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Henry Simmons journals


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Henry Simmons (1768-1807) was born on September 15, 1768, to Henry Simmons Sr. and Mary Paxson, the youngest of their five children. Before he was a year old, Simmons's mother died, and his father married Sarah Dun. Simmons's father and step mother went on to have eight more children. Despite Simmons's relative lack of formal education in his youth, he went on to be a school teacher on the Oneida reservation from 1796 to 1797, and at Cornplanter's village from 1798 to 1799.

Henry Simmons belonged to the Middletown Monthly Meeting, where he first expressed his desire to help Indigenous peoples. After Middletown Monthly Meeting found Simmons suitable for missionary work, he was given a certificate from that meeting, recommending him for missionary service to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Indian Committee. Along with Halliday Jackson and Joel Swayne, Simmons was invited by Cornplanter (Gaiänt'wakê, John Abeel) to spend a year with the Seneca Nation during which the group of missionaries set up a school and model farm.

Henry Simmons married Rachel Preston in 1800, and the couple had four children: Deborah (b. 1804), John (b. 1803), Hannah (b. 1806), and Henryetta (b. 1808). Simmons died in Pennsylvania in 1807.

This collection is comprised of four volumes of Henry Simmons's journals, the majority of which are related to time Simmons spent with the Oneida and Seneca nations. In addition to the four handwritten journals, the collection includes two photocopies of Simmons's 1796-1797 journal (volume 1), and a single typed transcript of Simmons's 1799 journal (volume 2).


Processed by Kara Flynn; completed July, 2015.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kara Flynn
Finding Aid Date
July, 2015
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Collection Inventory

Vol. 1, 1796-1797.
Box 8
Scope and Content note

This volume includes a copy of Simmons's removal certificate and records of the names and ages of girls from Oneida Country placed in Friends families in Chester County. Entries describe Simmons's travels from Philadelphia to Oneida Country on a mission to the "Stockbridge Indians," a band of Mohicans living with the Oneida tribe in Oneida Country. Simmons describes how he encourages the Stockbridge Mohicans to form a school and learn European-American style agriculture, and his encouragement of sobriety among the tribe members. Simmons also provides accounts of meetings between Friends and the Stockbridge Mohicans.

Vol. 1 photocopy, 1796-1797.
Box 8
Scope and Content note

Two photocopies of volume 1 of Simmons's diary.

Vol. 2, 1799.
Box 8
Scope and Content note

This volume describes Simmons's visit to Cornplanter, a Seneca chief, in 1799. During Simmons's stay with the Seneca, he teaches both children and occassionally adults. In addition to descriptions of his duties as a teacher, Simmons describes interactions between himself and the Senecas outside of school, particularly as concern discussions of Christianity.

Vol. 2 transcript, 1799.
Box 8
Scope and Content note

This volume is a typed transcript of voulme 2, Simmons's journal describing his time with Seneca chief, Cornplanter. The transcript was prepared by Dr. Frederic C. Sharpless in 1964.

Vol. 3, 1800.
Box 8
Scope and Content note

This volume describes Simmons's visit to Friends in Western Pennsylvania from 5th month-8th month, 1800, on a trip to survey the quality of a tract of land in that area. Entries include descriptions of occasional interactions with indigenous nations.

Vol. 4, 1800.
Box 8
Scope and Content note

This volume is a handwritten partial copy of volume 3 in the collection. This partial copy includes entries from 5th month-7th month, 1800.

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