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Samson Occom, journal, 1777 September 13-26

ms-number: 777513

[note (type: abstract): Occom records his travels as an itinerant preacher in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.][note (type: handwriting): Occom's handwriting is mostly clear and legible.][note (type: paper): Two small sheets folded into a booklet are in fair condition, with moderate staining and wear.][note (type: ink): Brown ink is faded.][note (type: noteworthy): On two recto, in the entry for Monday the 22nd, "Asphos" refers to Samuel[pers0002.ocp] and Robert Aspho[pers0767.ocp]. If Occom's intention regarding a person or place name is uncertain, it has been left untagged. An editor, likely 19th-century, has added several notes and overwritten large portions of the text. These edits have not been transcribed.]

[Sepr | September]SeprSeptember 13: 1777

[top] Beriah Willis[pers0794.ocp] at Gui[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): lf]lf
Comer Smith[pers0499.ocp]
Beriah Willis[pers0794.ocp] at Gui[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): lf]lf
Comer Smith[pers0499.ocp]
Left home and [reachd | reached]reachdreached [voluntown | Volentown]voluntownVolentown[place0316.ocp]
[Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged with [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. John Gordon[pers0776.ocp]
[illegible] [Preachd | preached]Preachdpreached at the place all Day

[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): 15:]15: Monday

went a little way [eaſt | east]eaſteast
and [Preachd | preached]Preachdpreached, after meeting
went on [Eaſtward | eastward]Eaſtwardeastward, [arrivd | arrived]arrivdarrived to
Scituate[place0327.ocp], put up at one [Mr | Mr.]MrMr.
Samuel Angell[pers0766.ocp]
's a Preacher.
[preſently | Presently]preſentlyPresently after I got there a
number of People Came together
and I gave them a word of [Exhorn | exhortation]Exhornexhortation

16: [TueſDay | Tuesday]TueſDayTuesday

had another meeting

17: [Wedneſday | Wednesday]WedneſdayWednesday

went to [Gloceſter | Gloucester]GloceſterGloucester[place0321.ocp] [above] 8 miles8 miles
and [Preachd | preached]Preachdpreached in Elder [winſer | Winser]winſerWinser's[pers0795.ocp]
meeting [Houſe | house]Houſehouse, after meeting
went [Houſe | house]Houſehouse with Deacon Brown[pers0770.ocp]
and Lodged there —

18: [Thirdſday | Thursday]ThirdſdayThursday

went back to [gap: faded][guess (h-dawnd): Scituate]Scituate[place0327.ocp]
and there met [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Kelley[pers0780.ocp] [gap: faded][guess (h-dawnd): [S | Samuel]SSamuel[pers0002.ocp] [& | and]&and [R | Robert]RRobert[pers0767.ocp]][S | Samuel]SSamuel[pers0002.ocp] [& | and]&and [R | Robert]RRobert[pers0767.ocp]
Ashpo at one [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Modbury[pers0784.ocp]s and
and had meeting there [S. | Samuel]S.Samuel Ashpo[pers0002.ocp]
Spoke — had another meeting in
the Same [Houſe | house]Houſehouse in the evening, I
[illegible]went home with [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. [Abm | Abraham]AbmAbraham Angell[pers0765.ocp]
and there [Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged, —

19: [Fryday | Friday]FrydayFriday

went to [Johnſon | Johnson]JohnſonJohnson [Mr | Mr.]MrMr.
[S | Samuel]SSamuel Angel[pers0766.ocp]
went with me, [Preachd | preached]Preachdpreached
in the meeting [Houſe | house]Houſehouse, in the [Eveng | evening]Evengevening
[Preachd | preached]Preachdpreached again, in a [privet | private]privetprivate [H | house]Hhouse
[Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged at [Esqr | Esq.]EsqrEsq. Balknap[pers0768.ocp]'s my
old Friend, —

20: Saturday

morning went on
my way towards the [Eaſt | East]EaſtEast [Esqr | Esq.]EsqrEsq.
went with me, we [Stop[above] tt | stopped]Stop[above] ttstopped
at one [Esqr | Esq.]EsqrEsq. Mantans[pers0782.ocp] and we
took our Breakfast, after [Brea | breakfast]Breabreakfast
went on and [Calld | called]Calldcalled on Widow Pain[pers0701.ocp]
from Long Island[place0129.ocp], the [Esqr | Esq.]EsqrEsq.[pers0768.ocp] [feft | left]feftleft
me at Prodvidence[place0292.ocp], I [kep | kept]kepkept on
Eastward, got to [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. John Allens[pers0764.ocp]
about 2 in the afternoon in
Rehoboth[place0326.ocp], [Dind | dined]Dinddined there Soon after
Dinner went to [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Peck[pers0785.ocp]s [illegible][guess (h-dawnd): and]and
[S[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): e]epper | supper]S[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): e]eppersupper at [Miniſter | minister]Miniſterminister of the [Plac | place]Placplace
and there [Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged

21: Sabbath

[Preachd | preached]Preachdpreached in [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Peck[pers0785.ocp]s
meeting [H | house]Hhouse all Day, — went
Home with [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Deacon Blanding[pers0769.ocp]
had meeting there and [Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged

22: Monday

went towards Bridg[above] ee
wat[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): t]ter[place0319.ocp]
Deacon [B: | Blanding]B:Blanding[pers0769.ocp] went with
me [illegible] about 3 miles and Saw
Kelley[pers0780.ocp] And As[above] hhpos again[illegible]
after Dinner went on my way
towards Bridgewater[place0319.ocp]: got to
Tanton[place0231.ocp], and there [Stopt | stopped]Stoptstopped at
[Mr | Mr.]MrMr. [Hoſkins | Hoskins]HoſkinsHoskins[pers0777.ocp] a [Seperat | separate]Seperatseparate Preach[above] erer
and [Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged there. —

23 [Tuſeday | Tuesday]TuſedayTuesday

went to meeting at the
place heard one [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Willis[pers0794.ocp] a [Bapt | Baptist]BaptBaptist
preacher, after he had Spoke I
gave a word of Exhortation, and
then went home with [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. [Hoſkins | Hoskins]HoſkinsHoskins[pers0777.ocp]
and Tarried there all Day, and
in the Evening had a meeting
at the Same [Houſe | house]Houſehouse, Lodged
there again —

24: [Wedneſday | Wednesday]WedneſdayWednesday

went off early in
the morning and [Stopt | stopped]Stoptstopped [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Deans[pers1811.ocp]
and a meeting there, in the after
noon went into Town [& | and]&and had anothe[above] rr
meeting there in the [illegible] [Houſe | house]Houſehouse, [abot | about]abotabout
[Sun Set | sunset]Sun Setsunset [tooke | took]tooketook Tea with [Mrs | Mrs.]MrsMrs. [Mcwa
ter | McWa
[Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged where [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Jones[pers0779.ocp]
Boarded, a Young Preacher, —

25 [Thirdſday | Thursday]ThirdſdayThursday

got up very early
and went on towards Freetown[place0320.ocp]
Stop at [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Tobe[pers0789.ocp]'s in Bartly[place0318.ocp] [& | and]&and
took [Breakfaſt | breakfast]Breakfaſtbreakfast there, Soon after
went on, [arrivd | arrived]arrivdarrived to Freetown[place0320.ocp]
about 11: [Calld | called]Calldcalled on [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Walcut[pers0791.ocp]
a Young Preacher was there
a Little while and went on a
gain [Mr | Mr.]MrMr. Walcut[pers0791.ocp] went with me
to the Indian Place got there
[Some Time | sometime]Some Timesometime before [Sun Set | sunset]Sun Setsunset I
[Lodgd | lodged]Lodgdlodged at Daniel wards[pers0792.ocp] the
principle Indian in the Place

[above] 2626 [Fryday | Friday]FrydayFriday

about 10 in the Morn
had a meeting and there was a
Long Island

Long Island is an island located in southeast New York State. In 1824, historian Silas Wood claimed that 13 different tribes inhabited the island when the Dutch and English arrived in 1639: the Canarsie, the Rockaway, the Matinecock, the Merrick, the Massapequa, the Nissequoge, the Secatoag, the Seatuket, the Patchoag, the Corchaug, the Shinnecock, the Manhasset, and the Montaukett. This is the commonly accepted tribal history of Long Island, and Wood’s theory is taught in New York textbooks today. Yet, in 1992, historian John Strong challenged this dominant narrative, arguing that tribal systems did not develop on Long Island until after Europeans arrived. Based on Dutch and English colonists’ accounts, the Algonquian communities on western Long Island likely spoke the Delaware-Munsee dialect and those to the east spoke languages related to the southern New England Algonquian dialects. These indigenous peoples organized themselves by language and kinship, but beyond village systems and the occasional alliance, there existed no formal tribal structure. Rather, internal structures arose among the Montauks, the Shinnecocks, the Poospatucks, and the Matinnocks to cope with English settlers, and became integral to these peoples’ survival. Although new diseases and land negotiations severely encroached on the freedom of Long Island’s Native population, these groups that developed tribal structures retain a sense of community today. By the 18th century, much of the island had fallen into the hands of the English, who were the sole European power on Long Island once the Dutch relinquished their claims to the land after the second Anglo-Dutch War in 1664. During the Great Awakening of the 18th century, Occom spent 12 years serving as a missionary to the Montaukett Indians of Long Island, along with Presbyterian minister Azariah Horton. Today, the western half of the island is densely populated due to its proximity to Manhattan, and its eastern half is mainly devoted to resort towns. The Shinnecocks and the Poospatucks retain autonomous reservations on Long Island.


Gloucester is a city on Cape Ann in the northern part of the Massachusetts Bay. When French explorer Samuel de Champlain came to what would become Gloucester, the local Pawtuckets met him with hostility, and a war broke out between the French and their allied tribes against other Native Americans in the area in the winter of 1606-07. Men of the Dorchester Company arrived from Gloucestershire, England and settled Gloucester in 1623, hoping to make it a fishing colony. They reported a severe decrease in the Native Americans population, as a result of disease that killed off two-thirds of the inhabitants by 1617. There were not enough people to make Gloucester a permanent town until twenty years later, and in 1642, Gloucester -- named for Gloucestershire -- was incorporated. Shipbuilding, farming, and fishing sustained the economy throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though hampered by the American Revolution. In his 1777 journal, Occom describes his travels throughout Massachusetts during which he came through Gloucester and preached at Elder Winser’s meetinghouse.


Taunton is a city on the Taunton River in Bristol County, MA, located around 35 miles south of Boston and 20 miles east of Providence, RI. Taunton was known as Titicut, meaning “the place of a great river,” by its original inhabitants, the Wampanoags. Epidemics throughout New England devastated the Wampanoag people even before contact. In 1637, members of the Plymouth Company completed the Tetiquet purchase with the Wampanoags, taking land that would eventually become Taunton, and naming it after a village in Somersetshire, England, from which many of its English settlers hailed. In 1654, Puritan minister John Eliot encouraged many of Taunton’s remaining Wampanoags to move to the Indian praying town of Ponkapoag, leaving Taunton’s population primarily English. As a result, Taunton saw multiple raids during King Philip’s War, which began in 1675 as a conflict between the Wampanoags and the English. By the time Occom preached in Taunton, the area’s Wampanoag population had been almost destroyed, and his audiences were primarily English. During the Revolution, Taunton was again the site of several skirmishes. In 1864, the town had grown large enough to be reincorporated as a city by the state of Massachusetts.


Freetown is located in southern Massachusetts. In 1659, pilgrims purchased a four-mile tract from the Wampanoag Indians Wamsitti and his squaw Tattapanum for “twenty coats, two rugs, two iron pots, two kettles and one little kettle, eight pair of shoes, six pair of stockings, one dozen of hoes, one dozen of hatchets, two yards of broadcloth,” and most likely alcohol (Pierce 3). This became known as the Freeman’s Purchase. The town was incorporated in 1683. In 1747, Pastor Silas Brett came to Freetown, hoping to engage with the religious revivals of The Great Awakening. He spent the next thirty years preaching among the Pocasset Indians, a mission that ultimately proved unsuccessful. In a 1777 journal entry, Occom describes his travels throughout Massachusetts as an itinerant preacher during which he came through Freetown and met a young preacher, Mr. Walcut, and together they went to “the Indian Place.”

Johnson Hall

Johnson Hall, which still stands today, refers to a Georgian house located in the present-day town of Johnstown, New York. It also denoted the small village surrounding the hall that became Johnstown. Its namesake is Sir William Johnson. Following the close of the French and Indian War in 1763, Johnson moved from what was known as Fort Johnson located in the present-day town of Amsterdam, New York to Johnson Hall, which became an important site in the history of Indian-white relations in the area. Johnson lived out the rest of his life there, dying in 1774 following a fraught conference regarding the mistreatment of the Shawnees by the British. Johnson wrote several letters to Wheelock from Johnson Hall with news of the Indians and council meetings with their representatives. David Fowler and Joseph Woolley, missionaries trained by Wheelock who went to work with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), both called on Johnson, spending time at and writing letters from Johnson Hall about their work.

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.

Ashpo, Samuel

Ashpo was born into a very powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and became an influential Mohegan preacher. He was converted at Mohegan during the Great Awakening, and became a schoolteacher among the Indians at Mushantuxet from 1753 until 1757 and from 1759 until 1762, when he left to attend Moor's. Between 1757 and 1759, he worked as an interpreter, and supposedly struggled with alcohol. He attended Moor's for only six months, and then continued his teaching and missionary career on successive trips to Chenango (the first was cut short because of violence in the region). On July 1, 1767, the Connecticut Board dismissed him from their service because of further charges of drinking. He continued to preach successfully to various New England Indian tribes until his death in 1795. The variations of his name exist in part because Ashpo is an abbreviated form of Ashobapow.

Ashpo, Robert

Robert Ashpo was the brother of Samuel Ashpo, the influential Mohegan preacher. They were born into a powerful Mohegan family, considered equal to the Uncas line, and Robert became a tribal leader. We have no specific evidence of his education or conversion. But he was one of the signers of at least three important petitions that were submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly. The first, entitled "Appeal of the Mohegan Indians agst the Colony of Connecticut & Others" is dated July 23, 1746; Ashpo was one of over 80 signatories. The second was written by Occom in 1785 on behalf of five other signatories: Henry Quaquaquid and Robert Ashpo of the Mohegan Tribe and Phillip Cuish, Joseph Uppuiquiyantup, Isaac Uppuiquiyantup of the Niantics, expressing their dismay over restrictive fishing prohibitions (manuscript 785340). The third from May 14, 1789 is signed by Ashpo and Henry Quaquaquid, and using the metaphor of the "dish," complains bitterly about the loss of Mohegan territory and asks the Assembly to divide the "common dish" of the Tribe into individual dishes so each may do "as he pleases." These petitions invoke Tribal sovereignty, show collaboration between tribal leaders, and also employ the rhetoric of "improvement" to save their lands. Occom and Joseph Johnson record Ashpo's speaking and leadership at several meetings at Mohegan and elsewhere in the 1770s and 1780s. Ashpo did not move to Brothertown and remained in Mohegan.

Willis, Beriah
Gordon, John
Angell, Samuel

Unidentified Smith.

Angell, Abraham
Allen, John
Peck, Samuel

Samuel Peck was a New Light Separatist minister in Rehoboth, MA. Although he came from a prominent local family and prepared for college, he never attended. Instead, he was ordained in October 1751 by several Separatist ministers. He led a Separate congregation, which was technically classified as Baptist, in Rehoboth until his death in 1768. Occom visited him in 1777.

Ward, Daniel
Document Summary

People identified in this document:

id Text in document Role in header Authorized Name
pers0794.ocp Beriah Willis mentioned Willis, Beriah
pers0499.ocp Comer Smith mentioned Smith
pers0776.ocp M r Mr. John Gordon mentioned Gordon, John
pers0766.ocp M r Mr. Samuel Angell mentioned Angell, Samuel
pers0795.ocp Elder winſer Winser 's mentioned Winser
pers0770.ocp Deacon Brown mentioned Brown
pers0780.ocp M r Mr. Kelley mentioned Kelly
pers0002.ocp S Samuel mentioned Ashpo, Samuel
pers0767.ocp R Robert mentioned Ashpo, Robert
pers0784.ocp M r Mr. Modbury mentioned Modbury
pers0002.ocp S. Samuel Ashpo mentioned Ashpo, Samuel
pers0765.ocp M r Mr. Ab m Abraham Angell mentioned Angell, Abraham
pers0766.ocp M r Mr. S Samuel Angel mentioned Angell, Samuel
pers0768.ocp Esq r Esq. Balknap mentioned Balknap
pers0782.ocp Esq r Esq. Mantans mentioned Mantan
pers0701.ocp Widow Pain mentioned Payne
pers0768.ocp Esq r Esq. mentioned Balknap
pers0764.ocp M r Mr. John Allens mentioned Allen, John
pers0785.ocp M r Mr. Peck mentioned Peck, Samuel
pers0769.ocp Deacon Blanding mentioned Blanding
pers0769.ocp Deacon B: Blanding mentioned Blanding
pers0780.ocp Kelley mentioned Kelly
pers0777.ocp M r Mr. Hoſkins Hoskins mentioned Hoskins
pers0794.ocp M r Mr. Willis mentioned Willis, Beriah
pers1811.ocp M r Mr. Deans mentioned Dean
pers0783.ocp M rs Mrs. M c wa ter McWa ter mentioned McWater
pers0779.ocp M r Mr. Jones mentioned Jones
pers0789.ocp M r Mr. Tobe mentioned Tobe
pers0791.ocp M r Mr. Walcut mentioned Wolcott
pers0792.ocp Daniel wards mentioned Ward, Daniel

Places identified in this document:

id Text in document Authorized Name
place0316.ocp voluntown Volentown Volentown
place0327.ocp Scituate Scituate
place0321.ocp Gloceſter Gloucester Gloucester
place0129.ocp Long Island Long Island
place0292.ocp Pro d vidence Providence
place0326.ocp Rehoboth Rehoboth
place0319.ocp Bridg e wat t er Bridgewater
place0319.ocp Bridgewater Bridgewater
place0231.ocp Tanton Taunton
place0320.ocp Freetown Freetown
place0318.ocp Bartly Bartly

This document does not contain any tagged organizations.

This document does not contain any tagged dates.

Regularized text:

Type Original Regularized
variation reachd reached
variation voluntown Volentown
variation Lodgd lodged
modernization Mr Mr.
variation Preachd preached
modernization eaſt east
modernization Eaſtward eastward
variation arrivd arrived
modernization preſently Presently
modernization TueſDay Tuesday
modernization Wedneſday Wednesday
variation Gloceſter Gloucester
modernization winſer Winser
modernization Houſe house
variation Thirdſday Thursday
variation Fryday Friday
modernization Johnſon Johnson
variation Eveng evening
variation privet private
modernization Esqr Esq.
modernization Eaſt East
variation Calld called
variation Dind dined
variation S[illegible][guess (h-dawnd): e]epper supper
modernization Miniſter minister
variation Plac place
variation Stopt stopped
modernization Hoſkins Hoskins
variation Seperat separate
modernization Tuſeday Tuesday
variation Sun Set sunset
variation tooke took
modernization Mrs Mrs.
variation Mcwa
modernization Breakfaſt breakfast
variation Some Time sometime

Expanded abbreviations:

Abbreviation Expansion
Sepr September
Exhorn exhortation
S Samuel
& and
R Robert
S. Samuel
Abm Abraham
H house
Stop[above] tt stopped
Brea breakfast
B: Blanding
Bapt Baptist
abot about

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

Summary of errors found in this document:

Number of dates with invalid 'when' attributes: 0
Number of nested "hi" tags: (consider merging the @rend attributes, or using other tags) 0
Number of tags with invalid 'rend' attributes: 0 (out of 29)
Number of people/places/organizations with unknown keys: 0 (out of 47)
Number of "add" tags with unknown 'place' attributes: 0 (out of 8)
Mixed case attribute values in header (potential error): 0 (out of 171)
HomeSamson Occom, journal, 1777 September 13-26
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