Eleazar Wheelock (April 22, 1711 – April 24, 1779) was an American Congregational minister, orator, educator, and founder of Dartmouth College.
He was born in Windham, Connecticut to Ralph Wheelock and Ruth Huntington. He is the great-grandson of the first teacher of the first free school in the United States located in Dedham, Massachusetts, The Rev. Ralph Wheelock. In 1733, he graduated from Yale College having won the first award of the Dean Berkeley Donation for the distinction in classics. He continued his theological studies at Yale until he was licensed to preach in May 1734, and installed as pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Lebanon, Connecticut. in February 1735. He served as their minister for 35 years. On April 29, 1735, he married Sarah Davenport. 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, a Mohegan who knew English, and had been converted to Christianity in his childhood. Wheelock’s success in preparing Occom for the ministry encouraged him to found a school in Lebanon 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 school, which was called the Moor’s Charity School, located on the Lebanon town green, 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.
He eventually decided to enlarge the school and add a college (for the education of whites in the classics, philosophy, and literature) and began to search for another location for the schools. Wheelock obtained a charter from King George III on December 13, 1769. Samson Occom and the British Board of Trustees headed by Lord Dartmouth opposed the addition of the college, and despite (or because of) Lord Dartmouth’s opposition, Wheelock named the college Dartmouth College. Hanover, New Hampshire was chosen for the site, and in 1771, four students were graduated in Dartmouth’s first commencement, including Wheelock’s son John.
The Rev. Eleazar Wheelock died during the Revolutionary War, on April 24, 1779. He is buried in Hanover. His writings include “Narrative of the Indian School at Lebanon,” which is available at this link: http://archive.org/details/briefnarrativeof00whit
In 1929, Eric Kelly wrote an article for the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine titled “The Dartmouth Indians.” Thanks to one of our blog subscribers, Nancy, I now have a copy of this article, plus a second one in 1800 by Lon Richardson which details the Indians at Dartmouth from 1800-1893. Big hat tip to Nancy for this contribution!!!
In the first article, Eric Kelly shares some history with us. Here is an extract of some of the text of the article:
“There is hardly a Dartmouth gathering anywhere at which some reference is not made to the Dartmouth Indian, but who was that Indian? And yet it was probably the efforts of Samson Occom, an Indian, in England, when he raised a sum equivalent to about $66,000, that determined the success of the Moor School and Dartmouth College.
Indians are mentioned in about every book written about the college, yet outside of the names of Occom, Joseph Brant, Charles G. Eastman and more lately John Meyers of baseball fame, there is little familiarity among the alumni with the names of the Indians who have attended Dartmouth and the Moor School since 1743. Yet that unwritten history fairly sparkles with romance. Some of the early Moor School men were engaged in the Brothertown enterprise in New York where an attempt was made to settle a colony of Indians who would live as white men did. Somewhere in Deansville, NY, in a cemetery discovered by Dr. W. D. Love and members of the Hamilton College Alumni, probably lies the body of Samson Occom, the grave unmarked, as far as I know, and not distinguishable from the graves of other Indians. The same is true of the Indians buried at St. Francis in Canada and New London, Conn.
There were Indians from Dartmouth who blazed trails into the West. There were Dartmouth Indians who led scouting parties in the Revolution and engaged in the war on both American and British sides. One Indian in Hanover thought himself the Lost Dauphin or Louis 17th of France; another was a the age of 14 elected King of a tribe of Indians in Canada; another went back to Canada a hundred years ago and founded a church and a school that have been continued until this day. And this is but the beginning. The records are scattered over so many books, letters, diaries and manuscripts that it will require years of patient effort to collect them all.”
Kelly then goes on to tell us that on the inside page of one of Wheelock’s Memorandum books, he found a list of Indians. He titles this Wheelock’s List 1743-1770, which I’ve transcribed below. When the student only had one name, it is in the Last Name column. And who knew that rusticated meant expelled?
|Date||Last (or only)||First||Tribe||Comments|
|4-9-1757||Woolley||Joseph||Delaware||since appointed schoolmaster among Indians|
|4-12-1760||Fowler||David||Montauk||appointed schoolmaster among the Indians|
|4-28-1760||Occom||Aaron||Mohegan||went away October 1761|
|11-26-1760||Uncaus||Naiah Isaiah||Mohegan||taken to work on the farm|
|8-1-1761||Negyes||Mohawk||since returned home|
|7-28-1762||Mossock||Daniel||Farmington||went away soon after|
|9-25-1762||Ashpo||Samuel||Mohegan||licensed to preach|
|4-10-1763||Simon||Manuel||Narragansett||sent away soon after|
|9-1763||Poquiantup||Hannah||Nehantic||went away soon after|
|11-30-1764||Major||William||Mohawk||went away Feb. 16 of 67|
|11-30-1754||Minor||William||Mohawk||went away April of 67|
|6-12-1765||Katherine||Mohawk||went away Jan. 9 1767|
|6-12-1765||Mary||Mohawk||went away Jan. 9 1767|
|1-11-1766||Green||John||Mohawk||went away Feb. 16 1767|
|9-28-1766||Margaret||Mohawk||went away Jan. 9 1767|
|12-8-1766||Seth||Mohawk||went away Feb. 16 1767|
|12-29-1767||Shadduck||Toby’s wife and child|
|4-3-1767||Nabby||Narragansett||Abigail went away June 4|
|12-4-1767||Clapp||Nathan||Indian of Yarmouth||expelled July 9, 1768|
|12-11-1767||Mooch||Mary||of Newcut in Norwich|