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Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Robert Keen, 1767 July 27

ms-number: 767427.2

[note (type: abstract): Wheelock writes of the desperate situation faced by Samuel Kirkland and the Indians at Oneida. He quotes liberally from Kirkland's letters, and mentions that David Fowler has undertaken a 400-mile journey on foot to secure aid.][note (type: handwriting): The body of the letter is in an unknown hand that is clear and formal; this handwriting is not Wheelock's. The trailer, and a postscript added to the center of the paper between one recto and two verso, is in Wheelock's hand, which is small, cramped and difficult to decipher.][note (type: paper): Large single sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.][note (type: ink): The letter bears two different inks: a brown ink in which the body of the letter is written, and a brown-black ink that Wheelock uses in his postscript.][note (type: noteworthy): The letter references the birth of David Fowler’s son. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “skipple” as three pecks; it is a Dutch word that appears from 1685 until 1901 in New England. OED: Stroud is a type of cloth, and stroud blankets often appear as items to trade to Native Americans. ]

Dear Sir
When [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp] left me [laſt | last]laſtlast Spring, he
[ſuppoſed | supposed]ſuppoſedsupposed that I had [ſupplied | supplied]ſuppliedsupplied him [ſufficiently | sufficiently]ſufficientlysufficiently to
make him and the [School Maſters | schoolmasters]School Maſtersschoolmasters comfortable [till | 'til]till'til
the Fall. A few Weeks after his Arrival [Joſeph | Joseph]JoſephJoseph
[Johnſon | Johnson]JohnſonJohnson[pers0288.ocp]
and Jacob Fowler[pers0018.ocp] [ſat | set]ſatset out for New England[place0158.ocp],
and arrived as you may [ſee | see]ſeesee by [ſome | some]ſomesome late Letters
I wrote you, the Copies of which I have not here
with me. They informed me, that [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp] was
like to be [ſhorter | shorter]ſhortershorter of it for Money than he expected.
I was then [ſick | sick]ſicksick— and determined, as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as I was
able, to take this Tour, to try to [ſupply | supply]ſupplysupply him, without
[ſending | sending]ſendingsending home, as I was loth to draw any more Bills
[till | 'til]till'til I could have Advice from you. But last
Eveneing David Fowler[pers0155.ocp] came to me, fatigued with
a Journey of upwards above 400 Miles on foot,
which he performed in 10 Days, and brings Let­
ters, containing an affecting Account, from [Mr | Mr.]MrMr.
— (which are too tedious to [tranſcribe | transcribe]tranſcribetranscribe) in­
forming me of his [diſtreſsing | distressing]diſtreſsingdistressing [Circumſtances | circumstances]Circumſtancescircumstances on
Account of the great Scarcity of [Proviſions | provisions]Proviſionsprovisions, or
Famine, in that Country—
In a Letter of the 5th [inſtant | instant]inſtantinstant[1767-07-05] he writes—
—"I want the Bosom of a Father beyond
"[Expreſsion | expression]Expreſsionexpression— I am [diſtreſsed | distressed]diſtreſseddistressed to know what I shall
"do— The [preſent | present]preſentpresent extreme Poverty of [theſe | these]theſethese poor
"People cries aloud for the Charity of God's Children—
"Two years ago their Corn was cut off by the [Froſt | frost]Froſtfrost
"[Laſt | Last]LaſtLast year [deſtroyed | destroyed]deſtroyeddestroyed by the Vermin— and Worms

"threaten the [Deſtruction | destruction]Deſtructiondestruction of one half of the [preſent | present]preſentpresent
"Crop— Many of them for a Month past have
"eat but once a Day, and yet continue to work
"Corn and Wheat at the German [Flats | Flatts]FlatsFlatts[place0084.ocp] from [ſix | six]ſixsix
"Shillings to a Dollar a Skipple, (i.e. 3 Pecks)
"and little to be [purchaſed | purchased]purchaſedpurchased for Love or Money.
"Eight of the poor [diſtreſsed | distressed]diſtreſseddistressed Creatures [ſat | set]ſatset out this
"Morning for the [Tuſcaroraes | Tuscaroras]TuſcaroraesTuscaroras[org0104.ocp] to buy Corn for their
"hungry Families. They carry each a new [ſtroud | stroud]ſtroudstroud
"Blanket, worth twenty Shillings, and tell me they
"expect to get no more than a Skipple of Corn [a piece | apiece]a pieceapiece
"What a fine Opportunity is here for the People of
"God to [diſtinguish | distinguish]diſtinguishdistinguish [themſelves | themselves]themſelvesthemselves from the World by [Expreſ | expres]Expreſexpres­
"sions of their Charity at this Juncture towards [theſe | these]theſethese
"[periſhing | perishing]periſhingperishing Creatures. A little of it would ring [thro' | through]thro'through
"the Nations[org0090.ocp], and [raiſe | raise]raiſeraise their Esteem of [Chriſtianity | Christianity]ChriſtianityChristianity
—"From Week to Week I am obliged to go
"eeling with the Indians at Oneida Lake[place0181.ocp] for my
"[Subſiſtence | subsistence]Subſiſtencesubsistence. I have lain and [ſlept | slept]ſleptslept with them [till | 'til]till'til
"I am as [louſy | lousy]louſylousy as a Dog— [feaſted | feasted]feaſtedfeasted and [ſtarved | starved]ſtarvedstarved with
"them as their Luck depends upon Wind and Weather.—
"If it [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould be asked, why they don't [ſupport | support]ſupportsupport me, the
"[Anſwer | answer]Anſweranswer is ready, they can't [ſupport | support]ſupportsupport [themſelves | themselves]themſelvesthemselves.
"They are now half [ſtarved | starved]ſtarvedstarved. Some of them have no
"more than two Quarts of Corn—
—"David Fowler[pers0155.ocp] [ſat | set]ſatset out about 12 Days ago for
Fort Stanwix[place0081.ocp] by Way of the Lake for the Sake of
"eeling. His Wife[pers0742.ocp]'s Hour being [ſomewhat | somewhat]ſomewhatsomewhat [ſooner | sooner]ſoonersooner
"than was expected, called for Women's Help— and
"is now hearty, with a [ſtately | stately]ſtatelystately young Boy in her
"Lap— will probably move from the Lake tomor­

"row to Fort Stanwix[place0081.ocp], where I expect to [ſupport | support]ſupportsupport
"her a Month or longer.—
— "I fear my appearing in [ſuch | such]ſuchsuch a [ſervile | servile]ſervileservile
"beggarly Manner, will very much [diſserve | disserve]diſservedisserve the
"[Deſign | design]Deſigndesign in View— But I [muſt | must]muſtmust [deſiſt | desist]deſiſtdesist— must
"go down to the Lake for Eels this Day, and return
"[to morrow | tomorrow]to morrowtomorrow to hill my Corn and Potatoes. But
"one Thing I may not omit. I shall be [diſtreſsed | distressed]diſtreſseddistressed for
"£20— the 1st of [Auguſt | August]AuguſtAugust[1767-08-01], or [ſell | sell]ſellsell my Cows, and make
"over my [Horſe | horse]Horſehorse and Watch—
— "The Indians generally abide by the Agree­
"ment they made [laſt | last]laſtlast Winter to leave off their Drun­
"[kenneſs | kenness]kenneſskenness in this Town."—
The 13th [Inſtant | instant]Inſtantinstant[1767-07-13] he writes—
—"Through the tender Mercies of God I enjoy
"[ſome | some]ſomesome degree of Health [amidſt | amidst]amidſtamidst all my Trou­
"bles and [Diſtreſses | distress]Diſtreſsesdistress, though my Strength begins
"to fail— can't [ſubſiſt | subsist]ſubſiſtsubsist long without Relief—
"I have eat no [Fleſh | flesh]Fleſhflesh in my own [Houſe | house]Houſehouse for nigh
"8 Weeks. Flour and Milk with a few Eels has
"been my living— Such Diet with my hard
"Labour abroad, don't [ſatisfy | satisfy]ſatisfysatisfy Nature— My poor
"People are [almoſt | almost]almoſtalmost [ſtarved | starved]ſtarvedstarved to Death. I am grieved
"at the Heart for them. There is one Family [con­
ſiſting | con­
of four I [muſt | must]muſtmust [ſupport | support]ſupportsupport (after my Fashion)
"till Squashes come on, or they [muſt | must]muſtmust [periſh | perish]periſhperish. They
"have had nothing [theſe | these]theſethese 10 Days but what I have
"given them, They have only each an old Blanket
"not worth [ſix pence | sixpence]ſix pencesixpence wherewith to buy [any Thing | anything]any Thinganything,

"and begging here at this [Seaſon | season]Seaſonseason would be very poor
[Buſineſs | business]Buſineſsbusiness. I would [myſelf | myself]myſelfmyself be glad of the Opportunity
"to fall upon my Knees for [ſuch | such]ſuchsuch a Bone as I have
"often [ſeen | seen]ſeenseen [caſt | cast]caſtcast to the Dogs—
—"My leaving the People, and rambling
"[ſo | so]ſoso often, very much hurts the [Deſign | design]Deſigndesign of my [Miſsion | mission]Miſsionmission,
"and gives me [ſo | so]ſoso much [Diſtreſs | distress]Diſtreſsdistress, that I enjoy very
"little Peace— Glad [ſhould | should]ſhouldshould I be, if it were [con­
ſiſtent | con­
, to [reſign | resign]reſignresign my [Commiſsion | commission]Commiſsioncommission— But I had rather
"die than leave [theſe | these]theſethese poor Creatures alone in their
"[miſerable | miserable]miſerablemiserable [periſhing | perishing]periſhingperishing Condition— I beg for God's
"Sake the [Goſpel | Gospel]GoſpelGospel may be [ſupported | supported]ſupportedsupported [amongſt | amongst]amongſtamongst them
"as it ought to be, for a Trial, and the Lord [ſend | send]ſendsend
"by whom he will— I believe there are two [Chriſ | Chris]ChriſChris­
"tians, [above] herehere and hope I have found a third [to day | today]to daytoday. [Bleſsed | Blessed]BleſsedBlessed
"be God for this Encouragement. My Heart revives—
"I had a Meeting with the Indians [laſt | last]laſtlast Evening—
"might tell you [ſome | some]ſomesome Things very agreeable and encou­
"raging, had I Time. But I am quite beat out—
"have had little or no Sleep [theſe | these]theſethese 3 Nights for
"the Gnats and [Moſchettoes | mosquitos]Moſchettoesmosquitos— I cannot keep my
"Eye open to write—
"P.S. the 14th[1767-07-14]— I was never more fatigued in my
"Life than [laſt | last]laſtlast Evening— David[pers0155.ocp] is going down for
"Relief, without which I shall [periſh | perish]periſhperish [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon. My
"Nature is [almoſt | almost]almoſtalmost broke— My Spirits low— My
"Heart bleeds for [theſe | these]theſethese poor [miſerable | miserable]miſerablemiserable Wretches—

David Fowler[pers0155.ocp] informs me, that the [Oneidaes | Oneidas]OneidaesOneidas[org0075.ocp]
have laboured more this Year on their Lands
than they ever did before— that just before he
came away they unanimously agreed to help
[Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp] in [howing | hoeing]howinghoeing his Corn, Potatoes and
Beans— and performed it well—

[right] July [ | 29th]29..th29th[1767-07-29] this Day Sent David Fowler[pers0155.ocp] away the [Shorteſt | shortest]Shorteſtshortest [courſe | course]courſecourse to [onida | Oneida]onidaOneida[place0179.ocp] with £4[illegible]5.4..8. Sterling,, for
[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp]s [preſent | present]preſentpresent [releif | relief]releifrelief. but I apprehend that it is not [beſt | best]beſtbest that [above] nono [School Maſters | schoolmasters]School Maſtersschoolmasters be not Sent [above] backback till
their [preſent | present]preſentpresent [preſsing | pressing]preſsingpressing [Neceſsities | necessities]Neceſsitiesnecessities for Support of the Indians be Supplied. Who knows w[illegible]hat Good God [above] maymay mercifully
[deſign | design]deſigndesign [above] forfor them by their [preſent | present]preſentpresent [diſtreſses | distress]diſtreſsesdistress.— } I have Sent duplicates of my [accots | accounts]accotsaccounts with many Letters [& | and]&and copies But [ha' | have]ha'have had nothing [f.r y.o | from you]f.r y.ofrom you
Since march 22[1767-03-22]— hope to hear before I leave these parts pray dear [ſir | sir]ſirsir let me hear [f.r | from]f.rfrom
[y.o | you]y.oyou as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as may be. pray without [ceaſing | ceasing]ceaſingceasing for, dear [ſir | Sir]ſirSir, [yrſ | yours]yrſyours most heartily [illegible][guess (maggiec): [Brth.r | Brother]Brth.rBrother][Brth.r | Brother]Brth.rBrother Salute in my name [moſt | most]moſtmost [reſpectfully | respectfully]reſpectfullyrespectfully [thoſe | those]thoſethose worthy
[Gentn | Gentlemen]GentnGentlemen of [y.e | the]y.ethe Trust[org0103.ocp] [wth | with]wthwith [D.r | Dr.]D.rDr. [illegible][guess (maggiec): [Mſsrs | Messrs.]MſsrsMessrs.][Mſsrs | Messrs.]MſsrsMessrs. w[illegible] d. Smith [w.m | William]w.mWilliam I hope to [ſee | see]ſeesee [yſ | this]yſthis fall—
July [ | 29th]29..th29th[1767-07-29] this Day Sent David Fowler[pers0155.ocp] away the [Shorteſt | shortest]Shorteſtshortest [courſe | course]courſecourse to [onida | Oneida]onidaOneida[place0179.ocp] with £4[illegible]5.4..8. Sterling,, for
[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp]s [preſent | present]preſentpresent [releif | relief]releifrelief. but I apprehend that it is not [beſt | best]beſtbest that [above] nono [School Maſters | schoolmasters]School Maſtersschoolmasters be not Sent [above] backback till
their [preſent | present]preſentpresent [preſsing | pressing]preſsingpressing [Neceſsities | necessities]Neceſsitiesnecessities for Support of the Indians be Supplied. Who knows w[illegible]hat Good God [above] maymay mercifully
[deſign | design]deſigndesign [above] forfor them by their [preſent | present]preſentpresent [diſtreſses | distress]diſtreſsesdistress.— } I have Sent duplicates of my [accots | accounts]accotsaccounts with many Letters [& | and]&and copies But [ha' | have]ha'have had nothing [f.r y.o | from you]f.r y.ofrom you
Since march 22[1767-03-22]— hope to hear before I leave these parts pray dear [ſir | sir]ſirsir let me hear [f.r | from]f.rfrom
[y.o | you]y.oyou as [ſoon | soon]ſoonsoon as may be. pray without [ceaſing | ceasing]ceaſingceasing for, dear [ſir | Sir]ſirSir, [yrſ | yours]yrſyours most heartily [illegible][guess (maggiec): [Brth.r | Brother]Brth.rBrother][Brth.r | Brother]Brth.rBrother Salute in my name [moſt | most]moſtmost [reſpectfully | respectfully]reſpectfullyrespectfully [thoſe | those]thoſethose worthy
[Gentn | Gentlemen]GentnGentlemen of [y.e | the]y.ethe Trust[org0103.ocp] [wth | with]wthwith [D.r | Dr.]D.rDr. [illegible][guess (maggiec): [Mſsrs | Messrs.]MſsrsMessrs.][Mſsrs | Messrs.]MſsrsMessrs. w[illegible] d. Smith [w.m | William]w.mWilliam I hope to [ſee | see]ſeesee [yſ | this]yſthis fall—

[left] Letter to [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Keen[pers0301.ocp]
July. 28. 1767[1767-07-28].
Letter to [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Keen[pers0301.ocp]
July. 28. 1767[1767-07-28].

from [Boſton | Boston]BoſtonBoston[place0013.ocp]
Trust in England
The Trust in England was an organization formed in 1766 to safeguard money raised by Samson Occom and Nathaniel Whitaker on their fundraising tour of Great Britain. Initially, no trust had been planned, but less than a year into their trip, Occom and Whitaker had raised so much money it became clear that a trust was necessary to keep the money raised reputable and thus protect the images of those involved. On November 28, 1766, a trust was formed consisting of William Legge (the Earl of Dartmouth), Baron Smyth, John Thornton, Samuel Roffey, Charles Hardey, Daniel West, Samuel Savage, Josiah Robarts, and Robert Keen. These men all had prominent public reputations, and by association provided a guarantee that funds would be used for the purposes for which they had been given. All told, Occom and Whitaker raised nearly £10,000 (not including £2,000 in Scotland, which was put under the control of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge), a far greater sum than initially projected. The amount raised attracted intense public scrutiny and, given that its members had tied their reputations to the money’s collection and maintenance, the trust became enormously concerned with how Wheelock would employ it. Despite a minor scandal involving an impolitic and ultimately abandoned plan to transmit funds to America by buying trade goods and selling them at a profit, Wheelock and the English Trust managed to avoid any serious breach until March 1770, when Wheelock informed the men in England that he had obtained a charter for Dartmouth College. Wheelock had tried to get a charter for Moor’s Indian Charity School in Connecticut throughout the late 1750s and early 1760s, and there were two components to his plan: he wanted to move the school to a place where he could have room to expand, and he wanted to obtain a charter to open a college. The English Trust supported the first goal, but not the second, as a charter would interfere with its control of the funds. Wheelock was determined to have his charter, however, and when the time came, he told the English Trust only about his plan to move. The trust helped Wheelock select New Hampshire as the site for his relocation, but it did not learn about the charter -- granted by New Hampshire governor John Wentworth, with whom Wheelock had been secretly negotiating -- until more than three months after it had been issued. Adding insult to injury, Wheelock, without consultation, named the college after Lord Dartmouth, informing the man himself after the fact. (After the charter was issued, Dartmouth never wrote to Wheelock again.) The members of the English Trust were outraged; to placate them, Wheelock made superficial motions to keep Moor’s and Dartmouth separate, though in practice the institutions were one and the same. Despite its displeasure, the English Trust continued to honor Wheelock’s requests for money until 1775, when the fund ran out. It also drew from the fund to support Occom, whom it believed Wheelock had mistreated, and Kirkland, whom it saw as more faithful to the design of Christianizing Indians than Wheelock. Once the fund ran out, Thornton and Savage continued to provide Wheelock with some financial assistance when he found himself in debt.
Tuscarora Nation
The Tuscarora Nation is an Algonquian-speaking group related to the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples, who migrated south and occupied lands on the Roanoke, Neuse, Taw, and Pamlico Rivers in North Carolina. Their name means “hemp gatherers,” from the Apocynum cunnabinum, or Indian hemp, a plant native to the area and used for many purposes by the Tuscaroras. They became populous and powerful, expanding their territory and establishing many large towns. But European settlers arrived who did not recognize their land rights, and met Tuscaroran resistance with broken treaties, kidnapping, rape, murder, enslavement of children, and appropriation of their towns. From 1711 to 1713, the Tuscaroras fought two devastating wars with the colonists of North Carolina, who were aided by settlers from South Carolina, Virginia, and the colonists’ Indian allies. Many Tuscaroras were killed, while others were sold into slavery. About 1,500 remaining Tuscaroras asked the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee for sponsorship and were accepted by the Oneidas, migrating north to live in central New York and Pennsylvania. In 1722, they became the sixth nation of the Confederacy. Another 1,500 sought refuge in Virginia, the majority of those ultimately returning to North Carolina, where the reservation set aside for them was eventually appropriated piecemeal by settlers. By the time of Occom's first mission to the Oneidas in 1761, the Haudenosaunee had been missionized by the French, the British, and colonial missionaries from the New England Company. The Tuscaroras were closely associated with their sponsors and neighbors, the Oneidas, but while the Oneidas welcomed missionaries and established their own Christian practice, the Tuscaroras did not. In 1764, Wheelock sent Occom north specifically to missionize to the Mohawks, Oneidas, and Tuscaroras. The missionary Samuel Kirkland reported that one Tuscarora sachem “continues to oppose & reproach the work of god with all his might, & uses every Artifice to dissuade his people from attending divine worship within here.” During the Revolutionary War, some of the Tuscaroras and Oneidas allied with the Americans while the majority of the Confederacy supported the British, and these pro-British Indians formed the main forces that attacked frontier settlements of the central Mohawk and Cherry valleys. The pro-British Tuscaroras followed Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant north to to Ontario, establishing the reserve of the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. In 1803, a final group of southern Tuscaroras migrated to New York to the Tribe’s reservation in the town of Lewiston, Niagara County, NY. They are a federally recognized Tribe.
Six Nations
The Six Nations (often called the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois) is a confederacy composed of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas, and Tuscaroras. The first five tribes unified at some point before European contact (dates differ by centuries), and the Tuscaroras joined them in 1722, after colonial violence drove the tribe out of Carolina. The Haudenosaunee occupied much of what is now central New York, and, thus, were sandwiched between French, English, and Dutch territories. They allied with the English against the French early on, just as their arch-enemies, the Huron, allied with the French. Despite the Six Nations’ unity, the constituent nations experienced European contact in different ways. The Mohawks and Oneidas, as the two easternmost tribes, had by far the most contact with the English, while the Senecas and Cayugas, the westernmost nations, had little contact with the English (although both hosted French Jesuit missionaries). Mohawk territory was the site of Johnson Hall, the administrative center and home of Sir William Johnson, the British Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the Northeast. The Oneidas, meanwhile, played host to several prominent Anglo-American missionaries and were thought of as the most Christianized Haudenosaunee tribe by many colonists. Eleazar Wheelock became fixated on the Haudenosaunee soon after he established Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754. He saw in them the opportunity for a fresh start, since he believed that New England Indians had assimilated to Anglo-American norms in all the wrong ways (too much rum, too little Christianity). Wheelock established contact with the Haudenosaunee through Sir William Johnson and made the Mohawks and Oneidas the focal point of his missionary efforts for much of the 1760s. The American Revolution had dramatic repercussions for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Mohawks, Senecas, Onondagas, and Cayugas sided with the British, while the Oneidas and Tuscaroras sided with the Americans. Since all Haudenosaunee hold membership in both a tribe (Mohawk, Oneida, etcetera) and a matrilineal clan (bear, wolf, and others), the tribes’ divergent alliances brought about political schism and violence within extended families. Furthermore, Haudenosaunee territory was devastated during the war, especially in General Sullivan’s 1779 raid on Cayuga and Seneca territory. After the Revolution, many Haudenosaunee who had affiliated with the British relocated to the Grand River Reserve in Canada, while many of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras remained in New York. The Haudenosaunee at the Grand River Reserve established their own council fire, which operated in parallel with the original council fire at Onondaga. Today, both council fires are still active, and each tribe also has its own independent government (as do displaced Haudenosaunee populations, such as the Oneidas of Wisconsin).
Oneida Nation
The Oneidas are one of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations. During the 18th century, they were largely considered the most Christianized Haudenosaunee tribe. The Oneidas had a rich tradition of indigenous ministers, including Good Peter, Deacon Thomas, and Isaac Dakayenensere, and played host to several Moor’s missionaries, including Samson Occom, David Fowler, Samuel Ashpo, Joseph Johnson, Joseph Woolley, Titus Smith, and Samuel Kirkland (who went on to found Hamilton Oneida Academy, now Hamilton College). They were also the interpreter James Dean’s adoptive tribe. Notable Oneida towns included Onaquaga, Kanawalohale, and Old Oneida. Onaquaga was the central fire of the Six Nations. By the 18th century, it also had a sizeable contingent of Onondagas and Tuscaroras. Good Peter and Isaac Dakayenensere taught there, as did Joseph Woolley. Kanawalohale and Old Oneida were more predominantly Oneida. The Oneidas were involved in several crucial moments in the history of Moor's Indian Charity School. Onaquaga was the site of the 1765 confrontation between Wheelock and the New England Company, in which the New England Company disrupted Titus Smith's mission, first by sending their own missionary, and second by repossessing Elisha Gunn, the interpreter they had agreed to "loan" to Titus Smith. Left without an interpreter, Titus Smith was forced to abandon his mission (Wheelock repaid the favor a few years later by hiring James Dean away from the New England Company). A few years later, in 1769, Deacon Thomas led the Oneidas in withdrawing all their children from Moor's. The Oneidas' departure struck a devastating blow against Wheelock's Indian education plans, and provided more momentum for his shift to educating predominantly Anglo-Americans. The Oneidas sided with the colonists during the Revolution, but they were still affected by the general devastation in Six Nations territory, especially the Sullivan Expedition (1779). After the Revolution, the Oneidas granted tracts of their land to two Christian Indian organizations: the Brothertown tribe, a composite tribe of Moor’s alumni from New England, and the Stockbridge Indians. It was not long before the groups came into conflict with one another. Encroachment from the new State of New York put increasing pressure on Oneida land, and the Oneidas tried to renegotiate their treaties with the Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians to compensate. The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians fought back, but by the 1820s all three groups had lost, and many of them relocated to Wisconsin.
New England

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.

German Flatts

German Flatts is located in upper Mohawk Valley on the south side of the Mohawk River in Herkimer County, New York. The Oneidas had settled this land for centuries before Palatine German immigrants, for whom the town is named, settled there in the 1720s. The Palatines were granted leases from Governor Burnet to purchase land from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) in 1723. The Germans and Oneidas sustained excellent relations and had both a trading and military alliance (and even had several inter-marriages). When the French and Indian War began, the German Flatts settlers and the Oneidas agreed to maintain peace and neutrality. Both the Palatines and the Oneidas resented nearby Fort Herkimer, believing it made the area a military target. The French refused to accept the neutrality of the Indians and Germans at German Flatts, and in 1757, the French and their Indian allies attacked a Palatine settlement in German Flatts with the help of a few Oneidas who succumbed to pressure from the French. The Germans could not defend themselves (40 were killed and 150 were taken captive back to New France), and the French and their Indian allies burned much of German Flatts. After the French and Indian War, the Germans and Haudenosaunee renewed their trading relationship and maintained peace throughout the 1760s. In two separate letters in September 1761, Wheelock refers to a July 7, 1761 letter from Occom, written from German Flatts, reporting his kind reception by the Six Nations. Wheelock also recounts a July 7th letter from General Johnson from German Flatts written by two Mohawk boys whom the General recommends as interpreters or missionaries for the Indian Charity School. In a 1767 letter to Robert Keen, Wheelock quotes letters from Samuel Kirtland that express the lack of provisions due to years of poor crops. In 1778 during the American Revolution, the Loyalists and Mohawks, led by Joseph Brant, attacked German Flatts, and residents withdrew to Fort Herkimer. While the majority of the Haudenosaunee sided with the British, the Oneidas supported the colonists in the Revolution.

Oneida Lake

Oneida Lake is located ten miles north of Syracuse in west-central New York state, and is the largest lake wholly within the state. It is named for the Oneida Nation, one of the nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, who called it Tsioqui or white water, because of the wave action caused by the wind. Oneida and Onondaga people settled the area around the lake, fishing for eels, salmon, catfish and pike. Around 1533, the Oneidas built their first village on the south shore of Oneida Lake, at or near the mouth of Oneida Creek. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Oneida Lake and its tributary Wood Creek were part of the Albany-Oswego waterway connecting the Atlantic seaboard to the west via the Hudson and the Mohawk Rivers. There was a portage over the Oneida Carry to the Wood Creek-Oneida Lake system, which connected, via the Oneida River and the Oswego River, to Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes. Occom, who made three missionary trips to the Oneida Indians from 1761 to 1763, and Samuel Kirkland, who lived with the Oneidas and ran the mission after 1764, wrote about travels around Oneida Lake during their sojourns. The Oneida Indians and others in that area, including missionaries, used the Lake and its connecting waterways as a means to travel to and from the forts along the Mohawk River, to Johnson Hall, home of Sir William Johnson, the superintendent for Indian Affairs for Britain, and to New England. After the American Revolution, when the U.S. forced many Haudenosaunee tribes, who had allied with the British, to cede their lands, white settlers constructed a canal over the Oneida Carry, which significantly improved the waterway and commercial shipping across the lake and region. In 1835, Oneida Lake was connected to the Erie Canal system.

Fort Stanwix

Fort Stanwix (also known as Fort Schuyler) is located northeast of Syracuse in present-day Rome, New York. Under the direction of British General John Stanwix, for whom the fort is named, the British began constructing the fort in 1758 in order to control the Oneida Carry, which is the portage path between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek. During the French and Indian War, the British built several forts in the Oneida Carry area, but by August 1756, the British ordered all the forts destroyed when they received word that British posts nearby were quickly falling to the French. In 1758, the British attempted to reoccupy Oneida Carry by building Fort Stanwix. The building of the fort did in fact give the British the dominant position in the area, which they retained throughout the remainder of the French and Indian War. The British Army abandoned the fort in 1765. In October 1768, David Avery wrote a letter to Wheelock describing the possibility of recruiting students for the Indian Charity School from a gathering of Indians from the Six Nations, at Fort Stanwix. This gathering and the negotiations that took place resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Fort Stanwix on November 5, 1768. This treaty, between the British and the Six Nations, Shawnees, Delawares, Mingos and other tribes, delineated territory between the British and the Indians. The treaty drew a boundary line from Fort Stanwix down to the Ohio River, and followed the Ohio River west to where it meets the present-day Tennessee River. During the American Revolution, the colonists built a new fort in place of Fort Stanwix. This fort was named Fort Schuyler but was often referred to as Fort Stanwix.


The first English immigrant to settle on a peninsula in a harbor on the northeastern coast of North America the local Algonquin Indians called "Shawmet" was William Blackstone in 1629. A year later, John Winthrop arrived with a group of English Puritans and other settlers and named the area Boston after his hometown in Lincolnshire, England. The colony quickly developed representative political institutions that would help shape a democratic nation. Over the next few centuries, Boston emerged as an intellectual and educational center, and, because of its excellent harbor, became a leading commercial hub and a primary port for North America. It is the capital and largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the largest city in New England. Boston was the home for the Boards of Commissioners of several overseas religious societies who sent missionaries throughout the colonies in the 18th century, and was the site of many important events of the American Revolution.

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.

Keen, Robert

Robert Keen was a London wool merchant and an ardent supporter of George Whitefield, the eminent evangelical. Although it is unclear when Keen and Whitefield first came into contact, by the 1760s Whitefield was writing to Keen frequently. In 1763, Keen, along with Daniel West, was given the task of managing Whitefield’s religious enterprises in London (specifically, his Tottenham Court Chapel and the Tabernacle, another London church), which they continued to do after Whitefield’s death. Keen was also one of the four executors of Whitefield’s affairs in England (along with West and Charles Hardy). As a result of his relationship with Whitefield, Keen was introduced to Occom and Whitaker upon their arrival in February 1766. He was a member of the informal committee that collected donations before October 1766 and provided Occom and Whitaker with advice on their route and strategies. Keen also became a member of the English Trust, the formal organization formed in October 1766 to safeguard donations. As secretary and deputy treasurer of the Trust, Keen played an important role in transmitting accounts and correspondence between the Trust and Wheelock during the tour and the long process of Wheelock’s relocation to New Hampshire. Along with fellow Trust members Samuel Savage and John Thornton, Keen continued to provide financial support to Wheelock after the Trust had been exhausted.

Johnson, Joseph

Joseph Johnson was a Mohegan who studied at Moor’s Indian Charity School and became one of the most important organizers of the Brothertown Movement (a composite tribe composed of Christian members of seven Southern New England Algonquian settlements). He was a prolific writer and his papers are relatively well-preserved. Johnson’s writing is especially noteworthy for his skillful use of Biblical allusion and his awareness of the contradiction that he, as an educated Native American, presented to white colonists. Johnson arrived at Moor’s in 1758, when he was seven years old, and studied there until 1766, when he became David Fowler’s usher at Kanawalohale. He continued teaching in Oneida territory until the end of 1768, when Samuel Kirkland sent him home in disgrace for drunkeness and bad behavior. After a stint teaching at Providence, Rhode Island, and working on a whaling ship, Johnson returned to Mohegan in 1771 and became a zealous Christian. He opened a school at Farmington, CT, in 1772, for which he seems to have received some minimal support from the New England Company. From his base at Farmington, he began organizing Southern New England Algonquians for the Brothertown project. The goal was to purchase land from the Oneidas, the most Christianized of the Six Nations, and form a Christian Indian town incorporating Algonquian and Anglo-American elements. Johnson spent the rest of his short life garnering necessary support and legal clearance for the Brothertown project. Johnson died sometime between June 10, 1776 and May 1777, at 25 or 26 years old, six or seven years before Brothertown was definitively established in 1783. He was married to Tabitha Occom, one of Samson Occom’s daughters. She lived at Mohegan with their children even after Brothertown’s founding, and none of their children settled at Brothertown permanently. Like most of Wheelock’s successful Native American students, Johnson found that he could not satisfy his teacher's contradictory standards for Native Americans. Although Johnson's 1768 dismissal created a hiatus in their relationship, Johnson reopened contact with Wheelock after his re-conversion to a degree that other former students, such as Samson Occom, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, never did.

Fowler, Jacob

Jacob Fowler was a Montauk Indian whose life was dramatically shaped by Samson Occom, his brother-in-law. Occom taught Jacob when he was a child, and in 1762, Jacob followed his older brother David Fowler to Moor's. After three years he was approved as an usher in the 1765 examination, and in 1766 he went to assist Samuel Johnson at Canajoharie. He taught among the Six Nations until at least mid-1767. In early 1770, Occom procured him a job teaching at Mushantuxet through the Boston Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Jacob taught and preached among the Pequots at Mushantuxet and Stonington until 1774, when Wheelock hired him to teach at Moor's, which had relocated to Hanover, NH as a complement to Dartmouth College. During this time, Jacob also assisted Joseph Johnson with efforts to rally the New England Christian tribes for a move to Oneida territory (the Brothertown Movement). By 1776, there were no Indians enrolled in Moor's and Jacob moved on to serve Governor John Trumbull of CT as a messenger to the Six Nations during the Revolution. After the Revolution, he continued organizing the Brothertown Movement and was among those who initially emigrated in 1784. He was elected clerk at Brothertown, and died sometime in the spring of 1787.

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.

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.

Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0315.ocp M r Mr. Kirtland mentioned Kirkland, Samuel
pers0288.ocp Joſeph Joseph Johnſon Johnson mentioned Johnson, Joseph
pers0018.ocp Jacob Fowler mentioned Fowler, Jacob
pers0155.ocp David Fowler mentioned Fowler, David
pers0742.ocp Wife mentioned Fowler, Hannah (née Garrett)
pers0155.ocp David mentioned Fowler, David
pers0315.ocp M. r Mr. Kirtland mentioned Kirkland, Samuel
pers0301.ocp M. r Mr. Keen recipient Keen, Robert

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0013.ocp Boston Boston
place0158.ocp New England New England
place0084.ocp German Flats Flatts German Flatts
place0181.ocp Oneida Lake Oneida Lake
place0081.ocp Fort Stanwix Fort Stanwix
place0179.ocp onida Oneida Oneida
place0013.ocp Boſton Boston Boston

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0104.ocp TuſcaroraesTuscaroras Tuscarora Nation
org0090.ocp the Nations Six Nations
org0075.ocp OneidaesOneidas Oneida Nation
org0103.ocp y.ethe Trust Trust in England

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1767-07-27 July 27th 1767
1767-07-05 5th inſtantinstant
1767-08-01 1st of AuguſtAugust
1767-07-13 13th Inſtantinstant
1767-07-14 the 14th
1767-07-29 July 29..th29th
1767-03-22 march 22
1767-07-28 July. 28. 1767

Regularized text:

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modernization yſ this
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Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
thro' through
accots accounts
& and
ha' have
f.r y.o from you
f.r from
y.o you
yrſ yours
Brth.r Brother
Gentn Gentlemen
wth with
w.m William

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HomeEleazar Wheelock, letter, to Robert Keen, 1767 July 27
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