Yale Indian Papers Project editors, in collaboration with the Connecticut Historical Society and with the assistance of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Archives Track Program, have completed the imaging and transcription of the Eastern Pequot Journals of Congregationalist minister Joseph Fish (1705-1781). Donated to the Connecticut Historical Society by the grandson of Joseph Fish, the journals span a nearly twenty years period from 1757-1776 and focus on Fish’s missionary work among the Eastern or Lantern Hill Pequot and Narragansett Indian communities. Although the Narragansett portion of the journals were transcribed and edited by William and Cheryl Simmons and published in the 1980s in a volume called Old Light and Separate Ways, the Eastern Pequot material has until now remained unpublished and relatively inaccessible, making its imaging, transcription and annotation a boon to scholars of the indigenous Northeast.
Together with Fish’s correspondence and the writings of contemporaries such as the Ezra Stiles and Mohegans Sampson Occom and Joseph Johnson, these journals provide unique insight into the mid to late 18th century Eastern Pequot community.
Replete with references to Mohegan, Pequot and Narragansett Separatist preachers, the names, ages, health and whereabouts of congregants, the construction of a tribal school house and sermons and lectures preached, Fish’s journals represent the earliest chronicle of an exclusively on- reservation Christian religious tradition among the Eastern Pequot. This religious community changed over time with the return of Brothertown émigrés in the early part of the 19th century and the cessation of funding from the Boston based commissioners of the Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent in America, one of the many missionary groups active in the Americas. Nonetheless a strong religious tradition persisted with the preaching and leadership of Calvin and Amanda Nedson Williams spanning the last part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, to the more recent Fourth Sunday Meetings, a monthly Eastern Pequot religious gathering.
In light of the interest generated by recent publications such as David Silverman’s Red Brethren and Faith and Boundaries, Linford Fisher’s The Indian Great Awakening and Edward Andrews’ Native Apostles, visual and intellectual access to these primary source materials, rich with information regarding missionary efforts among native communities in southern New England, is timely.
To explore the journals of Joseph Fish click here.