Born to Joshua Tomacham and his wife Sarah, Occom
is believed to be a direct descendant of the famous Mohegan chief, Uncas
In 1740, at the age of sixteen, Occom
was exposed to the teachings of Christian evangelical preachers in the Great Awakening.
He began to study theology at the "Lattin School" of Eleazar Wheelock in 1743 and stayed for four years until leaving to begin his own career.
Occom served as a missionary to Native American people in New England and Montauk, Long Island, where he married a local woman.
It was also on Long Island where he was officially ordained a minister on August 30, 1759, by the presbytery of Suffolk.
Although promised otherwise by the church leaders,
Wheelock established an Indian charity school (which became Dartmouth College) with a benefaction from Joshua Moor in 1754, and he
to go to England in 1766 to raise money for the school, along with the Rev. Nathaniel Whitaker.
way across the country from February 16, 1766, to July 22, 1767.
delivered in total between three and four hundred sermons, drawing large crowds wherever he
By the end of his
had raised over twelve thousand pounds for Wheelock's project.
Occom also took issue with the fact that Wheelock put the funds toward establishing Dartmouth College for the education of Englishmen rather than of Native Americans.
return from England, Occom
lived at Mohegan, then moved in 1786 with some New England and Long Island Indians to Oneida territory in what is known today as New York.
He then helped to found Brothertown, and lived among the Brothertown Indians.
Occom died on July 14, 1792, in New Stockbridge, New York.
God, the Great Spirit, whose breath givest life to the world and whose voice thundereth in the wind: We give thee thanks for thy servant Samson Occom, strong preacher and teacher among the Mohegan people; and we pray that we, cherishing his example, may love learning and by love build up the communities into which thou sendest us, and on all our paths walk in beauty with Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit, livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever.
PRAYER (contemporary language)
God, Great Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world and whose voice thunders in the wind: We thank you for your servant Samson Occom, strong preacher and teacher among the Mohegan people; and we pray that we, cherishing his example, may love learning and by love build up the communities into which you send us, and on all our paths walk in beauty with Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, is alive and reigns, one God, now and for ever.