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New Sweden Life and Finnish Settlement Details

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Delaware, New Jerseymap
Surname/tag: New_Sweden
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Background

The Christopher Ward book [[1]The Dutch and Swedes on the Delaware 1609-64] provides a complete narrative of the near and far agencies governing the outcomes along the River.

Finnish Settlement Details

The New Sweden Colony consisted of two parts: upriver and downriver. The midpoint is where Wilmington stands.The Swedes and Dutch were more concentrated upriver near where Philadelphia stands.

  • In the downriver half of the Colony, on both sides of the Delaware River (Salem County NJ on the east and New Castle County DE on the west) were Finnish settlements for the decade after 1663.
    • The east side was referred to as Penns Neck, extending from Boughttown (the Bought) on the north, south to Finns Point, reaching east from the River to Salem Creek, encompassing much of Fenwick's patent.
    • The west side comprised the river lands south of the Christina River, from Crane Hook to New Castle, and west up Christina River and Brandywine Creek watersheds.
  • After 1672, the English patents in the area became enforced; most new settlers to the area were now English Quakers. The Finns and Swedes were treated fairly, keeping their lands by swearing an oath of allegiance to England and paying a bit of tax.
  • For this Anglo-Finnish community, the River was Main Street. There were no roads or even cart paths through the densely forested shore lands. Every one lived within access to a navigable creek or river, and owned a dugout canoe for getting from here to there. This had also been their way of life in the Swedish backwoods, a life characterized by axe, canoe, and log cabin.
  • The Church at Crane Hook, and later its replacement, Holy Trinity Church, served people on both sides of the River. Those on the east rowed across or ferried across and back each Sunday to attend services.

New Sweden Life

"Very few Swedes ever lost a night’s rest because of the Indian Warwhoop. They were a people of simple ways, industrious, loyal, steadfast."

  • In 1693, some of these Delaware Swedes wrote home for ministers, books, and teachers. Following is the substance of this letter:
    • “As to what concerns our situation in this country, we are for the most part husbandmen. We plow and sow and till the ground; and as to our meat and drink, we live according to the old Swedish custom. This country is very rich and fruitful, and here grow all sorts of grain in great plenty, so that we are richly supplied with meat and drink: and we send out yearly to our neighbors on this continent and the neighboring islands bread, grain, flour, and oil. We have here also all sorts of beasts, fowls, and fishes. Our wives and daughters employ themselves in spinning wool and flax and many of them in weaving, so that we have great reason to thank the Almighty for his manifold mercies and bene- fits. God grant that we may also have good shepherds to feed us with the holy word and sacraments. We live also in peace and friendship with one another, and the Indians have not molested us for many years. Further, since this country has censed to be under the government of Sweden, we are bound to acknowledge and declare for the sake of truth that we have been well and kindly treated, as well by the Dutch as bv his Majesty the King of England, our gracious sovereign; on the other hand, we, the Swedes, have been and still are true to him in words and in deeds. We have always had over us good and gracious magistrates; and we live with one another in peace and quietude.”
  • A Swedish missionary sent to New Sweden wrote back home:
    • ‘The people live very well without being compelled to too much or too severe labor. The taxes are very light; the farmers, after their work is over, live as thev do in Sweden, but are clothed as well as the respectable inhabitants of the towns. They have fresh meat and fish in abundance, and want nothing of what other countries produce: they have plenty of grain to make bread and plenty of drink. There are no poor in this country, but they all provide for themselves, for the land is rich and fruitful, and no man who will labor can suffer want.”




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