School Operations among the Tuscarora Indians

For the earlier part of the history of school operations among the Tuscarora Indians, I can do no better than to give the report of Rev. John Elliot to the Secretary of War, in the year 1832, viz.:

“To the Secretary of War :

“This will show the operations of the schools from their organization in 1805, to September 30, 1832.

“The first school among the Tuscarora was taught by Rev. Mr. Homes, the first missionary. This, according to the best information, was in 1805. What amount has been expended, either from the fund of the society or by the Government, to sustain its operation, I am wholly unable to state. The Indians converted their Council House into one for public worship, and also one for school operations, until 1828, when, with a little assistance from abroad, they completed a convenient chapel, 28 x 38 feet, for public worship. In 1831 they raised and finished a frame school house 24 x 20 feet, at an expense probably of $200. This sum, with the exception of $8, the Indians obtained by contributions among themselves.

“We have but one teacher, whose whole time is engrossed in the concerns of the school (Mrs. Elliot and myself are occasionally employed). Her name is Elizabeth Stone, and the compensation she receives is only the means of support, the same that we receive. Ninety scholars have, to our certain knowledge, entered the school since its commencement. One of the numbers is the principal Chief and stated interpreter, who can communicate in three languages. Eighty of this number have attended the school within the last six years. Sixty have left with the prospect, in most cases, of exerting a happy influence. This influence is the result of a belief in, and adherence to, the doctrines of the Gospel. Since they have embraced the principals of Christianity in full their progress in industry and temperance has been strikingly visible and rapid. But few of the number now sip ardent spirits not more than one in twenty.

“The young men are enterprising; some have large, convenient barns and comfortable dwellings, fine fields of wheat, corn, oats, &c.; others are beginning to plant orchards; they now depend on the cultivation of their lands for a livelihood.”

The second teacher who taught the school among the Tuscarora was the son of Rev. Mr. Gray, the second missionary, in the years from 1808 to 1813, and was then followed by a young man by the name of Mr. Youngs. These were the first three teachers who broke in and shed the light of education upon the dark minds of our forefathers. The schools were supported by the missionary societies in the same order as in the different transfers that were made concerning the support of the missionaries. In the year 1858 was the last transfer made from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission to the State of New York, by whom they are now sustained. There were many changes made in the teachers, all of whose names, with dates, in the order in which they came, I am not able to record; but I will record such names as I have been able to obtain which came under the appointment of missionary teachers, to wit:

Miss Elizabeth Stone, from 1831 to 1837. Miss Lucia G. Smith, 1836. Miss Hannah T. Whitcomb, from Oct. 5, 1839, to Aug. 25, 1849. Miss Mary J. T. Thayer, from 1849 to 1854. Miss Cinderella Britto, from 1853 to 1854. Miss Abigail Peck, from 1853 to 1858.

Assistant teachers not having regular appointment. Miss Emily Parker, 1831. Miss Burt, 1837. Miss Nancy Wood, 1856. Miss Maria Colton, 1857. Miss Eleanor B. Lyon, 1857.

Under the New York State supervision: Miss Abigail Peck, from 1853 to 1858. Miss Mary A. Smith, native. Miss Robinson. Miss Emily Chew, native. Miss Pomeroy. Miss Margaret Eddy. Miss Helen Gansvort, native. Mr. William Sage, seven winters. Mr. Philip T. Johnson, native.


Johnson, Elias. Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations and History of the Tuscarora Indians. Lockport, New York: Union Printing and Publishing Co. 1881.

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