Samson Occom, autobiography, undated

Author Occom, Samson


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.


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

Persistent Identifier
Haveng Seen and heard Several Repreſentations, in England and Scotland, ^made wrote^ by Several ^Some^ gentlemen in America, Concerning , me, and Finding many miſsrpreſentations and 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 ſee my Account hereafter ^See it^, may Know the ^Truth^ Concerning me. — — Tho' it is againſt my mind to give a Hiſtory of my ſelf ^& publiſh it^ whilſt I am alive, Yet to do Juſtice to my ſelf and to th[gap: worn_edge][guess: ]e who may ^deſire^ have ^mind^ to know Some thing ^concerning^ of me— and for the Honor [gap: hole][guess: of] Religion I will venture to give a Short Narrative of my Life. — —
From my birth till I receivd the Chriſtian Religion.—
I was Born a Heathen and Brought up in In Heatheniſm till I was between 16 & 17 years of age, at a Place Calld Mohegan in New London Connecticut, in New England my Parents Livd a wandering life, So ^as^ did all the Indians at Mohegan; they chiefly Depended upon Hunting, Fiſhing, ^&^ Fowling and Claming, for their Living and had no Connections with the Engliſh, excepting to Tr[gap: worn_edge][guess: af]fic with them, with the in ^their^ Smal[gap: tear][guess: l] Trifles — and they Strictly maintain'd and follow'd their Heatheniſh ways, Cuſtoms & Religion — tho' there was Some Preaching among ^them^ theſe Indi ans, once a Fortnight, in y[gap: tear][guess: e] Summer Seaſon, a Miniſter
from N London [illegible]uſed to come up — and the Indians uſe to attend; not that they regarded the Chriſtian Religion, But they had Blankets give^n^ to them every Fall of the year and for theſe things they wou^d^ 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 ^Sort^ of a School again in our Place— a man ^who went^ uſed to go a about among the Indian Wigwams, and where ever he Coud find the Indian Child,r he woud make them read — but the Indian Children uſd to take Care to keep out off his way — and he uſ'd ^to^ Catch me Some times and make me Say over my Letters, and I be
believe I Learnt Some of [illegible]them. Litters, But this was soon over too — and all this Time there was ^not^ one amongſt us, that made a Chriſtian Profeſsion ^of Chriſtianity^ — Neither did we Cultivate our Land, ^nor^ and kept any Sort of Creatures, excep^t^ Dogs, which we uſed in Hunting, and Dwelt in Wigwams, the[illegible][guess: y] are ^a^ Sort of Tents Coverd with Matts, and theſe Matts are made of Flags — And to this Time we were ^[illegible]^ unaquainted with the Engliſh Tonug in general, ^tho'^ there ^were^ a few, who underſtood a little of ^it^ the Engliſh —–
From the Time of our Re‐formation till I left Mr Wheelock
When I was 1[illegible]6 years of age— we heard a Strange Rumor amon^g^ the Engliſh, that there were Ex‐traordinary Miniſters Preaching from Place to Place and that there was a Strange Concern among the white People — this was in the Spring of the year.
But we Saw nothing of theſe things, till Some Time in the Summer, then Some Miniſters began to viſit us and Preachd to us the Word of god; and the [illegible]Common [illegible]People ^alſo^ Came freequen^t^ly to us, and exhorted ^us^ to the things of god, and^which^ it pleaſed the Ld, as I humbly hope, to Bleſs and acompaniy ^with^ their Endeavours by ^with^him Divine Influences, to the Conviction and Saving Converſion of a Number of us; Amongſt which I was one that was Impreſ^t^ with the things, which we had hear^d^ and tTheſe Preachers did not only Come to us, but we ^frequently^ went to their meetings and Churches Conſtantly, after I ^was awakened convicted^ found Trouble of mind I went to all the meetings I ^Coud^ Come at; thus I& Continud under Trou‐ble of Mind about 6 Months, and almoſt as Soon as I found uneaſineſs in my Mind, so I ^at which time I^ began to Learn the Engliſh— Letters; Got me a Primmer and uſed to go to my Engliſh
Neighbours freequently for Aſsiſtance in Reading, budt went to no School — and my Neighbours were very ready to help me And when I was 1[illegible]7 years of age, I hope I had ^as I truſt,^ a Diſcovery of the way of Salvation through J[illegible][guess: esus] and was enabl'd to put my truſt in him alone for Life & Salvation, From this Time the Diſtreſs and Burden of my mind was removd, and I found Serenity and Pleaſure of Soul. in Serving god, by this time I Juſt began to try 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 Brethern According to the Fleſh, I uſd to wiſh, I was Capable of Inſtructing my poor Kindred, I uſe to thin[illegible]k if I Coud once Learn to Read
I woud Inſtruct poor Children in Reading— and uſd freequent‐ly to talk with our Indians Con‐cerning Religion.— Thus I Continued, till I was in my 19th year; by this Time I Coud Read a little in the B[illegible]ible, at this Time my Poor Mother was going to Lebanon, and having had Some Knowledge of Mr Wheeloc^k^ 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 woud 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 wen^t^ up, thinking I Shoud be back again in a few Days; when I got up there, he receivd me with kindneſs and Compaſsion and in Stead of Staying a
Fortnight or 3 weeks, I Spent 4 years with him — After I had been with him Some Time, he began to a‐quaint his Friends of my being with him, and his Intentions 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 Cloaths — Then he repreſted the Caſe to the Honorable Com‐miſsioners at Boſton, who were Commiſsion'd by the Honorable Society in London for Propagating ye goſpel among the Indians in New England and parts adjacen^t^ and they alowed him 60 £: pr An: both in old Tennor, which was about 6 £: Sterling, and they Continu'd it 2: or 3: years I Can't tell exactly — while I was at Mr Wheelocks, I was very weakly and my Health much Empard, and at the End of 4 years, I over Straind
my Eyes to Degree, I Coud not perſue my Studies any Longer; and out off theſe 4 years, I Loſt Juſt about one Year; — And was obligd to quit my Studies — —
From the Time I left Mr Wheel ^ock^ till I went and [illegible] Europe
As Soon as I left Mr Wheelock, I endeavourd to find Some Em‐ploy among the Indians; went to Nahantuck, thinking, they may want a School Maſter, bu^t^ they ^had^ one; then went to Naroganſet, and they were Indeferent 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 deſirou^s^ to have me keep a School among^ſt^ them, and I Conſented, and went back a while to Moheg^an^ and Some in November I wen^t^ on the Iſland, I think it is 17
17 years ago laſt Novr I agreed to keep a School with them Half a year, and left it with them to give ^me^ what they Pleaſd, and they took turns to Provide Food for me — I had near 30 Scholars this winter, I had evening School too for thoſe that Coud not attend Day School — and began to Carry on their meetings, T[illegible] they ^had^ a Miniſter, one Mr Horton, the Scotch Society's Miſſionary, but he Spent, I think, two thirds of his Time at Sheene‐cock, 30 Miles from Montauk, We met together 3 times for Di‐vine Worſhip every Sabbath and once on ^every^ Wedneſday even‐ing— I to read the Scriptures to them and uſed to expound upon Some perticular Paſages in my own Tonuge I viſited the Sick and attended their Burials — when the half year expird, they Deſird me to Continud with them, which I Complyd with, for another
half year, when I had fulfild that, they were urgent to have me Stay Longer So I Continud till I was Married amongſt 'em which was about 2 years after I went there — And I Continu'd to Inſtruct them in the Same manner as I did befor^e^ after I was maried 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 ^&^ of my Continuence amongſt them, and Mr Wheelock and other gentlemen, Repreſented my Circumſtances and the Circumſtances, and the Deſires of theſe Indians of my Continuing amongſt them, and the Com‐miſsioners were So good as to grant ^£^15 per An: 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 Deſide their Matters between them, and had viſiters of Indians, from all Quarters; and, as our Cuſtom is, we freely Entertain all viſiters,— And was fetchd often from my Tribe and from others [gap: stain] See into their Affairs Both Religious ^&^ Temporal,— Beſides my Domeſtick Concerns,— and it Pleaſed the Lord to Increac^e^ my Family faſt — and Soon after I was Maried, Mr Horton left theſe Indians, and the Sheenecock Indians ^& after this I was licencd to p^ and then I had the whole Care of theſe Indians at Montauk, and uſed to viſitd the Shenecock
Indians often — uſed to Set out Saturdays towards Night and back again on Mondays I have ^been^ obliged to Set out from Home after Sun Set, and Ride 30 Miles in the Night, to Prea^h^ to the^se^ Indians at Shenecock And Some Indians at Shenecock Sent their Children to my School at Montauk, I kept one of 'em Some Time, and had a young Man half year from Mohegan, A Lad from Na‐hantuck, who was with me almoſt a year,— [illegible] & had had very little for all theſe 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 Prayd with them, then began to hear them, I generaly began
(after some of 'em Coud Spell and Read,) with thoſe, that were yet in their Alphabets; So around, as they were pro‐perly Seat, till I got thro' and I obligd them to Study their Books, and to help one another, when they Coud not make out a hard, they Brought to me — and I Uſu‐ally heard them, in the Summer Seaſon 8 Times a Day 4 in the morning, and in ye after Noon — In the MWinter Seaſon 6 Time a Day, as Soon as they coud Spell, they were obligd to spell when ever they wanted to go out; Conclud‐ded with Prayer, I ^generally^ heard my AEvening scholars 3 ^T^ Rou^n^d, And as they ^go^ out the School, every one that Can Spell, is obligd to spell a word, and So go out Leaſurely one after another, — I Catechiſed
3 or 4 Times a weeks according to the Aſembly's Shor^t^er C[illegible]atechiſm, and many Times Propoſ'd Queſtions of my own, and in my own Tonugue, — I found Som 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 Diſtingu^iſh^ the Sounds by the Ear, but their Eyes Can't Diſtinguiſh the Letters, and the way I took to cure 'em, was by taking making an Alhphabet on Small bits of paper, and glued them on Small Chips of Cedar, after this manner [illegible] A B ^[right]&c. I put theſe on^ ^[right]Letters in order on^ a Bench, than point to one Letter and bid a Child to take notice
of it, and then I dorder the Child to fetch me the Letter from ye Ben^ch^ if it Brings the Letter, it is well, if not it muſt go again and again till it bring ^ye^ right Lr Wheny they Can bring any of 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 'em; and they Soon learn their letters this way — I freequently Diſcouſd or [illegible]Exhorted 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 generaly Sung Dr Watts's Psalms or Hymns, I diſting^ly^, read the Psalm or Hymn firſt, and then give the meaning of it to them, after that sing, then Pray, and Sing again, after Prayr
then proceed to Read Some Sutable portion of Scripture, and So Juſt give the plain Senſe of it, in Familiar Diſcourſe and applyd to them, [illegible]So Con [illegible]clude with Pray, and Singing, In the after-Noon 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 Indians and many were hopefully Converted to the Saving knowledge of god a in J[illegible] It is to be obſerved, before Mr Horton left theſe Indians they had Some Prejudices infuſd in their minds, by Some Inthuſiaſtical Exhorters from N. England, againſt Mr Horton, an[illegible] Many of 'em
had left him, by this means he was[illegible] Diſcourag'd, and Su[illegible]d a Diſmiſsion, and was diſmiſt from theſe Indians, — And being acquainted with the Enthu‐Siaſts in New England, & the make and the Diſpoſiſtions of the Indians, took a mil[illegible][guess: e] way to reclaim them, I oppoſd them not openly but let them go on in their way, and when ever I had an opportunity, I woud read Such paſages of the Scriptures, as I thought, woud Confound their Notions, [illegible] and I woud come to them with all Au‐thority, Saying thus Saith the Lord, and by this means, the Lord was pleaſd 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 o[illegible]f my Circumſtances and manner of Livineng, — I Dwelt in a wigwam, a Small Hutt, fraim^d^ with Small Poles and Coverd with Matts made of Flags, and I was oblig'd 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^ anather, they had their wood,— and I was obligd to hire my Corn Carted and my Hay alſo, — and I got my Ground Plow'd every year, which Coſt me about [illegible]^[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 uſ'd in my family I Hired or Joined with my Neighbours to go to Mill wit[illegible]h a Horſe or ox Cart, or on Horſe Back, and Some tim^es^ go^went^ my ſelf; my Family In‐creaſing faſt, and my viſiters alſo, I was obligd to Continue every way to Support my Family; I took all opper‐tunities, to get Some thing, to feed my Family daily, — I Planted my own Corn, Po‐tatoes and [illegible]Beans; I uſe to be out whoeing my Corn Some times before Sun Riſe and after my School is Diſmiſt, and by this means I was able to raiſe my own Pork, for I was alowd to keep 5 Swine, Some Mornings & Evenings I woud be out with my Hook and Line to Catch
fiſh, and in the Fall of year and in the Spring, I uſ'd my Gunn, for we livd very handy for Fowl, and I was very expert with gunn, and fed my Family with Fowl, I Coud more than pay for my Powder & Shott, with Feathers, at other Times I Bound ^old^ Books for Eaſthamp^ton^ People, Made wooden Spoons and Ladles, Stackd Guns, & workd on SCedar to make Pails, Piggans and Churns &c — beſides all theſe Difficulties I wMet with adverſe Providence^s^, I bought a Mare, had it bu^t^ little while, and She fell into the Quick Sands and Died, after a while Bought another, I kep^t^ ^her^ about half Year, and She was gone, and I never heard nor Seen her from that Day to this, it was Suppoſd Some Rogue Stold her, and got
another and Dyed with a Diſtemper, and laſt of all I Bou^t^ a Young Mare, and kept her till She had one Colt, and She broke her Leg and Died and Preſently after the Coldt Died alſo, In the whole I Loſt 5 Horſe Kind, all theſe Loſes helped to pull me down and by this Time I got greatly in Debt, and acquain^t^ed my Circumſtances to Some of my Friends, and they Repreſented my Caſe to the Commiſsioners of Boſton, and Interceeded with them for me, and [illegible]they ^were^ pleaſed to [illegible]Vote 15 for my Help; and Soon after Sent a Letter to my good Friend at N. London, acquainting him, that they had Superſeded their vote; & my Friends were So good as to repreſent my Needy Circumſta^nces^ 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 Diſpleaſ'd with him; and heard alſo once and again, that they blaimed me for being Extravagant, I Cant Conceive how theſe gentlen woud have me Live, I am ready to ^[illegible][guess: i]mputed [illegible][guess: it]^ their Ignorance, and woud wiſh they had Changd Circumſtan^es^ with me but one Month, that they may know, by experience what my Caſe really was, but I am now fully Convincd, that i[illegible]t was not Ignorance For I believ^e^ it Can be provd 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 [illegible]one [illegible]Hundred & 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 Miſsionarys, 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 Conſtrain'd) I was my own Int[illegible]erpreter I was both a CSchool maſter, and Miniſter to the Indians, yea I was their Ear, Eye & Hand, as well Mouth, — I leave it with world, as wicked as it is, to Judge, whether I ought [illegible] not to have had haldf as much, they gave a young man Juſt mention'd, which woud have been but ^£^50 ^a^ Year; and if they ought to have given me that, I am not under obligations to them, I owe them nothing at all; Now wha^t^ Can be the Reaſon? that they
uſed me after ^this^ manner; I Can't think of any thing, but this as a poor Indian Boy Said, who was Bound out to an Engliſh Family, and he uſ'd to Drive Plow for a young man, and he whipt and Beat him allmoſt every Day, and the young man found fault with him, and Complaind of him to his maſter and the poor boy was Calld to anſwere for him^ſelf^ before his maſter, — and he was aſk'd, what it was he did, Cthat he was So Complaind of and beat almoſt every Day? he Said, he did not know, but he Suppoſd it was, becauſe he Coud 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 [illegible] Time, becauſe I am an In‐dian—
So I am ready to Say, they have uſd thus, becauſe I Cant Inſtru^ct^ they Indians So well as other Miſsionaries, but I Can aſure them I have endearvourd 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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