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Ralph Wheelock, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1771 October 11

ms-number: 771561.1

[note (type: abstract): Ralph Wheelock updates his father on his travels and his illness. He mentions his sorrow at Maltby's death and a meeting with Occom.][note (type: handwriting): Handwriting is very clear and legible, though letter case—especially with regard to the letter S—is occasionally difficult to discern.][note (type: paper): Large sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light staining, creasing and wear.][note (type: ink): Brown.][note (type: noteworthy): On one verso, it is uncertain to whom Wheelock refers when he mentions the Colonel, and so he has been left untagged.]
[Rev.d | Rev.]Rev.dRev. and ever [Hono.d | Honoured]Hono.dHonoured Father.
Last [Fryday | Friday]FrydayFriday [ab.t | about]ab.tabout 10 [oc | o'clock]oco'clock I heard [y.e | the]y.ethe h[above] eeavy and
[maloncolly | melancholy]maloncollymelancholy News of [y.e | the]y.ethe death of My Dear de
=parted Brother Maltby[pers0352.ocp], ([tho' | though]tho'though it was [leſs | less]leſsless heavy
[yn | than]ynthan it [wo'd | would]wo'dwould have been had I not have had [y.t | that]y.tthat
agreeable interview, I was [favd | favoured]favdfavoured [wth | with]wthwith at my
[hono.d | honoured]hono.dhonoured Uncle[pers0599.ocp]s at [Long Meddow | Longmeadow]Long MeddowLongmeadow[place0295.ocp], on my way
to Connecticut[place0048.ocp]) in whose Company [& | and]&and Fraternal
love I had [promiſsed | promised]promiſsedpromised myself much delight
[& | and]&and satisfaction; But He is gone, [& | and]&and I believe
Sir, gone to his Father, therefore I as I [love'd | loved]love'dloved
him I cannot wish him back — Little did I
think [wn | when]wnwhen we parted, [und.r | under]und.runder our respective States
of [Bodey | Body]BodeyBody it [w.d | would]w.dwould have been my part to have
carried [wth | with]wthwith me daily [y.e | the]y.ethe Mourners [Garbe | Garb]GarbeGarb,
but God still governs, [& | and]&and I think, Sir, I still
feel a glow of strength [& | and]&and vigour rising from
[y.e | the]y.ethe [tho't | thought]tho'tthought while I write.
I have never yet had an [oppertunty | opportunity]oppertuntyopportunity to write
You [wn | when]wnwhen I have had strength of [Bodey | Body]BodeyBody, as is [y.e | the]y.ethe
case now, viz an [oppertunity | opportunity]oppertunityopportunity, [tho' | though]tho'though I hope for
one by White[pers0704.ocp], [wre | where]wrewhere I have been some time; [& | and]&and
found [y.e | the]y.ethe Parent [& | and]&and [y.e | the]y.ethe Friend. [D.r | Dr.]D.rDr. Huntington[pers1363.ocp]
[shew'd | showed]shew'dshowed a [discouragm.t | discouragement]discouragm.tdiscouragement [wn | when]wnwhen I first [apply'd | applied]apply'dapplied to him for
help, however would attempt it a close [applicatn | application]applicatnapplication
of [Medicens | Medicines]MedicensMedicines might be attended to, [wh | which]whwhich has been
my steady care [till | 'til]till'til now — [& | and]&and [und.r | under]und.runder [y.e | the]y.ethe [bleſsing | blessing]bleſsingblessing of my
divine Lord I find myself [gaing | gaining]gainggaining, am able to
walk [wth | with]wthwithout fear as far as [miſs | miss]miſsmiss Gagers[pers0694.ocp] [&c | etc.]&cetc.
yet find my Nervous System much [decaed | decayed]decaeddecayed, [& | and]&and
spent [wn | when]wnwhen [y.e | the]y.ethe [D.r | Dr.]D.rDr.[pers1363.ocp] says my [Fitts | Fits]FittsFits [wth | with]wthwith all my
other disorders have lain from my Infancy,
[wh | which]whwhich he thinks may (after my late [distreſs.g | distressing]distreſs.gdistressing [Sick
=neſs | Sick
) be [help'd | helped]help'dhelped, by a change of all — my [Fitts | Fits]FittsFits are
lighter, my mind more my own, [& | and]&and my Nerves

 Stronger, [tho' | though]tho'though I am but just able to keep [abt | about]abtabout, [& | and]&and
converse [wth | with]wthwith my Friends. [y.e | the]y.ethe [D.r | Dr.]D.rDr.[pers1363.ocp] daily longs to see
You, Sir, once more before he meets You in Heaven
I found [nothg | nothing]nothgnothing new at Hartford[place0097.ocp] as I came
down — All are well at Hebron[place0099.ocp], [w.t | what]w.twhat [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Pomeroy[pers0432.ocp]
thinks of a removal I can't yet learn ,— I [lodg'd | lodged]lodg'dlodged
at [y.e | the]y.ethe [Colos | Colonels]ColosColonels one night, [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Buckminster[pers0688.ocp] says he
really thinks, things have been wrongly represent
‐ed of [y.e | the]y.ethe [Col:o | Col.]Col:oCol. [y.t | that]y.tthat his [friendſhip | friendship]friendſhipfriendship for You Sir [& | and]&and [Yos | Yours]YosYours
are greater [Yn | than]Ynthan is [tho't | thought]tho'tthought — I have spent several days
in Norwich[place0174.ocp], [bleſsed | blessed]bleſsedblessed be God. I find Friends abroad
uncommonly kind [& | and]&and affectionate. I spent an after
noon [wth | with]wthwith [above] [Mr | Mr.]MrMr.[Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Occom[pers0030.ocp], his mind has been [filld | filled]filldfilled, [& | and]&and from
abroad, [tho' | though]tho'though I did not see his Letters, [wth | with]wthwith many
[ | things]th.gsthings [wh | which]whwhich to him he calls very hard, [& | and]&and [appeard | appeared]appeardappeared to
me to be easy whether he was still connected [wth | with]wthwith
[y.e | the]y.ethe School[org0098.ocp] or not, he means to [justifie | justify]justifiejustify all his
conduct in his [treatm.t | treatment]treatm.ttreatment of You, viz, [y.t | that]y.tthat it has been [wth | with]wthwith
honesty as to a parent [& | and]&and [greives | grieves]greivesgrieves [y.t | that]y.tthat [Y.r | Your]Y.rYour Heart as
a Fathers is gone; I attempted to mention some
things of his conduct to You but to little purpose,
He is, he says, at [Y.r | Your]Y.rYour Service at all times [wn | when]wnwhen
You call for him as for other [Miſsarys | Missionaries]MiſsarysMissionaries [&c | etc.]&cetc.
[Col.o | Col.]Col.oCol. Jabez[pers0697.ocp] = I hear, will send a Son to [Y.r | Your]Y.rYour care,
as will [Col.o | Col.]Col.oCol. Dyer[pers0174.ocp] [& | and]&and [Col.o | Col.]Col.oCol. Conant[pers0689.ocp] = the Cause has
its friends, as well as its enemies in [y.e | the]y.ethe [Goverment | Government]GovermentGovernment
— I saw [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Kirtland[pers0315.ocp] last week at [Esq.r | Esq.]Esq.rEsq. Grays [pers0230.ocp]
as he [calld | called]calldcalled to see me, vastly kind affectionate [& | and]&and friendly
designs to see you on his way home —
I am now at [y.e | the]y.ethe Crank[place0123.ocp], it is [y.e | the]y.ethe same; [& | and]&and
its Inhabitants are [y.e | the]y.ethe same, friends [& | and]&and enemies
[tho' | though]tho'though

[tho' | though]tho'though I am happy [eno'f | enough]eno'fenough to keep out of [ | their]y.irtheir Jars,
[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Brockaway[pers0687.ocp] told me [Yesterdy | Yesterday]YesterdyYesterday he [designd | designed]designddesigned to
leave ['em | them]'emthem after two Sabbath, an agreeable
man, but an [ungreatfull | ungrateful]ungreatfullungrateful [pp: | people]pp:people
I meet my Sister Abby[pers0296.ocp] [y.e | the]y.ethe [2nd | 2nd]2nd2nd [Inst.t | Instant]Inst.tInstant[1771-09-02] on
my way from Norwich[place0174.ocp] to Windham[place0243.ocp] she was
well [& | and]&and in good Spirits —
Bingham[pers0686.ocp] obtains a good Name from
[y.e | the]y.ethe Neighbours, but has lived an unhappy
life [wth | with]wthwith [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. [Loomiſs | Loomiss]LoomiſsLoomiss[pers0337.ocp] in [y.e | the]y.ethe House, [tho' | though]tho'though I hope now
for better doings —
I am setting out for Hartford[place0097.ocp] [wth | with]wthwith Gurley[pers0237.ocp]
(who gives Duty) to Visit my friends [& | and]&and keep on
[y.e | the]y.ethe move as [y.e | the]y.ethe [Doct.r | Dr.]Doct.rDr.[pers1363.ocp] says — I hope by Divine
leave to return before winter to You, Sir, [& | and]&and
be able to do [someth.g | something]someth.gsomething to ease [Yr | Your]YrYour burdens.
Please present unfeigned Duty to my
[hono.d | honoured]hono.dhonoured Mother[pers0577.ocp]
, Love to [y.e | the]y.ethe Brothers [& | and]&and Sister[below] [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): s]s[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): s]s
[& | and]&and to all, [M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Woodward[pers0610.ocp] I [w.d | would]w.dwould [greatfully | gratefully]greatfullygratefully rememb
=er his [kindneſs | kindness]kindneſskindness in his Letter, [& | and]&and [w.d | would]w.dwould write but
have not strength now —
And Accept much Duty to Yourself
[hono.d | honoured]hono.dhonoured Sir, from

Your [illegible][Dutyfull | Dutiful]DutyfullDutiful [& | and]&and [Obd.t | Obedient]Obd.tObedient Son
Ralph Wheelock[pers0578.ocp]
 [Oct.r | October]Oct.rOctober 11. 1771[1771-10-11].
 [Rev.d | Rev.]Rev.dRev. [D.r | Dr.]D.rDr. Wheelock[pers0036.ocp]

[M.r | Mr.]M.rMr. Ralph Wheelock[pers0578.ocp]
 [Octb.r | October]Octb.rOctober 11. 1771[1771-10-11]

Moor’s Indian Charity School
Moor’s Indian Charity School was a grammar school for Native Americans that Eleazar Wheelock opened in North Lebanon, Connecticut in 1754. The school was named for Colonel Joshua Moor, also spelled More, who donated the land and school building. Moor’s was essentially an expansion of the grammar school that Wheelock opened in 1743 to support himself during the fallout from the First Great Awakening, when Wheelock, who'd participated in itinerant ministry during the Awakening, had his salary confiscated by the colony of Connecticut. In December of that year, Samson Occom asked Wheelock to teach him as well. Wheelock's work with Occom was so successful that Wheelock decided to replicate the experiment with other Native American boys. He accepted his first Indian students in 1754, and in 1761 began taking female students as well. Wheelock believed that in time, his school would become just one part of a larger missionary enterprise. He planned to send his Anglo American and Native American students to various tribes as missionaries and schoolmasters, with explicit instructions to pick out the best students and send them back to Moor’s to continue the cycle. His ultimate goal was to turn his school into a model Christian Indian town that would include farms, a college, and vocational training. However, Wheelock’s grand design did not survive the decade. Wheelock lost the vast majority of his Native American students; he fought with many of the best, including Samson Occom, Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, and Hezekiah Calvin, and other former and current students accused him of subjecting Native Americans to disproportionate amounts of manual labor. In 1769, perhaps due to concerns about corporal punishment, the Oneida withdrew all their children from Moor’s. When Wheelock relocated to Hanover in 1769, only two Native American students came with him, and it became clear that Wheelock’s focus was on Dartmouth and that Dartmouth was for white students. After Wheelock’s death in 1779, Moor’s Indian Charity School receded further into the background as John Wheelock, his father’s reluctant successor, stopped taking Indian students. Some Native American students were enrolled in Moor’s until 1850, when the school unofficially closed.

Longmeadow is a town in southern Massachusetts at the Connecticut border. The town was inhabited by Agawam Indians when William Pynchon and other Puritans arrived in 1636. Pynchon purchased the land, which was rich in beaver. The name Longmeadow is derived from the Agawam name Magacksic, which literally means long meadow. In 1645, the long meadow of the town was divided into lots, and around the same time settlers finished building a road from Springfield, MA to the meadows in order to transport beaver pelts. Longmeadow was considered a part of Springfield until 1703 when settlers began to establish their own community in the area. In 1714, a former captive of the 1704 battle at Deerfield, Reverend Stephen Williams (the brother-in-law of Wheelock’s first wife Sarah) was hired to serve as the minister for the first church, which he did until his death in 1782. As homes continued to be built, the population grew, and shops and businesses supplemented the farming economy of the town. As the town increased in size, residents of Longmeadow pushed for incorporation, but their plans were impeded by the outbreak of the American Revolution. Many residents of Longmeadow fought as both Tories and Patriots during the Revolutionary War. In 1783, the new Commonwealth of Massachusetts incorporated Longmeadow. In 1894, the East Village of Longmeadow split from the town and formed East Longmeadow.


Connecticut is a state in southern New England that borders Massachusetts to the north and the Long Island Sound to the south. Its name is derived from the Algonquian "Quonehtacut," meaning "long river," referring to the Connecticut, which runs from the border with Canada into the Long Island Sound. The area was originally inhabited by Algonquian-speaking Pequots, Mohegans, and Quinnipiacs. European settlers took advantage of tribal divisions to establish dominance in the region. Dutch explorer Adrian Block sailed up the Connecticut River in 1614, establishing an active Dutch trading post at what is now Hartford. English claims to Connecticut began in 1630, but settlement truly began when Thomas Hooker, a Congregationalist minister now known as "The Father of Connecticut," left Boston to found Hartford in 1636. Hartford became the center of the Colony of Connecticut, which did not receive its charter until 1662 when Governor John Winthrop, Jr. secured it from Charles II. In 1665, the Colony of New Haven, established in 1638 by the Puritan minister John Davenport, joined the Colony of Connecticut under this charter. Early settler relations with local Indians were tense, and encouraged the New England colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven to unify as the "United Colonies" or "New England Confederation" and fight together, with Indian allies, in the Pequot War and again in King Philip's (Metacom's) War. These wars helped establish a specifically Connecticut and specifically American identity; the latter drove the colony to join the rebellion against Britain in 1776. Occom, born into a Mohegan household in Connecticut, was closely associated with the Colony and retained strong ties to the region throughout his life. He converted to Christianity in 1743 when the Great Awakening spread through Connecticut, and inspired Wheelock's Indian Charity School, which was founded in Lebanon, CT in 1754. He also became involved in the Mason Land Case, a long-standing dispute over the ownership of reserve Mohegan lands in Connecticut. Wheelock also had strong ties to Connecticut, moving his Indian Charity School only when the colony would not grant it a charter.


Hartford is the capital city of Connecticut, located in the central part of the state. The land that would become Hartford was first inhabited by the Saukiog Indians (Saukiog was also the name of a village on the Connecticut River) along with the Podunks to the east and the Tunxis to the west. The Dutch explorer Adriaen Block was the first European to visit Saukiog, and by the early 1620s, the Dutch had established a fort in the area. They brought with them a smallpox epidemic that killed many Native Americans. By the mid-17th century the Dutch, outnumbered by the English, had retreated south. In order to protect themselves against the powerful Mohawk and Pequot Indians, tribes around Saukiog allied with the English. By 1635, the Puritan preacher Thomas Hooker and one hundred of his followers moved into the area, first calling their new home Newtown but later changing it to Hartford after Hertford, England. In a 1638 sermon, Hooker claimed that the new Connecticut government should authorize itself according to the consent of the people, words that inspired Connecticut’s Fundamental Orders, considered America’s first written constitution. Missionaries began to preach to the Tunxis near Hartford in 1670. By 1734, Indians at Hartford requested and received English ministers for reading and religious instruction, and used the missionary interest in their community to their advantage in several ways. Minister Samuel Woodbridge reported that Indians at Hartford would attend his church and learn to read if they had the proper clothing, and the New England Company sent blankets and primers as encouragement. Hartford served as the meeting place for Congregational ministers associated with Wheelock and his School to examine the acceptability of Native missionaries, such as Mohegan minister Samuel Ashpo. In 1775, Joseph Johnson went to the Hartford Assembly to deliver letters declaring the allegiance to the colonists of the Indians who had moved to upstate New York.


Hebron is a town located in central Connecticut, on the Connecticut River. The area was occupied by the Mohegan Tribe in the 17th century. During the Pequot War, the Mohegans under Chief Uncas allied with the English against the Pequots, and after the war, the Mohegans fought neighboring tribes with the help of the English. Following these battles, Chief Uncas and his two sons, Owaneco and Attawanhood (who was also known as Joshua), deeded particular Mohegan land to the English colonists. Attawanhood and Oweneco further aided the English settlers during Metacom’s War, and upon his death, Attawanhood’s will granted the land that would comprise Hebron to a variety of English colonists. The first English settlers of the deeded land came from Windsor, Saybrook, Long Island, and Northampton; the town of Hebron was eventually incorporated in 1704. But because some of those who were granted the land did not settle there and because of some Mohegan resistance, the town was slow to grow. With the help of the local government, the town grew large enough by 1711 to sustain a meeting house and a minister. A letter written in 1764 to the Committee of Correspondents with the Scotch Society appoints a number of representatives for the organization within Connecticut, including Benjamin Pomroy from Hebron. In 1768, missionary Aaron Kinne wrote a letter to Wheelock, who was staying in Hebron, to inform him of the state of the Indians in the Kanawalohale Indian School in upstate New York. Also, in a 1771 letter to his father Eleazar, Ralph Wheelock expresses his sorrow at the loss of his brother but informs him that all else is well in Hebron where he recently visited.


Norwich is a city in New London County in the southeast corner of Connecticut. It was founded in 1659 when Major John Mason and Reverend James Fitch led English settlers inland from Old Saybrook, CT, on the coast. They bought land from Uncas, sachem of the local Mohegan tribe, and divided it into farms and businesses mainly in the three-mile area around the Norwichtown Green. In 1668, a wharf was built at Yantic Cove and in 1694 a public landing was built at the head of the Thames River, which allowed trade with England to flourish. The center of Norwich soon moved to the neighborhood around the harbor called "Chelsea." During the revolutionary period, when transatlantic trade was cut off, Norwich developed large mills and factories along the three rivers that cross the town: the Yantic, Shetucket and Thames, and supported the war effort by supplying soldiers, ships, and munitions. Norwich was the largest town in the vicinity in which Occom, Wheelock and their associates lived and worked, and it was possible to get there by water because of the harbor and access to the Long Island Sound. Lebanon, CT, the site of Wheelock's school, is 11 miles north and present-day Uncasville, the center of the Mohegan tribe, is a few miles south of Norwich. James Fitch did missionary work among the Mohegans in Norwich until his death in 1702, and Samuel Kirkland, the most important Protestant missionary to the Six Nations trained by Wheelock, was born in Norwich in 1741. On his evangelical tour of North America in 1764, George Whitefield planned to travel to Norwich to meet with Wheelock. The Connecticut Board of Correspondents of the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge frequently met in Norwich, and many letters by people involved in the missionary efforts of Wheelock were written from Norwich.

Lebanon Crank

Lebanon Crank was the name of an area in the northwest part of the town of Lebanon, Connecticut, on both sides of the Hop River, which was created by the Connecticut legislature in 1716, in response to the demand of residents who did not want to travel to the First Church in Lebanon proper for services. It was also known as Lebanon North Parish and the Second Society or Second Church in Lebanon, names that refer to religious organizations of the Congregational Church. The two dozen families who started the parish built their first meetinghouse near the site of the present structure, around which the religious and political life of the community revolved. Eleazar Wheelock served as minister in this parish from 1735 to 1769, and his house, built around 1735, is the oldest building still standing. Lebanon Crank played a major role in his life. It was his base of operations when he became an itinerant mininster during the religious awakenings of the 1730s and 1740s, and he presided over a revival in the Second Church in 1740. His Indian Charity school was located nearby in Lebanon, and his students attended the Second Church in Lebanon Crank as part of their education. The parish was so invested in Wheelock's School that they tried to keep him from moving it up to New Hampshire when he founded Dartmouth College, but failed. Lebanon Crank was subsequently renamed Columbia and established as a separate town in May 1804.


Windham is a town in Windham County in the northeastern corner of Connecticut. Historically, the area was home to the Nipmuck Indians, but when the English began to settle Connecticut in 1634, possession of what would become Windham passed to the Pequots. In 1637, following the Pequot War, the English-allied Mohegans took possession of the area and eventually sold what would become Windham County to John Winthrop Jr. in 1652. The town of Windham, named for Wyndham in England, is at the southwest corner of this land purchase and was incorporated in 1692. Eleazar Wheelock was born in Windham in 1711, the son of a prominent farming family. He lived on his family’s 300-acre farm until leaving for Yale in 1729. After graduating and moving to to Lebanon, CT–-a mere 6 miles from Windham-–Wheelock often returned to his hometown to preach and do other business. When Wheelock needed support to advance his “great design,” he turned to his friends in Windham, many of whom were members of the Windham Association, a group of Congregationalist ministers who examined and ordained area ministers. The Windham Association examined Occom in preparation for his ordination in 1757 at Wheelock’s Lebanon home. Like Wheelock, Occom also travelled through and preached in Windham throughout his life. After a period of growth due to mills and textile factories, Windham was incorporated as a city in 1893. A village within the modern-day city of Windham still keeps its Algonquin name, Willimantic or “land of the swift running water.”


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, Rodulphus

Ralph Rodulphus Wheelock was Wheelock's oldest son and heir apparent. While Wheelock believed that Ralph showed great aptitude for the "Indian business," others saw Ralph as arrogant and abrasive. He also suffered from epilepsy, which seriously impeded his ability to work. He died in Hanover as an invalid under almost constant care and guardianship. Wheelock's struggle to accept his son's illness and his son's struggle to overcome it provide an undercurrent for some of the stranger events in the history of Moor's Indian Charity School and Dartmouth College. Ralph grew up surrounded by and dedicated to Indian education, but also with an inflated sense of Wheelock's, and his own, importance, which stayed with him for much of his life. Joseph Brant recounts a telling anecdote: Ralph once ordered William Major, Sir William Johnson's son, to saddle his horse on the grounds that he was the son of a gentleman and William Major was not. Ralph was unable to finish coursework at the College of New Jersey, which he attended from 1761-1763, although he graduated from Yale in 1765. He made three tours of the Six Nations (in 1766, 1767, and 1768), assisting ministers in bringing back children and negotiating with tribes. He taught at Moor's for two years, and was briefly considered as a companion for Occom on the Fundraising Tour. Wheelock formally named him as his heir in the 1768 draft of his will. However, Wheelock's reliance on Ralph brought disastrous consequences for the school. In the spring of 1768, Wheelock sent Ralph to the Onondagas and Oneidas to negotiate about schoolmasters and missionaries. Once there, Ralph managed to offend the assembled chiefs beyond repair. Ralph blamed his failure on Kirkland, and it was not until 1772 that Wheelock learned the truth of the matter. It is likely that Ralph's conduct influenced the Oneidas' decision to pull their children out of Moor's later in 1768: Wheelock himself implied as much in his 1771 Journal. By the early 1770s, Wheelock had realized that Ralph was never going to take over Dartmouth College. In a later will, Wheelock provided Ralph with £50 per annum for his care, to be paid out by the College, and stipulated that his other heirs should look after his oldest son. Because Ralph was unable to serve as Wheelock's heir, the presidency of the College passed to John Wheelock, a soldier who had no theological training or desire to run a college.

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.

Williams, Stephen
Huntington, Jonathan Sr.

Dr. Jonathan Huntington was the first practicing physician in Windham, CT. Eleazar Wheelock hired him regularly from 1737 to 1768 to attend to the students at Moor’s Indian Charity School. Even after Wheelock moved to New Hampshire in 1770, Dr. Huntington continued to take care of Ralph Wheelock, Wheelock’s epileptic son. Dr. Huntington’s nephew, Jonathan Huntington, was also a doctor and also took care of students at Moor’s; thus, the two are sometimes referred to as Dr. Jonathan Huntington Jr. and Sr., respectively, to avoid confusion. Dr. Huntington also had a brief political career: he was on the colony council from 1754 until 1758 and he served as a local judge from 1749 until 1757.

Pomeroy, Benjamin

Benjamin Pomeroy was a school friend of Eleazar Wheelock and a lifelong supporter of his cause. Like Wheelock, he was a New Light evangelical and a staunch ally of James Davenport, a radical New Light preacher whose beliefs got him in trouble with the law. After graduating from Yale in 1733, Pomeroy received the ministry at Hebron, CT, in 1734, and assisted Wheelock in myriad ways until his own death in 1784. He kept Wheelock's school during 1746, when Wheelock's first wife, Sarah, was dying, and he tutored Occom (primarily in Hebrew) after Occom had completed his studies with Wheelock. Pomeroy also supported Wheelock as a trustee of Moor's, and, later, Dartmouth, and as a member of the Board of the Correspondents in Connecticut for the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Pomeroy and Wheelock also had close family connections: Pomeroy was married to Wheelock’s sister, Abigail, and one of Pomeroy’s daughters, Hannah, married David McClure, one of Wheelock's most illustrious graduates. Outside of his liturgical career, Pomeroy served as an army chaplain in the French and Indian War and the Revolution.

Occom, Samson

Samson Occom was a Mohegan leader and ordained Presbyterian minister. Occom began his public career in 1742, when he was chosen as a tribal counselor to Ben Uncas II. The following year, he sought out Eleazar Wheelock, a young Anglo-American minister in Lebanon, CT, in hopes of obtaining some education and becoming a teacher at Mohegan. Wheelock agreed to take on Occom as a student, and though Occom had anticipated staying for a few weeks or months, he remained with Wheelock for four years. Occom’s academic success inspired Wheelock to open Moor’s Indian Charity School in 1754, a project which gave him the financial and political capital to establish Dartmouth College in 1769. After his time with Wheelock, Occom embarked on a 12-year mission to the Montauk of Long Island (1749-1761). He married a Montauk woman, Mary Fowler, and served as both teacher and missionary to the Montauk and nearby Shinnecock, although he was grievously underpaid for his services. Occom conducted two brief missions to the Oneida in 1761 and 1762 before embarking on one of the defining journeys of his career: a fundraising tour of Great Britain that lasted from 1765 to 1768. During this journey, undertaken on behalf of Moor’s Indian Charity School, Occom raised £12,000 (an enormous and unanticpated amount that translates roughly to more than two-million dollars), and won wide acclaim for his preaching and comportment. Upon his return to Mohegan in 1768, Occom discovered that Wheelock had failed to adequately care for his family while he was gone. Additionally, despite the vast sums of money that he had raised, Occom found himself unemployed. Wheelock tried to find Occom a missionary position, but Occom was in poor health and disinclined to leave his family again after seeing the treatment with which they had met while he was in Britain. Occom and Wheelock’s relationship continued to sour as it became apparent to Occom that the money he had labored to raise would be going towards infrastructure at Dartmouth College, Wheelock’s new project, rather than the education of Native Americans. After the dissolution of his relationship with Wheelock, Occom became increasingly focused on the needs of the Mohegan community and increasingly vocal in criticizing Anglo-Americans’ un-Christian treatment of Native Americans. In September of 1772, he delivered his famous “Sermon on the Execution of Moses Paul,” which took Anglo-American spiritual hypocrisy as one of its major themes, and which went into four printings before the end of the year. In 1773, Occom became further disillusioned when the Mason Land Case was decided in favor of the Colony of Connecticut. The details of the Mason Case are complicated, but to summarize: the Colony of Connecticut had gained control of Mohegan land early in the 18th century under very suspect circumstances, and successfully fended off the Mohegan’s 70-year-long legal challenge. The conclusion of the case came as a blow to the Mohegans, and further convinced Occom of Anglo-American corruption. Along with David Fowler (Montauk Tribe), Occom's brother-in-law, and Joseph Johnson (Mohegan), Occom's son-in-law, Occom helped found Brothertown, an Indian tribe formed from the Christian Mohegans, Pequots, Narragansetts, Montauks, Tunxis, and Niantics. They eventually settled in Oneida country in upstate New York. Occom moved there with his family in 1789, spending the remaining years of his life serving as a minster to the Brothertown, Stockbridge, and Mohegan Indians. Harried by corrupt land agents, the Brothertown and Stockbridge groups relocated to the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, though Occom died in 1792 before he could remove himself and his family there. Occom's writings and legacy have made him one of the best known and most eminent Native Americans of the 18th century and beyond.

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.

Dyar, Eliphalet
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.

Gray, Samuel

Samuel Gray was one of the first four graduates of Dartmouth College. He was the son of Samuel and Lydia (Dyer) Gray, of Windham, CT, and attended Moor's Indian Charity School. He was one of the students, along with David Fowler and Joseph Woolley, who witnessed and signed Jacob Woolley's confesson in 1763. Two years later, The Connecticut Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge considered appointing Gray as its "Scribe or Register," which included keeping the books and accounts for the Board and the School. He probably moved to Hanover with Wheelock and attended Dartmouth College as an independent student; along with John Wheelock (Eleazar's younger son), Sylvanus Ripley and Levi Frisbie, he graduated in the first class of 1771, but because of a lack of a quorum of Trustees, did not receive his official diploma until 1773. Because he was not a charity student, he was relieved of the obligation to become a missionary. Rather, he studied law, practiced in Windham, served as the Clerk of the Windham County Courts for more than 40 years, and also served as Commissary General during the Revolutionary War. He was an honored guest at the Dartmouth commencement of 1827, where he pointed out the site of the first College structures, including the place where a bbq was held at his own graduation.

Ripley, Abigail (née Wheelock)
Gurley, Ebenezer
Woodward, Bezaleel

Bezaleel Woodward was an integral figure at Dartmouth College and the greater Hanover community; and like that of Eleazar Wheelock, Woodward’s career consisted of a blend of education, religion, and local affairs. After attending Moor’s and graduating from Yale in 1764, he became a preacher. Upon his return to Lebanon in late 1766, he began to hold various positions at Moor’s and became the first tutor of college department in 1768. Woodward later was a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Dartmouth College, as well as a member and clerk of the Board of Trustees. In 1772, he solidified his connection to Wheelock even further by marrying Wheelock’s daughter, Mary. Woodward also held numerous titles outside of the school. He was an elder of the Presbytery and attained multiple appointments in the local court system. A natural leader, Woodward was an influential member and clerk of several committees, representing both Hanover and the Dresden college district. He was thus a leading figure in the Western Rebellion, promoting several towns’ secession from New Hampshire and union with Vermont. Although Woodward resigned from his professorship in 1778, supposedly disassociating himself from Dartmouth while he engaged in politics, it was merely a formality. Upon Wheelock’s death, Woodward acted as president of the college from April to October 1779. Woodward continued to perform many of the executive tasks even after Wheelock’s son and successor, John Wheelock, took over the position, and also held the late Wheelock’s post of treasurer. Claiming to be finished with politics, he officially returned to Dartmouth as tutor in 1782, and performed the president’s duties while Wheelock was abroad in 1782 and 1783. Nonetheless, Woodward continued to participate in local affairs — in 1783 he unsuccessfully attempted to have the New Hampshire General Assembly approve Dresden’s status as a separate town; and in 1786, he became the county treasurer and register of deeds. Woodward remained a prominent figure at Dartmouth and the surrounding area throughout his life. He was, for instance, involved in the construction of Dartmouth Hall in 1784, and was part of the committee formed in 1788 to regulate the contested use of the fund raised by Occom and Whitaker in Great Britain for Moor’s. Woodward died August 25, 1804, at the age of 59.

Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0352.ocp Maltby mentioned Maltby
pers0599.ocp hono. d honoured Uncle mentioned Williams, Stephen
pers0704.ocp White mentioned White
pers1363.ocp D. r Dr. Huntington mentioned Huntington, Jonathan Sr.
pers0694.ocp miſs miss Gagers mentioned Gager
pers1363.ocp y. e the D. r Dr. mentioned Huntington, Jonathan Sr.
pers0432.ocp M. r Mr. Pomeroy mentioned Pomeroy, Benjamin
pers0688.ocp M. r Mr. Buckminster mentioned Buckminster
pers0030.ocp M r Mr. Occom mentioned Occom, Samson
pers0697.ocp Col. o Col. Jabez mentioned Jabez
pers0174.ocp Col. o Col. Dyer mentioned Dyar, Eliphalet
pers0689.ocp Col. o Col. Conant mentioned Conant
pers0315.ocp M. r Mr. Kirtland mentioned Kirkland, Samuel
pers0230.ocp Esq. r Esq. Grays mentioned Gray, Samuel
pers0687.ocp M. r Mr. Brock a way mentioned Brockaway
pers0296.ocp Abby mentioned Ripley, Abigail (née Wheelock)
pers0686.ocp Bingham mentioned Bingham
pers0337.ocp M. r Mr. Loomiſs Loomiss mentioned Loomis
pers0237.ocp Gurley mentioned Gurley, Ebenezer
pers1363.ocp y. e the Doct. r Dr. mentioned Huntington, Jonathan Sr.
pers0577.ocp my hono. d honoured Mother mentioned Wheelock, Mary (née Brinsmead)
pers0610.ocp M. r Mr. Woodward mentioned Woodward, Bezaleel
pers0578.ocp Ralph Wheelock writer Wheelock, Rodulphus
pers0036.ocp Rev. d Rev. D. r Dr. Wheelock recipient Wheelock, Eleazar
pers0578.ocp Ralph Wheelock writer Wheelock, Rodulphus

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0295.ocp Long Meddow Longmeadow Longmeadow
place0048.ocp Connecticut Connecticut
place0097.ocp Hartford Hartford
place0099.ocp Hebron Hebron
place0174.ocp Norwich Norwich
place0123.ocp Crank Lebanon Crank
place0243.ocp Windham Windham
place0122.ocp Lebanon Lebanon

Organizations identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
org0098.ocp y.ethe School Moor’s Indian Charity School

Dates identified in this document:

Standard Form Text
1771-09-02 2nd2nd Inst.tInstant
1771-10-11 Oct.rOctober 11. 1771
1771-10-11 Octb.rOctober 11. 1771

Regularized text:

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variation shew'd showed
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Abbreviation Expansion
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oc o'clock
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nothg nothing
w.t what
lodg'd lodged
Colos Colonels
Yos Yours things
treatm.t treatment
Y.r Your
Miſsarys Missionaries
Yesterdy Yesterday
'em them
pp: people
Inst.t Instant
someth.g something
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HomeRalph Wheelock, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1771 October 11
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