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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Isaac Dakayenensere and Adam Waonwanoron, 1765 August 19

ms-number: 765469

[note (type: abstract): Wheelock notes that he is pleased to hear the Indians want to build a mill and practice husbandry. He also recommends Jospeh Woolley as a schoolmaster.][note (type: handwriting): Handwriting is informal, small and tightly spaced, with several deletions and additions.][note (type: paper): Large sheet folded in half like a book is in good condition, with light wear and staining.][note (type: ink): Dark black-brown, the ink bleeds through to opposite sides.][note (type: noteworthy): Given the amount of deletions and additons, this is likely a draft. There is a partly illegible note added after the trailer in a different, likely 19th-century, hand; this note has not been transcribed. The identities of "David" and "Peter" are uncertain and so they have been left untagged; however, it is likely that they are David Fowler and Gwedelhes Agwirondongwas (Good Peter).]
My [Bretheren | Brethren]BretherenBrethren,
Yours of July 31.[1765-07-31] I received yesterday [& | and]&and I am
very glad to [underſtand | understand]underſtandunderstand that the Indians[org0077.ocp] hope intend to
cultivate their Lands, and that they [deſire | desire]deſiredesire [above] to have mills [& | and]&and to beto have mills [& | and]&and to be [helpd | helped]helpdhelped in [ſetting | setting]ſettingsetting
up [Huſbandry | husbandry]Huſbandryhusbandry. but am Sorry to hear of your [Diſa­
­pointment | disap­
, and of the [Miſunderſtanding | misunderstanding]Miſunderſtandingmisunderstanding that [occaſi­
­oned | occas­
it. — which was by means of an [unſkilful | unskillful]unſkilfulunskillful
Interpreter — I [underſtood | understood]underſtoodunderstood by Joseph Woolley[pers0041.ocp]
that the [Reaſon | reason]Reaſonreason why he had no more Boys to teach
[laſt | last]laſtlast winter was [becauſe | because]becauſebecause the chief man did not
favour it [illegible] [guess (h-dawnd): who]who [illegible: and] [tho't | thought]tho'tthought it not [beſt | best]beſtbest to teach them [Eng­
­liſh | Eng­
[above] andand I had [underſtood | understood]underſtoodunderstood before that [above] the Indians[org0077.ocp] the Indians[org0077.ocp] they did not
[ſeem | seem]ſeemseem to be much [diſposed | disposed]diſposeddisposed [above] toto [practiſe | practice]practiſepractice [Huſbandry | husbandry]Huſbandryhusbandry. —
and when I talked with Peter [& | and]&and David I [Repreſented | represented]Repreſentedrepresented
to Peter and David the [above] great importancegreat importance [Neceſsity | necessity]Neceſsitynecessity of [above] itit to the Indians[org0077.ocp]
[above] if they [wod | would]wodwould if they [wod | would]wodwould I told them [above] I would do all I could to help them [& | ]& thatI would do all I could to help them [& | ]& that I did not Doubt but the [Engliſh | English]EngliſhEnglish would
[aſsiſt | assist]aſsiſtassist them in Building Mills, getting Tools, and
[illegible] teach the Indians[org0077.ocp] to use them and also
set up a [Blackſmith | blacksmith]Blackſmithblacksmith Among them [&c. | etc.]&c.etc. I See
they liked it well but I did not know that
the [Reſt | rest]Reſtrest of the Indians[org0077.ocp] would. And I expected
[illegible] [above] theythey would Send me word before I did any
thing about it [above] for that I have waited forever sincefor that I have waited forever since — I sent for the Men that morn [above] as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as I [recd | received]recdreceived [y.r | your]y.r your [Litter | letter]Litterletter as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as I [recd | received]recdreceived [y.r | your]y.r your [Litter | letter]Litterletter
-ing, which [illegible: [guess (h-dawnd): whom]whom ] I had [tho'ts | thoughts]tho'tsthoughts of [Implying | employing]Implyingemploying [above] they came this morning to [ſee | see]ſeesee methey came this morning to [ſee | see]ſeesee me but the [Maſter | master]Maſtermaster
workman who [above] is a very good man isis a very good man is [illegible] [illegible] [guess (h-dawnd): well]well got into a poor state of
health, and not likely to be well enough very [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon
and also his Son is not well [& | and]&and is [juſt | just]juſtjust going to [ſea | sea]ſeasea for his

health. If [illegible] I had known what I [above] now hear from younow hear from you 4 months ago they
would likely have been [above] with youwith you about [y.e | the]y.e the [above] [illegible] [illegible] before now.
however [above] the chief workmanthe chief workman [deſires | desires]deſiresdesires [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Smith[pers0503.ocp] [& | ]& [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. [Gun | Gunn]GunGunn [pers0020.ocp] would
look [above] outout for a Suitable place [above] for the millsfor the mills and See if they can
find [above] suitablesuitable [illegible] [guess (h-dawnd): the]the Stones for a [Griſt | grist]Griſtgrist mill and also Send
me word. Whether they can [above] findfind a good Place to be
found and how far, [above] they [muſt | must]muſtmust they [muſt | must]muſtmust go for the [ſtones | stones]ſtonesstones [&c | etc.]&cetc. and
also where the Irons may be had whether nearer to you than Albany[place0001.ocp]
And they both will be ready to come [above] to youto you as Soon as
[ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as the [ſeaſon | season]ſeaſonseason and their Family State will
allow of it. provided that [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Smith[pers0503.ocp] and [M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. [Gun | Gunn]GunGunn [pers0020.ocp]
[ſhall | shall]ſhallshall write me that which is [incouraging | encouraging]incouragingencouraging, [above] [reſpecting | respecting]reſpectingrespecting the Place [reſpecting | respecting]reſpectingrespecting the Place that
the Indians[org0077.ocp] [Deſire | desire]Deſiredesire still [deſire | desire]deſiredesire it. —
#If you like [above] himhim Joseph Woolly[pers0041.ocp] for your School [Maſter | master]Maſtermaster
and will build him a House and fence him a [Lott | lot]Lottlot of
Lands [ſo | so]ſoso that he may keep a cow or two which may
give milk in the Spring, that will help these men to
live while they are about your work. —
#Joseph Woolley[pers0041.ocp] is [above] accountedaccounted a very [Honeſt | honest]Honeſthonest Young man, and
is well [accompliſshed | accomplished]accompliſshedaccomplished to teach Young Children I hope
the Indians[org0077.ocp] will be very kind to him —
I am Glad to hear of your kind Reception of
[M.r | Mr.]M.r Mr. Smith[pers0503.ocp] I hope [y.e | the]y.e the Indians[org0077.ocp] will [above] Love him muchLove him much [illegible] [guess (h-dawnd): receive]receive [& | and]&and treat
him as Gods [Meſsenger | messenger]Meſsengermessenger to you.
I give My Love to you and all among
the Indians Who Love our Lord Jesus [Chriſt | Christ]ChriſtChrist
And am
 Your Brother
Eleazar Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]
Letter to [Isaac Dakayenen­
­ſere | ]
Isaac Dakayenen­
sere [pers0013.ocp]
. and Adam
[Waoonwanoron | Waonwanoron]WaoonwanoronWaonwanoron [pers0558.ocp]

at [Onohoquagee | Onaquaga]OnohoquageeOnaquaga [place0182.ocp]
[Aug.t | August]Aug.t August 19. 1765[1765-08-19]
[note (type: editorial): Blank page.]
Onaquagas refers to the Indians who lived in Onaquaga. Onaquaga (over 50 different spellings have been documented) was a cosmopolitan Indian town on the Susquehanna River. It was initially established as an Oneida settlement by those seeking an alternative to the power politics of Kanawalohale and Old Oneida. However, from the end of the 17th century onwards it became an immigration destination for displaced Indians from a wide range of tribes. The Tuscaroras settled at Onaquaga in the early 18th century, and in the decades before the Revolution they were joined by Stockbridge Indians, Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Tutelos, Nanticokes, and others. The relationship between this town and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations was a symbiotic one: displaced peoples gained a home, and the Haudenosaunee bolstered their southern buffer zone against colonial encroachment. Between 1743 and 1775, Onaquaga was evangelized by missionaries from the New England Company (NEC), including Elihu Spencer, Gideon Hawley (especially popular, since he arrived fresh from his mission at Stockbridge), Eli Forbes, Ebenezer Moseley, and Aaron Crosby. A rich indigenous Christian tradition also developed in the town under the guidance of Isaac Dakayenensere and Gwedelhes Agwirondongwas (Good Peter). Onaquaga earned a reputation as an especially Christian, Anglicized town. Its citizens were adept at manipulating their religion towards political ends and negotiating the tricky conflicts between missionary societies (for instance, Eleazar Wheelock’s feud with the New England Company, which manifested itself in 1765 when both sent young missionaries to Onaquaga). From the late 1760s onward, Onaquaga’s cosmopolitan composition proved to be its undoing. The community was fragmented by disputes over the extent of Christian practice and the proper style of Christian practice, with Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant (who owned a farm at Onaquaga) urging Episcopalianism and the NEC urging Congregationalism. An influx of Mohawk immigrants in the years after the 1768 Fort Stanwix treaty led the Onaquagas to side with the Crown in the Revolution, rather than with the colonies as most Oneida towns did, and it became Joseph Brant’s base of operations. The town was utterly destroyed in 1778 in the wave of violence that culminated in General Sullivan’s ravaging of Cayuga and Seneca territory. The area was resettled by Americans after the Revolution, and today it is the town of Windsor, NY.

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.


Onaquaga (more than 50 different spellings have been documented) was a cosmopolitan Indian town on the Susquehanna River, now the site of the town of Windsor, New York. It was initially established as an Oneida settlement by those seeking an alternative to the power politics of Kanawalohale, the new chief village of the Oneidas, and Old Oneida, the former capital. However, from the end of the 17th century onwards it became an immigration destination for displaced Indians from a wide range of tribes. Yet, from the late 1760s onward, Onaquaga’s cosmopolitan composition proved to be its undoing. The community was fragmented by disputes over the extent and the proper style of Christian practice, with Sir William Johnson and Joseph Brant (who owned a farm at Onaquaga) urging Episcopalianism and the New England Company urging Congregationalism. An influx of Mohawk immigrants in the years after the 1768 Fort Stanwix treaty led the inhabitants of Onaquaga to side with the Crown in the Revolution, rather than with the colonies as most Oneida towns did, and it became Joseph Brant’s base of operations. The town was destroyed by the Continental Army in 1778 as part of the wave of violent retaliation for British and Indian attacks on frontier communities that culminated in General Sullivan’s ravaging of Cayuga and Seneca territory. The area was resettled by Americans after the Revolution.


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.

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.

Dakayenensere, Isaac

Isaac Dakayenensere was a chief and spiritual leader at Onaquaga. Dakayenensere worked closely with Good Peter to minister to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) community at Onaquaga, a predominantly Oneida town with a diverse population. After converting during the 1740s, both men took up the mantle of evangelism and Christian education at Onaquaga. They cooperated with Gideon Hawley, an Anglo-American missionary, throughout his missions in the 1750s, and in the 1760s they began writing to Wheelock for missionaries and assistance with farming. They received Joseph Woolley, who kept school at Onaquaga from late August/early September of 1765 until his death at the end of that November, but they do not seem to have received the promised farming assistance. Dakayenensere’s daughter, Neggen Aoghyatonghsera (alias Margaret or Peggie) married Joseph Brant, a Moor’s alumnus and famous Mohawk war chief. In some scholarship, Isaac is misidentified as a Mohawk.

Waonwanoron, Adam

A resident of the Oneida community in Onaquaga, New York, and cosigner, with Isaac Dakayenensere, of correspondence with Wheelock requesting advice on and assistance with farming, milling, and religious education.

Woolley, Joseph

Joseph Woolley was a Delaware who died of consumption while keeping school at Onaquaga. He came to Wheelock in 1757 as a replacement for John Pumshire, and although Wheelock labeled him as "fit for college" in late 1761, he never attended. In the fall of 1764, Joseph went to the Six Nations with Kirkland to learn the Mohawk language and keep school, and in March 1765, he was officially approved as a schoolmaster and returned to Onaquaga to teach. He was very popular there, but died unexpectedly in late November 1765. Joseph was engaged to Hannah Garrett, who later married David Fowler, but a letter from David (765302.2) suggests that Joseph may also have pursued Amy (David's object of interest before Hannah).

Smith, Titus

Titus Smith was a Yale graduate whom Wheelock trained and ordained as a missionary and sent to the Six Nations with the 1765 mission. Together with Theophilus Chamberlain, a Yale student with whom he was examined and ordained, Smith led the band of newly-examined schoolteachers and ushers into the Six Nations to set up day schools. After Ebenezer Moseley replaced him, Smith retired from the missionary life and became an itinerant preacher in Connecticut until 1768, when he converted to Sandemanianism and was re-ordained. Because of his religion (Sandemanians opposed violence), as well as his Tory politics, Smith found himself in danger when the Revolution broke out. His family fled to Long Island, and from there to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Smith lived out his remaining years.

Gunn, Elisha

Elisha Gunn was a gunsmith who resided in Onaquaga for a number of years and served as an interpreter for several different missionary societies. Although he was a well-known interpreter in missionary circles, there is little information about him. He is identified as a resident of Montague, MA, where his three children were born, but he and his family seem to have spent much of the 1760s living in Onaquaga. It is unclear where Gunn learned Haunenosaunee (Iroquois) languages, but his services were certainly in high demand: he was the interpreter over whom the Connecticut Board of the SSPCK and the Boston Board of the New England Company clashed in 1765. One of Wheelock's main goals was to train missionaries who could serve as their own interpreters, because he believed that existing interpreters were too scarce, too expensive, and too untrained in theology. What little we know of Gunn certainly supports Wheelock's arguments. He seems to have been one of the few available interpreters (if not the only one), his services cost the New England Company £50 sterling a year (more than three times Occom's salary at the same time), and his surviving letters show a reliance on extremely phonetic spelling and suggest a lack of formal education. NB: One genealogical website puts Gunn's birth year at 1723, a decade earlier. It would be easy for a researcher to mix 1723 and 1733, especially if the record is poorly written, and neither year is unreasonable.

Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0041.ocp Joseph Woolley mentioned Woolley, Joseph
pers0503.ocp M. r Mr. Smith mentioned Smith, Titus
pers0020.ocp M. r Mr. Gun Gunn mentioned Gunn, Elisha
pers0041.ocp Joseph Woolly mentioned Woolley, Joseph
pers0036.ocp Eleazar Wheelock writer Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0013.ocp Isaac Dakayenen­ ­ſere Dakayenen­ sere recipient Dakayenensere, Isaac
pers0558.ocp Adam Waoonwanoron Waonwanoron recipient Waonwanoron, Adam

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0122.ocp Lebanon Lebanon
place0001.ocp Albany Albany
place0182.ocp Onohoquagee Onaquaga Onaquaga

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0077.ocp Indians Onaquagas
org0077.ocp the Indians Onaquagas

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1765-08-19 Aug.t August 1765
1765-07-31 July 31.
1765-08-19 Aug.t August 19. 1765

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
variation Bretheren Brethren
modernization underſtand understand
modernization deſire desire
variation helpd helped
modernization ſetting setting
modernization Huſbandry husbandry
variation Diſa­
modernization Miſunderſtanding misunderstanding
modernization occaſi­
variation unſkilful unskillful
modernization underſtood understood
modernization Reaſon reason
modernization laſt last
modernization becauſe because
modernization beſt best
modernization Eng­
modernization ſeem seem
modernization diſposed disposed
variation practiſe practice
modernization Repreſented represented
modernization Neceſsity necessity
variation wod would
modernization Engliſh English
modernization aſsiſt assist
modernization Blackſmith blacksmith
modernization &c. etc.
modernization Reſt rest
modernization ſoon soon
variation Litter letter
variation Implying employing
modernization ſee see
modernization Maſter master
modernization juſt just
modernization ſea sea
modernization y.e the
modernization deſires desires
modernization M.r Mr.
modernization and
variation Gun Gunn
modernization Griſt grist
modernization muſt must
modernization ſtones stones
modernization &c etc.
modernization ſeaſon season
modernization ſhall shall
variation incouraging encouraging
modernization reſpecting respecting
modernization Deſire desire
modernization Lott lot
modernization ſo so
modernization Honeſt honest
modernization accompliſshed accomplished
modernization Meſsenger messenger
modernization Chriſt Christ
variation Waoonwanoron Waonwanoron
variation Onohoquagee Onaquaga

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Aug.t August
& and
tho't thought
recd received
y.r your
tho'ts thoughts

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 14)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 22)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 27)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 111)
HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to Isaac Dakayenensere and Adam Waonwanoron, 1765 August 19
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