Eleazor Wheelock and the Dartmouth Indians

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
1743-1748 Occom Samson    
12-18-1754 Pumshire John Delaware since dead
12-18-1754 Wooley Jacob Delaware run away
2-18-1757 Woyboy Samson   since dead
4-9-1757 Woolley Joseph Delaware since appointed schoolmaster among Indians
4-9-1757 Calvin Hezekiah Delaware  
12-7-1758 Johnson Joseph Mohegan  
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
6-2-1761 Johnson Amie Mohegan  
8-1-1761 Brant Joseph    
8-1-1761 Negyes   Mohawk since returned home
8-1-1761 Center   Mohawk  
9-1761 Stores Miriam Delaware  
11-27-1761 Moses   Mohawk  
11-27-1761 Johannes   Mohawk  
4-20-1762 Wyoge Sarah Mohegan rusticated (expelled)
7-22-1762 Closs Enoch Delaware run away
7-22-1762 Tallman Samuel Delaware  
7-28-1762 Mossock Daniel Farmington went away soon after
7-28-1762 Major Abraham Mohawk  
7-28-1762 Minor Abraham Mohawk  
7-28-1762 Peter   Mohawk  
8-24-1762 Johnson Patience Mohegan since dismissed
9-25-1762 Ashpo Samuel Mohegan licensed to preach
11-27-1763 Fowler Jacob Montauk  
4-10-1763 Simon Manuel Narragansett sent away soon after
9-1763 Poquiantup Hannah Nehantic went away soon after
12-17-1763 Garrett Hannah Narragansett
12-17-1763 Sequettass Mary Narragansett
11-30-1764 Major William Mohawk went away Feb. 16 of 67
11-30-1754 Minor William Mohawk went away April of 67
11-30-1754 Elias   Mohawk  
6-12-1765 Susannah   Mohawk  
6-12-1765 Katherine   Mohawk went away Jan. 9 1767
6-12-1765 Mary   Mohawk went away Jan. 9 1767
6-12-1765 David   Oneida  
10-5-1765 Mundeus   Oneida  
10-5-1765 Jacob   Oneida  
12-13-1765 Symonds Sarah Narragansett
12-13-1765 Daniel Charles Narragansett
1-11-1766 Green John Mohawk went away Feb. 16 1767
6-27-1766 Oneida William    
9-28-1766 Margaret   Mohawk went away Jan. 9 1767
12-3-1766 Occom Aaron Mohegan  
12-8-1766 Seth   Mohawk went away Feb. 16 1767
12-16-1767 Shadduck John Narragansett
12-16-1767 Shadduck Toby    
12-29-1767 Shadduck Toby’s wife and child  
4-3-1767 Nabby   Narragansett Abigail went away June 4
4-3-1767 Martha   Narragansett
6-10-1767 Nonesuck Hannah Nehantick
9-24-1767 Hannah   Oneyada  
9-24-1767 Cornelius   Oneyada  
9-24-1767 Peter   Oneyada  
9-24-1767 Minor William Oneyada  
10-14-1767 Simons James    
10-29-1767 Apolles   Mohawk  
12-4-1767 Clapp Nathan Indian of Yarmouth expelled July 9, 1768
12-11-1767 Mooch Mary of Newcut in Norwich
1-2-1768 Peter   Oneida  
6-30-1768 Hannah      
6-28-1768 Joseph      
6-28-1768 Joseph   Oneida  
10-28-1768 Symans Abraham Narragansett
3-17-1770 Symons Daniel    
9-1770 Watts Caleb    

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Delaware, Farmington, History, Mohawk, Mohegan, Narragansett, Oneida. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Eleazor Wheelock and the Dartmouth Indians

  1. Sir, I am very interested in the Indians at Dartmouth. I am a Eleazor Wheelock decendant; as my Mother is Julia Margaret Wheelock Ames from Birmingham, AL, daughter of George Frederick Wheelock. I am trying to find the Indians in my lineage. I have been told they were Powahatan, or the Dartmouth Indians. Any information you may afford would be greatly appreciated.
    Julia E. Ames
    Spring, TX
    281 638 5452

  2. Dianna (webb) reilly says:

    I thought Wheelock was a tribe and here he was a man who taught the natives to speak english. do he ever teach people with the last name leeper or webb?

  3. Norman Fay says:

    As far as I know Wheelock is a surname the Oneida Indians from Northern New York used. And you can check into Majorie Wheelock in Colorado. She is on the Tribal Counsel there I believe and is connected to Eleazor. Eleazor is also one of my ancestors and I am also trying to find info on the Native American in me. Hopefully this helps. if find out anything could you let me know ?

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