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A Peek Inside the Samuel Kirkland Home at Hamilton College

We adore Reverend Samuel Kirkland. We are history buffs, and there are a few people in history that we hold dear to our hearts for their tireless efforts, their virtue, their great accomplishments. Samuel Kirkland is one of these men. He is the man who founded the Oneida Hamilton College, in Clinton, NY– now known as Hamilton College.

Samuel Kirkland was born in Connecticut in 1741, but moved to the wilderness in New York State when his heart was burdened by the need to reach out to the Iroquois Indians with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He moved in with the Oneida Nation, and became like a brother to them. He led the famous Oneida Chief, the Great Skenandoah, to Christ. It was Skenandoah who later encouraged the Oneidas to side with the Americans during the Revolutionary War (the Oneida Nation was the only nation of the Iroquois to do so).

The Oneidas expressed to Reverend Kirkland their desire to become educated. Kirkland began a small school for the young males amongst the Oneidas and amongst the white settlers in the wilds of Central New York. It was called the “Oneida-Hamilton Academy,” named in part for Kirkland’s good friend and benefactor, Alexander Hamilton. Their friend, Baron von Steuben, who lived in nearby Remsen, NY, laid the cornerstone of the first building at the college.

The Reverend Kirkland built this tiny house in 1794 on the Hamilton College campus. Imagine the president and founder of a school living in such a modest and humble home! That is one of the many reasons we love Rev, Kirkland: he was one of the people, and didn’t exalt himself over them.

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This is the history we revel in. These were great men, men like us but who had vision for our country and who persevered through hardship to see it through.

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The house is lovely– small and simple but just very pretty. And there is a surprisingly amount of good clear light in the home, without any electric lighting at all.

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This is Rev. Kirkland’s desk chair, the chair in which he wrote his journals (that have been published).

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We have visited Samuel Kirkland’s grave, close to where this house is. And we have visited Baron von Steuben’s home and gravesite a few times, as well. You can click the links to read more about our adventures at Hamilton College and the history behind it.

Hamilton College Cemetery, Clinton, NY
Baron von Steuben Memorial Site, Remsen, NY
Steuben Memorial Site, Remsen, NY
Hamilton, Smith, and the Turning Stone Casino
Hamilton College Library
The Oneida Stone and Things Worth Knowing About Oneida County

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (3)

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  1. Oh, yes, we do love Rev. Kirkland! 🙂 How cool to see that chair!! Appears to be a little plaque on it… wonder what it says?

  2. Great post! I love the photos. I sure would like to visit this site sometime. 🙂

  3. Chuck George says:

    Your snippets and photos of the Samuel Kirkland home and his role in Oriskany Valley history are great!! You do enjoy bringing your surroundings alive and sharing them with the world.

    I found the Rev Kirkland through Nathan Hart and Catherine O’Bail on the last page of “Genesee Fever” (Carl Carmer, Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1941). If you haven’t read it, you should. Mr Kirkland appears a place or two earlier in the book pursuing his missionary goal of getting a fair shake for the Iroquois.

    The book is fiction but all characters in it, except for the two mentioned and two others, existed and are portrayed pretty much as they are known to have been…, with a few flourishes here and there. It’s a great read.

    It centers on Bath, NY, but ranges from Squawkie Hill (Mt Morris) and Geneseo to Sodus to Painted Post. It started in Philadelphia and ended in the Rev Kirkland’s living room.

    I hope to visit next summer.