First Peoples and Schooling

Document 2: History of the New England Company… during the two years, 1869-1870

Source: History of the New England Company… during the two years, 1869-1870 (London: Taylor & Co., 1871), 75-78.



Gross abuses, brought to light in 1822, in working General Coffin’s system of apprenticeship, decided the Company to discontinue their Sussex Vale establishment, and they sought diligently for other fields of operation in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Canada. In a few years they transferred their labours to several other sections, and particularly to four spots in Canada.

First, among the Mohawks and other Six Nations Indians settled on the banks of the Grand River, near Lake Erie.

Secondly, on the shores of two smaller lakes, Rice Lake and (Mud or) Chemong Lake.

Thirdly, on the shore of the Bay of Quinte, N.E. of Lake Ontario, and —

Fourthly, on the banks of the Garden River, near Sault Ste. Marie.


The Indians of the Six Nations, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senceas, and Tuscaroras, in the American War of Independence, proved themselves loyal to the British Crown, and after the Declaration of Independence migrated from the S. side of Lake Ontario to different parts of Canada, and principally to the N. side of Lake Erie.

As a reward to the Indians for their loyalty, and to provide them with hunting grounds, a tract of several hundred thousand acres along the Grand River, from Lake Erie to Brantford, partly on the N.E. and partly on the S.W. side of the river, was in 1783 assigned by the British Government to the Indians of the Six Nations, under the name of an Indian Reserve.

About one mile south-east of Brantford stands the old Mohawk Mission Church, on the north-east bank of the Grand River. Near it stands the New England Company’s Institution, built by the Company in 1859. On the other or northern side of the canal (which was cut in 1831 from Brantford to the Mohawk Village for improving the navigation of the River) stand the Mohawk Parsonage, built in 1837 or 8, and the Mechanics’ Institute, commenced in 1830 by the Company’s then Missionary, as his scheme for teaching the Indians handicraft trades.

Some fifteen miles lower down the river stand the Tuscarora Church and Parsonage, built in or before the year 1835. These buildings are also on the north-east side of the river.

In the year 1833, after preliminary investigation on their behalf by the Rev. John West, and with the concurrence of Mr. Brant (one of the then chiefs of the Six Nations Indians), the New England Company adopted resolutions respecting the placing fit persons, either individually or in mission families, at eligible stations in those parts of America in which the trusts of the Corporation were to be carried on, in order to promote the purposes of those trusts as efficaciously and extensively as might be practicable, at and around such stations by the modes therein intimated, and with an especial view to the Mohawk or Six Nations Settlement, and at other places likely to be found eligible stations.

Accordingly the Company in concurrence with Mr. Brant, and with his assistance as a sort of Lay Agent, before 1827 commenced operations under the Rev. William Hough, as their first Missionary on the Grand River and built two schools near Mohawk village, as well as a parsonage for the Church there (the oldest Protestant Church in Canada, and still possessing the Communion plate presented to it by Queen Anne). The Rev. William Hough did not long retain his post, and in 1827 the Company engaged the services of the Rev. Herbert Lugger as their Missionary to the Six Nations Indians. He arrived at Brantford in October 1827, and in the next few months visited all the tribes of the Six Nations along the north-east bank of the river down to Lake Erie, and was commissioned by the Bishop of Quebec to superintend the composing and printing of a Mohawk Grammar for Indians and Whites. He found the population of the Six Nations about 1000 in number. Two schools already existed, one for Whites, and another set on foot by the Indian Department of the Colonial Government, besides the two which the Company had built, and others were soon established by the Company.

At a distance of fifteen miles or thereabouts above Lake Erie, Mr. Lugger found a settlement forty years old, of about thirty families of whites, and called Nelles’ Settlement. The distances being great, Mr. Lugger strongly recommended the appointment as his assistant among the Tuscaroras of the Rev. Abraham Nelles, who then held an appointment under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

The understanding come to in 1828 between the Bishop and the Company’s Missionary was, that he should, in matters purely spiritual, take his Lordship’s directions, and in all other matters the directions of the Company. From the first the Company insisted on having the sole management and appropriation of their funds, through their own Commissioners, Officers, and Agents. The Company occasionally assisted in the making of roads, but for the most part declined to subscribe to such local proceedings, their plan and objects being of a mere general character.

In 1829 four school-houses, with a lot of 100 acres granted to each, were said to be exclusively the property of the Company, and a deed was shortly to be executed to confirm the same to them for ever, the Indians in general Council having granted it to the Government for the New England Company. In the same year the Indians were also said to have given up their lands to the Colonial Governor to let for them, and were further said to have given a lot a mile square for a village at Brantford, to be sold to white people of respectability. Such sale was the reverse of what the Company wished, and had endeavoured to effect ; — the non-alienation of Indian property, so as to prevent their dislocation and the substitution of white people.

Mr. Nelles first entered the service of the Company in July 1831. At this time the Institution comprised, besides a mechanic’s shop, two large rooms for teaching girls spinning and weaving, and two for teaching the boys tailoring and carpentering…

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