1 Jonas Nilsson, 2 Judith Jonasdotter Nilsson, 3 Johann “Jonas” Yocum, 4 John Yocum, 5 Mary Yocum, 6 Margaret Bell, 7 Isaiah Custer, 8 John William Custer, 9 Corda Bell Custer, 10 William Frederick Franklin, 11 Edna Bethel Franklin, 12 Judith Ann Hayward
These brave souls didn't have the benefit of fancy printed brochures, Facebook or TV to give them a "heads up" on what to expect once they reached America. And they couldn't have begun to picture the primitive living conditions they would experience on these fragile ships which were either paralyzed because of lack of wind or were thrown around while being buffeted by heavy seas.
Some of these early travelers did know that their future would hold years of slavery after having been convicted of crimes and transported across the vast sea as punishment. Or, lacking financial resources at home, passengers often sold themselves into indentured servitude in the hope that their masters would treat them kindly and they would eventually be able to earn their freedom.
After coming face to face with these and other perceived realities, it's amazing that the travelers didn't “come to their senses” and jump on the next ship heading home!
|Flag of England|
|Flag of Sweden|
It was while Printz was organizing his fourth expedition that Jonas Nilsson came on the scene. No one knew at the time that this would be Prinz' final expedition because, after the death of his sponsor, King Adolfus, who had been killed in battle, his successor, Queen Christina, was much too young and immature to oppose the wishes of Sweden's powerful ruling party. It wasn't long before interest in this ambitious project had waned, financial support was withdrawn and there was a strong push to withdraw completely from the project.
Fortunately for us, there are still readable records which describe this last expedition which left Sweden on August 16, 1642. There is no way of knowing which of the two ships, Fama (Fawn) or Svanaten (Swan), became Jona's home during the trip, but we do know that the journey was neither swift nor easy!!
Soon after setting sail, the ships' navigators had become concerned that the ships might get stuck on the sand banks around Newfoundland, so they altered course and sailed south along the coast of Portugal before finally crossing the Atlantic (which was called the "Spanish Sea" at that time). After passing south of the Canary Islands they arrived in Antigua - just in time to celebrate Christmas.
But this, of course, was not expected to be their final destination so, after the Holidays, they continued their journey north (not a good time to travel on the Atlantic!). During that last leg of their journey, they experienced such heavy rain and snow that one of the ships became severely damaged. Finally, despite their condition, both ships managed to make it to Fort Christina on February 15, 1643 – six long months after the journey had begun. This fort in the Delaware Bay had been built just a few years before and was located near what is now Wilmington, Delaware. http://pennsylvaniapeople.weebly.com/johan-printz-level-2.html
|Governor Johann Printz|
Documents of that time reported that Governor Prinz was a very large man (at least 6 feet tall and thought to have weighed over 400 pounds). In fact, the Native Americans called him "Big Tub." He was hotheaded and sometimes pompous. But on the positive side, he had a lot of energy and a talent for getting things done. After dropping anchor in the Christina River during his first expedition, he had explored the territory, built forts, assigned land to settlers for farming, established trade relations with the Native Americans, the English, and the Dutch, and strongly upheld Swedish claims to the land; and he built on those successes during his next 3 expeditions,.
Three years later, Governor Printz was ordered to return to Sweden and, without his strong hand or the support of the Swedish ruling body, New Sweden remained independent for only one year before it was incorporated into the Dutch "New Netherlands" and then taken over by the English in 1664. And Jonas? He might have begun his life as a tailor, but it is obvious that he had developed additional skills over the years, and although remaining loyal to the overbearing Governor, his loyalty did not extend to accompanying Printz back to his homeland after the recall.
It had to have been a heart breaking time for this Swedish tailor/soldier when everything he had worked for seemed to fall apart with the downfall of Governor Printz. But after all those years of assuming leadership roles in America, he was able to set a new direction for himself by first applying for a discharge from the army and then becoming a "freeman" (which meant he could own land and even become a member of the governing body which made and enforced laws, as well as passing judgment in civil and criminal matters).
About that same time, he married 17 year old Gertrude Svensdotter, who had been only 2 years old when she was brought to New Sweden aboard the ship Kalmar Nyckel by her father, Sven Gunnarsson. Sven had been convicted of committing a minor crime, and had been "relocated" to the colonies to serve out his sentence. Finally, after earning his freedom, he was one of 22 signers of a petition of grievances against Governor Printz, which served to strengthen the case for recalling the governor.
|Prototype of a Swedish cabin in the 1600s|
He built his wealth by trading for furs with the Minquas Indians, while running a storehouse and trading post from his home. They were an interesting couple who were not known for keeping their opinions to themselves. For instance, after Gertrude honestly and openly criticized defamatory remarks made by the English against the Swedes, she became the subject of a court notice at least once. Jonas also had his day in court when he testified how he'd had to bury two servants of Peter Alrichs, a neighbor who had been murdered by Indians.
As adults, Jonas and Gertrude's seven sons originally carried the surname “Jonasson” in the Swedish tradition for several years until eventually Americanizing it to Jones. Their four daughters, however, kept Jonasdotter in their names. Jonas died in Kingsessing (the Southwest section of Philadelphia) in October 1693, and Gertrude died a couple of years later. They were buried at Old Swedes (Gloria Dei) Church in Philadelphia, which is still standing and now a national historic treasure.