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 Tuscaroras 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 publicworship. 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 number 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 Tuscaroras 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 Emily Chew, native.
Miss Margaret Eddy.
Miss Helen Gansvort, native.
Mr. William Sage, seven winters.
Mr. Philip T. Johnson, native.
In the year of 1850 there was another school house built by the natives under the proposition of Miss Mary J. F. Thayer. I have here a brief history of her labors among the Tuscaroras, from her own writings, which is very interesting, to wit:
MISS M. J. F. THAYER'S LABORS AS A MISSIONARY TEACHER.
At the invitation of Rev. G. Rockwood (then the ordained missionary at Tuscarora) Miss M. J. F. Thayer commenced her labors among the Tuscaroras as teacher on April 30, 1849, in the old school-house opposite Mr. Rockwood's house, receiving from the American Board one dollar and fifty cents per week, besides her board. There were but few scholars, and these were very irregular in their attendance. Miss T. visited the parents and tried to get them interested. She finally came to the conclusion that time and money were thrown away on that little _day_ school, and drew up a paper, which was read to the Tuscaroras at their New Year's feast, January 1, 1850, in which she detailed her plans and wishes, asking their aid in executing them. Their response was cordial and hearty. They resolved to build a new school-house; the site was selected on a corner near Isaac Miller's, and the people, as one man, went to work with great alacrity, under the leadership of one of their chiefs, Wm. Mt. Pleasant, and had, before the next New Year's, a snug house, 18 x 24 feet, well finished, furnished with two stoves, and a large pile of wood prepared. Miss Thayer commenced teaching at the new station (which she was pleased to call Mt. Hope) Jan. 14, 1851, having forty scholars the first day. On Saturday, Jan. 12, before school began, a church meeting was held at the new station. There were thirty persons present, and they voted to hold prayer meetings there every Wednesday evening.
Feb. 20 Miss T. wrote--"Fifty is the average attendance at school. Scholars happy and bright and very eager to learn Nearly every one has bought a new spelling book. The prayer meetings are well attended; Sabbath evenings there are fifty present, Wednesdays, thirty. They conduct these meetings without their pastor, usually. Christians are being revived; there is an increasing spirit of prayer: the women have begun to pray; we had a precious meeting last Sabbath evening."
In March there was a great deal of sickness (typhoid fever), of which several died. The school was interrupted for a few days.
May 2, she wrote--"My school flourishes. It is difficult to say which seem the happier, the children or their teacher. I have five little girls boarding with me. As the 'boarding school fund' is exhausted, I am obliged to meet all the expenses from my own allowance" It might be stated that Miss Thayer never received a "formal appointment" from the American Board, because her health was so poor, but she was employed and paid by them. After she went to the new schoolhouse they paid her one hundred and fifty dollars a year, and she found everything. By "boarding school fund" is meant money received by Miss Thayer from friends of hers who were interested in her work and sent her, from time to time, small sums of money and sometimes articles of food and clothing for the children, deficiencies she met from her own allowance.
Thus the work went on. Several children were anxious to become inmates of the teacher's family. Celia Green, Elizabeth Cusick, Ann and Mary Henry, Susan Patterson and Sarah Mt. Pleasant were the favored ones.
Sept. 10, 1851, Miss T. wrote--"My school is small now, owing to the prevalence of the measles. The little girls living with me being attacked, their mothers have taken them home." Under the same date adds-- "Two weeks ago I passed a sleepless night, contemplating the deplorable condition of the young people here, agonizing and with tears wrestling in prayer for them. Last week I learned that three young women had decided to forsake there evil ways, repenting of their sins, and looking to Jesus for salvation. Two of them came forward at the church meeting last Saturday, and offered themselves as candidates for admission to the church. One of the young women stayed with me last Sabbath night (this was Louisa Henry). She gave evidence of a change of heart. May many more be led to a saving knowledge of the truth."
Writing again to her father, (these extracts are all from letters to her father), Dec. 8, 1851--"It would do your heart good to look in upon my little family--my little ones so confiding affectionate and happy. My heart has again been made glad by the conversion of one of my older pupils, an interesting youth of seventeen. He and the two young women mentioned in a former letter united with the Church at our last communion. I wept for joy at these tokens of the presence of a prayer- answering God."
Jan. 1, 1852--"Attended the New Years' feast to-day. Told the people of my plans for building an addition to the schoolhouse, so that I might take more children into my family. They adjourned to the Council-house, and will talk over my propositions there this evening."
Jan. 3--"The church meeting to-day was very interesting. Five young women offered themselves to the church, were examined and accepted. Most of them state that they found the Saviour last summer. As near as I can learn from their statements it was at the very time when I was so exercised in their behalf. For some time I agonized in prayer; then I became calm, and felt assured that my prayer was heard and would be granted."
Jan. 4, Sabbath--"An interesting day. Never saw so many of the Tuscaroras present at a religious meeting. Some one who counted them stated that there were nearly one hundred and forty, and all seemed serious and attentive. Bro. B.'s discourse in the forenoon was full of instruction to the young converts. In the afternoon the young women examined yesterday were received into the Church. Eight children were baptized, and the sacrament administered. In the evening I repaired to the council house, where the sacrament was again administered, on account of an aged sister, nearly one hundred years old, too infirm to go to the meeting-house."
Jan. 5--"Commenced school to-day with twenty-five scholars; have seven girls boarding with me; my little house is too small, but I hope soon to enlarge it, as the Tuscaroras give encouragement that they will take hold and help about building. They hold another council to-day to make necessary arrangements."
Jan. 6--"A committee of chiefs called on me this morning, and advised me to accept the thirty dollars offered by Mr. E. S. Ely, of Checktowga; it would be needed to purchase the fine lumber, which they can buy cheaper in Canada than in the States. To-morrow they will turn out with their teams and draw logs to mill for the coarse lumber, and next week they will go to Canada for the fine lumber, which Mr. Mt. Pleasant will prepare. When all things are ready they will frame the building, enclose and shingle it."
Jan. 12, 1852--"Louisa Henry, who seems to be in the last stages of consumption, has been with me since New Year's; is failing fast; told me when she came that she expected to die soon, and wished to spend her last days with me; does not fear death; takes great delight in prayer and reading the Bible; the 23d Psalm is her favorite portion."
Jan. 14--"At an inquiry meeting this evening, as Bro. R was absent, I conversed with those who came; explained the parable of 'The Prodigal Son' making personal application; three young persons requested prayers; one was only 'almost persuaded;' the other two expressed their determination to begin a new life at once; invited Elias Johnson and his brother James to stop after school for a season of prayer: they were both rejoicing in their newly-found Savior, and poured out their souls in fervent prayer; my soul is filled with joy."