Moor’s Charity School (1755)

June 25th, 2008 Posted in Colonial, Columbia, Greek Revival, Schools


One hundred years ago, a man of worth,
With a big heart–Old Windham gave him birth–
Started in Lebanon–Columbia now the name–
A little school the forest sons to tame:

So run four lines from a poem by Dr. O.B. Lyman in honor of Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, the founder of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. The origins of that college began in 1754 in a part of Lebanon which is now the town of Columbia. Rev. Wheelock, an important minister of the Great Awakening, founded a school called Moor’s Charity School, which was dedicated to providing a Christian education for Native American Indians who might serve as missionaries to the Indian tribes. A 1755 school building, used by Wheelock, survives in the town of Lebanon today, although it was later altered in the Greek Revival style. Eventually, as Wheelock was having difficulties recruiting Indian students due to the school’s distance from tribal lands and as he also wished to expand his school to include a college for whites, he decided to move the institution. In 1770, the move to New Hampshire was completed, a year after receiving a royal charter, the last to found a college in Colonial America before the Revolution. For this reason, the Moor’s Charity School in Lebanon was described, in a 1969 plaque placed on the side of the building, as “Proudly remembered for two hundred years by generations of Dartmouth men as seeding ground of Dartmouth College and faithful steward of Eleazar Wheelock’s generous and crusading spirit.

  1. 11 Responses to “Moor’s Charity School (1755)”

  2. By Floyd Mattoon on Oct 29, 2010

    My family history has an interesting connection to Moores indian school in Lebanon CT. My family line came from Mass. to CT at the beginning of the 1700’s and settled in the Lebanon area. They helped found the church at Goshen and lived near Lebanon. Their early church family was at the Lebanon Church and eventually moved to the Goshen Congregational church. They were familiar with the Moores Indian school nearby and those administrators connected with it such as Eleazor Wheelock. I believe that the family knew some of the indians in that school including the famous indian Brant. Later years after Brant left and worked with Iraqouis and sided with the British in Canada, Brant captured my 5th great grandfather at the Battle of The Cedars on the St Lawrence River. He may have had some compassion in this instance because some of the men he captured were my grandfather, his brother and 3 others who were left on an island and Benedict Arnold came along and helped get them dressed and back to their regiment. The remainder of his captives were taken with him as captives or killed. Floyd Mattoon

  3. By Dawn Davis on Aug 13, 2011

    This article is somewhat misleading – Moores Indian Charity School is actually located in Columbia, Connecticut – sandwiched betweeen Horace W. Porter School (which I attended from grades 1-8) and the Columbian Congregational Church (which I also attended, was christened and married in). The school WAS founded in Lebanon, Connecticut and, although it stands in the same parcel of land, now stands in Columbia, Connecticut. If anyone were looking for it they may end up at another schoolhouse in Lebanon which was built in 1849 and served not only as a one-room schoolhouse for the towns children in the Exeter section of Lebanon, but also served as and “English School” for immigrant families who needed to learn English at the turn of the 20th Century. This, however, is not the Moores Indian Charity School – I know because I own it.

  4. By Dawn Davis on Aug 13, 2011

    Sorry for the spelling mistakes on the previous posting…couldn’t correct them…

  5. By Floyd Mattoon on Dec 23, 2011

    Dawn thanks for the clarification on Moores Indian Charity School.

  6. By john miller on May 16, 2015

    my ancestor, ensign Samuel Johnson, was also captured at the battle of the cedars in the Montreal area in 1775, but I was unaware that Brant was there, how do you come by this info.

  7. By Floyd Mattoon on May 29, 2016

    John Miller I read history about the battle of the Cedars and when the forces sent out to reinforce the battle of the Cedars by Benedict Arnold, British and Indian forces captured these men. In the process the Indians lost lives and wanted to make colonial forces pay for th losses. The Indians tied a colonial leader to a tree and piled brush around him to burn him to death. The Leader saw Brant standing there watching and gave Brant the Mason signal knowing Brant was a mason. Brant called off the burning and released the leader and got the British the cook a cow to eat as a substitute to the leaders death. According to the story the leader and Brant were friends the rest of their lives. Some historians say Brant was in England at this time so this story is not true, Maybe.

  8. By Alex J on Aug 28, 2016

    Hello Cousin John Miller! Samuel Johnson is my 6th grandfather. I also found out that he was captured and released at Battle of the Cedars. Apparently he was promoted rank to Corporal…

  9. By Alex J on Aug 29, 2016

    Stupid me-I meant to say that Samuel Johnson was promoted in rank to COLONEL, not Corporal!

  10. By elta leonard on May 7, 2017

    Just a bit of clarification regarding Dawn’s note from 2011: The school was founded in a part of Lebanon known as Lebanon Crank which later became the town of Columbia. Some folks unfamiliar with the area may think that Lebanon changed its name. Lebanon is still there and is still beautiful.

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  2. May 27, 2015: Joseph Johnson and the Farmington Indian School (ca. 1772/3) | Digital Farmington Blog
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