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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 XI. New Expeditions of Finns Arriving to the Delaware River.

While grave events were going on at the Delaware River, preparations were made in Sweden for a new expedition. In the middle of October 1655, about 200 Finns, mostly from Vermland had arrived to Gothenburg, desirous to go to America. However, as the epidemic that broke out in the crowded ship Orn was now known in Sweden, all of the colonists could not be taken on board the small ship Mercurius, that was going on this expedition. Of the prospective colonists ninety-six of the most suitable were finally selected, of which Hendrick Huygen, the commander of the expedition in his passenger list, made at the sailing of the ship, classifies as follows:

Swedish  women 2


maidens 2
Finnish  men 33
" women 16
" maidens 11


children under twelve years  32
Total 96

Besides his list includes nine officers and some servants who had been in the colony before. Among the officers were the maker of the list, Hendrick Huygen, who went to the colony as head commissary, Johan Papegoja, who also returned to the colony and a clergyman, barber-surgeon and a Swedish speaking Finn as Swedish-Finnish interpreter. The servants also were Finns. There were 130 souls in all on the ship, including the sailors and officers of the ship.

Johan Papegoja who had charge of the colonists during the voyage, hired a Swedish speaking Finn Hendrick Olsson as his assistant as he could not speak Finnish and the colonists who came mostly from the Finnish settlements in Vermland knew no Swedish.

Admiral Anckarhjelm in his list of 110 colonists, including the servants, made on October 17, 1655, gives also the names of the colonists, but five of those who, already had been admitted had to be left out on account of limited space in the ship, as warnings had arrived from Stockholm not to crowd the ship. More than a hundred prospective Finnish colonists had to be left behind, who had sold their property at any price and traveled a long distance in the hopes of getting passage to America. Papegoja writes that there was a great lamentation and weeping among them.

The roll list of the colonists made by Admiral Anckarhjelm is interesting on account of the Finns not knowing the Swedish language, still every one of them had a Swedish name. This is because the Finnish names were difficult to the Swedes to spell, they used to make their family names out of their fathers' Christian names by adding "son." Thus, if the father's name of Anders Halttunen was Matti, then Anders Halttunen became Anders Matson. During the Swedish rule in Finland most of the population thus received Swedish names and have remained so to the very present times, only during the last twenty-five years the Finns had started to prefer Finnish names and there has been a movement to discard the Swedish names, as many as hundred thousand Swedish names have thus been legally changed into Finnish names within one year.

The passenger list of Admiral Anckarhjelm reads:

"The Roll List of the Colonists, about to go to New Sweden, who have been examined and written down to the seventeenth of October 1655.

"From Frijisdalen (Fryksdal in Vermland).
Johan Grelson with wife and three children 5
Martin Pafvelsson with wife only 2
Nils Nilsson with wife and four children 6
Anders Larsson with wife and five children 7
Mats Matsson with wife and one child 3
Olof Olofsson, a servant 1
Gerdrud, a servant 1
Joen Staffeson, the blacksmith 1
Karin Andersdotter, a widow with one child 2
Marcus Sigfriedhsson, a servant 1
Joran Joransson, a servant 1
Nils Simonsson with wife and three children 5
Joran Sigfriedsson with wife 2
Hindrick Jacobsson with four almost grown sons 5
Grels Grelsson, a servant 1
Eric Matsson, a servant 1
Lars Larsson, a servant 1
Olof Clemetsson, a servant 1
Jons Hindricksson, a servant 1
Elissabeth Esekelsdotter, a servant 1
Oluf Olufsson, a servant 1
From Lijtestegen (Letstigen, Vermland)
Thomas Jacobsson with wife, maid-servant and three children  6
Pafvell Persson with wife, maid-servant and three children  6
Oluf Philipson with wife and five children 7
Pavel Nilson with wife and two children 4
Oluf Nilson with wife only 2
Lars Bengtsson with wife, man-servant and four children  7
Jons Jonson with wife and six children 8
Carol Jonson with wife, maid-servant and three children  6
Eric Martensson with wife and two children 4
Johan Simonsson with wife and three children 5
From Brunskogh (Brunskog in Vermland)
Anders Jacobsson with wife, maid-servant and three children 6

The ship had been held up a month in Gothenburg, on account of contrary winds, but on November 25 the wind was at last favorable and the expedition left for its long journey. On March 14, 1656, they sailed up the Delaware to find Fort Trinity in the hands of the Dutch, who refused them permission to pass the fort. But as the colonists wanted to land, Huygen and Papegoja, who were both Dutchmen, went ashore and requested from the Dutch governor Jacquet permission to land the people somewhere at the river until further orders were received from Sweden. This was denied and Huygen was arrested as an enemy of the state. Papegoja then appealed to Governor-General Stuyvesant in a letter, dated March 14, requesting permission to revictual and return unmolested to Europe. The council in Manhattan decided not to allow the colonists to land but they should be free to return unmolested. It was likewise decided that some Swedes in the colony who had not taken the oath of allegiance be deported. A pass was issued for the ship to come to Manhattan where necessary supplies could be obtained for the return voyage. When these instructions were received, Huygen, who was released, went to Manhattan to present the colonists' case in person, but he received the reply that if the ship would not leave the river, it would be expelled by force, for this a warship was ordered to prepare for the South River. Huygen then agreed to send an order to Mercurius to come to New Amsterdam. But after more than two weeks of waiting no ship had arrived. Rumors now came in of an Indian uprising on the Delaware, therefore some soldiers were despatched overland there. The old Finnish colonists on the Delaware wanted their friends and relatives landed among them and the Indians, hearing of the Dutch refusal, gathered in great numbers around Fort Casimir and threatened to wipe off the entire colony if the newcomers were not allowed to land. Thereafter some of the old Finnish colonists with Indian chiefs boarded the ship and it was ordered to lift the anchor and it passed the Dutch fort without being fired upon. When the Dutch soldiers arrived at the Delaware, the colonists were already landed, but as the Indians were very agitated it was necessary to send a warship from New Amsterdam with troops to the river and the Indians were finally pacified with gifts bought by the Dutch from the cargo of Mercurius. The Swedish ship was later brought to New Amsterdam where the cargo was traded to tobacco and arrived to Gothenburg on September 6, 1656. Papegoja returned to Sweden already before, on a Dutch ship, and a Swedish-Lutheran minister who came with the Mercurius returned with the same ship, but Huygen remained with the Finns in the colony.

The Dutch were very nervous for the great number of the Finns at the Delaware and for their amicable relations with the Indians, as to what side they would take in case Sweden would try to recapture the colony, and if they some day would themselves expel the Dutch from the river. After the Swedes had been expelled by the Dutch, an autonomous government had been granted to the Finns in order to secure their friendship and finally the Finns were found by the Dutch to be very desirable colonists, and were persuaded to write to their people in Sweden to come to the colony. As the result of this new Finnish settlers arrived from time to time from Sweden. On July 28, 1663, the Dutch skipper Peter Lucassen brought about sixty farmers to the Delaware river, which were nearly all Finns, and December of the same year Governor Alexander d'Hinoyossa arrived with at least thirty-two Finns. In the beginning of 1664, a number of Finnish families from Sweden landed in Holland on their way to the Finnish settlements on the Delaware. A Swedish commissary, Trotzig, in Amsterdam, informed his government of this in a letter on January 17, suggesting that such immigration should be stopped unless Sweden could regain the colony. The Swedish chancellor requested Trotzig to investigate further about the Finnish migration. Accordingly Trotzig went to a suburb of Amsterdam, where the Finnish families were housed and boarded by the City of Amsterdam. He found that there were about 140 souls in all and only few of the men could understand Swedish. Friends in the Delaware colony had written to them and invited them to come over. One colonist showed a letter from his brother dated on the Delaware River in 1657. The Finns had made their way from Sweden to Christiania, Norway and had hired there a Dutch vessel to take them to Amsterdam.

It vas suspected that the colonists had been enticed by special agents. Accordingly letters were sent by the Swedish government on May 27, 1664, to governors of various provinces stating that several hundred families had been enticed to leave their country and go across the mountains to Norway, in companies of five or six persons at the time. This could not be tolerated and the governors were ordered to keep close watch that it did not occur again. If the instigators of the migration could be captured they were to be kept in arrest.

An order was sent to Trotzig on May 27, 1664, to present the matters to the government of Holland and to demand that the fugitives be returned to Sweden at the expense of those who had induced them to migrate. A Swedish ambassador was also sent to Holland who in the middle of June delivered his credentials and immediately started presentations of memorials and demands in behalf of his government about the colonists and the return of the colony to Sweden. The Dutch however proceeded slowly with the negotiations and on June 26 Trotzig wrote again to Sweden that expedition to take the Finns to the Delaware River was going to leave within fourteen days. In the same letter Trotzig also writes that he had heard that a large number of families from Finland has during the last winter left for the colony, "through the direction and large promises of evil persons."

While the negotiations were going on, England captured the colony in the autumn of 1664 and the negotiations then started with England. On June 1672 a letter was sent to Swedish ambassador Leijonberg in London, requesting him to try in a polite way to prevail upon the English government to return the Delaware colony to Sweden. If they would not want to give back the land then they should allow Sweden to bring the Finns away from there. Sweden never refrained to hope to regain the colony until the War of American Independence finally frustrated her from all hopes.

When the English conquered the Delaware, there were large number of Finns coming to the colony, but this event and the measures taken in Sweden against the Finnish emigration finally closed the migration. Hereafter only few sailors and. adventurers reached the settlements.

We have thus followed the early Finnish emigration to America, of which a large and vital part of the population of the states of Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey comes from. Were these Finns a destructive element, as they were characterized by the Swedes? To this is Finland today, after she has been allowed to progress only little more than a century, or since she became separated from Sweden in 1809, an eloquent denial. Finland is not only a country of the best homes as far as the peasants and the working men concern, but she has the best kept forests in the world and Europe is much dependent upon the extensive forests of Finland today. Were the Finns a people of criminals as they were preferred to be called by the Swedes? To this are the crime statistics of the world an eloquent denial. When we consult the crime statistics we will find the Finns the most decent nation of mankind today, although they used to be better people before. Were the Finns physically an inferior race? To those who do not know by history that the Finns come from a race of renowned warriors, the statistics of modern international athletics may serve as an answer. For man to man the Finns do not have their near-equal in athletics. Were the Finns a mentally inferior race? To this one may find an answer when inquiring where the intellectuals of Sweden come from. It is one interesting thing that the intellectually prominent Swedes have come mostly from Vermland, whose population was given to Sweden by Finland, and where some of the original Finns still today retain their own language. In Vermland was born Esaias Tegner, the greatest poet of Sweden. (The greatest poet in the Swedish language, Runeberg was born and lived in Finland.) The very estate where Tegner wrote the best part of his work, bears a Finnish name. In Vermland were born also Geijer, Lagerlof, Dahlgren, Froding and a long line of men of science and inventors, among which was John Ericsson the builder of Monitor and American Civil War fame.

The comparison of the character of peoples does not need to be a guess work today, as one can follow black on white in the international statistics and daily papers of the different nations. Upon these measures it is safe to say that no higher type of emigrants, than the Finns, ever landed on the American shores.

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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