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

AuthorWheelock, Eleazar

Date15 September, 1761

ms number761515

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

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

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

inkHeavy and blotchy in spots.

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

EventsBuilding of Occom’s house

Persistent Identifier
Much Reſpected and Hon.d Sir.
My Affairs have ſo crowded me that I han't found Leiſure to write you of the State of this Indian School, as ^you deſired & ^ I deſign'd when I had the Pleaſure you gave me at your House laſt Spring. nor can I now more than gratify you with a few Hints; in Hopes I may have More Leiſure by & by [gap: tear] or perhaps the opportunity to wait upon you at your own House [gap: tear][guess: a]gain be­fore winter.
M.r Occom, in Conſequence of the Appointment which I in­form'd you of, ſat out on his long journey to the ſix Nations, on the 10th of June laſt, (accompanied by David the youth who was with me at your House laſt Spring) by the way of New­ ­York, where he tarried ſeveral Days, & preach'd in M.r Boſtwic^k^ Meeting House to an Aſsembly vaſtly Numerous; at which was collected £ 70. for his use. And the Evening following at the Baptiſt's Meeting House £ 13. their Currancy: And received the fulleſt Recommendations from the principle Gentlemen in the City. I have ſince received a Letter from him Dated German Flatts. July 7. Informing y.t he had met with un­common Kindneſs, & Reſpect every where. And that Genl Amherſt had given him the Strongeſt Paſs, & Recom̅endati­on to all his Officers, &c. And also that Gen.l Johnſson, who was there on his way to the Detroit, with Preſents to the Indians had promiſed him his Aſsiſtance, and design'd the next Day to introduce him to the Oneida Nation. I have also of the Same Date and from the Same Place, a Letter from Genl Johnſon, which came by the Hands of Three Mohawke Lads two of [illegible] which were Sent by the Gen.l to this School in Complyance illegible with my deſire by Letter to him that he would ſend me ſix promiſing Youth of those Nations. Three to be ſupported by the Hon.le Scotiſh Com̅iſs.rs, And the other Three I venture to take in Addition to the ſix which I had before to be the Subjects of Such Charities, as God ſhall diſpose the Hearts of his People to beſtow upon this occaſion. And the Gen.l informs me, he hopes, as he paſses thro' the Other Nations on his Way, he ſhall be able to ſend me 3. or 4. more ſo as to compleat the Number which I wrote for. And I am now daily Expecting them here.
When these came I was much at a loſs what might be his End in coming, who was not recommended by the Gen.l; but ſince we have learnt to underſtand them a little better, I am fully perſuaded the Caſe was thus. After the Gen.l had ſent away those two, the Other underſtanding their Deſign, and being deſi­rous of Learning as well as they, went after the Gen.l, but he now got too far on his way to be overtaken, where upon he con­cluded to run the venture of coming without Recommendation
They all behave very well hitherto. And it is quite agreable to ſee them with the reſt Generally ſo well ingaged in their ſtudies.
Tho' one without Experience can well conceive the Difficulty there is in Educating them.
David is not yet return'd nor do I expect him 'till those other Ladds come, if before M.r Occom returns from his Miſsion. But one of the Girls which I have been ſo long expecting is yet come. M.r Brainerd wrote me in the Spring that those expected from Delaware, had been detained by Sickneſs, and one was then not likely to recover, however that I might expect two by the Firſt Veſsel.
M.r Kirtland's Son, a Charity­Schollar, and promiſing Youth, who is now at this School fitting for a Miſsion, is learning the Mohawke Language of the Boys, as fast as he can under the Diſadvantage of having no Books, nor Interpreter to help him. And So are also ſeveral of the Indian Boys.
I here ſend you incloſed a Speciman of the writing of my two Delawares, and I doubt not you would be much pleaſed to hear them read Lattin & Greek.
As to those Signatures & Traces of Judaiſm which have in­clin'd me to believe our American Indians to be the 10 Tribes of the House of Israel, ^I am not in a Capacity to ſet ym in ſuch a Light as I hope I may be^. ſeveral of which them we diſcourſd of, ſuch as Their Languages being generally Guttural, & Abounding in prefixes & Suffixes agreable to the Hebrew. Their use of y.e word Higgai­nan in their Singing, which I ſuſpect to be the Same with Higgaion used by the Sweet Singer of Israel Their Sacrifices, eſpecially of the pascal Lamb. (for want of which they use a Faun) ſo agrea­ble to the Mosaic Rites. Their cutting out the Hollow of the Thigh when they can give no Reaſon for it but Tradition, and ſay that all good Indians have done ſo, which I had from an old man of good credit who was in his youth a Mighty Hunter among them. Their Avenging Murther by the neareſt of kin. Their Se­paration of their Women for uncleaneſs. & their Purification &c There Is, beſides These, and many Such like, one which I dont rem­ember to have diſcourſed with you of, and which is with me as weighty as almoſt any I have heard, and which I ſhould be glad of your Thoughts upon. I had it from that dear man of God the Rev.d David Brainerd a little before his Death. and perhaps the Diſcovery never was So fully made by any other. He gave it me a little before his Death, as he had it from one of their Powows, then lately converted to chriſtianity under his Minſtry among them. He told me that the ſpirit which their Powows are at certain Times under the Influence Inſpired with, & under the Influence of, and which makes them So much the fear & Dread of the Indians, was as exact an Imitation of a Spirit of Propheſy as he could conceive the Devil capable of. that they were Seers and could See the Hearts Thoughts, Purposes, & Intentions of others they were concerned with, as plain as one could ſee an opaque Body in a tranſparent Glaſs, they would charge men with what they had done in Secret & make them own it. and pretend to 'tell Fatuities, viz. what ſucceſs the Enquirers would have in Hunting or War, in which Caſe they [illegible] are were much used. (and [illegible] ^perhaps^ could 'tell as much as the Devil Knew in these Caſes) and when the Spirit was gone from them they were but as other men.
Now when I conſider how y.e false Spirit has all along imitated y.e Time and the great advantage he has thereby made to get ye ſubjects of it fast in his Snare. and what advantage he may be Supposd to have got of ye 10 Tribes in this way, after ye Time ſince of Prophiſie
was wholly Loſt among them, and not only a Sp.t of Prophiſie but humane Literature with it. I cant but think there is weight in it.
as to what has been ſaid by Some y.t the Names of Several Animals ^in their Language^ are ye very Same with the Hebrew: perhaps when we are able to Send Miſsionaries among them who are well inſtructed in the Hebrew Tongue we may be furniſhed with ye fulleſt Evidence from that Quarter. I hope my dear Little Jacob, who is now just out of his 2.d Year at New Jerſie College, and is one of y.e Delaware Tribe, may be the very man to oblige us with ſome new Diſcove­ries of the Nature.
The getting exact Information of these things, and Setting them in a true and proper Light will require Time and Pains.
I have lately been (I cant Say diſagreably) amaſed with a Letter from M.r Emrie to M.r John Erſkine in Scotland, in manuſcript wherein he Supposes he has fully proved from the word of God yt The Indians in North America are the 10 Tribes of the House of Israel, were baniſshed ^hither^ into the Wilderneſs of the Peoples, and their origional conceald under enigmatical Propheſies, that they might not be recond among the Nations, 'till Now the Time of their Deliverance is at Hand. I have only had y.e Favour. of a curſory reading of it, I apprehend there is a great deal of Insenuity in what he has wrote if nothing more. —
I was much encouraged in the Proſecution of this grand Affair by what I met with at Boſton laſt Spring, perticular­ly the generous and Seaſonable Bequeſt, of that truly noble Lord the Marquess of Lothain , and others. which I look'd upon as an Answer to Prayer, and was encouragd thereby to enlarge the Number of My Schollars, And hope I ſhall find what has been done to have been but an Earniſt of greater Supplies as they Shall be needed.
I doubt not, my dear Sir, Your are ready to do any thing in Your Power to promote it. And I truſt among the many Expreſsions of ^your^ unmerited Kindneſs you will not fail to remember in your devoutest Hours. him, who is with moſt ſincere Reſpect, Sir.
Your moſt Obliged Friend  and Humble ſervant Eleaz.r Wheelock
M.r John Smith ^[left]John Smith Sepr 1761^
My Dear & Hon'd Sir.
not knowg w.t Improvemt You may think fit to make of the incloſd, (as I ſubmitt to your own Judgment to ſend it to your Corriſ­pondent if you pleaſe) I tho't proper to im­prove this Cover to Acknowledge the moſt generous Expreſsions of your Reſpect to me and this Indian Affair in Yours of July 23. 1761 and the Copy of yours to your Freind &c and Rectify a little miſtake or two in your acco.t to him. viz. M.r Occom never lived at College. he had all ye Learning which he had of me and my ſon in Law, who took my ſchool when he came out of College and kept it one year at Hebron, Also the Number of Charity Indian ſchollars [illegible] when I was at your house was ſix. M.r Emries Lett.r mentiond in the incloſd I had by M.r Wm Hyſlop's procurement & I pray you would give him opportunity to read the incloſd perhaps there may be ſomething here useful to him and which he has not yet received from me. I am with moſt sincere Reſpect to you & Madm
your unworthy Br  & hum.le ſervt Eleazr Wheelock
Mr John ſmith
[left]Lett.r to M.r John Smith Boston.J Sept. 13. 1761