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The Delaware Finns

E. A. Louhi

Chapter I.  The Finnish emigration to Sweden, from where their path led to the American shores.
Chapter II.  Motives and inducements that led Sweden to establish a colony on the Delaware River.
Chapter III.  A colony established on the Delaware River.
Chapter IV.  The second expedition. The Dutch withdraw from the company. Dutch colonists coming to the Delaware.
Chapter V.  The third expedition. Finnish colonists brought to the Delaware River.
Chapter VI.  The fourth and the fifth expeditions. More Finnish colonists brought to America.
Chapter VII.  The sixth, seventh and eighth expeditions. The Finns beseeching the queen to be permitted to go to America.
Chapter VIII.  The ninth and tenth expeditions. The Finns flocking to get passage for America.
Chapter IX.  The Delaware settlements under the Swedish administration.
Chapter X.  The Delaware colony conquered by the Dutch.
Chapter XI.  New expeditions of Finns arriving at the Delaware River.
Chapter XII.  The first period of the Finnish settlements under the Dutch rule.
Chapter XIII.  England replacing Holland as the ruler of the South River.
Chapter XIV.  The first period of the Finnish settlement under the English rule.
Chapter XV.  The second period of the Finnish settlements under the Dutch rule.
Chapter XVI.  The second period of the Finnish settlements under the English rule.
Chapter XVII.  The third period of the Finnish settlements under the English rule.
Chapter XVIII.  The last stages of the Finnish settlements on the Delaware.

Chapter VIII. The Ninth and the Tenth Expedition. The Finns Flocking to Get Passage for America.

On March 16, 1652, the colonial business was discussed in the presence of the queen in the meeting of the Council of State at Stockholm. Three years had passed since the last expedition was sent, which did not arrive to the colony, and in more than four years they had not received in the colony merchandise for trade. There were ships that had been riding years at anchor in the harbors of Gothenburg and Stockholm and in 1651, merchandise for a new expedition had been brought from Holland and was decaying in the cellars at Gothenburg. While the question of obtaining colonists no longer was a problem as the Finns in Sweden were beseeching the government to be taken to the colony. Several people acquainted with the colony were questioned in the council meeting, and the general complaint was that since Admiral Fleming's death there had not been anyone to manage the company's business. It. was known however that the land supported the people without help from Sweden, but the Dutch and English were getting all the peltry from the Indians, as the Swedish traders in the colony did not have merchandise. The management of the New Sweden Company was then assigned to the care of the department of commerce which lately had been organized, but another year passed and no new expedition had been sent. The government of Sweden was then in state of chaos. Queen Christina, who received the reign of the realm into her hands in 1644, while eighteen years of age, had since begun to neglect the affairs of the state entirely and was spending her time in continuous array of pageants in the company of wicked admirers and adventurers, who gathered to her court from the centers of corruption and decadency in Europe. During her short reign, the lower nobility increased one hundred per cent and the counts and barons five hundred per cent. The indemnities received after the Thirty Years' War were soon gone, and the country sunk under the heaviest debt in its history. The resources of the state were depleted by donations of territories to grabbing nobility. Three-fifths of the entire Finland had thus been given to the mercy of social parasites, who by their agents plundered the peasants to pay for their revelries at the court. Men who held offices far from the capital, were hanging about the court, among them was Per Brahe, Governor-General of Finland, who enjoyed more than princely income from his enormous land donations in Finland. Even the little money belonging to the New Sweden Company had been used in the maintenance of the royal palace.

News from the colony, that the Dutch had built a fort there, however caused the attention of the Swedish government to the colony and in August 13, 1653, the queen instructed the admiralty to fit out a ship for a voyage to America. The ships Orn and Gyllene Haj, lying at anchor in the harbor of Stockholm were assigned for the expedition. Many Finns had from time to time applied to be taken to the Delaware colony, so Sven Schute was instructed on August 25, 1653 to hire fifty soldiers and to collect two hundred and fifty colonists. Schute was sent to the Finnish territories, first he was to go to Westmanland sending the people from there to Stockholm, from there he was to proceed to Vermland and Dal as hundreds of Finns in these territories were awaiting opportunity to get passage to America. The governors in these provinces were requested to assist Schute in gathering the people. When the colonists at these places were all enlisted they were to be kept in readiness to proceed to Gothenburg as soon as Schute heard from Mayor Broman of Gothenburg that the Orn had passed through the Danish Sound. The Orn left Stockholm on October 8, 1653, having on board sixteen hired men and twelve young boys sent from an institute in Stockholm. In Gothenburg had gathered more than 350 people from the Finmarks of Vermland and Dal, who had sold their properties at any price in the hope that they found room in the ship to go over to America.

The Orn arrived at Gothenburg on November 8, but was delayed there as she was waiting for the other ship, the Gyllene Haj to arrive from Stockholm. After extensive repairs the Haj finally left Stockholm for Gothenburg on November 23, 1653, having on board forty-one people, including the sailors and officers of the ship. This also included captain Hans Asmundson Besk, who was coming to the colony with his family of eleven persons, having received from Queen Christina a donation of land on the Delaware. The Haj arrived at Ohresund on the 30th of December, where six sailors, a servant and a prisoner, destined to the colony, deserted. To be able to proceed, four new sailors had to be hired here. The Haj finally arrived to Gothenburg on January 17, 1654, leaking and with a broken mast and anchor, having run on banks in the Sound. The colonists at Gothenburg had been waiting eleven weeks for the ship to sail and on February 2, the Orn set sail alone, but about one hundred colonists had to be left behind for lack of room in the ship. On March 20, they arrived to the Canary Islands, having had a stormy voyage and the passengers as well as the crew were sick, many having died on the voyage and been thrown overboard. The governor of the islands, Don Philipo Disalogo, offered them every kindness and banqueted the officers. He had also the news for them that Queen Christina had abdicated her throne, had forsaken the religion for which her father died and become a Catholic. The people of the town were not however quite friendly to these strange white haired creatures, as when the colonists landed, a noisy crowd gathered and threw stones on them. A complaint about this was made to the governor, who at once sent an officer with several drummers all around the town to proclaim on the street corners that if any person would attack the passengers in any manner whatever, he should forfeit his life. The refreshments on the island revived the people and the majority recuperated from their sickness, but many died in the harbor. After five days' rest at the Canaries, they left the islands, taking few canary birds with them to the colony. The passengers used their time in fishing and quantities of fish were caught during the journey. However the heat became unbearable when they came nearer the tropic and a violent disease broke out among the people, causing great suffering. On April 10th one hundred and thirty persons were sick with dysentary and intermittent fever, some jumping into the ocean. On April 16th the ship arrived at St. Christopher, where Governor Everet sent them several boats of refreshments. As they had a salmon net on board for the colony, the men were making use of it while two of the officers went to inquire of the French governor about the ship-wreck victims at St. Cruz. The governor told that the people had left long before. A large ox was also bought with some cloth at St. Christopher to strengthen the people with fresh meat. After two days' rest they left the island and arrived on the first of May to the Virginia Bay, where they met a severe thunder storm. After some sailing towards the north in cloudy weather they thought that they had passed the Delaware Bay and on the ninth of May turned back arriving again to the Virginia Bay on May 12th. They supposed this to be the mouth of the Delaware River and again met a storm, losing a sail and some riggings and the people were very sick, some dying daily. On May 16th they sailed towards north in company of two English vessels and reached the Delaware Bay on the 18th. On Saturday night May 20th they anchored in the river before Fort Elfsborg, built by Printz, which they found deserted. On the next morning, which was Trinity Sunday, they moved up the river while religious services were conducted on board. At the arrival before Fort Casimir, that the Dutch of New Amsterdam had built in the summer of 1,652, soldiers were landed and the fort occupied without fight. The name of the fort was changed to that of Trinity Fort. On May 22, the ship was anchored in the harbor of Christina and the new arrivals were at once distributed to the homes of the old settlers, who used all means they had at their disposal to revive the sick people, but many still died. Many of the old settlers likewise became infected with the sickness and the epidemic spread to the Indians, who believed that evil spirit had arrived in the ship and offered their medicine men to chase it out.

The passage from Europe to America in those days when sails were used, was by the tropic regions where the air current as well as the ocean current is, on account of the rotation of earth, prevailingly towards the west. The homeward passage from America to Europe was through more northern latitudes, where the currents are prevailingly towards Europe. The passage from Europe to America in those days was therefore, on account of the heat, a torture especially for the northern peoples. The food supplies likewise during the long journey turned bad, causing weakness and therefore less resistance against sickness.

The population of the colony greatly increased on the arrival of the Orn, as it had dwindled to seventy people in all. The servants of the company, such as farm hands, carpenters, millwrights, blacksmiths, sailmakers, and others who were employed with monthly or yearly salaries by the company, on the company's board, went back to Sweden with each expedition, if not for other reason than to receive their pay, as salaries were paid on their arrival back to Sweden. Money was not sent to the colony, although the servants received part of their salary here, in clothes and other necessities. While soldiers, officers, ministers, barber-surgeons and the factors were on the goverment's budget and were paid in Sweden. Besides many of the soldiers, servants and prisoners had been sent to the colony for certain years as punishment and when their time was up, most of these people went back to Sweden. Each ship returning from the colony took a number of these people back to Sweden. Many colonists had also died and others had deserted to the English colonies in the south for the harsh rule of Governor Printz. With the departure of Governor Printz, who left for Sweden in the beginning of October 1653, the population decreased by thirty-two people, who returned to Sweden with the governor. Although among the returning soldiers and servants were many Finns who went to get their pay, the Finnish freemen did not cherish in their minds of going back to Sweden, as the persecutions that they had gone through there were too fresh in their minds. Many of the Finnish soldiers and servants bought supplies and land from the company for their accrued salaries and also became permanent settlers, while some of those who had returned to Sweden, came back to the colony to stay, bringing their families and friends with them. The Finns who had come to the colony as freemen, never returned to Sweden, although some migrated to Maryland and New Netherland. Those seventy people, that were in New Sweden on the arrival of the Orn, were mostly Finns. About 350 people, nearly all Finns, were on the Orn as the ship set sail from Gothenburg, almost a hundred died during the voyage and in the colony after their arrival. On the middle of July 1654, the population was 370 people, including some Hollanders of the twenty-six families that had settled around the Dutch Fort which was captured on the arrival of Orn, twenty-two of whom became Swedish citizens, although they all later moved to New Amsterdam. Besides there were few English families, who were included in the total population.

The ship Orn left the colony on July 15, 1654, with a cargo of tobacco, arriving to Gothenburg on September 24th. Some old people returned with the ship to Sweden.

After the new colonists who came with the ill fated Orn had revived somewhat from their sickness, the first task was to build new houses. As a large number of new Finnish freemen arrived with the ship, much new land was cleared for cultivation. During the rule of Governor Printz the progress of the colony had been very slight, on account of uncertainty, as property rights, except his own, were not, respected by the governor. At the departure of Printz in the autumn of 1653, there were 158 morgens or about 300 acres ready for cultivation in the colony, including what the English and the Dutch had improved. The crop of 1654 was good, but the yield of the little fields was not enough for the greatly increased population, so that much corn had to be bought from the Indians and other provisions from the neighboring colonies. The Indians predicted the winter to be cold, so the colonists prepared their houses accordingly. The Indians were right, the winter being as cold that the Delaware River froze all over, but early spring followed.

The Gyllene Haj had got repaired in Gothenburg and set sail for the colony on April 15, 1654, having on board some of the Finnish families who could not get room on the Orn. On June 30, the ship arrived to Porto Rico with bills and demands for the ship Kattan and its cargo. They also had a letter from the King of Spain, but did not succeed to collect anything. Many of the people were sick and Captain Besk died at the island on July 22, and was buried on the same day outside of the town. While at the island, the mate of the ship attempted to escape and had to be put in irons, until the ship sailed. They left Porto Rico on August 15 and passed, by mistake or malice of the mate, the Delaware Bay. Seeking it further in the north, they sailed behind Staten Island and the ship was captured on September 15, by Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Netherland, in retaliation of the capture of. Fort Casimir on the arrival of the Orn. The colonists were induced by Stuyvesant to settle in New Netherland and many of them did so, as a number of Finns were already living there.

Publication: E. A. Louhi: The Delaware Finns or The First Permanent Settlements in Pennsylvania, Delaware, West New Jersey, and Eastern Part of Maryland. New York, The Humanity Press Publishers. 1925, 331 pages.

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