Olof Thorsson of Swanwick
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Among the men sentenced for some minor crime and ordered to go to New Sweden in 1641 was one Olof Thorsson. As yet, his place of origin in Sweden and the nature of his crime is unknown. But it is known that when he boarded the ship Kalmar Nyckel in Göteborg he was accompanied by his wife and children.
After three years of servitude at the Christina plantation, Olof Thorsson won his freedom and chose to remain in New Sweden. He was hired as an agricultural worker at a wage of ten guilders per year, the same wage as a common soldier. As the years wore on, however, he found working for Governor Printz increasingly intolerable.
A new opportunity arose for Olle Thorsson and other disgruntled settlers in 1651 when the Dutch built Fort Casimir at present New Castle, Delaware. This led Olle Thorsson and a number of other New Sweden settlers to move across the Christina River and live under the Dutch. They were not permitted to live within the Dutch fort but were allowed to build a community of log cabins north of the fort at Swan Cove (Swanwick). This was to be Olle Thorsson's home for the rest of his life.
In May 1654 the Swedes, under Governor Johan Rising, captured Fort Casimir from the Dutch, so Olle Thorsson and his Swedish neighbors once again were under the Swedish flag. But Governor Stuyvesant retaliated in 1655, conquering all of New Sweden and with it the young settlement of Swanwick.
Olof Thorsson would see four more changes in government before his death in 1678. In 1657, Stuyvesant surrendered jurisdiction over Swanwick to another Dutch colony, called New Amstel. In 1664 the English captured all of the Delaware from the Dutch, only to surrender it back to the Dutch in 1673. Finally, in 1674, the area was returned to English rule.
These changes brought an international flavor to Olle Thorsson's family. Under Dutch rule, his daughter Maria married a Dutch gunner Hans Block. Under English rule, his daughter Petronella married Captain John Carr.
Rifts, however, occurred in the family over the political issues of the time. During the Long Finn Rebellion of 1669, when Pastor Lars Lock sided with those prepared to take up arms against the English if, as was expected, Sweden attempted to retake its lost colony, Olle Thorsson's two sons sided with the rebels, while their father stood fast with the English government and his son-in-law Captain John Carr. The incident also led to Olle Thorsson inviting a Lutheran minister in New York, Jacob Fabritius, to establish a church at Swanwick to compete with Lock's church at Crane Hook.
Again, in 1675, there was a family split when the New Castle Court ordered every able-bodied man in the county to build a dike for Justice Hans Block's convenience. Rev. Fabritius was one of the leaders opposing this, and Olle Thorsson's two sons drew fines for refusing to work on the dike. This incident also led Olle Thorsson to withdraw his support for Fabritius and to return to Lars Lock's Crane Hook church. Fabritius had to look elsewhere and in 1677 became pastor of the new Swedish church at Wicaco.
Olof Thorsson died at Swanwick between May and November 1678. His widow Elisa (apparently short for Elisabeth) died after 22 December 1679, when she joined her eldest son Olle in agreeing to sell one of Olle Thorsson's properties at Swanwick to her granddaughter Barbara Block's husband, Peter Maeslander.
The name Thorsson was not a surname, but rather Olof's patronymic, meaning that he was Olof, son of Thor. However, in succeeding generations it became the family surname (spelled Toarson, or variants thereof), later evolving into Tossa, Tossava and finally Tussey.
Five children of Olof Thorsson and his wife Elisabeth have been identified:
1. Olle Ollesson Toarson, born in Sweden c. 1633, married Anna Hendricksdotter, of Finnish descent, c. 1658 and lived at Bochten (also known as Verdrietige Hook, now Edgemoor, DE) in Brandywine Hundred. He was fined for his involvement in both the Long Finn Rebellion and the dike rebellion and died in 1687, survived by six children:
2. Eliizabeth Ollesdotter, born in Sweden c. 1635, married by 1655 Matthias Eskilsson, who also took up residence in Swanwick. Both of them were dead by 1677, when their minor children were placed under the guardianship of her father, Olof Thorsson, and her sister, Maria Block. They had four known children:
3. Lars Ollesson Toarson, born in Sweden c. 1637, married Annika Clementsdotter, of Finnish descent. He lived at Bochten and was fined in both the Long Finn Rebellion and the dike rebellion. He died in 1685, survived by six known children:
4. Maria Ollesdotter, born in Sweden c. 1639, married about 1659 Hans Block, a Dutch gunner and later a justice on the New Castle Court, who died in 1676. She was still living in 1692. She had one child:
5. Petronella Ollesdotter, born in New Sweden c. 1645, married c. 1665 Captain John Carr, chief officer for New York's possessions on the Delaware. They lived in the town of New Castle. After the Dutch recapture of former New Netherland in 1673, they fled with their children and Patrick Carr (John's bachelor brother) to Cecil County, Maryland, where they were granted a 2,000-acre tract known as "St. John's Manor" on the west side of Elk River. After a prolonged illness, Carr died in 1676 and Petronella remarried George Oldfield, also English. To handle their New Castle County affairs, the Carr family relied upon Hans Block and their Tussey relatives. In 1695, George and Petronella Oldfield and her son Richard Carr sold Carr's lands in Cecil County and moved to Chester in Chester County, Pa., where Petronella died after 1697. She had five known children: