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David Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 June 24

ms-number: 765374.2

[note (type: abstract): Fowler writes regarding the progress of his mission.][note (type: handwriting): Formal handwriting is clear and legible.][note (type: paper): Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining and wear. The central vertical crease is sharp, however, and beginning to separate. The watermark is visible on two recto.][note (type: ink): Dark-brown.][note (type: noteworthy): An unknown editor, possibly Wheelock, has written above-line corrections throughout the document; these corrections appear to be contemporary, so they have been included in the transcription. The trailer, however, appears to be 19th-century and so has not been transcribed. When Fowler refers to the place Oneida, he is likely referring to the town of Kanawalohale. To set this designation in context, the placename "Onoyda" has been tagged as Oneida in the dateline, and the reference to "this Castle" has been tagged as Kanawalohale.]

[Hon,d | Honoured]Hon,dHonoured [& | and]&and [Rev,d | Rev.]Rev,dRev. Sir
I now write you a few Lines [juſt | just]juſtjust
to inform you that I am well at [preſent | present]preſentpresent, and have [above] beenbeen [ſo ever | soever]ſo eversoever
[ſince | since]ſincesince I left your [Houſe | house]Houſehouse, [bleſsed | blessed]bleſsedblessed be God for ithis [Goodneſs | goodness]Goodneſsgoodness to me. —
— I am well contented here as long as I am in [ſuch | such]ſuchsuch great [Buſineſs | business]Buſineſsbusiness.
My Scoholars learn very well; I have put eleven into a, b, [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): absr:]absr:
I have three more that will go to that Place this week; and [ſome | some]ſomesome have
got to the [ſixth | sixth]ſixthsixth Page. — It is ten thousand Pities they [cante | can't]cantecan't
keep [togather | together]togathertogether, they are always [above] oftenoften going about to get their [Proviſion | provision]Proviſionprovision
My Father [above] one of the Chiefs atone of the Chiefs at in whose [Houſe | house]Houſehouse I keep told me, he [beleiv’d | believed]beleiv’dbelieved [ſome | some]ſomesome of the In­
dians would [ſta[above] rrve | starve]ſta[above] rrvestarve to Death thsis Summer; [ſome | some]ſomesome of them have [almoſt | almost]almoſtalmost
[conſum’d | consumed]conſum’dconsumed all their Corn already.
I came too [tale | late]talelate this Spring. I could not put [any thing | anything]any thinganything
in the Ground, I hope I [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall next Year —. I [beleive | believe]beleivebelieve I [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall
get [above] [perswade | persuade]perswadepersuade[perswade | persuade]perswadepersuade all these [above] thethe Men in this Castle[place0114.ocp] [above] atat least the[above] thethe [moſt | most]moſtmost of them to labour
next Year: They begin to [ſee | see]ſeesee now that they would live better
if they cultivate their Lands than they do now by Hunting [& | and]&and [fiſh | fish]fiſhfish­
ing: These men [above] theythey are the [lazieſt | laziest]lazieſtlaziest Crew I ever [ſaw | saw]ſawsaw in all my Days:
their Women would[above] willwill get up early in the morning and be pounding
corn for [Breakfaſt | breakfast]Breakfaſtbreakfast and they [above] the menthe men [illegible]lie [ſleeping | sleeping]ſleepingsleeping till the Victuals is [al­
moſt | al
ready and as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as the Breakfast is over the Women take
up their Axes and Hoes and way to the Fields and leave their Chil­
dren with the Men to tend; you would [above] maymay [ſee | see]ſeesee half a Dozen walking
about [above] withwith Children upon their Backs: a lazy and [ſordid | sordid]ſordidsordid Wretches,
but they [above] areare to be pitied not [frown’d | frowned]frown’dfrowned
I have been [miſerably | miserably]miſerablymiserably of for an Interpreter
I cant [above] cancan [ſay | say]ſaysay but very little to them; I hope by next Spring I
[ſhall | shall]ſhallshall be my own Interpreter.
It is very hard to live here without the other [Boon | bone]Boonbone[pers0742.ocp]; I [above] now amnow am [ob­
lig’d | ob
to [waſh | wash]waſhwash, mend, [above] my [Cloaths | cloths]Cloathsclothsmy [Cloaths | cloths]Cloathscloths cook all my Victuals and [above] [waſh | wash]waſhwash[waſh | wash]waſhwash all the things I
[uſe | use]uſeuse, which is exceeding hard; I can’t [above] employ myemploy my go into a [Feild | field]Feildfield as I [ſho[above] uuld | should]ſho[above] uuldshould
do if I had a Cook here.
I [ſhant | shant]ſhantshant be able to [illegible]employ my vacant Hours in improving up Lands as I [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould do
I [receivd | received]receivdreceived a Letter from [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp] [laſt | last]laſtlast
Sabbath [above] wherein he informs me thatwherein he informs me that but he did not inform me how he was, he only gave
an account how he was treated by Indians that accompanied
him up. The Indians left him with all his heavy Pack; he had
the [moſt | most]moſtmost [fatigueing | fatiguing]fatigueingfatiguing Journey this Time he ever had before: —
He [deſigns | designs]deſignsdesigns to come down to get [Proviſion | provision]Proviſionprovision and if he dont, he will
eat no Bread till Indian [Harveſt | harvest]Harveſtharvest: and his Meat; [mearly | nearly]mearlynearly rotten
having no Salt. — “He has [ſwap’d | swapped]ſwap’dswapped away the l[illegible]ittle [Poney | pony]Poneypony
which I did not know before.”
“I [beleive | believe]beleivebelieve, I [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall come down latter end of [Au
guſt | Au
but I [ſhall | shall]ſhallshall tarry a little while with you. I [deſign | design]deſigndesign to
[haſten | hasten]haſtenhasten up here again; I [ſ[illegible]hall | shall]ſ[illegible]hallshall make this Place my Home as
long as I live. — Give my kind Respects to Mrs Wheelock[pers0577.ocp],
Love to your Children and to all the Scholars.”
And may the [Bleſsings | blessings]Bleſsingsblessings of Heaven [reſt | rest]reſtrest on you, [above] [&c | etc.]&cetc. [&c | etc.]&cetc.[&c | etc.]&cetc. [&c | etc.]&cetc.
and [illegible]conti[above] nuenue you a long [& | and]&and rich [Bleſsing | blessing]Bleſsingblessing in the World, may the Hea­
then in the [Wilderneſs | wilderness]Wilderneſswilderness feel [above] thethe [goodneſs | goodness]goodneſsgoodness of thy Labours — May [above] youyou have
double [Meaſure | measure]Meaſuremeasure of [above] thethe Spirit of God, and fill your Heart with
Love of [illegible] God and [Compaſſion | compassion]Compaſſioncompassion to poor [periſhing | perishing]periſhingperishing Souls. — and
may the Giver of all things, give Strength and Health,
Wisdom and Authority to rule and govern and [theach | teach]theachteach
those thatwho are [commited | committed]commitedcommitted to your Care in Fear of
the Lord: which is the [ſincere | sincere]ſinceresincere [above] PrayerPrayer of him who [deſires | desires]deſiresdesires
the Continuance of your Prayers.
your affectionate,
[tho: | though]tho:though unworthy Pupil,

David Fowler[pers0155.ocp].
to [Revd | Rev.]RevdRev. [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Eleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]
[note (type: editorial): Blank page.][note (type: editorial): Not transcribed.]

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.


Kanawalohale was a village located in the present-day town of Vernon in central New York state. In the 18th century, it was an Oneida village located about 60 miles west of the Mohawk village Canajoharie. Because the village’s name was similar to the Mohawk village of Canajoharie, many sources conflate the two. Founded in the mid-18th century, Kanawalohale was made up of a cluster of about 40 homes along the Oneida Creek, south of Oneida Lake. The name means head on a post in reference to an enemy soldier's skull displayed in the village. In 1765, David Fowler established an Indian school in Kanawalohale, where Wheelock’s son, Ralph, worked. Between the years of 1765 and 1767, Kanawalohale hosted many of Wheelock's missionaries including Samuel Kirkland, Joseph Johnson, David Avery, and Aaron Kinne. The Indians of Kanawalohale used their relationship with missionaries such as Kirkland to gain prestige over the formerly central Oneida village, Old Oneida. Kirkland often wrote in his journal about the dialogues he had with the Indians at Kanawalohale, who refused to receive his teachings silently. The Christian Indian population grew throughout the 1760s with at least 200 Indians attending church in the village. In 1780, Joseph Brant, a Mohawk allied with the British, led a war party against the revolting colonists, with whom the Oneidas had allied, that destroyed the Oneida village of Kanawalohale. This area is known today as Oneida Castle.

Fowler, David

David Fowler was Jacob Fowler's older brother, Samson Occom's brother-in-law, and an important leader of the Brothertown Tribe. He came to Moor's in 1759, at age 24, and studied there until 1765. While at school, he accompanied Occom on a mission to the Six Nations in 1761. He was licensed as a school master in the 1765 mass graduation, and immediately went to the Six Nations to keep school, first at Oneida and then at Kanawalohale. Fowler saw himself as very close to Wheelock, but their relationship fragmented over the course of Fowler's mission, primarily because Wheelock wrote back to Kirkland, with whom Fowler clashed, but not to Fowler, and because Wheelock refused to reimburse Fowler for some expenses on his mission (767667.4 provides the details most clearly). Fowler went on to teach school at Montauk, and played a major role in negotiations with the Oneidas for the lands that became Brothertown. He was among the first wave of immigrants to that town, and held several important posts there until his death in 1807.

Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)

Hannah Fowler (née Garrett) was a Pequot woman who married David Fowler. The Garrett family boasted sachems and interpreters and was influential among the Stonington Pequots. Hannah grew up among the Charlestown Narragansetts, as her parents had affiliated with that tribe (a not-uncommon occurrence, given the close ties between the groups, especially in the realm of Christian spirituality). At Charlestown, Hannah received her basic education and was recruited for Moor’s Indian Charity School. She studied at the school from 1763 until she married David Fowler in 1766. Hannah and David’s marriage is especially noteworthy because it is the only instance where a female Moor’s student married a Native American missionary from Moor’s and joined him on missions — which had been Wheelock’s intent in admitting Native American women in the first place. Hannah assisted David on his mission to Kanawalohale from the time of their marriage in 1766 until his departure for Montauk in 1767. In 1783, the pair moved to Brothertown, where their house was the town center. Both Fowlers proved influential in town affairs, and their children and grandchildren also played a central role in the town’s administration.

Wheelock, Eleazar

Eleazar Wheelock was a New Light Congregationalist minister who founded Dartmouth College. He was born into a very typical Congregationalist family, and began studying at Yale in 1729, where he fell in with the emerging New Light clique. The evangelical network that he built in college propelled him to fame as an itinerant minister during the First Great Awakening and gave him many of the contacts that he later drew on to support his charity school for Native Americans. Wheelock’s time as an itinerant minister indirectly brought about his charity school. When the Colony of Connecticut retroactively punished itinerant preaching in 1743, Wheelock was among those who lost his salary. Thus, in 1743, he began operating a grammar school to support himself. He was joined that December by Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian, who sought out an education in hopes of becoming a teacher among his people. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to train Native Americans as missionaries. To that end, he opened Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754 (where he continued to train Anglo-American students who paid their own way as well as students who functionally indentured themselves to Wheelock as missionaries in exchange for an education). Between 1754 and 1769, when he relocated to New Hampshire, Wheelock trained approximately 60 male and female Native American students from nearby Algonquian tribes and from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) of central New York. At the same time, he navigated the complicated politics of missionary societies by setting up his own board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, although he continued to feud with the Boston Board of the SSPCK and the London Commissioners in Boston (more colloquially called the New England Company). By the late 1760s, Wheelock had become disillusioned with the idea of Native American education. He was increasingly convinced that educating Native Americans was futile (several of his students had failed to conform to his confusing and contradictory standards), and, in late 1768, he lost his connection to the Haudenosaunee. With his inclination and ability to sponsor Native American missionaries largely depleted, Wheelock sought instead to fulfill his ultimate ambition of obtaining a charter and opening a college, which he did in 1769. To fund this new enterprise, Wheelock drew on the £12,000 that Samson Occom had raised for Moor’s Indian Charity School during a two-and-a-half year tour of Great Britain (1765 to 1768). Much of this money went towards clearing land and erecting buildings in New Hampshire for the Charity School’s relocation — infrastructure that also happened to benefit Dartmouth. Many of Wheelock’s contemporaries were outraged by what they saw as misuse of the money, as it was clear that Dartmouth College was not intended for Indians and that Moor’s had become a side project. Although Wheelock tried to maintain at least some commitment to Native American education by recruiting students from Canadian communities, the move did a great deal of damage to his public image. The last decade of Wheelock’s life was not easy. In addition to the problems of trying to set up a college far away from any Anglo-American urban center, Wheelock experienced the loss of relationships with two of his most famous and successful students, Samson Occom and Samuel Kirkland (an Anglo-American protégé). He also went into debt for Dartmouth College, especially after the fund raised in Britain was exhausted.

Kirkland, Samuel

Samuel Kirkland (b. Kirtland) was Eleazar Wheelock’s most famous Anglo American student. He conducted a 40-year mission to the Oneidas and founded Hamilton College (established in 1793 as Hamilton Oneida Academy). Kirkland won acclaim as a missionary at a young age by conducting an adventurous and risky mission to the Senecas, the westernmost of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. After his year and a half among them, which was well publicized by Wheelock, he was ordained and sent as a missionary to the Oneidas under the auspices of the Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. He spent most of the rest of his life serving the Oneidas as a minister. Kirkland’s sincere devotion to serving as a missionary was excellent publicity for Wheelock’s program, but it also brought the two men into conflict. Wheelock became jealous of Kirkland when the school’s British benefactors began urging Wheelock to make Kirkland his heir, and Kirkland, meanwhile, was upset that Wheelock had failed to provide him with sufficient supplies on his mission — a complaint that he was unafraid to publicize (and that almost all of Wheelock’s other students shared). The breaking point came in 1770, when Kirkland split from Wheelock’s Connecticut Board and affiliated with the New England Company, a missionary society that had abruptly turned against Wheelock in 1765. Wheelock and Kirkland briefly made up in 1771, but their relationship quickly dissolved into further acrimony. Although Kirkland spent most of his life as a missionary to the Six Nations, he generally held disparaging views of Native Americans. He did not approve of Wheelock’s plan to educate Indians as missionaries, and was haughty towards the Moor’s alumni that worked with him (notably David Fowler, Joseph Johnson, and Joseph Woolley). Prior to the Revolution, Kirkland had been stringent in his refusals to take Oneida land, even when offered to him. The Revolution seems to have shifted his loyalties from the Oneidas to local Anglo Americans. Kirkland served as a chaplain in the American army and was instrumental in convincing the Oneidas to remain neutral (or, more accurately, to side with the Americans). At one point he was the chaplain with General Sullivan’s army, the force sent to ransack Seneca and Cayuga territory in 1779. It is unclear what emotions this aroused in Kirkland, who had served the Senecas less than 15 years earlier, yet after the war, Kirkland freely engaged in Oneida dispossession. Along with James Dean, another Wheelock alumnus with close ties to the Oneidas, Kirkland played a pivotal role in urging the Oneidas to sell land illegally to the state of New York. The land deals that resulted gave Kirkland the property, financial capital, and connections to establish Hamilton Oneida Academy. The last decades of Kirkland’s life were difficult. He found himself in a three-way battle with Samson Occom and John Sergeant Jr., who were also ministers in Oneida territory, for the hearts and minds of their congregations; he was fired as a missionary in 1797, although he continued to serve sans salary; one of his son’s business enterprises failed, leaving Kirkland nearly destitute; and two of his three sons died unexpectedly. Hamilton Oneida Academy, like Moor’s Indian Charity School, largely failed at its goal of educating Indians, and in 1812, four years after Kirkland’s death, it was re-purposed as Hamilton College, a largely Anglo-American institution. At some point in the mid-to-late 18th century, Kirkland changed his name from Kirtland, although the reasons for this are uncertain.

Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)

Mary Wheelock was born Mary Brinsmead on July 26, 1714 in Milford, Connecticut. In the year following the death of his first wife, Eleazar began to court Mary Brinsmead, and the two married on November 21, 1747. Mary and Eleazar had five children together, including John, who would succeed his father as President of Dartmouth College. Little appears in the historical record about Mary, but many of the people who wrote to Wheelock, especially his Native correspondents who often lived with the family, referred to her warmly. In September 1770, Mary dismantled her longtime home in Connecticut, and travelled with her children to the Wheelocks' new home in the wilderness of New Hampshire. They rode in a coach sent over from England by John Thornton, accompanied by 30 Charity School students on foot. Eleazar, who had gone ahead to build housing for everyone, wrote a letter to Mary with many instructions about the move; the disposition of domestic animals, people, supplies; and the acquisition of money that suggests she was an able and trustworthy manager (manuscript 770510.1; this manuscript is not included in Occom Circle documents). She died in 1784 in Hanover, New Hampshire, where she is buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery.

Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0742.ocp the other Boon bone mentioned Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)
pers0315.ocp M r Mr. Kirtland mentioned Kirkland, Samuel
pers0577.ocp Mrs Wheelock mentioned Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)
pers0155.ocp David Fowler writer Fowler, David
pers0036.ocp Eleazar Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0179.ocp Onoyda Oneida Oneida
place0114.ocp this Castle Kanawalohale

This document does not contain any tagged organizations.

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1765-06-24 June 24 1765

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
variation Onoyda Oneida
modernization Rev,d Rev.
modernization juſt just
modernization preſent present
modernization ſo ever soever
modernization ſince since
modernization Houſe house
modernization bleſsed blessed
modernization Goodneſs goodness
modernization ſuch such
modernization Buſineſs business
modernization ſome some
modernization ſixth sixth
variation cante can't
variation togather together
modernization Proviſion provision
modernization ſta[above] rrve starve
modernization almoſt almost
variation any thing anything
modernization ſhall shall
variation beleive believe
variation perswade persuade
modernization moſt most
modernization ſee see
modernization fiſh fish
modernization lazieſt laziest
modernization ſaw saw
modernization Breakfaſt breakfast
modernization ſleeping sleeping
modernization al­
modernization ſoon soon
modernization ſordid sordid
modernization miſerably miserably
modernization ſay say
variation Boon bone
modernization waſh wash
variation Cloaths cloths
modernization uſe use
variation Feild field
modernization ſho[above] uuld should
modernization ſhant shant
modernization Mr Mr.
modernization laſt last
variation fatigueing fatiguing
modernization deſigns designs
modernization Harveſt harvest
variation mearly nearly
variation Poney pony
modernization Au
modernization deſign design
modernization haſten hasten
modernization Bleſsings blessings
modernization reſt rest
modernization &c etc.
modernization Bleſsing blessing
modernization Wilderneſs wilderness
modernization goodneſs goodness
modernization Meaſure measure
modernization Compaſſion compassion
modernization periſhing perishing
variation theach teach
variation commited committed
modernization ſincere sincere
modernization deſires desires
variation tho: though
modernization Revd Rev.

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Hon,d Honoured
& and
beleiv’d believed
conſum’d consumed
frown’d frowned
receivd received
ſwap’d swapped

This document's header does not contain any mixed case attribute values.

Summary of errors found in this document:

Number of dates with invalid 'when' attributes: 0
Number of nested "hi" tags: (consider merging the @rend attributes, or using other tags) 0
Number of tags with invalid 'rend' attributes: 0 (out of 13)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 7)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 27)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 100)
HomeDavid Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1765 June 24
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