Joseph Fish's First Eastern Pequot Journal

Account of the Indian School at Stonington, which I (Joseph Fish) have taken the whole care of, ever since the year 1757,  in the spring or summer, as appears from my First Minute Book of Indian Affairs at Stonington of which, I now find, a Journal would have been especially serviceable.

My service for these Indians, in the affair of their school, and the blankets, sent by the Commissioners1 to be distributed by me, (exclusive of the monthly lecture and all things relating to that), from December 1771, is as follows:

December 16.  Spent the whole day at Indian Town on the affair of school house and blankets.  The Indians generally met me at Blind Jacob’s, and first tried to settle affairs with Mary Nedson, about keeping school still longer in her house.

On November 30, 1767  I paid her husband Edward Nedson 40 shillings sent by the Commissioners, to fit up one of his rooms, for the use of the school, which was at his own motion, and to his acceptance, and (as I took it ) he intended the room for that use, for the future, sine die.2                                          

Nedson kept school, in said room, one year, nine months and then died; John Shaddock four months, and Jacob Fowler three months, in the whole two years and four months.  Then Mary Nedson turned us out, and said we should use her house, for the school, no longer.  I, as agent for the Commissioners, agreed with her, to leave it to Esq. Charles Phelps and Mr. Abijah Hewitt, and called them out this day.  But neither of them would undertake it.  So I endeavored, with the help of Indians present, to convince her that she ought, both in point of justice to the Commissioners, and from regard to the good of the Indians and their children to let us have the room still longer, not fixing any time.   But she was deaf as an adder to all arguments and entreaties.   She obstinately withstood us and absolutely refused to let the Indians have anything more to do with her house, in reference to keeping school in it.  So I gave the matter up and concluded to try for a new school house, for the building of which the Indians seemed spirited. I told them I would intercede with Captain Cyrus Wheeler to give timber for the building.  Abner3, John Quiumps and Jonathan Newkee promised to do their part.  Mary Nedson promised to so something considerable towards it. Patience (her mother,) promised she would give ten shillings, etc.

I then proceeded to the distribution of the blankets, having reserved ten for this town neighborhood.  To do which is right, I first took a list of all the heads of families belonging to this Indian town, then discoursed with the Indians about the circumstances of each one, that I might use my best discretion in the distributions which was my general order from the Commissioners, and to have a special eye to the aged, sick and infirm.  After I had obtained the best light I could get, I ordered and gave blankets to the following persons:


To:                                                               Blanket

Mary Waugs sick and ragged at seaside           1

Judah Moses, aged widow and infirm              1

Jacob Sowas, old man and blind                      1

Abner Metupps, lame and poor                        1

Esther Tokus, aged widow 4                           1

Jonathan Newkee, lame, near a cripple            1

Sarah Simon, elderly and grandchildren          1

Nabby Abner, widow, poor and suffering        1

Mary Harry, aged and helpless -seaside           1

So that I settled and distributed nine of the blankets, this 16th December; as far as I could discover, agreeable to the minds of the Indians, as none of them found any fault, when I desired them to speak, if they thought I had made any mistake.  Those Indians that had blankets two years ago were, most of them, willing that their brethren and neighbors should be relieved out of this parcel, hoping that they might receive part of the next donation of blankets, should any more be sent.  But this I did not engage, unless their condition, at the next distribution, should entitle them to the preference of their neighbors.  I then went down to Captain William Williams5 where the blankets were lodged and dealt out the nine blankets to the persons above, or their order, and sent by old Sarah Jacob one blanket allotted to Esther Tokus, to be delivered or sent to her and also sent, by said Sarah, the one remaining blanket to be lodged at her house till I dis[ torn ] of it, being undetermined, as yet, who has the best right to it, i.e. who has the most need of it. If I should have a schoolmaster this winter, I don’t know but he must have it for lodging. This to be determined next lecture Monday next.


January 21, 1772. At a lecture at Indian Town, met with Captain Cyrus Wheeler at Blind Jacob’s.

He told the Indians the same as he told me, when I went to his house to ask the favor of timber, etc. to build a school house for the Indians, viz: that he would give them timber, off his land, adjoining Indian land, for the frame of the school house and logs, etc. of old stuff, already down, enough to cover the house, viz: board, shingle, clapboards, etc.  We talked of twenty feet square.  I incited the Indians to go immediately about the work  and told them, that if they would get all the materials ready by middle of March next, I would endeavor to obtain, of the Commissioners , all the glass and nails needed for the house.  Gave the tenth blanket to Charles Daniels, schoolmaster, for his covering, this winter, during his continuance in the school.

Joseph Fish

January 29.  Charles Daniels, schoolmaster, at my house.  He began to keep school at Stonington January 15, Wednesday noon.  I sent by him one quarter paper, which belonged to the Indians by former settlement.  Gave him refreshment and dismissed him.

May 25, 1772   I received of the Commissioners in Boston fifteen pounds Cash for taking care of the school at Stonington, fifteen years past.

June 2. Charles Daniels at my house.  Had victuals and sent him eight shillings Cash which he paid July 17.             

1772, July 13.  I borrowed of Mr. Nathan Avery five pounds ten shillings Proclamation Bills6 and then went and changed it for dollars with Mr. Samuel Plumber for Charles Daniels.  And July 17 I paid Charles Daniels fall to the 11th Instant July, and took a receipt and gave him breakfast. In raising the money, changing, etc.,  all which, in time , trouble, etc., thinks is not less than four shillings.                  0.4.0

September 5.  Lent Charles Daniels eight pence and drew order on Mr. Deake to let him have one dollar on my account.  He brought with him six Indian women.  Dined seven Indians, all occasioned by my connection with Stonington school.          

September 18.  I went to the school kept by Charles Daniels.  Heard him teach his scholars.  Two of them, a boy of Joshua George7 and girl of Hannibal’s,8 read handsomely in the Bible.  One or two more read in Psalters, some spell in spelling book, and the rest in their letters.  There were twenty children present.

Account of School, etc. Stonington 1772

The school here seems to be well tended, the master steady, the children orderly, most of them very small, but in a hopeful way.  Lent Charles one lectern.  My service for this school, this day           0.2.6

By my connections with this school, I am drawn in to the service of Groton schoolSamson Occom writes me about Jacob Fowler.  Jacob and Jo Sunserman come to my house.  Gave them breakfast.  I wrote a large letter to the commissioners (at their request and Occom’s) about Jacob and Groton school, to get Jacob’s salary raised.  Then went from Charles’ school to Groton and, with Mr. Johnson, viewed the state of Jacob’s school and Mr. Johnson and I signed the letter above to Governor Oliver, in favor of Jacob Fowler and his school in Groton.  All which service and charge at three shillings.            .0.3.8

Since the above went to Dr. Babcock’s borrowed five pounds ten shillings Proclamation.  Paid Sarah twenty four pence.  Lent Charles Daniel cash, sundry times.                            

August 24, 1773.  At Doctor Babcock’s drew order on Governor Oliver in Boston, favor of Charles Daniel, as follows, viz:

Stonington August 24, 1773


Please to pay Mr. Mumford,9 post rider, five pounds and ten shillings legal money for keeping the Indian school at Stonington one quarter of a year since April last by Charles Daniel.   

Your most obedient and very humble servant,    

Joseph Fish

Honorable Andrew Oliver, Esq.


November 1, 1773.  Hearing that Charles Daniel, our schoolmaster at Stonington, had for some time behaved illy, by drinking hard; sometimes to drunkenness, leaving his school and losing his time, I left order, last lecture (viz. October 25) that he should speak with me before he proceeded any further in his school.  And this day he came to my house. I told him what complaints were laid in against him; and he ingenuously owned the substance of them, viz.: that he had of late been several times overtaken with strong drink, had neglected his school and lost time.  I told him I could not, consistent with my trust, employ any man in the school that was not of a sober life and conversation and that did not follow his business with fidelity, and consequently, could not employ him any longer, at present, not till he had given some proof of a real reformation.  And upon it asked him, what I or we should do?   He replied, what I pleased.  I asked him, if he had a mind to keep the school any longer; and in order to it would labor for a reformation?   He replied he did not know.  He did not care much about it.  I checked him for making of it a matter of so much lightness and indifference. And having solemnly warned him, and in the most gentle and tender manner, to speedy repentance, by looking to God for his grace to help him, I then dismissed him from our service in the  Indian school here, at least, till I should have good evidence, that he was become a sober man.

I also settled accounts with him and found, by his account, that he began this last quarter on the 7th of August; that he kept in the school till the 23rd of October, and then left keeping; that he had lost fifteen and a half days in that time which, being made up, leaves him two months wanting half a day good in the last quarter even from the said 7th of August to Thursday the 7th October which I must pay him, as soon as I got it of the commissioners, or else draw order on Governor Oliver for it.

November 22, 1773.  Having received thirty blankets of the commissioners last June, and lately distributed twenty of them to the Narragansett Indians, I ordered these at Stonington to attend the distribution of the remaining ten, this day after lecture.  Accordingly, having first enquired and informed myself of their state, as nearly as I could.  I distributed the blankets as follows, viz.:


     Blind Jacob Sowas                     1

     Richard Sowas, for school         1 an old one

     Judah Moses                              1

     Mary Johnson                            1

     Mary Nedson                             1 x Esther Tokus

     Sarah Quanna                            1

     Elizabeth Poheage                     1

     Sarah Sampson                          1

     Mary Tony                                 1

     Sarah Cassasinamon                  1

Nota Bene: The blanket that I ordered to Richard Sowas is one that was reserved last year for the use of the school, that is, for the schoolmaster to lodge under.  And as Sarah, Richard’s wife, has been at a great deal of trouble and charge in boarding the master, and moving out of her house for three or four months that the school might be kept there when none else would give leave, I thought it right that she should have the use of said blanket, till it should be needed again for a Master; so left it in her care until I should call for it.

And then ordered one new blanket, which Sarah Dick10 had the 7th September last, for schoolmaster lodging when needed in cold weather, (ordered this I say) in old Sarah Jacob’s room, and not to be used, till called for, for the use of a Master.  So that I have two blankets in relieve for schoolmaster’s lodging.

December 20, 1773

Nota Bene:  December 14, 1773.  At a Lecture ordered and sent the blanket, designed, at first intelligence, for Mary Nedson, to Esther Tokus, by reason that Esther is sick and Mary Nedson well. Sent it by Esther’s little grandson11 who lives with her.

January 17, 1774. At a lecture, at Jacobs, paid Charles Daniel three pounds ten shillings and eleven and a half pence Legal Money full for two last months keeping Indian school at Stonington and full for all service for the commissioners to this day and took of him a receipt accordingly.  Then took of the same money thirty-six shillings for Dr. Phelps and gave Charles a receipt for the same to be paid to Dr. Phelps. Idem, and one shilling eight pence cash for Michael Palmer examined William Pendleton, Indian, in order to his keeping the school live; but left the appointment of him to another opportunity.  Not accurate in reading and Indians not zealous to send their children nor to get wood.

January 18, 1774.  William Pendleton came to my house and brought account of about ten Indian children whose parents were desirous of a school this winter, and engaged to send their children, as William told me.  Upon which I examined him further in his reading and found him tractable and desirous of being further instructed.  He reads considerably well and writes a pretty good copy hand.  I therefore told him to go into the school and make trial for one month, at the rate of twenty two pounds per year, he boarding himself.  And as things should appear, at the months end, so I should conduct, as to improving or dismissing of him then.  Refreshed him with victuals and drink and sent him to prepare for opening the school.

January 19, Wednesday.  William Pendleton began his school and kept steadily Saturdays in afternoon; so redeemed two days in a month.

February 14, 1774. Monday at a Lecture, William Pendleton’s time i.e., a month, is up tomorrow night. viz.: Tuesday 15th.  Finding that he had eleven Indian children in his school, generally attending, seldom or never fewer than seven in a day, that they had wood, and inclined still to send their children, that, upon my asking the Indians, none objected aught against Will12, but some spoke in favor, I, therefore, appointed him to keep the school another month.

Wednesday, February 16.  William Pendleton begins his second month at keeping Indian school at Stonington.

Monday, March 14, 1774.  Finding William Pendleton continues to give satisfaction to the Indians who send their children, (about the number that he began with) and no objection against him, I employed him another month but forgot to ask him what day his last month is up.

Monday, April 11, 1774.  Upon enquiry, found William Pendleton had been steady in his school and given good satisfaction.   I, therefore, appointed him to keep school another month, his first quarter being almost up.

April 15, 1774.  Drew order on commissioners by Dr. Babcock, for five pounds ten shillings Legal Money for William Pendleton’s first quarter bill.

May 20, 1774, Friday.  Paid William Pendleton five pounds ten shillings Legal Money and took his receipt in full, for the first quarter, which ended April 14 at night, he having gained six days in twelve weeks, by keeping every Saturday afternoon; which paid two days lost time and gained four.

So that Friday morning, April 15, 1774 William Pendleton began to keep school, his second quarter, at our Indian town, Amboosamus, Stonington at five pounds ten shillings per quarter, when he consented to keep two quarters out before he called for next payment.

Wednesday, August 17, 1774.  Delivered to William Pendleton, schoolmaster, five primers and three spelling books, bought of Dr. Babcock for the use of the Indian children belonging to the school at Amboosamus, Stonington. His last or third quarter is out the 20th October when I am to draw for eleven pounds cash.

October 31, 1774.  This day Mr. William Pendleton finished his third quarter, having made good lost time.

October 17, 1774.   I drew on Esq. William Philips of Boston, by Dr. Babcock, for half years pay for keeping school at Indian’s town Stonington by Master William Pendleton at twenty two pounds per year, eleven pounds cash.

Friday, November 4, 1774.  I paid Master William Pendleton eleven pounds, Legal Money for keeping the Indian school at Stonington the last half year which ended Monday night last, the 31st  of October, which eleven pounds I received of Dr. Joshua Babcock in payment of my order on Esq. William Philips, Boston.   Took William Pendleton’s receipt for the same.

J. Fish

Tuesday morning November 1, 1774.  Then Master William Pendleton began his first quarter on a new account.


Monday, January 2, 1775.  At Indian lecture, Mr. Pendleton, having but two or three scholars, come to school, I advised him to go to the houses of all the Indian children that belong to his school and teach them daily from house to house, and give me an account of the lecture, of his conduct and success.

March 27, Monday. Examined part of Master William Pendleton’s scholars, (not half present) found one read well in Bible.  Two spell pretty well, the rest in letters or words of one syllable.  Nota Bene: Gave one spelling book and three primers to these children, twelve for this school.

March 27.  Preached lecture to Groton Indians, at Sampson’s,13to about twenty Indians and as many English, Mathew: 25. 31 to End, These shall go away etc. Had much Freedom, some [ illegible ]– a serious attentive audience, who seemed (indeed professed them) well satisfied, and the Indians desired I would come and preach to them again, which I encouraged them I would do, after a while.  Had not time to examine Master Abraham Simon’s scholars.   Must do it another time, but I enquired of the Indians how he had conducted among them and in the school.  They told me, Very Well. Nota Bene: Gave 3 spelling books and 4 primers to the use of this school.            

Cataloguing:  1-21

  • 1. The commissioners are the appointed officials in Boston, MA of the Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent in America, one of the many missionary groups active in the Americas.
  • 2. Latin “without day” meaning no future dates being specified
  • 3. It is somewhat unclear as to which Abner this might be referring. It is most likely Abner Metupps, who later in the same document was described by Fish as being lame and poor.  It is possible, although less likely, that it is Abner ( 1717 - ) who in 1762 had a wigwam at Mashantucket and six children.
  • 4. This Esther is likely the same aged Indian woman who came to Joseph Fish’s death bed in May 1781 “Among them came an aged squaw, an exemplary member of his church: it was his last day, but she said she must see her good minister once more:-“I must speak Mr. Fish;” and when he gave her his hand, she said,-“Oh , Mr. Fish, are you going to leave me in this wicked world?”  He replied, -“Farewell Esther I hope we shall meet in Heaven.” From Benjamin Silliman, L.L.D, Professor in Yale College, New Haven, May 26, 1850 page 365 Papers of the American Society of Church History, Second Series, Volume VI, Edited by Frederick William Loetscher, G.P. Putnams’ Sons, New York and London The Knickerbocker Press, 1921
  • 5. It is possible that this is referring to Captain William Williams (1740 - November 18, 1814) who, according to Avery in The History of Ledyard, died in that town on November 18, 1814.
  • 6. The terms Proclamation Bills or Legal Money refer to currency valued at the official exchange rate imposed on the colonies by the Crown rather than the more favorable local colonial rates.
  • 7. It is unclear which Joshua George Fish is referring to or who this boy was.
  • 8. It is unclear who either Hannibal or his daughter were.
  • 9. This individual is unidentified.
  • 10. Sarah Sowas, wife of Richard Sowas, was occasionlly referred to as Sarah Dick to differentiate her from her mother -in-law also named Sarah Sowas.
  • 11. His identity is unknown.
  • 12. William Pendleton
  • 13. This is likely Samson Poquiantup.