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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 XV. The Second Period of the Finnish Settlements Under the Dutch Rule.

As we have already seen, war between England and Holland was declared in the summer of 1672, a war which furnished one of the most interesting chapters fn the history of Holland. A series of desperate naval battles were fought between the combined English and French fleets with one hundred and fifty ships and the Dutch fleet of seventy-five vessels, which resulted in the defeat of the Anglo-French squadrons.

On the 15th of December, 1672, Cornelis Evertsen, son of a enowned Dutch admiral of the same name, was promoted to the rank of commander of a squadron of fifteen ships of the line, with which he proceeded to the West Indies, where he captured seven and burned five vessels and obtained considerable booty. Afterwards he destroyed sixty-five French Newfoundland trading vessels and sailing back to Martinique he met a Dutch Captain Jacob Benckes in command of four men-of-war. Having joined forces they visited all the English and French islands in the West Indies, inflicting damage on the enemy, and afterwards sailed to Virginia. rhey were riding at the mouth of the Bay, when an English trading fleet from Virginia was leaving for England, convoyed by two men-of-war. The English mistook the enemy to be of their own nation and in the battle that ensued the Dutch raiders captured or destroyed eleven vessels, loaded with tobacco and other products. From parties, on a vessel coming from New York, which vessel they captured, they learned of the condition of the fort and the number of the garrison, also that Governor Lovelace was visiting then in Connecticut, whereupon they cried, forward to New York. In the last days of July, 1673, the Dutch fleet arrived to New York waters, and feasted on Governor Lovelace's sheep and cattle, captured in Staten Island. The wind turning favorable, they sailed up the Bay before Fort James and demanded the fort to surrender within half an hour. This having not been done, the Dutch fleet commenced to lay broadsides upon the fort, which was replied as long as the garrison had powder; whereafter the English flag was lowered and the gates opened without any capitulation. About 600 men of Dutch infantry, that had been landed from the Hudson River, above the fort, marched then down the Broadway and entered the fort. The English garrison of about 50 men were taken as prisoners on the Dutch ships.

The Dutch commanders now were keeping their meetings in the City Hall of the City of New Orange (formerly New York) and in the Fort Willem Hendrick (formerly Fort James and still earlier Fort New Asterdam), receiving deputies from villages and towns in New Netherland, who came to surrender their places under the Dutch rule. Only men who were "upright protectors of true Reformed Religion" were to be nominated for any offices. On the 11th of September, former Governor Lovelace, who soon after the fall of New York came to the town by invitation, was ordered to depart from New Netherland either to New England or to be taken on a ship, then expected to sail to Holland. Mr. Lovelace chosed to go to Holland. The governor's and other English military officials' property was confiscated.

On behalf of Captain John Carr, commander on the Delaware, his wife Petronella appeared before the council of war at Fort Willem Hendrick on September 4th, requesting permission for her husband to settle under the Dutch government. The petitioner's request was granted on condition that her husband previously take the oath of allegiance, when he shall be considered a faithful subject and enjoy the property lawfully belonging to him. Captain Carr had not however taken advantage of the privileges granted to him, he left the South River, whereupon his property was seized.

The local governments in the towns and villages about the North River and Long Island had been quickly settled and the Dutch commanders could have started for the South River, but the people there saved this trouble from them by sending commissaries to them like all the settlements in New York and New Jersey had done. The deputies from the South River appeared before the Commanders and the Council of War in New Orange, on September 12, 1673, and after delivering their credentials, declared the submission of the people of the South River to the sovereignty of their "High Mightinesses the Lords States-General of the United Netherlands and his Serene Highness, the Prince of Orange." After which they, presented a document, made up of a series of articles containing requests for privileges. The requests were immediately taken into consideration and orders issued upon them. The people at the South River were allowed, until further order from authorities in Holland, free trade and commerce with Christians and Indians. A person was to be appointed as Commandant over the River, who shall be authorized to enlist 10 or 12 men on the account of the admirals, and furthermore, to summon every sixth man from among the inhabitants of the River, and to order a fort to be built in the most suitable place, such as the commandant shall judge necessary for the defence of said river. The commandant shall appoint a person to examine what debts were due to and by the English government, report whereof being made to the Honorable Governor, further order shall be issued thereon. The people were allowed freedom of conscience. The Honorable Governor shall, at the proper time, make a disposition of the marshy land above the town of New Amstel (New Castle). The Finns or Swedes and the English on the South River were to enjoy the same privileges as the Dutch. The English were required to take the oath of allegiance. In compensation and consideration of the excessive expenses which the inhabitants of the South River shall have to incur in erecting the fort, they were granted and allowed exemption from all rent charges and excise on wine, beer and distilled liquors which will be consumed on the South River until the month of May in the year 1676. All inhabtaants of the South River were to have and hold all their houses, lands and goods lawfully belonging to them. As numerous people from Maryland had taken up lands in the South River and had obtained deeds on them, it was therefore ordered that such persons shall be permitted within the time of three months to apply to the governor and obtain confirmation of their patents, land were obliged within the same time to settle under the Dutch government, and take oath of allegiance, on pain of forfeiting their lands.

For the maintenance of good order, three courts of justice were ordered to be established at the South River, namely in New Amstel, in Upland and at the Hoornkill. The inhabitants of each of the said districts were to nominate by plurality of votes, for their court eight persons as magistrates. The nominations were to be delivered to the Commander Peter Alrich, who shall transmit them to the Dutch Admirals and their Council of War, when four out of the eight nominated for each court, will be elected as magistrates. The area of the jurisdiction of each court was defined as follows: To the New Amstel Court shall resort the inhabitants dwelling on the west and east side of the South River, from Christina Kill to Bombay Hook, with those of Apoqueminy Kill included. To Upland Court the inhabitants on the west and east side of the South River, from Kristina Kill upwards unto the head of the River (in the Catskill Mountains) to the Hoornkill Court, the inhabitants on the west and east side of the River, from Cape Henlopen to the Bombay Hook.

Captain Anthony Colve, who had been commissioned as Governor-General of New Netherland by the Dutch Commanders, began his administration on September 19, 1673. On the same day he issued a commission to Peter Alrich as Schout and Commandant on the South River, both on the west and the east side. Commander Alrich appearing in the Fort Willem Hendrick and taking the oath for his office, promises "to maintain and help maintain the Reformed Church."

The 20th of September was a busy day to the Dutch Commanders, this being their last day in Manhattan. They returned to Holland with their prizes, two more ships having been taken in New York waters. For the protection of New Netherland they left only one man-of-war and a sloop. The burden of the government of the New Netherland now fell on the Governor Anthony Colve. On the 25th of September he issued an order to Commander Alrich to administer the oath of allegiance to the inhabitants of the South River from Cape Henlopen to the headwaters. The commander was also requested to report what he had done and to send a list of all the inhabitants residing on the river. The former Justice of the Peace of Apoqueminy, Captain Walter Wharton, had been called to appear before the Governor-General in New Orange (New York), and on September 25th a commission was issued to him for the office of Surveyor on the South River.

On September 27th, a series of instructions were drafted by the Governor-General for Commander Alrich or Alrichs. The commander was to see that true Christian religion in conformity with the Synod of Dortrecht be taught and to maintain it by all proper means, without tolerating, that people holding another belief may make the least attempt against it. He was to keep his soldiers in good order and try to be on friendly terms with the commissaries on the South River. To each soldier he was to issue as a weekly ration six pounds of meat or three and half pounds of bacon, six pounds of bread, half a pound of butter or instead two stivers in money, half a barrel of beer for seven men and to each man one schepel of peas per month. He was to do his best, to get information of the doings and proceedings of the English in Maryland and Virginia and to report them to the Governor-General.

On October 6th, new regulations were issued concerning the soldiers' rations. One and half pecks of peas were to be issued to each man per month instead of a schapel. Beef and pork rations were made a trifle larger and a pack of salt for each man per three months was added.

On the 12th of October instructions were sent by the governor to Peter Alrich in his capacity as Schout or Sheriff and to the magistrates of the different courts in the South River. The Sheriff and Magistrates were to support the Reformed Christian Religion. The Sheriff was to be present, as often as possible, at all the meetings and preside over the same; but should he act for himself as party, or in behalf of the rights of the Lords Patrons or of Justice, he shall, in such case; rise from his seat and leave the Bench and in that event he shall not have any advisory much less a concluding vote, but the oldest Schepen (magistrate) shall then preside in his place. All cases relating to police, security and peace of the inhabitants, also justice between man and man, shall be finally determined by the magistrates of each of the different jurisdictions, to the amount of, and under, sixty florins in beavers, without appeal. In case the sum be larger the aggrieved party may appeal to the meeting of the Sheriff and Councilors delegated from the different districts, for which purpose. one person shall be annually appointed from each court jurisdiction and who shall assemble in the most convenient place to be selected by them, and who shall have power to pronounce final judgement to the amount of 240 florins in beavers and thereunder. But in all cases exceeding that sum each one shall be entitled to an appeal to the governor-general and council in New Orange. All inhabitants of the different court jurisdictions shall be citable before said sheriff and schepens or their delegated councilors who shall hold their meetings and courts as often as they shall consider requisite. All criminal offences shall be referred to the governor-general and council and the offenders to be sent before them. Smaller offences, such as quarrels, abusive words, threats, fisticuffs and such like, are left to the jurisdiction of the magistrates of each district. The Sheriff and Schepens shall have power to conclude on some ordinances for the welfare and peace of the inhabitants of their district, such as laying out highways, setting off lands and gardens and in like manner what appertains to agriculture, observance of Sabbath, erecting churches, schoolhouses or similar public works. Also to enact ordinances against fighting and wrestling and such petty offences, provided such ordinances are not contrary but as far as is possible, conformable to the laws of Holland and the statutes of New Netherland; and, therefore, all orders of any importance shall, before publication be presented to the chief magistrate, the governor-general, and his approval thereof requested. The selection of all inferior officers, and servants in the employ of the schout or sheriff and the schepens, the secretary alone excepted, shall be made and confirmed by themselves. The sheriff shall, by himself or deputies execute all the magistrates' judgments and not discharge any one except by advice of the court. Towards the time of election, the sheriff and schepens shall nominate as schepens or magistrates a double number of the best qualified, the most honest, most intelligent and wealthiest inhabitants, exclusively of the Reformed Christian Religion or, at least well affected thereunto, to be presented to the governor who shall then make his election therefrom with continuation of some of the old ones in case his Honor may deem it necessary.

Governor Colve, after the departure of the Dutch commanders, fell in trouble with his English subjects in Long Island, who refused to take any oath of allegiance and the enforcement of it let the governor into more troubles with the English colonies in New England. In the South River, the Marylanders likewise resumed their aggression, driving away the Dutch as well as, the English settlers in the Hoornkill district and burning their houses. Therefore a proclamation was issued by Governor Colve, on January 14, 1674, to be published on the South River, and which in part says: "And in order to prevent such cruel tyranny for the future and to deliver all good inhabitants from it, it is necessary to make proper arrangements; therefore all inhabitants of the South River of New Netherland are hereby commanded and directed to place themselves immediately under the orders of Commander Alrichs, as soon as an enemy appears, when it will be decided what is most necessary for their better protection and which is the way, to do the most harm to the enemy."

The Dutch authorities in Manhattan felt very nervous after the departure of the daring commanders with their fleet, great reparations and reinforcements were therefore made in the fortifications. It was now also found that some of the houses of the town had been built so near the fortifications that they were embarrassing the defence. Nineteen of them had to be ordered immediately moved and on October 16, 1673, an order for this was issued by the governor and council. Among these houses was the Finnish church that had been built one year earlier. The church, which was situated "under the fortification and bulwarks of the city of New Orange," at the lower end of the Manhattan Island in the present Battery Park, that now became in existence on account of the removals, was moved "to lot in Company's garden No. 5" The lot having been given to the church in return of its old lot, besides 415 florins in wampum was promised as indemnification for expense of moving. The indemnifications were to be paid out of extra custom duties and undoubtedly not much had been paid before England again became the master of the town.

The lot in the company's garden No. 5, where the Finnish church was moved, was on the Broadway, at 65 of the present street number, in the spot today stands the American Express Company Building. Above the church was the graveyard, the site being today occupied by the Empire Building, at 71 Broadway, on the southwest corner of Broadway and the Rector Street, the next block down from the Trinity Church. As there were not new Finnish emigrants coming, except few individuals, to New York, and the Finns had German and other ministers, who preached them in the Dutch language, the church is sometimes referred to as the Dutch Church and later became identified as the Old Lutheran Church. It was standing, rebuilt, in the same place in 1767 and is pictured in the old maps.

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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