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Chronology of Colonial Swedes on the Delaware 1638-1713

by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig
Fellow, American Society of Genealogists
Fellow, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania
Historian, Swedish Colonial Society

originally published in Swedish Colonial News,
Volume 2, Number 5 (Fall 2001)

Although it is commonly known that the Swedes were the first white settlers to successfully colonize the Delaware Valley in 1638, many historians overlook the continuing presence of the Delaware Swedes throughout the colonial period. Some highlights covering the first 75 years (1638-1713) are shown below:

New Sweden Era, 1638-1655

1638 – After a 4-month voyage from Gothenburg, Kalmar Nyckel arrives in the Delaware in March. Captain Peter Minuit purchases land on west bank from the Schuylkill River to Bombay Hook, builds Fort Christina at present Wilmington and leaves 24 men, under the command of Lt. Måns Kling, to man the fort and trade with Indians. Kalmar Nyckel returns safely to Sweden, but Minuit dies on return trip in a hurricane in the Caribbean.

1639 – Fogel Grip, which accompanied Kalmal Nyckel, brings a 25th man from St. Kitts, a slave from Angola known as Anthony Swartz.

1640 – Kalmar Nyckel, on its second voyage, brings the first families to New Sweden, including those of Sven Gunnarsson and Lars Svensson. Other new settlers include Peter Rambo, Anders Bonde, Måns Andersson, Johan Schaggen, Anders Dalbo and Dr. Timen Stiddem. Lt. Peter Hollander Ridder, who succeeds Kling as new commanding officer, purchases more land from Indians between Schuylkill and the Falls of the Delaware.

1641 – Kalmar Nyckel, joined by the Charitas, brings 64 men to New Sweden, including the families of Måns Lom, Olof Stille, Christopher Rettel, Hans Månsson, Olof Thorsson and Eskil Larsson. Also such single men as Peter Cock, Matts Hansson and his brother Anders Hansson, Ivert Hendricksson, Johan Ericksson, Matts Hansson from Borgå, Johan Stålkofta, Lucas Petersson, Knut Mårtensson, Lars Bjur, and four orphans, including Israel Helm. Ridder purchases land on east side of Delaware from Raccoon Creek to Cape May, and on west side from Bombay Hook to Cape Henlopen.

1642 – Probable year of first settlement in present Pennsylvania, at Techoherassi, Upland and Finland.

1643 – The Fama and Swan arrive from Sweden, bringing Johan Printz, first royal governor of New Sweden, six feet tall and weighing 400 pounds, with 50 new settlers, including Captain Sven Skute, soldiers Jonas Nilsson, Jürgen Keen, Johan Gustafsson, Anders And-ersson Homman, Peter Jochimsson and the family of Anders Andersson the Finn. Printz builds Fort Elfsborg on east side of Delaware and Fort New Gothenburg on Tinicum Island, where he also builds his own manor house, called Printzhof.

1644 – Kalmar Nyckel and Fama arrive from Sweden with 14 more men, including Lt. Johan Papegoja. Printz establishes tobacco plantations at Christina, Upland and on west side of Schuylkill (Province Island), but the experiment is a disaster. Revert to corn the next year, buying tobacco from Virginia.

1645 – Settlement is made at Kingsessing and the first grist mill is built on Mill (now Cobbs) Creek.

1646 – First log church built on Tinicum Island.

1647 – Fort Korsholm is completed on Province Island.

1648 – Swan arrives from Sweden, bringing 12 or more men, including Rev. Lars Carlsson Lock, Nils Larsson Frände, Johan Fisk and Hendrick Johansson. Aronameck, on west side of Schuylkill, settled. Dutch build Fort Beversreede on east side of Schuylkill, but Swedes thwart Dutch attempts to build dwellings in area.

1649 – Kattan runs aground near Puerto Rico. None of its 69 passengers reach New Sweden. Most of them die in the Caribbean. A few find their way back to Sweden, including Dr. Timen Stiddem.

1651 – Dutch build Fort Casimir at Sand Hook (New Castle) and abandon Fort Bevers-reede in Schuylkill. Governor Printz, his forces depleted by deaths and desertions to Maryland, abandons Fort Elfsborg and Fort Korsholm, concentrating his forces at Fort Christina and Fort New Gothenburg. The Christina River becomes the de facto boundary between New Sweden and the Dutch.

1652 – Printz seizes plantation of Lars Svensson (Lasse the Finn) on west side of Up-land (Chester) Creek, claiming that Lasse and his wife were guilty of witchcraft and owed him money. Renames plantation Printztorp. Lasse and his wife die, and other freemen become more hostile to Printz’s rule. Several freemen move to Fort Casimir area to live under Dutch rule.

1653 – Twenty-two freemen file petition with Governor Printz, complaining of his auto-cratic rule. Printz brands the petition a “mutiny”, accuses Pastor Lars Lock, Olof Stille and one of his own soldiers of instigating the crime. After having the soldier killed by a firing squad, Printz packs his bags and returns to Sweden, leaving the colony under the command of his son-in-law Johan Papegoja. Fifteen more freemen flee the colony to seek refuge at Fort Casimir or Kent Island, Maryland. Papegoja hires Indians to bring them back, dead or alive. Indians return with heads of two former freemen.

1654 – Population of New Sweden is now reduced to 70 men, women and children. Survivors debate uniting with the Dutch at Fort Casimir, but the issue becomes moot when the Eagle arrives in May with about 250 passengers, including some old-timers such as Dr. Timen Stiddem. Johan Rising, the new Governor, captures Fort Casimir from the Dutch, restoring the entire Delaware River to Swedish control. Including the Dutch at Fort Casimir (which he renamed Fort Trinity), Rising counts 368 persons in the colony. But disease and famine soon take their toll, and most of the Dutch move to New Amsterdam (New York). Governor Rising introduces reforms to insure that freemen’s rights to property are protected and adds freemen Peter Rambo and Matts Hansson from Borgå to his Council. Olof Stille and Peter Cock also sit as justices at Tinicum Island. New settlements are established at Ammansland (Ridley Township) and Swanwick.

1655 – Food shortages plague the colony. Some colonists move to the Sassafras River in Maryland. In September, Dutch Governor Stuyvesant, with seven armed ships and 317 soldiers, invades New Sweden. Badly outnum-bered, the Swedes surrender the colony without a fight. Governor Rising and 36 others return to Sweden. Most of the Swedes and Finns decide to stay in America, pledging allegiance to the Dutch.

The Swedish Nation, 1656-1681

1656 – Mercurius arrives from Sweden in March, carrying 14 Swedes and 92 Finns. After Dutch refuse to allow ship to pass Fort Casimir, the Indians climb aboard and usher the ship to Tinicum Island, where the passengers land. The ship, including its commander (Johan Papegoja), safely returns to Sweden. The Dutch are persuaded to grant the Swedes and Finns self-government in the area north of Christina River. In August, the first court is ap-proved, consisting of Olof Stille, Mats Hansson from Borgå, Peter Cock and Peter Rambo. First militia headed by Captain Sven Skute, Lt. Anders Dalbo and Ensign Jacob Svensson. Newly-arrived Finns settle at Marcus Hook and Bochten (Verdrietige Hook).

1657 – Having acquired the area south of the Christina River from the Dutch West India Company, the City of Amsterdam establishes its own colony, called New Amstel, at present New Castle. Stuyvesant retains nominal con-trol over the Swedish Nation north of Christina River.

1658 – Numerous tracts are surveyed in Maryland on the Sassafras River for Swedes and Finns who had moved there.
1660 – Alexander d’Hinojossa becomes governor of New Amstel after death of Jacob Alrichs. Stuyvesant asks Swedish nation to supply soldiers in his war against the Indians at Esopus (Kingston, NY). Swedes refuse, insisting on their historic non-aggression policy with the Indians.

1662 – Armegot Printz Papegoja, daughter of Johan Printz, sells Tinicum Island to a Dutchman, Joost de la Grange, excepting the Swedes’ church from the sale. Swedes’ court moves to Upland. D’Hinojossa invites Finns living in the Swedish nation to move to Crane Hook. About 15 families agree to move.

1663 – Stuyvesant begins issuing land patents to Swedish settlers in the Swedish nation. At request of d’Hinojossa, City of Amsterdam solicits more Finns to leave Sweden for the Delaware. Thirty-two Finns arrive on the Purmerlander Kerck and settle at Feren Hook on south side of Christina Creek.

1664 – Control over Swedish nation, north of Christina River, transferred from Stuyvesant to New Amstel. Peter Rambo, Sven Gunnarsson and sons, Olof Stille, Lars Andersson Collinus move across Schuylkill to Passyunk, Wicaco and Moyamensing and receive confirming patents from d’Hinojossa. Another ship from Amsterdam, carrying 140 Finns for the New Amstel colony, sinks in Atlantic Ocean. English warships seize the New Amstel colony from the Dutch. Swedes and Finns are assured that their property rights and freedoms will not be affected. The Upland Court continues as before. Olof Stille retires and is replaced by Peter Cock as Chief Justice of the Upland Court. Israel Helm replaces Mats Hansson, deceased.

1665 – Dutch freemen begin acquiring land from Indians on east side of Delaware (New Jersey) opposite New Castle.

1667 – Log church built at Crane Hook to serve Swedes and Finns living between Verdrietige Hook and New Castle. Lars Lock, minister at Tinicum church, agrees to serve both congregations.

1669 – A Finn named Marcus Jacobsson, posing as son of Swedish general Königsmark, travels from house to house in the Swedish na-tion, urging them to take up arms against the English. He is caught by Justice Peter Cock, tried, convicted of treason and sold as a slave in Barbados. Settlers who supported the “Long Finn Rebellion” are fined.

1671 – First English census of the Delaware enumerates 165 households between Burlington Island and New Castle. Except at these two extremities and at Passyunk (mostly English), the population is overwhelmingly Swedish and Finnish. First Finns to move to the east side of Delaware River settle in what later became known as Penn’s Neck, Salem County.

1673 – Upland Court is increased to five justices with addition of Lars Andersson Collinus and Olof Svensson. Swedes and Finns make first settlement in Gloucester County, on Raccoon Creek, in an area soon called New Stockholm.

1675 – Upland Court obtains authority to build a third Swedish church at Wicaco, to serve households living above Mill (Darby) Creek. Part of court fines are earmarked for this purpose.

1676 – Upland Court is increased to six justices with addition of Otto Ernest Cock.

1677 – New log church at Wicaco dedicated. Pastor Jacobus Fabritius (German) from Manhattan serves as minister, aided by Jacob Jongh (Swedish) as sexton and schoolmaster.

1680 – Peter Cock, Peter Rambo, Lars Andersson Collinus and Olof Svensson retire from Upland Court. Lasse Cock added to the court, as well as the first two Englishmen, Henry Jones (who had a Swedish wife) and George Brown, who represented new English settlement in Crewcorne (Bucks County).

The Quaker Invasion, 1682-1696

1681 – Former New Sweden is granted to William Penn, who secures English patent for Pennsylvania and sends William Markham to the Delaware to arrange a transition.

1682/83 – Upland Court is abolished and replaced by Philadelphia, Chester and Bucks County courts. Swedes are employed to negotiate new treaties with the Indians. Swedes and Finns are required to be naturalized as English subjects. The Swanson brothers surrender 300 acres of their Wicaco plantation for the City of Philadelphia. Israel Helm and Nils Larsson Frände surrender other land to Penn for his Pennsbury estate. Other Swedes surrender additional land. All were promised compensating lands elsewhere. Twenty-three ships carrying hundreds of Quaker settlers arrive. The Swedes and Finns are soon outnumbered by the English.

1683 – Anders Bengtsson and Sven Svensson elected to first Pennsylvania Assembly. Lasse Cock named to Provincial Council.

1684 – Lasse Cock elected to Assembly. William Penn sets aside 5,000 acres in present Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, for future Swedish settlement. A number of Swedes and Finns in Pennsylvania sell their land and move to West Jersey.

1685 – Lasse Cock and Gunnar Rambo are elected to Assembly.

1686 – Jacob Jongh, sexton and school-master at Wicaco church, dies in Shackamaxon. Anders Bengtsson becomes lay reader to assist the now-blind Jacobus Fabritius. Anders Bengtsson is also elected to Assembly.

1687 – Lasse Cock elected to Assembly.

1688 – Lasse Cock re-elected to the Assembly. Pastor Lars Lock dies, leaving the pulpits empty at Tinicum Island and Crane Hook. Church at Tinicum is abandoned and its congregation (on both sides of river) is divided between Wicaco and Crane Hook churches. Later, Charles Springer becomes lay reader of Crane Hook church.

1690 – Church wardens at Wicaco and Crane Hook sell old glebe land on Upland Creek, the former home of Lars Lock and his predecessor Johan Campanius.

1692 – Lasse Cock elected to the Assembly.

1693 – Charles Springer drafts letters for Wicaco and Crane Hook congregations to King Charles XI in Sweden, asking for new ministers, Swedish Bibles and hymnals. Lasse Cock named to the Provincial Council, serves three years.

1695 – Anders Bengtsson sells one of his Passyunk plantations to church wardens at Wi-caco for the use of old Jacobus Fabritius and his successors.

1696 – Fabritius dies.

Sweden’s American Mission, 1696-1713

1696 – King Charles XI of Sweden names three ministers to travel to the Delaware to serve the Swedes and Finns. He also sends Swedish Bibles, hymnals and other religious books, and directs that the American Mission be managed by Jesper Svedberg, later Bishop of Skara.

1697 – Missionaries arrive at Swedish set-tlement at Sahakitko (Elkton), Maryland and are quickly ushered to Pennsylvania. Andreas Rudman becomes new pastor at Wicaco; Ericus Björk becomes new pastor at Crane Hook. The third minister, Jonas Aurén, later starts a new church at Northeast, Maryland, to serve the Swedes and Finns in Cecil County.

1698 – Anders Bengtsson elected to the Assembly. Old Peter Rambo dies. His son, Gunnar Rambo and grandson, John Rambo become the first settlers of the Swedes’ tract at Matsunk in present Upper Merion Township.

1699 – Holy Trinity Church dedicated at Christina (present Wilmington) to replace the log church at Crane Hook.

1700 – Gloria Dei Church dedicated at Wicaco to replace the old log church.

1701 – Pastor Rudman negotiates an agreement with William Penn, setting aside 10,000 acres up the Schuylkill, near Manatawny Creek, for future Swedish settlement.

1702 – Andreas Sandel arrives from Sweden to replace Andreas Rudman as pastor of Gloria Dei. He is preceded by another minister, Lars Tolstadius, who had no commission from the King. Tolstadius accepts call to be pastor at a new Swedish church on Raccoon Creek, serving those who did not wish to cross the river to Wicaco or Christina.

1704 – Side porches added to Gloria Dei Church. Settlement begins at new Swedish tract at Manatawny (present Douglassville, Berks County).

1706 – Lars Tolstadius, under indictment for fathering a child with a vestryman’s daughter at Raccoon, drowns in the Delaware River. He is replaced by Jonas Aurén, who also continues to serve his congregation in Maryland. Old Mårten Mårtensson, said to be 100 years old, the last surviving person who signed the loyalty oath to Governor Rising in 1654, dies at Ammansland.

1708 – Andreas Rudman, first pastor of Gloria Dei, dies in Philadelphia.

1709 – Peter Rambo, Jr., elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly.

1713 – Matthias Keen elected to the Assembly. Pastor Aurén dies at Raccoon Creek. Two new ministers arrived from Sweden, Andreas Hesselius, who replaces Björk at Christina in 1714, and Abraham Lidenius, who replaces Aurén at Raccoon. With them is painter Gustavus Hesselius, who paints altar painting at Gloria Dei.