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Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: April 1938 Volume 1 Number 3, Pages 1–8
Early Settlements in the Delaware Valley by the Dutch, Swedes, Finns and English
It is well known that the bluff old sea dog, Hendrick Hudson in "de Halve Maan" or "Half Moon," sailed into Delaware bay on August 28th, 1609, a year previous to Lord De la Ware's visit; and on September 3rd of the same year, entered New York Harbor, and although Henry Hudson was an Englishman, he was in the employ of Holland, hence the Dutch claimed all the land from the Bay of Fundy to Cape Charles, between the possessions of New France and Virginia, by right of discovery, and on March 27th, 1614, the States General of Netherlands, granted a general charter to the exclusive privileges of trade in these lands under which the rich merchants of Amsterdam outfitted a fleet of five vessels, one of which, the "Fortuyn" belonging to the city of Hoorn, and commanded by Captain Cornelis Jacobson Mey, arrived at the mouth of the Delaware Bay and named the capes in honor of himself, Mey and Cornelis. Another vessel of this fleet, the "Tiger," commanded by Captain Adrian Block, was burned at the mouth of "Manhattan" river, but he immediately built another of lighter draught, of about 16 tons burden, which he named the "Unrest" or "Restless;" probably the first vessel built by European hands in North America north of Florida.
In this shall yacht Captain Cornelis Hendrickson made an expedition up South or Delaware river probably as far as the mouth of the Schuylkill in the summer of 1616 and there traded with the natives. The Dutch called the Delaware "Zuyt" or South River. The smaller streams or kills flowing into the river and bay were all named by the Dutch; the Schuylkill (Hiding Creek) being the most noted. Nevertheless, an elaborate map of the coast from Belle Isle to Trinidad, made in 1621 by Anthony Iacobez, failed to indicate the South Bay and river at all.
The Dutch West India Company began operations in 1623 when it sent Capt. Mey to the South River, where he in 1324 erected Fort Nassau on the east side of the river near the mouth of Timber Creek, now Gloucester, New Jersey, and there planted a small colony.
Later, in order to retain possession of the Delaware valley, the Company sent over two of their directors, Samuel Godyn and Samuel Bloomaert, to purchase from the natives certain large tracts of land, and they secured a very questionable patent to a strip of land on the west side of the bay, which became known as Godyn's Bay, from three Indians. This tract was situated on the "South hook of South River bay" from Cape Henlopen to the mouth of the river. This "purchase" was confirmed by the Company on July 16, 1630, and in the spring of 1631 the stockaded Fort Oplandt was erected at the mouth of the Hoornkill (now Lewis, Cape Henlopen), by Capt. Peter Heyse of the sloop "Walrus," and 32 Dutch colonists settled there. The principal objects of the settlements were the whale fishery and trade with the Indians, though it would appear that some ground was broken for crops.
They called the locality "Zwaanendael" or the Valley of the Swans, but the colony was soon wiped out by a band of hostile Lenapes. This massacre followed a trivial offense. The Dutch had planted a post bearing the arms of Holland painted upon a metal plate. Doubtless the Lenapes resented this, they were at war with the Susquehannocks at the time; or one of them may have removed the plate to make pipes, Commissary Gillis Hossett was in command and made complaint of an insult to his country, and since the Indians were anxious to maintain friendly relations with the traders, some of them brought in the head of the alleged offender.
The chief's family to avenge his death, planned a general massacre of the colony while the members were scattered in their fields at work; three warriors entered Hossett's quarters pretending they came for trade and when he came down the ladder, killed him. A large mastiff kept at the little fort was slain with 25 arrows, and then they stole forth to cut down the settlers one by one, until none remained.
Early in 1653, Capt. David Pieterson de Vries of Hoorn, who had been intrusted with the command of the settlement, arrived before the desolated Valley and resettled it. Hoornkill was soon corrupted into Horekill, and became a prosperous colony at a later date.
The Swedish colonization scheme came about in a peculiar manner: A leading member of the Dutch West India Company, William Usselinx, became involved in dispute with his associates and in 1632 made proposals to Sweden for the formation of a Swedish West India Company. The original intention was to provide a piece of refuge for the persecuted Danish and German Protestants, as well as such Swedish freemen who cared to emigrate, and anticipated the comprehensive plans of William Penn for religious liberty by more than half a century.
At that time the great Protestant leaders, Mansfield of Bohemia, Christian of Brunswick and Christian IV of Denmark, were dead, and the military might and genius of Wallenstein in 1626, had driven the survivors of the faith northward.
Emigration to the New World seemed the last resource of that great champion of Protestantism in Europe, Gustavus Adolphus, but before it could be put into effect, Gustavus fell at the head of his victorious army in the battle of Lutzen, in the latter days of the Thirty Year War; leaving the government of Sweden in the hands of his little daughter Christina and his great Chancellor, Oxenstierna.
When the Swedish colony was finally planted in 1638, it was founded on much loss liberal terms by Willium Ussoliuex, as the Swedish South Co. in union with the Ship Company of the Towns, which two also became associated with the Swedish West India Company.
Cornelis Jacobson Mey is said to have been the first Director of the Dutch on the South River, and Peter Minnit became Director of the Swedish rival claimants.
Two ships, the "Kalian Nychol" ("Key to Kalmar") and "Gripen" ("Griffin"), were placed under the command of Minuit and he sailed from Gottenburg in November, 1637, with 50 Swedish colonists, and after touching at Jamestown, arrived in the Delaware bay April 8th, 1638.
He purchased, or pretended to purchase, from the Indians, the region between the Minquas or Christina Creek and the falls of the Delaware, to which was given the name of Nova Svecia or New Sweden, and at the first named place he erected Fort Christina, where he left 23 men under the command of Mans Kling, The "Kalmer Nychel" brought over reinforcements in 1640, and, accompanied by the "Charitas," brought further settlers, many being Finns, in 1641. Minnit, however, died in the latter year.
There was a third claimant to all this region. The English claims were based upon their early voyages covering the entire east coast of North America, but thought casual efforts had been made by the English shipmasters to trade with the Indians on the Delaware River, no attempt had been made to settle, unless it was at Varkin's Kill (Salem), until it was reported early in the Spring of 1642 that some 20 families including 60 members of New Haven Yankees, traders and tobacco planters; had presumed to settle on the east bank of the Schuylkill. This was in the interest of the so-called Delaware Company, of which George Lamberton, Nathaniel Turner, and others, were the promoters.
The Council at Manhattan issued the following order, dated May 22, 1642, to Jan Jansen Dutch commissary on the South River:
"As soon as the sloops 'Real' and 'St. Martin' shall have arrived, he, Jan Janson, shall have to repair with one or both sloops to the Schuylkill, go immediately ashore, demand the commission of said Englishman and what authority they have assumed to take away our rights, grounds and trade, and if they have no Royal commission, he shall oblige them to depart immediately in peace, so that no blood be shed and on refusing he shall secure their persons so that they may be brought hither and after the departure or removal of the English, he is to lay waste the place. He shall be careful that the English are not injured in their personal effects, but that an inventory thereof be made in their presence."
February 15, 1643 two vessels arrived, the "Stoork" and Renown", under the command of the now Swedish Governor Johan Printz, an immense man physically. De Vries stated that he was over 400 pounds weight and that the Indians called him by a name which signified "Big Tub." He was, however, a man of enterprise and good judgment, and in his 50th year.
He brought with him his wife, son and daughters; a lieutenant governor, and secretary, Chaplain Rev. John Campanius, a surgeon, 24 regular soldiers with officers, a few settlers, besides stores, provisions and merchandise for the Indian trade.
Col. Printz saw at once that Fort Christina did not command the river, so he erected Fort Elfsborg or Elsinborgh on the east side of tho river's mouth.
The Dutch made early complaint:
"At the entrance of the river, on the east shore, is, a fort named Elsinburgh, usually garrisoned with 12 men commanded by a lieutenant, which fort built by the aforesaid Printz closes entrance to the river, so that all vessels are compelled to cast anchor, as is evident from several yachts injured by cannon balls and were in iminent danger of losing some of their crew."
Gov. Printz erected Fort Gateberg or Now Gattenburg on Tinicum Island, which is within the present limits of Delaware county. This fort was constructed of very heavy green hemlock logs, one on another, and was considered by the rival Dutch as a "pretty strong fort."
The Governor also erected here a fine mansion which he called "Printz Hall", which is said to have been a very handsome home, though certainly not large. The foundations have recently been unearthed by the WPA, together with number of relics, including the little red or yellow bricks of Dutch make; most of these relics are now in the Swedish museum, 19th and Patterson Sts., Philadelphia.
Gov. Printz entertained, it is said, in a liberal manner. We have a dish, handed down from the Swedes, called "Phaff", the ingredients based upon rice, chopped meat, onions and peppers, the whole baked; a most appetizing dish which the T. E. History Club enjoyed at the home of one of their members.
The Swedes have also given us a recipe for a very potent "glog." A hot drink for a cold day. One quart of brandy, any kind will do, but peach preferred by the Swedish ladies; add one quart of port wine, spice with cinnamon, then burn off excess alcohol, quench blue flame with a cup of water. It is then ready for consumption and after a few drinks black coffee is in order, the stronger the better. You are then ready for a long cold journey or for bed.
Gov. Printz built at Tinicum a powder magazine, which was recently uncovered and shows in it unmistakable evidence of an explosion, also a storehouse, and a Lutheran Church, the first church in the Province, which was dedicated on October 4th, 1646, as well as the burying ground in which the first body deposited was that of Catherine, daughter of Andrew Hanson, October 28th, 1646. Great Tinicum Island is separated from the mainland by Darby Creek and some marshes. It contains several hundred acres of rich alluvial soil especially adapted for the rye, corn and tobacco the Swedes raised. It is not clear whether there were any defensive works there after the great fire of 1645, but it is evident that the storehouse was rebuilt.
The Rev. Campanius, pastor here for six years, acquired the language of the Lenape in his desire to become spiritually useful to the natives. The Swedes claim honor of the first missionary in Pennsylvania. Campanius completed at Uplandt, Sweden, a translation of Luther's Catechism which was commenced on Tinicum in 1645; perhaps the first translation of any work in the Indian language. It was printed at Stockholm in Lenape and Swedish, together with a vocabulary. To accommodate the circumstances, the Lord's Prayer underwent some changes, thus, instead of
"Give us our daily bread"
"Give us a plentiful supply of venison and corn."
Gov. Printz built Fort Korsholm or Manayunk on the Kingessing Creek at the end of the Susquehanna trail and nearly opposite the Dutch built Fort Beversrede on the east bank of the Schuylkill, and they became rivals for the considerable trade in beaver skins which had become a sort of legal tender with a value set by the Governor of New Netherlands at 18 guilders or 13 shillings, 6 pence.
The friendly natives in their eagerness to barter with the Dutch, Swedes and English fur traders established on the Schuylkill at various times, and especially Mans Kling, the agent of Printz; exterminated the beaver in the lower Schuylkill and Great Valleys, and perhaps other nearby regions long before the settlement by Penn. However, the Welsh and English settlers had the beaver to thank for many a fertile meadow.
Most of the letter trade in beaver came from the Minquas or Susquehannocks, who packed the furs long distances over the trail known as the Beversrede.
Andreas Hudde, the Dutch Commissary, described the situation of the Swedish fort on the Schuylkill in his report of Nov. 1st, 1645,
"He (Printz) employed the Company's carpenter to construct a fort on a very convenient spot on an island near the borders of the kill, which is from. the west side secured by another crook and from the southeast and east sides with underwood and valley lands. It lays about the distance of a gunshot in the kill. On the south side of the kill on the same island, beautiful corn is raised. This fort cannot in any manner whatever obtain any control on the river, but it has command over the whole creek, while this kill is the only remaining avenue for trade with the Minquas and without this trade the river is of little value."
Hudde further reports:
"At a little distance from this fort is a creek to the farthest distant wood, which place is named Kinsessing by the savages, which was before a certain and invariable resort for trade with the Minquas, but which is now opposed by the Swedes having built a stronghouse. About half a mile further in the woods Governor Printz constructed a mill on a kill and on this kill a strong building just by the path which leads to the Minquas. So that no access to the Minquas is left open, and he, too, controls nearly all the trade of the savages on the river."
Governor Kieft of New Amsterdam, left Hudde at Fort Nassau to fight a bloodless battle alone. The commissary alleged that on June 23, 1646, a Dutch shallop with a considerable cargo was ordered by him to proceed to the Schuylkill, there to wait the Minquas trade, but that when it arrived, the trader aboard, one Blancke, was commanded by the Swedes to depart immediately, under threat of confiscation of goods.
Hudde further charged that the Swedes had endeavored to stir up the savages against the Dutch, and had pulled down their house as well as cut down their trees, but in spite of all opposition he had succeeded in building Fort Beversrede at Mastmaker's hook on ground given him by some Fassayunk sachems.
The quarrel was carried to New Amsterdam, Symon Roodt, Jan Andriessen, and Adriaen Dircksen Coen, acted for two Indian chiefs of the Minquas, who declared that the Swedish agent had offered to sell them powder, load and guns enough, but the Netherlanders being poor tatterdemalions, could not do so. The Indians said that the Swedish Governor had informed them that the Netherlanders were bad and the Swedes good men.
The report of Gov. Printz to the Swedish Company, dated Feb. 20, 1647, states that the people have been in good health, only two men and two children have died, and the reason so many died in 1643 was because they had hard work and little to eat. At the date of the report, the whole number of men, women and children, was 183, a part of them provided with cows and oxen. A considerable trade had sprung up with the English of Virginia and the Dutch of New Netherlands.
He also reported that on Nov. 25, 1645, Swen Wass, a drunken gunner had set fire to Fort New Gottenburg on Tinicum Island and that nothing was saved except the dairy and some rye and corn unthrashed. The culprit was to be sent home for trial.
As Hudde had reported, Printz had built a fine house called "Wassa" on the other side of Karsholm, by the road of the Minquas, so strong that four or five men provided with guns, would be able to defend themselves against the savages and Printz wrote that seven freemen, sturdy fellows, had settled in that place.
Again, a mile up (a Swedish mile equals 6.625 English miles) by said Minquas road, he had built another stronghouse for five freemen, and called it "Mondal," and also erected a windmill there. His account tallies with that of Hudde.
"Now, when the great fur traders, the Minquas travel to the Dutch trading place or the house of Nassau, they are obliged to pass those two places, which (please God) hereafter shall be provided with cargoes."
It was not possible to keep up the Indian trade by means of European goods entirely, since the savages always demanded zewandt (Wampum), that being their money; so Printz recommended that a trusty man be appointed to purchase wampum in North (New) England, where it could be had cheap.
When the "Fama" returned home she was laden with 2136 beaver skins, 20,467 lbs. tobacco in 77 hogsheds and 7200 lbs. in 23 hogheads, partly received in payment from foreigners and partly of Printz's own planting.
The cargo returned in the "Gyllene Hajen" or "Golden Shark" was 24,177 lbs. of tobacco in 101 casks, of which 6,920 lbs. was raised in New Sweden. Sweden became so flooded with tobacco, "A merchandise," to quote an ordinance of Queen Christina, Jan. 12th, 1641;
"which until some time ago has been unknown here and besides in itself is not very useful, but nevertheless is now bought and consumed to such an extent, that it has become an abuse and in a great measure brings great injury and poverty on many."
Of the Dutch Gov. Printz reported:
"1. They destroy our trade everywhere.
In fact the same charges as the Dutch advanced against the Swedes.
"If we are able to renew our friendly relations with the white and black Minquas, the trade will commence next April and continue the whole of the Summer until fall. Our present cargo may be sold during that time; therefore it will be a matter of necessity to be provided with new cargoes next November and about that time we may be able (with God's help) to send home a great many goods in return."
In reply to the lengthy report of Gov. Printz, which sheds so much light upon the situation in New Sweden and the character of the Governor, Court Oxenstierna, Chancellor of Sweden, pleads, Sept. 7ths, 1647, the intervening Danish war for some neglect of cargoes. This reply is a model of diplomacy or "passing the buck."
"I am not able to give you, Sir Governor, any advice how to drive the Hollanders from the country. It seems to me best, Sir Governor, by your own zeal and judgment, not by force and violence, oppose and cut off their trade, provided you can accomplish this by good management and in tho most gentle way. And when the English wish to put themselves under the protection of the Crown of Sweden, you Sir Governor, can modestly turn them away and as before avoid accepting their offers with all the politeness possible."
"How long the criminals, sent thither for their crimes, shall serve without wages? I cannot prescribe anything certain in that matter, leaving it to your own discretion."
"How long the noblemen, as well as those who are not noble, who cultivate the land, may enjoy exemption from taxes? Although I have no right to determine that matter, I think ten years or somewhat longer, is not too much, until the country is better cultivated."
"To procure a certain ordinance as to what you shall charge our people for articles sent over in cargoes for trade? I cannot prescribe for you, Sir Governor, any certain rule as to that. I think it reasonable, however, not to charge our people as high as the savages."
"That her Royal Majesty would be pleased graciously to bestow twenty whole farms upon you, Sir Governor, as a reparation of damages, and raise your salary? This matter I shall have recommended in the best manner and I shall apply my diligence that both your requests be granted, to your pleasure and contentment." Governor Printz's salary was 1200 silver dollars, to be drawn from the revenue. Without doubt Governor Frintz' was encouraged to continue his efforts to destroy the Dutch trade "in the most gentle way" as proposed by the Chancellor, for in the report of Alexander Boyer, Dutch Deputy Commissary, written Sept. 25th, 1648, and addressed to the "Honorable, Valiant, Wise and Prudent Noble Sir Mr. Petrus Stuyvesant, Director General;" he informed him of a new outrage since tho departure of Hudde for Manhattan; which he felt it his humble bounden duty to inform the Governor that "Mr. Jan Printz has by his order, Sir, caused to be erected on the 19th of September, a house on the Schuylkill, right in front of our Fort Beversrede, of about 30 to 35 feet length and about 20 foot wide and thus deprives us of the freedom of the Kill, so that our sloops which come to anchor there can scarcely see our fort. Sir, I firmly believe that he has erected that building rather as to insult our Lords and Masters, than the expectation of deriving any profit for himself. The rear gable of the house comes within about 12 foot of the gate of the fort, so that the house stands, as already stated, between the waterside and our fort."
To be Continued. (Part II)
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