By Caroline K. Andler
Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, Congregational minister, orator, educator, and founder of Dartmouth College. in 1733, graduated from Yale College. He continued his theological studies at Yale until he was licensed to preach in May of 1734, and installed as pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Lebanon, Conn. in February of 1735. He served as their minister for 35 years. He participated fully and enthusiastically in the Great Awakening, which had begun to sweep the Connecticut River Valley around the time of his graduation from Yale. He was one of its greatest proponents in Connecticut, serving as the “chief intelligencer of revival news”.
In 1743, he took in a student named Samson Occom (husband of my fifth great grand aunt), a Mohegan who knew English, and had been converted to Christianity in his childhood. Samson writes in his manuscript, “ At this time my Poor Mother was going to Lebanon, and having some knowledge of Mr. Wheelock and Learning that he had a number of English Youth under his Tuition I had a great Inclination to go to him and to be with him a week or a Fortnight, and Desired my Mother to Ask Mr. Wheelock whether he would take me a little while to Instruct me in Reading. Mother did so, and when she came back, she said Mr. Wheelock wanted to see me as soon as possible. So I went up thinking I should be back again in a few days. When I got up there, he received me with kindness & compassion, & instead of staying a Fortnight or 3 weeks, I spent 4 years with him.”
Eleazar’s success in preparing Occom for the ministry encouraged him to found a charity boarding school for Native American Indians, with the purpose of instilling, in the boys, elements of secular and religious education, so that they could return to their native culture as missionaries. The girls were to be taught “housewifery” and writing. The school was to be supported by charitable contribution. His plans to educate the young Native American students in his Charity School did not progress well however – many of his students became sick and died while some turned profligate and in other ways failed to successfully pursue the charter of missionary work. The school was located in Lebanon, CT. At the site of the original school are several plaques and historical markers commemorating the location. Portions of the original school building remain, but in a form much changed from the original. The site is now an historical landmark in Columbia, CT, which was formed from Lebanon.
Timetable for Moor Charity School
1743-1748 Samson Occom, Mohegan, was the first of Eleazer Wheelock’s pupils. In 1754, missionary John Brainerd sent Jacob Woolley and John Pumshire of the Delawares to Wheelock’s school. Pumshire was fourteen and Wooly an eleven year old. 1757 – The third to attend was Samson Woyboy (Wauby), a Groton Pequot, probably a cousin of Samson Occom. He had been brought up by an English family. Before coming to Wheelock he had taught an Indian School at Mushantuxet, but “gave up to one who could write and cipher better.” He entered February 8, and withdrew after nineteen weeks because of “bodily infirmities of long standing.” In 1759 he taught again at Mushantuxet, and in 1760 at Stonington. In 1762 he was a soldier, and died a few years later, perhaps while still in service. (Love 63-64).
Two Delawares, Hezekiah Calvin and Joseph Woolley, enrolled in 1757. Joseph Woolley was described as “of middling capacity, naturally modest and something bashful,” and Hezekiah Calvin as a “smart little fellow, who loves play”. They remained at the Indian school for eight years. Woolley worked with Samuel Kirkland with the Six Nations and Calvin taught among the Mohawks for awhile.
Amy Johnson, Joseph Johnson, Aaron Occom, Isaiah Uncas and David Fowler were the next five pupils. All but David Fowler were Mohegans. Fowler was a Montauk. Isaiah Uncas was the sob of Sachem Ben Uncas 3d Joseph Johnson and Amy, his sister, were of a prominent Mohegan family. The councilor to the Uncas family was their uncle, Zachary Johnson. Their father, Joseph was a captain of Indian scouts in the French and Indian War. When Joseph was fifteen he was sent to the Oneidas as a schoolmaster. David Fowler was older than the other students and had already been taught by his brother- in- law, Samson Occom, at Montauk.
Three Mohawks enrolled in 1761 – Joseph, Negyes and Center. Negyes and Center quickly became ill and were returned home.
Joseph was Joseph Brant who was born in 1742 along the Ohio River. His Indian name was Thayendanegea. He attended Moor’s Charity School for Indians in Lebanon, Connecticut, while still a boy. Brant learned English and white customs as a student there. His brother-in-law, British General Sir William Johnson, financed Brant’s education. Johnson hoped Brant would provide him with assistance in negotiating with the Indians residing in the northeastern English colonies. The French and Indian War interrupted his education. Johnson withdrew the thirteen-year-old Brant from school to assist him against the French and their native allies. Brant returned to the school following the conflict. It was at Moor’s Charity School for Indians that Brant converted to the Anglican faith. He would eventually serve as a missionary among the Indians for the Anglican Church. Upon graduating from school, Brant served as an interpreter for Johnson and his eventual successor, Guy Johnson.
Eight Oneidas attended the school.
- Little Peter was the son of the late Oneida Chief, Gawke.
- David, Oneida. Returned to his tribe in 1766.
- Jacob, Oneida. Went home in the spring of 1767; brought back to the school in the fall of the same year.
- Mundius, was reported as late as 1772 as teaching in the Oneida country.
- Hannah Thomas, a daughter of the Oneida Deacon, Thomas, was a pupil.
In 1769, Thomas removed all the Oneidas from the school. None of them had attended school for even three years.
1761 Miriam Storrs (Store) , an eleven year old Delaware, she remained at the school for three years. In a small, hand-sewn memo booklet, Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, wrote down the clothing ration issued to Miriam Store: “One pair of shoes… 5 yards and ½ of course (osnaberg)…9 yards and ¼ of salt sacking…a measure of muslin for an apron” Wheelock, in a letter of Nov. 16, 1761, described Miriam as “an amiable little black savage Christian”.
Between 1761 and 1769, Wheelock enrolled some 16 Indian girls at Moor’s School. They came from the nearby Algonquin tribes of the Narragansett, Mohegan, Niantic, and Pequot, and the Delaware, also two Iroquois tribes, the Mohawks and the Oneidas, due to the influenence of Sir William Johnson, sent some boys.
1762 Sarah Wyyog, Mohegan
Enoch Closs, Delaware. Ran away in 1765.
Samuel Tallman, Delaware. According to Love (69-70) he “became a carpenter, lived among the New England Indians, being at one time at Stockbridge, and was eventually associated with them in the westward migration.”
Daniel Mossock, of the Tunxis tribe, son of Solomon Mossock, a prominent family at Farmington. Remained only a few months. He was a soldier during the Revolution and became a party to the Brothertown emmigration.
1763 Hannah Poquiantup, Niantic. “Went away a few months after” (Wheelock’s note).
Hannah Garret, Pequot, resident among the Narragansetts. Married David Fowler, 1766.
Mary and John Secatur, children of the prominent Narragansett, John Secetur, both were involved with Joseph Johnson and Samson Occom in the Brothertown emmigration plans.
1764 William Primus, Mohawk. Said to have been the natural son of Sir William Johnson and Molly Brant. Sent home December 10, 1766. Primus died fighting against the Americans in the Revolution. (Love 68).
1766 John Green, Seth, Mohawks. was probably the son of the Mohawk chief. Johanas became an interpretor for white missionaries. Moses, Johanas, Peter, William Secundus, Abraham Primus/Major-Minor, and Abram Secundus were all approved as schoolmasters.
1767 Patience Johnson, Mohegan. Dismissed.
1768 Among the New England Indians students were Hannah Nonesuch – daughter of Mohegans Joshua and Hannah Nonesuch; Nathan Clap, a Cape Cod Indian.
Samuel Ashpo, Mohegan, was the son of Ashobapow and taught at the Indian school at Mushantuxet until 1757, when he went into the government service as an interpreter. In 1759 he returned to Mushantuxet to teach and be their minister.
Jacob Fowler, Montauk, younger brother of David Fowler was the school master at Groton in 1775. Jacob Fowler was one of the original trustees at Brothertown.
Pious Sarah Simons had five children whom she sent to Eleazar Wheelock’s
school before the war of 1775. Her two sons were with the first who went with
Mr. Wheelock from Lebanon, Connecticut to New Hampshire to the first sessions
at Dartmouth College. This college was named from Lord Dartmouth who helped
to raise money to found the school for Indians. The New England Indians
were anxious for education as soon as they saw the white man knew more than
they about certain things. Among those most anxious for educations were the
Narragansetts. Emanuel went to Wheelock’s school April 10th, 1763
and Sarah came in December 1765. James entered in 1767 and later pastored at
the Narrangansett Church. He also enlisted in 1775 and fought in the
Abraham Simons entered school in 1768 and succeeded Jacob Fowler as
school master at Groton in 1775. Daniel entered in 1768, was the first to receive a degree and only Indian educated by Wheelock to receive a degree during the educator’s life. He also
preached in 1778 and taught at Stockbridge in 1783 and succeeded the Rev. John
Brainerd as missionary to the Indians at Cranberry, N.J. John Mathews was a
cousin to these children and traveled with Daniel on his missions. John Mathews was to become an Oneida missionary under Samuel Kirkland;
Charles, Daniel, Narragansett. Withdrawn by his father in 1767.
Also enrolled was a Tuscorora, an Oriske Indian and the son of the Seneca Chief, Tekananda. .
A nephew of the Rev. Samuel Niles, ,the Indian minister of the Narragansetts, James Niles and Samuel Niles, Jr., the minister’s son were sent to the boarding school.. James moved westward with the Christian Indians before the American Revolution. Charles Daniel, son of John Daniels, withdrawn by his father in 1767; two girls named Abigail and Martha; John and Tobias Shattock, sons of John Shattock/Shaddock, Narragansetts. John and Toby had already been educated by Edward Deake in the Narragansett school.
The Moor Charity School Records can be found at Dartmouth and at Wheaton, Illinois. Dartmouth University printed many of the letters of the Indian Missionaries in a book titled “Letters of Eleazer Wheelock’s Indians.”
Laura J. Murray wrote “To Do Good To My Indian Brethren The Writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751-1776”.
“American Indians and Christian Missions” University of Chicago Press
“ Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England” by W. DeLoss Love
“Poor Richard meets the Native Schooling” by Margaret Szasz