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Samson Occom

Samson Occom was born at Mohegan in 1723 and became a revered and well-known figure amongst Native Americans, as well as white Europeans, in both New England and abroad.  He converted to Christianity as a teen and soon sought an education with the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, who ran a school for local whites.  Expecting to spend only a few days, Occom remained at Wheelock’s for 4 years.  While an apt pupil, Occom was eventually forced to set aside his studies due to considerable eye strain.  Not long after, he received an offer from the Montauk, which he quickly accepted, to teach among them.  It was here that he met and married Mary Fowler.  

Below are many items and original correspondence of not just Samson Occom, but a variety of people that he interacted with. Many of these original manuscripts are from Dartmouth’s Occom Circle with professional translations. Others are from websites like, which is open and free, but requires registration to download papers.  Still others come from a variety of colleges, universities, scholars, historical societies, etc. which are free to view and, in many cases, can be downloaded.

To the left is Moor’s Indian Charity School, est. 1754

Occom’s Circle (Dartmouth)

  • The Lord’s Prayer translated into Greek, French and Latin. Samson Occom’s early student work (exact date unknown). Handwriting is Occom’s but is somewhat different from that of the hand in his letters and journals. His name is written in a very formal and bold script.
  • Samson Occom, journal, 1743 December 6 to 1748 November 29 (transcribed) (Abstract: Occom records his travels from 6 December 1743 to 29 November 1748.)
  • Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samson Occom, 1749 September 6 (transcribed) (Abstract: Abstract: Wheelock writes to express his belief that Occom should take a school, provided he neither strains his eyes nor renders himself otherwise unavailable to the Honorable Commissioners.)
  • Solomon Williams, letter, to Samson Occom, 1749 September 7 (transcribed) (Abstract: Williams advises Occom to follow the advice given by Wheelock (see the previous manuscript.)
  • Samson Occom, journal, 1750 June 21 to 1751 February 9 (transcribed) (Brief Abstract: Occom details his travels along the East Coast from the autumn of 1750 to the late winter of 1751.)
  • Temperance Hannabal, narrative, 1754 February 7 (transcribed) (Abstract: Temperance Hannabal narrates the story of her religious awakening to Occom. This narrative is written in Occom’s hand, which is clear and legible. As is common with Occom’s hand, there are some uncrossed t’s; these have been corrected by the transcriber.)
  • Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Samson Occom, 1757 January 7 (transcribed) Abstract: Wheelock notifies Occom of a communication with the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the parts adjacent in America, in which the Commission recommends Occom for ordination. Wheelock feels it is more proper for the local presbytery to examine Occom for ordination, and requests that they provide testimonials of his character as soon as possible. Handwriting is not Wheelock’s.
  • Samson Occom, letter, to Mary Occom – Letter is undated, yet is likely written during Fundraising Tour, which would put it somewhere between 1765 and 1768. (transcribed) (Abstract: Samson Occom writes an emotional letter to his wife acknowledging the burden of caring for their children in his absence. He stresses his feelings for his family and the importance of faith and his ministry.)
  • SERMON AT THE ORDINATION OF MR SAMSON OCCOM AUGUST 29, 1759, printed in 1761 by James Parker & company New York (the first page is original and the following is an easier to read English transcription.
  • Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 April 5 (transcribed) (Abstract: Wheelock writes to update Whitaker — in England on the fundraising tour of Great Britain (with Samson Occom) — on the progress of various students and missionaries, and on Whitaker’s family.)
  • David Fowler, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 January 21 (transcribed) (Abstract: David Fowler writes of the progress of his Indian school, the present religious state of the Indians and their want of a minister, news of Kirkland, and personal matters.)
  • Joseph Johnson, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 December 1 (transcribed) (Abstract: Johnson sends regrets over the tone of his previous letter and the fact that he has not written lately and relates his plans to train as a schoolmaster.)
  • Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1766 December 8 (transcribed) (Abstract: Wheelock writes that Samuel William Johnson is on his way to England with a document certifying that Occom intends to stay out of the Mason case. He also updates Whitaker on the progress of various missions and relates that David McClure has brought a Mohawk boy to attend the charity school.)
  • Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Nathaniel Whitaker, 1767 April 11 (transcribed) (Abstract: Wheelock writes of Kirkland’s visit and of his progress on his mission among the Oneidas. He also relates news of Whitaker’s and Occom’s wives, as well as other business related to the Charity School.)
  • Eleazar Wheelock, letter, to Robert Keen, 1767 July 27 (transcribed) (Abstract: Wheelock writes of the desperate situation faced by Samuel Kirkland and the Indians at Oneida. He quotes liberally from Kirkland’s letters and mentions that David Fowler has undertaken a 400-mile journey on foot to secure aid.)

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