohegan household in Connecticut, was closely associated with the Colony and retained strong ties to the region throughout his life. He converted to Christianity in 1743 when the Great Awakening spread through Connecticut, and inspired Wheelock's Indian Charity School, which was founded in Lebanon, CT in 1754. He also became involved in the Mason Land Case, a long-standing dispute over the ownership of reserve Mohegan lands in Connecticut. Wheelock also had strong ties to Connecticut, moving his Indian Charity School only when the colony would not grant it a charter.


Lebanon is a town located in the state of Connecticut southwest of the town of Hartford. The land that became Lebanon was inhabited at least 10,000 years ago based on the archeological record. By the 1600s, the land was permanently inhabited by the Mohegan Indians, who used the area primarily for hunting. Lebanon was officially formed in 1700 when English settlers consolidated a number of land tracts, including several land grants by the Connecticut General Assembly and lands purchased from the Mohegans. However, these purchases were controversial. In 1659, the Mohegans entrusted their reserve land to Major John Mason, and in the following year, Mason transferred this land to the Connecticut colonial government with the understanding that there would be enough land left for the Mohegans to farm. The Mohegans claimed that they never authorized a transfer to the colonial government and only Mason’s heirs were entrusted with their land. In 1662, Connecticut, which included the Mohegan land that had been entrusted to the Masons, was incorporated by a royal charter. Based on this charter, the colony argued that the land was now the property of the government. In 1687, the colony began granting the Mohegan land to townships, and in 1704 the Masons petitioned the Crown on behalf of the Mohegans, claiming that such transfers of land to townships were illegal. Between the years of 1705 and 1773 legal disputes and controversies persisted, finally ending in a verdict by the Crown against the Mohegans. In 1755, Wheelock received property and housing in Lebanon that he would use as his house and school. While Lebanon was originally incorporated as a part of New London County in 1700, in 1724 it became a part of New Windham, before once again becoming a part of New London County in 1826. Lebanon was central to the American Revolution with half of its adult population fighting for the colonists and hundreds of meetings convened in the town for the revolutionary cause.

Norwich Landing

Norwich Landing is the original name of the area around the public landing built in 1694 at the head of the Thames River in the town of Norwich, CT, to faciliate trade with England. It was a site of business and trade, also called "Chelsea Landing" and "Chelsea." Eventually, this neighborhood became the downtown area of what grew to be the city of Norwich. Because of its proximity to Lebanon, CT, where Eleazar Wheelock lived and worked, and its harbor with access to the Long Island Sound, Norwich Landing became the main point of travel for Wheelock and his associates, and visitors who frequently traveled to the area by boat.

Long Society

Norwich is a city in New London County in the southeast corner of Connecticut. It was founded in 1659 when Major John Mason and Reverend James Fitch led English settlers inland from Old Saybrook, CT, on the coast. They bought land from Uncas, sachem of the local Mohegan tribe, and divided it into farms and businesses mainly in the three-mile area around the Norwichtown Green. In 1668, a wharf was built at Yantic Cove and in 1694 a public landing was built at the head of the Thames River, which allowed trade with England to flourish. The center of Norwich soon moved to the neighborhood around the harbor called "Chelsea." During the revolutionary period, when transatlantic trade was cut off, Norwich developed large mills and factories along the three rivers that cross the town: the Yantic, Shetucket and Thames, and supported the war effort by supplying soldiers, ships, and munitions. Norwich was the largest town in the vicinity in which Occom, Wheelock and their associates lived and worked, and it was possible to get there by water because of the harbor and access to the Long Island Sound. Lebanon, CT, the site of Wheelock's school, is 11 miles north and present-day Uncasville, the center of the Mohegan tribe, is a few miles south of Norwich. James Fitch did missionary work among the Mohegans in Norwich until his death in 1702, and Samuel Kirkland, the most important Protestant missionary to the Six Nations trained by Wheelock, was born in Norwich in 1741. On his evangelical tour of North America in 1764, George Whitefield planned to travel to Norwich to meet with Wheelock. The Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge frequently met in Norwich, and many letters by people involved in the missionary efforts of Wheelock were written from Norwich.

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.

Cooper, Tabitha (née Occom)

Tabitha Cooper (née Occom, formerly Johnson), Samson Occom and Mary Fowler Occom’s third child, married Joseph Johnson, a Moor’s Indian Charity School alumnus and one of the primary founders of the Brothertown Movement. Although her father and first husband both wrote prolifically, surprisingly little information about Tabitha survives. Tabitha was born in 1754, during Samson Occom’s mission to Montauk. We can conjecture that she was literate in English and also familiar with Montauk and Mohegan culture (Mary Fowler Occom was notorious among Anglo-American missionaries for her adherence to Montauk life-ways). In 1773, Tabitha was courted by Joseph Johnson, and the pair married in December 1773. Tabitha maintained their household and raised their two sons (William, b. 1774, and Joseph, b. 1776) in Mohegan, but Joseph Johnson spent little time there: between 1773 and his death in 1776/7, Johnson was very busy organizing Christian New England Indians to emigrate to Oneida territory (the Brothertown Movement). He worked out of Farmington, CT, and often traveled back and forth to Oneida. Laura Murray attributes Johnson’s absence to some kind of tension between him and the community at Mohegan, but there are no indications of such tension in his writings (rather, he expresses a longing to be at Mohegan). Nor should we attribute Johnson’s absence to marital discord. As Murray demonstrates elsewhere, Johnson’s writings and actions illustrate sincere concern and affection for Tabitha: one letter from him to her after their marriage survives, and he delayed his travels to be with her during her second pregnancy. Tabitha did not move to Brothertown, even once it was successfully established in 1783. She remarried to either a George or Joshua Cooper in the early 1800s (by 1807 at the latest), with whom she had two children, Betsy and Charles. None of her children permanently settled at Brothertown: Joseph, her second son by Joseph Johnson, lived at Brothertown between 1797 and 1820 and married there, but he and his wife ultimately returned to Mohegan. Tabitha lived until at least 1816.

Paul, John
Paul, Anthony

Anthony Paul was born in Charlestown, Rhode Island, to Mary and James Paul. His family was a part of the Narragansett peoples who lived in Charlestown. There is not much information detailing Paul's early years, but he is believed to have attended Wheelock's school in Connecticut. It is through this connection that Paul is likely to have met Christiana Occom, daughter of Samson Occom and Mary Fowler. Paul married Christiana in 1777 and, after spending some time in Mohegan, the two settled in Brotherton in 1784. Paul worked as a preacher and helped raise at least six children with Christiana. Occom was fond of his son-in-law, and his journals tell of many happy times visiting the couple, including fishing trips and the day in 1787 when Samson baptized Paul and four of his children. As further indication of Occom's fondness for his son-in-law, he is believed to have left the books and papers that he kept in his New York home with Paul. In 1797, Paul and Christiana left Brotherton to live in Lake George, NY, where they spent the rest of their years.

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.

Paul, Mary
Occom, Mary (née Fowler)

Mary Occom (née Fowler) was a Montaukett woman who married Samson Occom. Although information about her is limited and often comes from male, Anglo-American sources, it offers a tantalizing glimpse of her strength, as well as an alternative to the Eleazar Wheelock-centered narrative of Occom’s life that often dominates the latter’s biography. Mary was born into the influential Fowler family at Montauk, Long Island. She met Samson during his missionary service there (1749-1761). Mary studied at Samson’s school along with her brothers David and Jacob, and was almost certainly literate. She and Samson married in 1751. Wheelock and several other Anglo-American powers opposed their union because they worried it might distract Occom from being a missionary (as, indeed, family life did), and thus many scholars have read in Samson and Mary’s marriage an act of resistance against Samson’s domineering former teacher. Little information about the minutiae of Mary’s life survives, but existing sources speak volumes about her character and priorities. In front of Anglo-American missionaries visiting the Occoms' English-style house at Mohegan, Mary would insist on wearing Montaukett garb and, when Samson spoke to her in English, she would only reply in Montaukett, despite the fact that she was fluent in English. Mary Occom was, in many ways, Wheelock’s worst fear: that his carefully groomed male students would marry un-Anglicized Indian women. It is not a stretch to imagine that Mary provided much of the incentive for Wheelock to begin taking Indian girls into his school, lest his other protégés replicate Samson’s choice. Much of our information about Mary comes from between 1765 and 1768, when Samson was fundraising in Great Britain. Despite promising to care for Samson’s wife and family (at the time they had seven children), Wheelock, by every objective measure, failed to do so, and Mary’s complaints are well documented. Hilary Wyss reads in Wheelock’s neglect (and in letters from the time) a more sinister story, and concludes that on some level Wheelock was holding Samson’s family hostage, in return for Occom curtailing his political beliefs on the Mason Case. Wyss also notes Mary’s remarkable survivance in this situation. Mary drew on various modes of contact, from letters to verbal communication with influential women (including Sarah Whitaker, the wife of Samson’s traveling companion, and Wheelock’s own daughters), to shame Wheelock into action and demand what she needed. One of the major struggles in Mary’s life, and in Samson’s, was with their sons. Both Aaron and Benoni failed to live up to their parents’ expectations. Aaron attended, and left, Moor’s Indian Charity School three times, and both Aaron and Benoni struggled with alcohol and refused to settle down. The Occom daughters did not cause similar problems. Given the nature of existing sources, little is known about Mary after Samson and Wheelock lessened their communication in 1771. Joanna Brooks has conjectured that Mary was likely influential in Samson’s Mohegan community involvement later in life, for instance, in his continued ministry to Mohegan and, perhaps, his increasingly vehement rejection of Anglo-American colonial practices.

Haggerman, John
Quaquaquid, Henry

Henry Quaquaquid was a Mohegan Indian who was active in both political and religious tribal affairs. In 1742 he, as a counselor, signed a petition that declared John Uncas as the rightful successor of Sachem Mahomet; however, the following year Quaquaquid, along with Occom and nine other counselors, signed Ben Uncas’s counter proclamation. As supporters of Ben Uncas, Occom and Quaquaquid lived in Ben’s Town rather than John’s Town, the home of the Ashpos. Nonetheless, they eventually changed their minds and joined the Ashpos in an effort to counteract tribal corruption and disunion. Around 1760, Ben Uncas III claimed that the rival faction had established Quaquaquid as sachem. Quaquaquid was also involved in the Mason case and acted as a messenger. He sought to protect the Mohegans’ native rights, and in 1785 signed a petition, along with Occom and four others, to the Connecticut General Assembly asking for unrestricted fishing privileges. In 1789, Quaquaquid and Robert Ashpo appealed to the Connecticut Assembly again seeking aid, and as in the original petition, stressed their friendship. Additionally, Quaquaquid often accompanied Occom during his missionary tours, such as those of 1757 and 1785. He also acted as a deacon, possibly at a church that Occom established in Mohegan. Quaquaquid did not move to Brothertown, but remained in Mohegan with his family.

Adgate, John Hart
Maples, Josiah
Maples, John
Brown, John
Rogers, Alpheus
Ashpo, Robert

Robert Ashpo was the brother of Samuel Ashpo, the influential Mohegan preacher. They were born into a powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and Robert became a tribal leader. We have no specific evidence of his education or conversion. But he was one of the signers of at least three important petitions that were submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly. The first, entitled "Appeal of the Mohegan Indians agst the Colony of Connecticut & Others" is dated July 23, 1746; Ashpo was one of over 80 signatories. The second was written by Occom in 1785 on behalf of five other signatories: Henry Quaquaquid and Robert Ashpo of the Mohegan Tribe and Phillip Cuish, Joseph Uppuiquiyantup, Isaac Uppuiquiyantup of the Niantics, expressing their dismay over restrictive fishing prohibitions (manuscript 785340). The third from May 14, 1789 is signed by Ashpo and Henry Quaquaquid, and using the metaphor of the "dish," complains bitterly about the loss of Mohegan territory and asks the Assembly to divide the "common dish" of the Tribe into individual dishes so each may do "as he pleases." These petitions invoke Tribal sovereignty, show collaboration between tribal leaders, and also employ the rhetoric of "improvement" to save their lands. Occom and Joseph Johnson record Ashpo's speaking and leadership at several meetings at Mohegan and elsewhere in the 1770s and 1780s. Ashpo did not move to Brothertown and remained in Mohegan.

Avery, John

John Avery was born in 1705 in Groton, Connecticut. Avery was chosen to serve as deacon for a Congregationalist church in Preston, Connecticut, and was ordained on August 16, 1747. A study by Avery's ancestors indicates that he was once imprisoned for refusing to pay dues to Connecticut colony's state-sponsored Congregationalist church. He felt his imprisonment was noble, given his aversion to centralized church power. Avery was named lieutenant and then captain of the Preston trainband, the local militia, in 1739 and 1741, respectively. He resigned in 1750. In 1743, Avery was named deputy to the general court. Occom lodged at the home of Avery at least three times when passing through New London. Avery died in 1789 in Preston, Connecticut, and in his will, Avery granted his slave freedom and financial support. Joanna Brooks confuses Deacon John Avery with his son of the same name, who was a clockmaker and silversmith in Preston, Connecticut born in 1732.

Dart, his wife
Mr. Dart's daughter
Douglas, Robert
Smith, Jonathan

Jonathan Smith was a friend of Samson Occom’s who lived in Long Society, a suburb of Norwich, Connecticut. Although Long Society did not have a formally organized church between 1782 and 1786, the town still hosted informal meetings, at several of which Occom preached.

Comstock, William
Smith, Jabez

Jabez Smith was a deacon at the Second Baptist Church in Groton, CT, a congregation with strong New Light sympathies. He was very active in the church, and on at least one occasion he opened his home to an extemporaneous religious meeting, at which Occom preached. Smith supported himself via the family farm. The house he built there, in 1783, is still standing and currently serves as a museum.

Latham, Robert

Captain Robert Latham was part of the large, ferry-man and ship-building Latham families of Groton and New London, Connecticut, several of whom Occom mentions in his journals. Robert's father was Daniel Latham, born April 16, 1719 in New London and his mother was Elizabeth. He was the youngest of five. After that, there is no more information about Captain Robert Latham except what we learn from Occom's journals for 1784-89. In his itinerant preaching in the area, Occom held meetings at Captain Latham's house, lodged, dined with and called on Latham and his wife several times, and used his Christian cards for exercises with them, describing them as a "very agreeable and discreet couple." The Captain must have been fond of Occom, because he sent a present of tea to Occom's wife in 1784. Going back and forth between Groton and New London in southern Connecticut required a ferry across the Thames River. Robert was likely a descendant of the first ferryman in this area, Cary Latham, who appears in the record during the 1680s. His successors, William and Thomas Latham, operated a shipyard in Groton where they built and launched ships. In 1807, this became the Latham Brothers company. It is not clear if Robert's title refers to his seafaring or military service. Although there is no mention of a Robert Latham in the records, members of the extended Latham family from Groton served with distinction and were captured, wounded, or killed in the Revolutionary War, participating in the Battle of Groton Heights and the storming of Fort Griswold.


Mrs. Latham was the wife of Captain Robert Latham, who was part of the extensive Latham family in Groton and New London, Connecticut. She lived in Groton with her husband, who was a friend and supporter of Occom. We know from Occom's journals for 1784-89 that he held meetings at the Lathams' house, lodged, dined with and called on the Lathams on several occasions as he crossed back and forth from Groton to New London on the ferry, which was likely operated by a descendant of Cary Latham, the first ferryman there in the 1680s. Occom notes several intriguing facts about Mrs. Latham: that she "looks quite young," which suggests she was Captain Latham's second wife, that they have no children, and that on occasion -- for example, after William Avery's funeral in January 1786 -- he calls on her specifically .

Shaw, Thomas
Williams, William
Standish Nathan
Avery, William

William Avery was born in 1724 to the prominent Avery family of Groton, Connecticut. From January 1768 until his death, Avery served as Groton's town clerk and treasurer. During the American Revolution, Avery served on several war committees. In 1779, he represented Groton at a general convention in Hartford, and then served on a committee to secure bounties for Revolutionary soldiers by selling Groton "public lands." From 1772 until 1810, North Groton did not have an official minister, and South Groton did not have one between 1798 and 1810; it appears that religious activity waned during this time. In his journal for 1785, however, Occom recalls an experience preaching in Groton, where Avery followed his sermon with an exhortation, an extemporaneous outpouring by a layperson that in New Light churches of the time often followed the more formal sermon. Occom notes that the audience was so rapt on this occasion that they did not want to leave, and begged Occom to preach to them again. Avery died at the age of 63 and was buried in the Starr Cemetery in Groton.

HomeSamson Occom, journal, 1784 May 8 to 1785 April 26
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