Samson Occom

Brothertown has been blessed throughout the centuries with industrious, well-educated, and noteworthy citizens who have spent their lives in service to their people and others. Joseph Johnson, David Fowler, William Fowler, Alonzo D. Dick, W. H. Dick, and Thomas Commuck are a few of these names. Probably the most well-known, however, is the name of Samson Occom (Mohegan/Brothertown).

Occom’s notoriety goes well beyond Brothertown, Native America, and the century in which he lived. He was instrumental in the founding of Dartmouth College, helped establish the communities of Marshall and Deansboro in New York and assisted in founding the Brothertown Tribe; all of which continue to exist today. He wrote hymns that are still sung, was the first person to publish an interdenominational hymnal, wrote the first Native American autobiography, and kept journals that are read and studied in classroom settings around the world. He was the second Native American to be published (about 6 months after son-in-law Joseph Johnson (Mohegan/Brothertown)) and the first to be published internationally when his, A Sermon Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul was printed and sold in Europe.

Occom died in New York on July 14, 1792. Although he was a Presbyterian minister, the Episcopal Church has set this date aside as an annual feast day in tribute to him.  Interestingly, the only canonized Native American saint in the Catholic Church, Kateri Tekakwitha, shares Occom’s July 14th feast day.