A History of the Kalmar Nyckel
by John R. Henderson,

Kalmar Nyckel was a remarkable ship. She was the pride of Sweden, heavily armed, able to
hold a large cargo, yet more nimble and maneuverable than other ships her size. Majestic and
seaworthy, this three-masted square-rigger first crossed of the Atlantic Ocean in 1638. Unknown
to most Americans, and omitted from all but a few history books, she has the distinction of being
the ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean more times than any other ship before the American
Revolution. She only made four round trips, but nonetheless, that was the more than any other
ship was able to accomplish.

The modern replica of the
Kalmar Nyckel was built 350 years later to become Delaware's Tall Ship.
Back in 2001 and 2003, several members of our family sailed aboard her, and my father boarded her
once much earlier after the construction was complete but before she was ready to sail. The new
Kalmar Nyckel was constructed to resemble the original ship as closely as possible, but much
guesswork had to be used. A few contemporary descriptions exist, but no blueprints, plans or
drawings of the original
Kalmar Nyckel have been found. Like the original Kalmar Nyckel, the
replica is painted the same shade of blue as found on the Swedish flag and hosts a golden lion as
her figurehead. Unlike the original, and hidden from view, the modern-day ship has a engine for
back-up power and a contemporary kitchen for her crew. Both ships were built with a square
stern and a high poopdeck, underneath which the ship's captain's quarters could be found. Even if
they were almost the same size, in the seventeenth century, her captain would have considered the
space large and comfortable, while to a modern eye the modern
Kalmar Nyckel's captain's quarters
appear to be a bit cramped. Different members of our family spent glorious and fun-filled sunny
afternoons aboard the new
Kalmar Nyckel on Delaware Bay. In contrast, when some of our
ancestors crossed the Atlantic Ocean aboard the original ship, they would have spent over three
months in miserable quarters bringing with them all their clothes and other earthly possessions,
including, if they were so lucky, livestock.

The first
Kalmar Nyckel served her country for more than thirty years. She was a merchant ship
that had been redesigned as a man-of-war. The first time the
Kalmar Nyckel sailed across the
Atlantic, she was under orders that should she encounter a vulnerable enemy ship, the captain
was ordered to attack -- in other words, in addition to all the other remarkable things about her,
the Kalmar Nyckel was also a pirate ship.

Dreams of a Swedish Empire

To appreciate the history of the Kalmar Nyckel, it is important to understand the colonial
aspirations of the Kingdom of Sweden. Not to besmirch the Swedes, but Sweden is not the first (or
second, or third, or fourth) country you think of as an empire-building world power. In
American history surveys, Nya Sverige, or New Sweden, is usually considered an insignificant
episode, if it is included at all. However, when the
Kalmar Nyckel was setting that trans-Atlantic
record, Sweden really was a "Great Power" in Europe. The Thirty Years War was raging, and King
Gustavus Adolphus II earned the nickname the Lion of the North as he became the principal
military figure of Europe. He served as a great Protestant champion and did his best to vanquish
the Catholic states and conquer for Sweden as much of Europe as he could. Finland and much of
Scandinavia had already fallen under Swedish domination, but he expanded his empire to include
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, plus significant parts of Russia, Poland, and Germany. When
some trading company directors approached him with a different sort of possibility, he turned his
eye to empire in the New World and granted them a charter.

The trading company had several different names and was re-organized more than a few times.
Names included the General Trading Company, the Swedish Florida Company, Swedish West
Indian Company, the Ships' Company, the Australian Company, the South Company, the United
South Ships Company, and finally the name we know it by today, the New Sweden Company.

If the directors were pleased to now have a charter, they were disappointed in two other major
regards. The king left it up to the directors to find their own funding for an expedition to the new
world, and he had no ships to spare while war was being waged. Fortunately for the directors,
they did have some experience raising money and organizing an expedition to the New World.
Most of them were Dutch, not Swedes, and had been involved in New Amsterdam. They had only
approached the Swedish king because they had been fired by or had disputes with their royal
Dutch patrons. Good protestant capitalists and disgruntled empire builders, they were looking for
a fresh start and a second chance to make their fortune.

The company was first chartered in 1626, but not much progress was made for several years. The
waging of the Thirty Years War made it difficult for a trading company to raise money, hire crews
of sailors, and find willing settlers with which to establish a new colony. Then, when things
finally started to look promising, but before as much as a single ship was in their possession, the
king was killed in battle.

The great Gustavus Aldolphus's eleven-year-old daughter succeeded him to the throne.
Fortunately for the directors of the New Sweden Company, the young queen, or in actuality the
Swedish regency government led by chancellor Axel Oxenstierna, proved to be just as keen on
creating a Swedish empire as the king had been. Unfortunately for the directors, setbacks in the
Thirty Years War had caused Sweden to lose control over some Prussian ports and the revenues
they generated, so the new government was even less willing to part with money from the
Swedish treasury to back the project. Oxenstierma would prove to be more helpful, however, in
helping the company acquire a ship.

In Steps Peter Minuit

Early dreams for Swedish empire appear to have included Asia, Brazil, African copper mines, and
what someone called Magellanland, but the trading company only made progress after Peter
Minuit [I've read that his name should be pronounced "min WEE."] joined the board of directors
in 1632 and convinced the Swedish authorities to focus on the North America. The trouble with
North American was that by 1630 there wasn't any part of it left to discover, or at least that
wasn't already claimed. Minuit, however, as the recently fired Director-General of New
Netherlands, had knowledge of a solution to that problem. His plan involved secrecy,
international intrigue, an almost enlightened notion regarding Indian sovereignty, and, perhaps,
thoughts of revenge against the government of the Netherlands.

All this time, the company still was without a ship to its name. It took two years after Minuit
joined the New Sweden Company before the deal could be worked out to acquire its first, the
Kalmar Nyckel. The Kalmar Nyckel had not been built to be a trans-Atlantic sailing ship. She started
her life as a a Dutch merchant vessel sometime in the 1620s. The exact year she was built is
unknown. She entered the Swedish service in 1629 when she was purchased to defend the city of
Kalmar, a major port on the Baltic Sea. The citizens of Kalmar had been ordered by the king to
raise the money themselves, both to purchase the ship and to re-arm her as a fit warship. Her
original name is unknown, but she was now christened
Kalmar Nyckel, which means Key of
Kalmar. In some books the name of the ship is written
Key of Calmar. "Calmare Nyckel" was the
preferred spelling of the ship by the United States Delaware Valley Tercentenary Commission in
1938. Despite that fact that the Swedish crown didn't pay for her, five years later, in 1634, the ship
was confiscated in the name of the queen without any compensation to the good people of Kalmar
and presented to the private trading company.

Once a ship was in their possession, the directors still took more than a few years to raise enough
funds to outfit her for a trans-Atlantic voyage. They must have been successful in their efforts,
because by 1636 a second, smaller ship, the
Fogel Grip (or the Griffon Bird), had been acquired by
the company as well. Finally, a launch was planned for the summer of 1637. Minuit received secret
orders (that he may have written himself) outlining the mission. The ships were to sail to the
Delaware River (or South River as the Dutch called it) to purchase land and prepare it for the
building the a new colony. The first expedition was also supposed to establish native contacts
through whom the company could build a trade in tobacco and fur, and quite importantly, claim
for Sweden land that two other nations thought they already had claim to. No permanent
colonists were on board, but soldiers would be left behind to defend a fort for the new colony.

The North Sea in November and the First Trans-Atlantic Voyage

The summer came and went, as did most of the fall, with nothing but delays. Peter Minuit was
sick part of that time, and his absence may have enhanced the problems. Finally in November 1637
Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip set sail from Gothenburg. Minuit led the expedition, but the
captain of the
Kalmar Nyckel was Jan Hindricksen van der Water (which could be translated as
John Henderson of the High Seas). Bleak November is perhaps not the best time to start an
oceanic voyage, and after only a couple days of sailing, a violent winter storm in the North Sea
nearly destroyed both ships. The ships were separated, and each crew thought the other was lost.
However, the
Kalmar Nyckel found shelter in the harbor of Texel, a port city on an island that was
part of Holland. The survival of the
Kalmar Nyckel can be credited to naval skills of Captain
Hindricksen and his crew. A full week later the
Fogel Grip, also badly leaking, found shelter in the
same harbor.

Since the orders were secret, it is quite possible that no one aboard either ship except for Minuit
and Hindricksen knew they were about to invade Dutch territory. That would be important
information to keep quiet about if you are in dry dock at a Dutch port. To keep the mission a
secret, Peter Minuit even felt it necessary to make a deal with a Dutch friend to transport four
passengers to New Amsterdam or as close to there as possible during their voyage to "Virginia," as
many then called all of North America. The Swedish ships remained in Dutch port undergoing
repairs for about a month before setting sail again on December 31. Their route first took them to
the Caribbean. This made a lot of sense back then, because of currents and prevailing winds. Of
almost equal importance, in addition, was to use the Caribbean islands as a source of supplies and
goods to trade for. Potentially, if they found themselves in isolated waters, by order, they were to
exploit vulnerable Spanish galleons. There is no evidence that the crew of
Kalmar Nyckel ever
engaged in piracy, but once back in Sweden, Andreas Joransson, the captain of the sister ship
Fogel Grip got in trouble for not reporting some Spanish booty he captured. Whether acquired
through force or trade, a slave from West Africa was taken aboard the
Fogel Grip. Antoni, as he
was named by the Europeans, then took residence in New Sweden. Since Sweden had abolished
slavery, Anthoni was able to become a free man. He must have become the first, or at least one of
the first, emancipated slaves in North America.

In March 1638, Hindricksen and his crew proved their navigational skill once again as the
reached the Delaware Bay. Details of the voyage are unknown since Minuet's diary and log
were lost. The location of where in the New World they first landed is one of the details in dispute.
A report from the British treasurer in Virginia to the British Secretary of State, dated May 8, 1638
(and published in the Virginia Historical Magazine in 1903) indicates that a Dutch ship
commissioned by the Queen of Sweden requested to have free trade in tobacco to carry to Sweden,
but that the request was denied. The British treasurer wrote from Jamestown, but where the
exchange between the
Kalmar Nyckel and the British was made in not clear. Within a few weeks, it
is known that the ships entered the Delaware Bay. It is possible they went to shore at Cape
Henlopen, and Isaac Acrelaus, one of the earliest historians of New Sweden, states this, but later
historans have questioned the accuracy of this account. If the stop was made, the crew did not
stay long. Instead they proceeded cautiously for another forty miles up the Delaware River.
Caution was necessary both because the river was rather shallow in places and because they did
not wish to encounter any Dutch ships or settlers. At last they reached their pre-assigned
destination, a western tributary that the Dutch had called the Minquas Kill. Continuing about
two miles further, well hidden from traffic on the Delaware, they dropped anchor. As the Pilgrims
had Plymouth Rock, the Swedes had "The Rocks," a natural rock formation that could serve as a
natural loading dock in what was otherwise low and marshy land.

Trinkets and International Law

The crew did not immediately go ashore. Instead they shot off the ships' cannons. First they
wanted to be sure no Europeans were around. Second, they wanted to attract the attention of any
nearby non-Europeans. Minuit's secret plan could now be revealed. In a matter of days, five
sachem (also known as Indian chiefs) from two distinct tribes, the Lenape (or the Delaware) and
the Minquas (known also both as the Mingo and Susquahannock), boarded the
Kalmar Nyckel.
Members of both tribes were present because even though the Lenape lived in the area, they were
at the time subservient to the Minquas. There aboard the mighty ship, an historical agreement
was signed. Ownership of the land on the western side of the Delaware was officially and legally
transferred from two New World "nations" to the Kingdom of Sweden. Nya Sverige, or New
Sweden, was founded.

What Minuit had done was remarkable. From his personal experience as Director-General of New
Netherlands, Minuit knew that the land on the western shore of the Delaware River had never
been purchased by any European power from any native people. In his mind, that meant it was
available for Swedish possession, if he could successfully negotiate with the Indians and receive
from them a grant of land. This was not an established and accepted legal justification among the
European powers, and both the English and the Dutch both had previously claimed the land as
their own. What he also knew from his experience with the Dutch West India Company was that
its charter for New Amsterdam did not include a grant of land. This is why years before he had
purchased Manhattan from the Indians for the infamous $24 worth of trinkets. In defense of Peter
Minuit, he had then taken a step toward recognizing the rights of the native people of North
America that few if any other Europeans had ever done. Now when he acted in the name of the
Swedish crown, he was taking a giant step further. Although similar deeds had been drawn up
between Europeans and Indians, what was unique about the
Kalmar Nyckel treaty was that this
time the Europeans hadn't already taken possession of the land before making the agreement.
Enlightened or not, Minuit, in founding New Sweden, was acknowledging that the people who
already lived there were its only and rightful owners. What Minuit and every other European of
the time failed to understand was that the Indians had an entirely different understanding of land
ownership. The two tribes were only agreeing to share the land with these new people. Land was
sacred to them; it was not a commodity that could be bought and sold.

With this first agreement, the territory of New Sweden stretched about seventy miles along the
Delaware River. The original deed is lost, so the exact boundary in not known. The northern
border was the Schuylkill River, just short of a stretch of wilderness that would become
Philadelphia. The southern border was probably that stretch of wilderness that is still a stretch of
wilderness, or, at least, a national wildlife refuge -- Bombay Hook. To the west, in theory, at least,
New Sweden extended all the way to the Pacific Ocean, since no western boundary was known to
have been set. In 1648, when the Dutch and Swedes were embattled, however, Andries Hudde, the
commander of one of the Dutch forts (so not an unbiased witness) claimed that the
Susquahannock told him that the Swedes bought only a tiny parcel of land -- as much as was
contained within six trees -- for the sole purpose of clearing a bit of land to plant some tobacco.
The fact that the Swedes enjoyed unusually harmonious relations with their Indian neighbors
brings the Dutch commander's story into question.

It is not recorded whether Peter Minuit paid more or less than the $24 worth of trinkets that he is
supposed to have exchanged for Manhattan, but it is known that the Swedes brought useful items
for negotiating with the Indians -- several hundred knives and axes, hoes, iron pots and copper
kettles, and great numbers of lengthy bolts of cloth. Among the standard trinket items, which
they brought as well, were mirrors, combs, jewelry, and Jew's harps. Peter Minuit's previous
dealings with Indians provided him with the knowledge of what items would be valued. Not all of
the trading items the New Sweden Company brought, however, was used to buy land. Much of
that stock would have used later to barter for furs and pelts. One sacham claimed several years
later to Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant (so Stuyvesant claimed) that for the land itself the
Swedes only paid only a "kettle and other trifles" plus some promised goods that were never

It is not clear how long the
Kalmar Nyckel or the Fogel Grip remained in New Sweden on this first
voyage. They left at different times. It is possible the
Kalmar Nyckel remained longer than six weeks,
but Minuit wished to return to Sweden as soon as he could to organize the next voyage. Before he
departed, Minuit supervised the clearing of land for a fort and a few acres to be tilled. The insignia
of the young queen was raised on a pole for all to see, even if Minuit hoped no European would
actually see this evidence or discover, until he returned with more soldiers and the first permanent
settlers, that Swedish Crown had claimed the land.

It is likely that construction of a palisaded fort would have been completed before both ships had
departed, since until some safe structure was complete, the Swedish invaders would have slept
aboard ship. The fort was called
Fort Christina. The name may not sound formidable, but it
honored the young Swedish queen. Initially the purpose of Fort Christina may have been to
protect the Swedes from unfriendly natives, but it was soon determined that the Lenape and
Minquas were peaceful people and cooperative trading partners and agricultural advisors.
Through the history of New Sweden, the main function of its forts became to protect the Swedes
from other Europeans, not from the "savages."

Finally, when Minuit and the
Kalmar Nyckel did set sail, twenty-five men (they were all men and
included the freed slave) were left behind. The ships had been loaded with 769 beaver pelts, 314
otter pelts, and 132 bearskins, with plenty of cargo space remaining to be filled with tobacco from
elsewhere in Virginia. Before heading home, however, Minuit sailed up the Delaware to see the full
extent of the new territory. This was not Minuit's most strategic decision, since during the trip,
the ship passed by Fort Nassau, a Dutch fort on the east side of the Delaware a couple miles away
from the future location of downtown Philadelphia. This blew the secret of Sweden's invasion.
[Another account recorded that it was the Fogel Grip, not the
Kalmar Nyckel, that sailed up the
Delaware past Fort Nassau, so it might not have been Minuit's fault.]

First Encounter in a Bloodless War

Once they saw the invading ship, did the Dutch fire upon the Kalmar Nyckel? No, this first
encounter in the great war on the Delaware was bloodless, as would be every other battle between
these two colonial powers. The keen-eyed Dutch soldiers on duty observed the
Kalmar Nyckel, but,
since they knew the Swedes were allies, they simply reported their observation to a superior
officer, who, in turn, sent a report to New Amsterdam, where upon its arrival the Dutch governor
forwarded the news to Holland, where a key government official contacted the Dutch ambassador
to Sweden who promptly submitted a petition to the Swedish crown asking that the Swedes to
please remove themselves from Dutch territory. It was all very dignified and diplomatic, and
totally ineffective in persuading the Swedes to abandon its new colony.

The Swedes responded, instead, by sending the
Kalmar Nyckel back to New Sweden a second time.
The response, however, was not swift. Even given the slow pace of the sailing ship era, the Swedes
moved incredibly slowly in organizing the second expedition. Tragedy was the chief cause of the
delay. Governor Minuit had died at sea while the
Kalmar Nyckel was still in the Caribbean. He and
Captain Hindricksen had been aboard a Dutch ship, presumably negotiating a trade deal, when a
hurricane blew in with no warning, and the ship and all its crew and passengers were lost and
never found. The
Kalmar Nyckel proved more seaworthy than the ship Minuet was visiting, for
though damaged, it survived the storm. The remaining crew of the
Kalmar Nyckel spent a long
time searching for their leaders, but eventually gave up and returned to Sweden.

The Second Voyage

For the second expedition, the Kalmar Nyckel sailed alone. After returning to Sweden, the Fogel Grip
had run aground while on an unrelated voyage and was left to founder. Strapped for cash, the
company was unable to purchase another ship, and the crown, still at war, had none to spare.
Delays seemed to be unavoidable. As many problems were related to the New Sweden Company
itself as to the seaworthiness of the ship. Without Minuit taking the lead, the process of
organizing the second expedition crawled. It took several months for the directors to select
another governor. Another Dutch citizen, Peter Ridder, was appointed, but, alas, he was a poor
choice. He exhibited no commitment to the project and was an ineffectual leader. After the
accountants determined that the first expedition failed to make a profit from the sale of fur pelts
and tobacco, several key investors withdrew their monetary backing. Even more problematic was
recruiting permanent settlers. No kind of enticement seemed to be able to attract more than a
handful of Swedish men and even fewer families. The problem was solved only when the Swedish
crown offered to supply the company with involuntary settlers -- army deserters. Swedish prisons
were full of them. Involuntary, is not quite the right term, although coercion rather than
encouragement was probably employed. A law was passed to commute the prison sentences of
army deserters to if they emigrated with their families to the new colony. The presence of prisoners
did not make New Sweden a penal colony, however, since legally the deserters were emigrating by
their own choice and none were transported bound and shackled. They were were even paid to
accept passage aboard the
Kalmar Nyckel. They would be more like indentured servants than
prisoners, and after a limited term of service to the New Sweden Company, they became freemen
and were given the choice to continue to live in New Sweden or return to the mother country.

With this new supply of passengers, somewhere between 35 and 50 men, women, and children,
the trading company was ready for the
Kalmar Nyckel to weigh anchor. Shortly after she set sail in
September 1639, however, the
Kalmar Nyckel sprang a leak. She first found harbor in yet another
Dutch port, Medemblik, but the captain found it necessary to return to Gothenburg. Repairs were
made, but after another launch was attempted, the leaks reappeared, and the
Kalmar Nyckel
returned to port a second time. Before launching again, an investigation was made, and the new
captain, who had replaced Hindricksen, was charged with failure to properly supervise the work.
Further investigation uncovered the likelihood that the captain had skimmed money that should
have been spent on fixing the leaks properly. Even further misconduct was then discovered. The
captain had been overcharging the Company but under supplying the cargo with key items that
included butter and beer. Although Ridder survived as governor, the captain was fired. Troubles
mounted when several crew members then quit, either because they were loyal to the captain or in
cahoots with him. A new captain and a large number of new crew members had to be recruited,
and though this should have been done as hastily as possible, Ridder seemed to take considerable
time -- valuable time, in that the rest of the crew still had to be paid, and the passengers and the
livestock set to be taken aboard had to be housed and fed. The delays, the costs of repairs, and the
fraud almost guaranteed that once again the voyage of the
Kalmar Nyckel would not be profitable.
Finally, when all was ready, storms delayed the launch date. Having been doubly repaired, the
Kalmar Nyckel set sail for New Sweden on February 7, 1640.

Several accounts recorded that the second voyage was more difficult and unpleasant than the first.
The problem was not so much bad weather, but the poor skill and lack of discipline of the crew.
Animosity arose between the Dutch crew members and the Swedish settlers, especially the colony's
first minister and the New World's first Lutheran preacher, the Reverend Reorus Torkillis. The
Dutch crew was accused of spending most of their day drinking and smoking and damning the
Swedes. When the pastor grew ill, the crew refused him his request for some liquor for his
medicinal needs. One positive note was that a healthy baby was born during the voyage, Olle

Once again the
Kalmar Nyckel set anchor at "the Rocks" outside Fort Christina. She arrived on
April 17, 1640. Nearly two years had elapsed since the ship had departed from Fort Christina with
two dozen soldiers behind. In much less time than that, half of the pilgrims at Plymouth,
Massachusetts, had perished, but all the Swedish soldiers had survived. It appears that had the
Kalmar Nyckel taken a few weeks longer to arrive, her crew may have found Fort Christina
abandoned, since the Swedish soldiers had almost given up and had made plans to relocate to
New Amsterdam. Not surprisingly, not a single soldier chose to remain in New Sweden when the
Kalmar Nyckel sailed home again. Two civilians from the first expedition elected to remain in New
Sweden, however. Claes Jansen, who was a tailor by trade but had been employed as a carpenter,
remained, as did Anthoni Swart, the freed slave. The
Kalmar Nyckel remained in New Sweden less
than a month -- only as long as necessary for Governor Ridder to settle into his new quarters and
for fur pelts that the soldiers had traded for could be loaded onto the ship.

The Third Voyage

The record of the third trans-Atlantic voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel is as poorly documented as the
first two. A few facts are clear. The third voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel was either the third or the
fourth expedition to New Sweden, depending on how you consider the voyage to New Sweden by
the Freedenburgh. This ship was employed by an agent for families from Utrech, in Holland, who
may have been recruited by Peter Minuit before he died. The ship, with about twenty families, set
sail from Holland, not Sweden, and only after several delays due to tense international relations.
The colonists's goal was to establish a semi-independent settlement with allegiance to the Swedish
crown. The Freedenburgh finally sailed sometime in the summer of 1640, arrived in New Sweden
by November, and departed in December of the same year. Names of passengers, the exact location
of the settlement, and how long it survived or maintained its semi-autonomy are mysteries.

The third voyage of the
Kalmar Nyckel and the third expedition to leave from Sweden began in July
of 1641, almost exactly a year after she had returned from the second voyage. The original plans
did not include the
Kalmar Nyckel, but the other ships were thought to be unfit. The voyage was
delayed for some of the same reasons every expedition was delayed, but there was new interest
after the
Kalmar Nyckel returned. There had been rumors that the Kalmar Nyckel had been captured
by the Turks. Once back in Sweden it took less time to organize the next voyage, even if it
couldn't be called expeditious. There are no accounts of any particular scandals or difficulties in
readying the ship for another trip across the ocean. Recruiting willing volunteers to become
settlers was still difficult, but the New Sweden Company now had even greater help from the
Swedish Crown to fill the quota of the passengers, and plans were under weigh while the
was still on her second voyage. The government was looking for a solution to the Finnish
problem. There is estimated that more than half of the "Swedes" that came on the third voyage of
Kalmar Nyckel were actually Finns. For the second voyage, when army deserters were exploited
to become settlers, many, if not most, had been Finns. The Finns had been a conquered people for
several generations and were legally Swedes, but few were eager to fight for the Swedish crown
and so became deserters. This, however, was only a small part of the problem the Swedish
government had with is ethnically Finnish population. Since the end of the previous century, the
Sweden government had coerced Finns, who were now part of their empire, to settle in some
previously uninhabited forest lands to produce charcoal. Sweden had no coal, so charcoal was
used as the primary fuel for homes and industry. The Finns, using their ancient burn beating
method, were all too successful, and forests were noticeably starting to disappear. Burn beating
was outlawed, but the practice continued. There was still a need for charcoal, and the Finns had
few other options to make a livelihood. Pelts and furs were one other source of income, but the
hunting methods Finns used was outlawed. The illegal hunting was not the matter of killing the
king's deer, as in the old Robin Hood ballads, but for killing deer and elk for their hides in such
large numbers that the meat was not needed and the bodies were left behind to rot. The Swedish
government tried several means of resolving the issues, but finally attempted to solve the problem
by removing the Finns. The Finns fought back and regained a new spirit of Finnish national
identity. Therefore, along side those in prison for burnbeating and illegal hunting were Finnish
political prisoners. With prisons filling too rapidly, the idea of transportation to New Sweden
sounded very attractive.

For this trek the
Kalmar Nyckel was joined by a ship called the Charitas. The ships left Gothenburg
just under a year after the
Kalmar Nyckel had set sail from New Sweden. There was no original
passenger list to prove who came on the third voyage or who came on which ship, but since the
Charitas carried mostly crew and livestock, it is expected that most of the estimated 64 permanent
settlers crossed aboard the
Kalmar Nyckel. Amandus Johnson, in his history of the Swedish
settlement, names the
Charitas passengers, but this is only the list of those who were aboard when
it sailed from Stockholm to Gothenburg. Johnson then notes that it is probable the
Kalmar Nyckel
carried the majority of the settlers to New Sweden because the
Charitas was principly loaded with
livestock, provisions, and farming implements.

Fourth and Last Voyage

By the time the Kalmar Nyckel made its the fourth voyage to New Sweden, additional ships had
been engaged to provide transport between Sweden and its colony. There was now a new
governor, the four hundred pound, third governor, Johan Printz, who was also known as Round
John. The last voyage of the
Kalmar Nyckel was made in tandem with another ship, the Fama. Both
ships were commissioned to transport cargo, rather than passengers, and there were only two
passengers of record on the
Kalmar Nyckel. One, John Pagegoja, was later to become an officer in
the New Sweden army, marry the governor's daughter, and serve as acting governor when
Round John left suddenly. According to Pagegoja, the last trans-Atlantic voyage of the
lasted two months, and she came ashore the 27th of February, 1644.

Warship Again

While the Kalmar Nyckel was on its voyage home, war broke out between Sweden and Denmark,
and upon her return to Sweden, the
Kalmar Nyckel was immediately commissioned into military
service. The
Kalmar Nyckel principally served as part of the fleet that protected the city of
Gothenburg. Because of her fleetness, the
Kalmar Nyckel was used to spy on the Danish fleet on a
few occasions, once getting trapped in Danish waters before she was able to escape. Her most
deadly action occurred when she engaged a much larger and better armed Danish ship, St. Peer.
Only twelve officers and sailors from the
Kalmar Nyckel survived, but with the reinforcement from
other Swedish ships, the
Kalmar Nyckel captured the St. Peer. A final assault on the Danish fleet
was called off when word came that the Danes had capitulated, or at least had agreed to the
Swedish peace terms.

War of a Sort

Starting with the second governor, Ridder, the colonists worked to expand the size of New
Sweden. Ridder abandoned Minuit's idea to confine New Sweden to the western shore of the
Delaware River. Very quickly after he arrived, Ridder purchased territory on the eastern shore of
the Delaware, in what is now New Jersey, and beyond the Schuylkill as far north as the land
opposite what is now Trenton.

Both the Dutch and the English became concerned, although at this early time the English
presence along the Delaware was quite limited. In 1640 and 1641 representatives of the New Haven
Colony purchased lands on the east side of the Delaware from the same sachem who had also
"sold" the same land to the Swedish. An English settlement, however, was abandoned soon after it
was started.

After Round John Printz replaced Ridder as governor, he decided not only to extend settlement
further along both sides of the Delaware River, but he wished to move the capital of New Sweden
to Tinicum Island, in sight of Fort Nassau.

Because of the renewed fighting in Europe, Sweden basically abandoned its colony for almost five
years. As a result, New Sweden almost collapsed on a couple of occasions. The matter wasn't
helped by what became known as the "battle of the forts."  The nature of the battle was one of
constructing them, not attacking them. Perhaps to prove that Sweden had the right to colonize
on both sides of the river, Round John built Fort Elfsborg near the mouth of the Delaware on the
east side of the river. For some reason, however, it was quickly abandoned. Then Round John
built a fortified trading post along the Schuylkill River just further inland than any Dutch trading
post or fortification.

As the bloodless war was escalating, Round John requested that the
Kalmar Nyckel be sent with
arms and supplies. The queen approved the request, but when it was realized the amount of
damage she had received in naval battles, the admiralty deemed her unfit for further ocean
crossings. In 1651, the queen signed the papers that decommissioned the Kalmar Nyckel and
allowed her to be sold to an individual, Cornelius Rolofson. Alas, the identity of Cornelius
Rolofson, even to his nationality, has not been discovered, and there is no further record of the
great ship, the
Kalmar Nyckel. There are two conflicting reports of her ultimate fate. One report
says she went down off the coast of the city of Kalmar; another report says she sank in the North
Sea, off the coast of England. It is also unclear whether she was sunk on purpose or as the result
of another leak or an accident.

Meanwhile for the government of New Sweden, things weren't going so well. The new governor
of New Netherlands was Peter Stuyvesant, and he first escalated the battle of the forts by having a
Dutch fort  erected even farther inland on the Schuylkill than the Swedish post. The Swedish
governor responded by building a Swedish fort opposite the river from the Dutch fort.
Responding on a different front, the Dutch then built
Fort Casimir on the Delaware, six miles
south of Fort Christina, in effect giving the Dutch control the Delaware again.

This warlike bluffing was brought to a halt when Round John made a hasty return home to
Sweden. His autocratic rule had led to a petition for reform signed by 22 freemen. The governor
fumed that this was "mutiny," but almost immediately afterward, on the excuse that he needed to
make a personal appeal to the Queen for renewed assistance, he left New Sweden on the next ship.

In 1654, the colony's last governor, Johan Risingh, arrived, and recommenced hostilities
immediately. On his way to his new home, he thought it would be a good time to lay siege to the
new Dutch
Fort Casimir. Although the Dutch had cannons to defend themselves with, alas, they
had no gunpowder. Without either side firing a shot, the Dutch surrendered. Governor Risingh
claimed it for Sweden and re-named it Fort Trinity.

When headstrong Peter Stuyvesant got word of the Swedish action, however, he became furious.
Instead of sending off a biting petition like previous governors had done, he decided to deal with
the Swedish problem once and for all. The following summer, he put together a great armada of
seven ships, three of which were real warships. Aboard were over 600 musketeers and other
soldiers, which was probably more than three times the population of New Sweden, women and
children included. This time, as a precaution Stuyvesant made sure his soldiers had both arms and

When the Dutch fleet reached Fort Trinity, Stuyvesant ordered the captain to surrender. There
were fewer than 20 Swedish soldiers to defend the fort. But the captain responded to Stuyvesant's
ultimatum with an appeal for delay. Since he was not authorized to abandon the fort, he asked
that he be allowed to send word to the governor concerning what action to take. Oddly or not,
Stuyvesant did not agree, but threatened to commence firing. The poor captain had to now realize
that resistance was useless, and rather than taking on seven ships and an army of 600, wisely, he
surrendered. Once again in the contest for the control of New Sweden, not a shot was fired, not
one casualty was suffered by either side. Upon conquest of the fort, Stuyvesant, nobly, did allow
the Swedish captain and his company of soldiers to keep their arms. This was none the less noble,
just because the Dutch discovered the Swedes hadn't resupplied the fort with any ammunition
after they had taken it over the year before.

Pumped up by his military success, Stuyvesant then sailed down Christina Creek and lay siege to
Fort Christina. This was the center of the Sweden empire in America. Here was the stronghold of
Swedish might and power. It took a full two weeks for the negotiations to be completed, but once
again with no shots fired from either side, the Swedish governor agreed to final articles of
surrender. On 15 September, 1655, New Sweden no longer existed. Within a matter of weeks
Risingh returned to Sweden with several of his soldiers and a tiny number of settlers. However,
more than ninety percent of the Swedes and Finns decided to stay. They appeared quite willing to
take an oath of allegiance to the Dutch government, especially when they learned that they could
retain possession and ownership of their land.

Life in Early New Sweden

Only after the second voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel did New Sweden really begin its life as a colony,
and only after the third crossing of the
Kalmar Nyckel were the numbers large enough for New
Sweden to be considered anything more than a trading outpost. In the history of New Sweden,
the number of colonists never surpassed six hundred, and for most of its history the population
was closer to two or three hundred. A large number of settlers belonged to the military. Others
worked for the New Sweden Company in the fur trading business or served the governor in a
civil service capacity. Some indentured laborers were employed to plant a tobacco crop, but even
those with previous farming experience were unfamiliar with this crop. Their efforts were never
very successful, and after a few years they went on to other occupations or to more productive
farming. The colony expanded as more land was cleared outside the fort, and houses were now
built. The colony became widely scattered, as land was cleared for plantations further and further
away from the forts, but colonists never settled far from the shore of rivers or the bay. The settlers
built no roads but relied on boats and canoes as their principal form of transportation.

Records indicate that women did a marvelous job of bearing healthy babies. Families with twelve
or thirteen children were common. In addition to childbearing, rearing growing families, and the
everyday household chores of cooking and baking, which included hauling water and building
and maintaining fires, the women were expected to milk cows (what few there were) and tend the
other livestock, spin wool and flax, weave, and sew and handstitch every seam in the clothing
they made. It was the women who worked the gardens for food while the menfolk tended the cash
crops, were away on trading missions, or worked other occupations. Also included as women's
work were mending fishing nets and brewing ale. Only the governor's family and a few others
would have servants, so the only help the women would have would be from their daughters.

For several years, New Sweden peacefully co-existed with its neighbors, the Lenape -- perhaps
because the settlers were generous traders and weren't very threatening. Since the New Sweden
Company was interested in a profitable fur trade, they did not try to disrupt the lives of the
Lenape, as some other Europeans had by removing them from their land or destroying their
villages. The Finns continued their burn beating practices, but they clear-cut land no further than
about three miles from the Delaware River, so it was not threatening to the native people. Their
relations with the Dutch were also favorable, even if their governments were feuding, and in the
absence of supplies from the homeland for as long as two years at a time, the Swedes relied on
trade with the Dutch to survive.

The Freed Slave

Antoni, the slave brought to New Sweden aboard the Fogel Grip in 1639 after he had been captured
in the Caribbean, appeared to have found a home in New Sweden as a free man. His name appears
in all three lists of New Sweden settlers created from1644 to 1655. I don't know how the name
might have been spelled or rendered in the original Swedish, and that could change some
understanding about his status in the colony. In different English language sources that have
reproduced the lists, the name appears differently each time and is spelled variously as Antoni,
Anthony, Anthoni, and Antonius. Swart, Swartz, and Black are listed along with the first name
in 1644 and 1654/55, but not in 1648. It is not clear if Swart was used as a surname or a description
in the earliest list, but it appears to be a last name by the third list.

According to the 1644 list, he was living on Tinicum Island in service to the governor. In the
version of the list found in Amandus Johnson, his entry is "Anthony, a negro." In the version of
the list found in Myers, he is Antoni Swart. If the first is a more accurate translation, that may
indicate he had yet to take on a surname, which may or may not indicate an inferior status.
However, several Swedes were listed without surnames as well. He was listed third among four
"laboring-people who are appointed to cut hay for the cattle, and also in the meantime to follow
the governor in the little sloop." Since the others were all Swedes, and since slavery had been
abolished in Sweden, his service appears to be that of a free man or at worst an indentured servant
working for his freedom. I have no idea what the job of "following the governor in the little sloop"
means, but it does not appear to be attending the governor as a personal servant. That the job
might have included navigational skills is suggested by the fact that another of the four, Per
Andersson, became the skipper of the Governor's sloop in 1648. It probably did not include
military service, since soldiers were specifically named on the list immediately above the group of
four laboring-people. However, the brief description of the soldiers' duty, "who daily follow and
serve the governor" may mean the laborers in the next section were only used as soldiers only on
the special occasions when the sloop was employed. The appearance of Anders Bonde in the group
of four might indicate a military nature to the job since in his entry in the 1648 list as having
served as a constaple (gunner) at Fort New Gothenburg on Tinicum Island from 1643 to 1653. The
fourth laborer, Olof Ericsson, was described in a list of passengers on the third Swedish voyage, as
a lad, and in the 1648 was listed as having been hired as a farm hand, so I find no clue to the
nature of the sloop service in that.

Antoni's entry in the roll list of 1648 is both brief and mysterious. In the list of "Soldiers, Freeman
and Servants," which includes everyone except for Officers, his entry is "Anthony, a Morian or
Angoler, who was a purchased slave, brought here on the Grip in 1639." This is the translation, at
least, as found in the Amandus Johnson version. The list was presented chronologically, so
Anthony appears second. What is missing is a last name, Swartz or anything else. He was not
specifically listed as a freeman, but the reference to his slavery was given in the past tense. A
footnote by Johnson explains "'Morian [negro] or Angoler' indicates that he came from Angola,
the Portuguese Colony in West Africa near the river Kunene." I think Johnson may be too specific;
the notation could simply mean Moor or African. In its briefness there is no clue provided as tho
his occupation or where in New Sweden he was then living.

By the 1654/55 list of officers, soldiers, servants and freemen in the colony, Swartz does seem more
like a surname, and a note that he "made several purchases from the company in 1654" can be seen
as evidence that he was now a freeman, if he was not before. There is one other Swartz listed in
1654/55, Lars Swartz. However, it is unlikely that he was related to Antoni, since he had only
arrived in New Sweden in 1654 aboard the Örn (the Eagle).

There is no further mention of Antoni in any records once the Dutch and then the English took
over the colony of New Sweden. Whether or not he was treated as an equal; whether or not he
married and had children; or whether he remained in a settlement on the Delaware River, returned
to the Caribbean, or moved west as did many former New Sweden colonist did is all unknown
and subject of great speculation.

Holstein, Rambo, Cock, and Svensdotter

Our family, through my father's mother, traces its roots to New Sweden through the Holstein line
back to Matts Holstein. It is not clear that anyone named Holstein was a passenger aboard the
Kalmar Nyckel or arrived while New Sweden was still in existance. Anna Holstein, a nineteenth
century genealogist, wrote that according to family tradition the first Holstein, Matts or Matthias,
was a carpenter who was born in New Sweden in 1644 whose father had arrived on the Key of
Calmar with Peter Minuit. There is some evidence for this being true. The one passenger on the
first voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel (the only voyage with Peter Minuit aboard) who remained to
settle in New Sweden was named Claes Jansen. He was a carpenter. The custom at the time was
for children to take as part of their last name their father's first name, so Claes Jansen's children
would have been named Claesson. Indeed, Matts Holstein's original last name was Claesson, and if
they were both carpenters, it might suggest the family occupational tradition. However, there are
problems with this story. The reason the surname was changed from Claesson to Holstein was
most likely because the family was from Holstein, which was then part of the Kingdom of
Denmark. Claes Jansen, however, was from Niewkerck, in Holland. A contemporary genealogist,
Peter Stebbins Craig, has found a church record indicating Matts Holstein's birthplace as
Dittmarschen, in Holstein, in 1642. That pretty much settles things, except for two church records
that appear to provide potential contradictory evidence. I have seen reference to a record in the Old
Swedes Church that indicates he was baptized there in 1642. The record referred to may be the
1683 Gloria Dei church census (Several churches were known as the Old Swedes Church).
Stebbins cites that record for determining that Matts Holstein was born in 1642, but he doesn't
mention the baptism. Not having seen the document, I can only guess that difference might be in
accuracy of translation. The other record is from a 1693 Gloria Dei church census, where old Matts
Holstein is listed, but not marked as a member who was born "in the homeland." If "in the
homeland" meant back in Europe, that suggests he was born in New Sweden, but if "in the
homeland" meant specifically Sweden, a person born in Holstein would not have been included.
Stebbins also indicates that Matts Holstein came to New Amstel (the name given to the territory of
New Sweden by the Dutch after they won the bloodless war) in 1663. He does not indicate his
source for the date nor the name of the ship on which he might have been a passenger. There were
two ships that arrived in New Amstel in 1663. The St. Jacob came in July with over a hundred
passengers, only a handful of whom were listed by name. In December the Purmerender Kerck
arrived with over 150 passengers, only four of whom were named.

It is through the wives of several generations of Matts Holsteins that we can trace at least five
ancestors who came to New Sweden aboard the
Kalmar Nyckel: Peter Gunnarsson Rambo, Peter
Larsson Cock, Sven Gunnarsson, his wife [whose name is not known], and their daughter
Gertrude Svensdotter, who was only a year old when she traveled to New Sweden. Three of Peter
Larsson Cock's daughters married three of Peter Gunnarsson Rambo's sons, and oldest of these
men's granddaughters, Britta Rambo, married Matts Holstein's son, who was also named Matts
Holstein. Our connection to Gertrude Svensdotter and her parents is through her great
granddaughter, Magdalen or Maudlin Hulings, who married Matthias Holstein, the third in that
line with the same name. There most likely were additional ancestors of ours aboard the
but the records are too incomplete, especially in providing women's names, to provide clear
evidence. There is controversy about the first Matts Holstein's wives. Anna Holstein named Britta
Gostenburg as his wife. Stebbins says it was , we don't know if she or either of her parents were
among the first voyage of settlers to New Sweden.

Peter Gunnarsson Rambo was both typical and extraordinary among the New Sweden colonists.
Since he was the longest living of the original settlers, he later became known as the Father of
New Sweden. It is not known for sure whether or not he came to New Sweden voluntarily. He
was indentured by the company to plant tobacco on the New Sweden Company's plantation just
outside the fort. It is also not known whether his ethnicity was Swedish or Finnish. He was
living in Gothenburg before he came to New Sweden, but many Finns were living there then, and
his wife was from a Finnish region of Sweden, although he did not marry her until he had been in
New Sweden for eight years (and three years after he had become a freeman). In 1644, upon his
freedom, he had relocated to the eastern shore of the Schuylkill River in what is now West
Philadelphia [If you are interested in seeing the old Rambo haunts, you will likely be disappointed,
since the land is now occupied by a Sun Oil refinery]. He became a prosperous farmer, orchardist,
and something of a land speculator. He made his mark rather than sign his name on some legal
documents, but that does not necessarily mean he could not read and write. His mark on one
document was simply the letters P R B, and in another a very stylized X:

The senior Rambo was honored and trusted enough that he served as a ruling judge on the courts
of New Sweden, New Amsterdam, and Pennsylvania. He didn't always get along with the
authorities, however. In 1654, he was charged by Governor Printz for illegally selling grain to the
Dutch, and in turn, he was one of the twenty-two freemen who signed the petition of complaint
against Governor Printz. Peter Rambo's word was also valued by his Indian neighbors. In 1668, it
was he who met with members of the Mantas Indians after members of the tribe had murdered
three settlers. Rambo forwarded the message that the "Indyans in those parts have desired that
there be an absolute prohibicon upon the whole River on selling Strong Liquors to the Indyans."
Rambo was so revered by his church that after his death, when a new building, the Gloria Dei,
was constructed, instead of moving Rambo's grave, they built the church around his remains.

Information about old Peter Rambo is found in an addenda of notes to a supplementary diary
published as an appendix to Peter Kalm's Travels in North America. Kalm's travelogue of his
adventures from 1748 to 1751 has been available in English since 1770, but his supplementary
diary was first translated in 1937. In an entry on the early Swedish settlers, Kalm reports on a
conversation with Peter Rambo, grandson of Peter Gunnarsson Rambo, on 30 January 1749. The
grandson told him that the elder Peter Rambo told the English that his hands had been the very
first to sow seeds in the settlement of New Sweden. He also spoke of apple seeds and other tree and
garden seeds that old Peter brought with him in a box. The Rambo apple is now a rare variety,
but it was once very popular, especially in the mid-Atlantic states. The first Rambo apple tree
might have been grown from a seed in that box. The seeds may have come from Sweden, but it is
also possible that he had picked up seeds while in port in Holland, since he resided there for most
of a year waiting for repairs and the hiring of a new crew. If the tree grew from a seedling, the
variety would be new, since apples do not grow true from seeds. It is also possible that Rambo
brought apple scionwood with him from the old world, and the grandson got the story wrong
when he mentioned apple seeds, or, perhaps, the translation is inexact. If grown from scionwood,
the Rambo apple tree would be a clone of an old Swedish or other European variety. Many
varieties of the Rambour apples were developed in France about a century before Peter Rambo and
had spread widely before the time Rambo left for New Sweden, definitely to Holland, and possibly
to Sweden. It is possible that Gunnarsson was familiar with one of the Rambour apple varieties
before he crossed the Atlantic, and took some seeds or scionwood from one of them. There is a
long history of confusion between the Rambo and Rambour apples. The Summer Rambo was
originally called the Rambour Franc, and the common name only became Summer Rambo well
after the Civil War. A genealogist many years ago speculated that Rambo took his name from
Ramberget, a mountain that overlooked the city of Gothenburg, and that explanation appears not
have been questioned. The grandson wrote that the family name was first Ramberg but was
changed to Rambo. It seems a bit wild to speculate that a man might have named himself for the
apple, but I still wonder about the connections. It is not definite that Peter Gunnarsson Rambo
developed the Rambo apple. It is just as likely that a later member of the Rambo family developed
the Rambo apple. There was orcharding in the family for several generations. The conversation
between Peter Kalm and Peter Rambo did not mention any specific varieties of apples. The first
written documentation for the Rambo apple is not until William Coxe's 1817 treatise, A View of the
Cultivation of Fruit Trees, and the Management of Orchards. In the section on the Rambo, he
writes, "This apple is much cultivated in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New-Jersey; taking its name
from the families by whom it was introduced into notice." The Rambo apple could easily have
come after several generations of plantings and orchard development.

Peter Larsson Cock was a passenger on either the Kalmar Nyckel or her sister ship the Claritas
when the Kalmar Nyckel made its third voyage. He was likely one of those Finns who had been
making lots of trouble back in Sweden. He was described as an "imprisoned soldier from
Smedjegarden" who "must serve as a soldier for penalty, and is to receive necessary sustenance and
clothing." If his name doesn't sound Finnish, there are several reasons. First for official records, the
Swedish government used the Swedish version of any Finn's name. More importantly, Cock, or
Kock in some records, was the name Peter adopted only while aboard ship, after he had become
the ship's cook (Kock being Swedish for cook). Later generations changed the name to Cox or
Cook. He married a year and a half after he arrived in New Sweden, but while still in servitude.
After he became a freeman, he moved with his family to an island at the mouth of the Schuylkill.
He and his wife eventually had twelve children who reached adulthood. Cock continued to be a
troublemaker of sorts. He was accused of trading guns with the Indians. Even though a jury of
his peers found him not guilty, the governor sentenced him to three months of hard labor. This
may indicate a personal feud between Cock and the governor, rather than lawbreaking, for later
on, Cock joined Rambo as a judge for the Swedish, Dutch, and English courts. On documents he
also made his mark, which was not always identical.
appears one time, but later it was written in a slightly different form:

One incident involving a Rambo son and a Cock daughter (not in our direct family line, however)
reveals something of the social mores of the time. In 1685 Peter Cock and his daughter Brigitta
(Bridget in the court record) took John Rambo to court for fornication and "criminal intercourse."
On the night before Christmas the previous year, John had pulled off a plank of the Cocks' house
[in the roof, I am guessing] and jumped down to the floor of the loft. He then entered the room
where three teenaged Rambo daughters were sleeping. John awakened Brigitta by getting into bed
with the sisters and declaring loudly that he wanted to marry Brigitta -- just as his brother had
married Bridget's older sister. Bridget's sisters left the bed and slept the rest of the December night
on the cold floor. The court fined both John and Brigitta ten pounds and ordered John to marry
Brigitta "before she be delivered" or make payments to maintain the child. Peter Cock was also
fined five shillings for swearing in court. He had cried out "By God" at one point during the
hearings. The relationship between John and Bridget appears to have been a bit strange, because
in a subsequent trial that year Brigitta sued John for breach of promise (the first such case in
Pennsylvania). John was fined one hundred and fifty pounds. Nonetheless, John and Bridget did
marry eventually (after the birth of their first child), and together they had ten more children.

Gertrude Svensdotter traveled on the
Kalmar Nyckel when she was one year old. Her father Sven
Gunnarsson was one of the army deserters who had been rounded up and sent with his family to
help settle New Sweden. Her older brother Sven was three, and while on board her brother Olle
was born. After his servitude was completed, her father prospered. He joined Rambo and Cock the
others in signing the petition against Governor Printz, and like Rambo and Cock he later
purchased land north of the Schuylkill. Gertrude was a real frontier woman in spirit. She married
a soldier, Joen or Jonas Nilsson, who after eleven years of army service in New Sweden, quit to
marry and become a farmer. When Gertrude was pregnant with their first child, her husband left
her to return to Sweden. She was a single mom for almost two full years before her husband
returned. It is unknown if she cleared land and began farming or lived with relatives. The only
reason known for her husband's departure was to collect unpaid wages but it seems there must
have been something more. Once reunited, Gertrude and her husband moved to Kingsessing (near
some of the Holstein, Rambo, and Cock family members), while her brothers took over their
father's 1125-acre plantation that bordered the Delaware River several miles east of there. In 1683
her brothers ceded most of that acreage to an enterprising English Quaker named William Penn,
who used the land to build a city of brotherly love. Downtown Philadelphia was built on land
once owned by our forebearers.

Success or Failure?

New Sweden was probably doomed from the start, not because of a military failure, but because of
undersettlement. During seventeen years, only thirteen Swedish expeditions were launched, and
several of them brought few or no permanent residents, and during some others ships sank or
were captured by enemies. To contrast the populating of New Sweden with that of New England,
in the same time the Swedes sent twelve ships, the English sent over two hundred.

Under Dutch rule, however, the Swedes flourished as a semi-autonomous "Swedish Nation"
governed by a court of presidents/judges whom the Swedes chose themselves. The Dutch
Governor Stuyvesant even helped organize a few more expeditions to bring more Swedish

Five years later, when the English brought an end to New Netherlands, the Swedes and Finns yet
again proved most willing to swear an oath of allegiance to yet another crown. Once more they
were allowed to keep their land and independent court. When William Penn arrived to create
Pennsylvania he did not confiscate land but he recognized the already established deeds and
bought land from Swedish landowners to build Philadelphia. The Swedes and Finns quickly
assimilated into the English culture, dropped not only their native tongue, but largely abandoned
their Lutheranism.

Although the sauna never took hold in America, the Finns of New Sweden were responsible for
establishing one icon of America, the log cabin, which appeared in the new world for the first time
in New Sweden. Their particular method of building with logs was not practised elsewhere in
Europe, but it was so well suited to the early frontier that it was copied by pioneers from all ethnic
groups. The Finn's practice of their burn beating to clear forests was also very effective and also
widely copied, and in only a few generations much of the wilderness of eastern America had

Even if New Sweden ultimately ended in failure for its crown and company, it proved itself to be
one of the most remarkable adventures in the history of American colonization. New Sweden has
the distinction of being one of the smallest and shortest lived of all of the European settlements of
North America. Founded on false premises (according to European law, at least) on territory
already claimed by two other countries, and perhaps the most ill-conceived and poorly conducted
colonial attempts, the Swedish settlers themselves became remarkably resilient. Rather than cower
before the obese governor Johan Printz, the colonists stood up and petitioned against him and
forced him to return to Sweden. The colony was perhaps the most peaceful in the history of
colonization and established the best goodwill between the native peoples and the settlers. In
matters of war, great powers could learn from New Sweden, that when it is clear that a war
cannot be won, no death or injury to soldier, sailor, or civilian should be risked. The losers in this
bloodless battle were the Swedish Crown and investors of the New Sweden Company. One person
might have learned a lesson. In 1648, seven years before Sweden lost its only colony, Queen
Christina, against the advise of some of her closest advisors, decided to end Sweden's involvement
in the Thirty Years War. She was quite criticized at the time and grew discontent with her
regency. In 1654, the year before the Dutch took over New Sweden, she abdicated her throne. The
winners in the attempted conquest were the Swedish and Finnish settlers themselves, who were
able to adapt and thrive. Willing to swear an oath of allegience to any who demanded it, they
continued to enjoy a high degree of local autonomy, owned their own lands, practiced their own
religion, and even maintained their own court and militia.

Sources Consulted

Weslager, C. A.        A man and his ship: Peter Minuit and the Kalmar Nyckel. Wilmington:
Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, 1990.

Craig, Peter Stebbins. The 1693 census of the Swedes on the Delaware: family histories of the
Swedish Lutheran Church members residing in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West New Jersey & Cecil
County, Md., 1638-1693. Winter Park, Fla.: SAG Publications, 1993.

Ferris, Benjamin. A history of the original settlements on the Delaware: from its discovery by
Hudson to the colonization under William Penn; to which is added an account of the ecclesiastical
affairs of the Swedish settlers, and a history of Wilmington, from its first settlement to the present
time. Wilmington : Wilson & Heald, 1846.

Johnson, Amandus. The Swedish settlements on the Delaware, 1638-1664. Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania, 1911.

Kalm, Pehr. Travels into North America; containing its natural history, and a circumstantial
account of its plantations and agriculture in general ; with the civil, ecclesiastical and commercial
state of the country, the manners of the inhabitants, and several curious and important remarks
on various subjects. 3 volumes. London : Printed for the editor, 1770-1771.

Peter Kalm's Travels in North America (Wilson Erickson, 1937) translated by Adolph B. Benson,
however, is the version that includes the Appendix with additional notes that include the
interview with Peter Rambo about his grandfather Peter Gunnarsson Rambo.

Linn, John B. and William H. Egle, eds. Papers relating to provincial affairs in Pennsylvania, 1682-
1750. (Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, Vol. 7.). Harrisburg, Lane S. Hart, State Printer, 1878.

Myers, Albert Cook. Narratives of early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, 1630-1707.
New York, Scribers, 1912.

Includes: "Account of the Swedish churches in New Sweden," by Reverend Israel Acrelius, 1759;
Affidavit of four men from the "Key of Calmar," 1638; Report of Governor Johan Printz, 1644;
Report of Govern John Printz, 1647; Report of Governor Johan Rising, 1654; Report of Governor
Johan Rising, 1655; Relation of the surrender of New Sweden, by Governor Johan Clason Rising,
Weslager, C. A. The Delaware Indians; a history. New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1972.

Delaware Military History