According to his Hampton Institute (HI) student file, Alonzo Lee arrived at HI on Sept. 11, 1894, after
attending the government school near his home at Cherokee, North Carolina, for about eighteen
months. He studied the carpenter's trade at HI and also worked in carpentry during the summer
outing program. In the summers of 1895, 1896, and 1898 he was in Massachusetts; in 1897 he
worked in Connecticut; and in 1899 he spent the time at HI.
His file includes clippings of essays that Alonzo published in Talks & Thoughts, the newspaper
published by Indian students at HI. "The Trail of the Serpent" (April 1896) opposed government
licensing of liquor distilleries near Indian reservations. Other articles include "The Indian Christian
Endeavor Society" (June & July 1896), "Indian Folk-Lore" (November 1896), "An Indian Naturalist"
(February 1897), and "Transition Scenes" (February 8, 1889), which was Alonzo's Indian Day Speech
delivered at HI. Alonzo was a member of the senior class, but he did not graduate from HI.
He left HI on June 11, 1900, and on June 28, 1900, he married Elnora Seneca (also a student at HI),
of Cattaraugus, NY. She had arrived at HI in September, 1897. Her file indicates that her father was
Cornelius Seneca, her church affiliation was Presbyterian, her tribe was Seneca, and her Indian
name was Ah-wah. She had attended a district school for three years and a Quaker boarding school
for three and a half years before coming to HI.
Accounts of their home life were excellent until December 14, 1912, when a letter from Elnora's
brother, Wilbur Seneca, reported that Alonzo had left his family. Wilbur Seneca also noted, "I am now
staying with them and supporting them." Later Caroline Andrus, director of the Hampton program for
Indians, reported that Elnora was supporting her family by taking in washing and making dresses, that
she "Does well, sends children to public schools", and described her as a "fine woman."
Another school file indicates that, when he left his family, Alonzo eloped with Elnora's younger sister
Bernedena. However, Bernedena is listed alone as a resident member of the Seneca tribe in
Cattaraugus County, NY, in several years of census from 1911 to 1924.
A report by Caroline Andrus, dated January 1, 1914, found Alonzo Lee (carpenter) and Wallace
George (machinist) both working in the same shops in Silver Creek (Chautauqua County, NY) where
they both found work after leaving HI. (Wallace George was another HI alumnus and was the husband
of Alonzo's sister Julia Lee.) Miss Andrus's report indicates that "both have homes that are models of
neatness and excellence in every way, 'perhaps the best homes I have ever seen among returned
In the Indian Census Roll (1 Jan 1937) for the Cherokee, NC, reservation, Alonzo Lee was listed as
living "elsewhere" in Silver Lake, Wyoming County, New York.
Other sources: US Census 1910 for Salamanca, Cattaraugus County, NY;
US Census Indian Schedules, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1916, 1924, 1937
The following account is based mainly on notes about Hampton Institute students provided by historian
and university professor Jon Brudvig, Ph.D., whose assistance is much appreciated. (See his website
at http://www.twofrog.com/hamptonstories6.html). See other sources listed at the end.