Mohegan Preacher Samson Occum, a distant relative on both sides of my Mohegan family.
Samson Occum was born in 1723 in Mohegan,
Connecticut, which is near to my home in Uncasville.
From a collection in the Connecticut Historical Society,
is this drawing of his house by John Warner Barber:
Samson Occum's house in Mohegan
In 1749 Occum went to Long Island to become a schoolmaster
to the Montauk tribe. The Indians there liked him, so he stayed and
eventually became their preacher, judge, healer and advisor in many things.
Native people of Western Long Island spoke the Munsee form of Delaware,
as did those on the Manhattan and Staten Islands and in New Jersey.
Occum founded a Native School and married one of the Montauks,
Mary Fowler, with whom he had 10 children.
In 1775, Occum went to England for 2 years to raise
funds to help establish a College for Natives in the area.
This proved to be quite a successful trip, as he raised nearly $50,000.
But the Native School that Occum worked so hard to create,
would never be built with these funds.
His plans had included the College being built on Long Island near
the school he had started for the Montauks, but this never came to be.
Instead, it would be a Congregational minister and his mentor,
Eleazar Wheelock (1711-1779) Yale Class of 1733,
who would found Dartmouth far away in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Wheelock had searched in vain for a local setting for the college,
but was rejected by all until a group in New Hampshire
finally gave their approval to a charter for the school.
The Native School that Occum had envisioned would uplift Natives,
became instead a College for elite whites.
This page has details about the creation of the Dartmouth
charter and how the betrayal of Occum began.
Occum, discouraged by the treatment of his people in Connecticut
and on Long Island combined with the nearly total loss of their lands,
became a sort of Moses leading a small group out of the area
to a location he hoped would be safer for them in New York.
The area near Oneida, became Brothertown and
Samson Occum died there on July 14, 1792.
These links offer further information about Samson Occum:
The First Long Islanders
Preaching to the Indians
Long Island and Samson Occum
Samson Occum - A Fisher of Men - 1749
Samson Occum and the Brothertown History
may contact Sachem Walkingfox at:
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Last edited February 6, 2021
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