From the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation's website: "The original Kalmar Nyckel was one of America’s pioneering colonial ships, a Mayflower of the Delaware Valley, yet her remarkable story has never been widely told. The original Kalmar Nyckel served as Governor Peter Minuit’s flagship for the 1638 expedition that founded the colony of New Sweden, establishing the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley, Fort Christina, in present-day Wilmington, Delaware. She would make a total of four roundtrip crossings of the Atlantic, more than any other documented ship of the American colonial era." The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation has an absolutely fascinating 48 page guide book - "KALMAR NYCKEL: A Guide to the Ship and Her History" - in pdf file format which can be downloaded from this Kalmar Nyckel Foundation web page. For example, the guide, on page 24, lists the voyagers aboard the Kalmar Nyckel, 1638, including national origins of the crew and colonists.
In 1938, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Swedish colonization of the area, the state of Delaware created a park which contained the Rocks and the site of the former forts. The dedication was attended by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Crown Prince Gustav Adolf, Crown Princess Louise, and Prince Bertil. The Prince presented a gift from their homeland: a monument, topped by a replica of the Kalmar Nyckel, designed by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles.
During the ceremony, the Prince spoke of the site's significance to both countries: "The monument to be unveiled today is a gift from the people of Sweden to the people of the United States. The funds were raised through public subscription, wherein several hundred thousands of our citizens took part. I believe that amongst these subscribers, many had across the Atlantic brothers and sisters, parents and children. In contributing, they must have felt the links, which connect them and all of us with your great country, where so many of the citizens are either of Swedish birth or purely or partly of Swedish descent."
Fort Christina monument - Click for link for more information at Wikipedia
Pictured on right is the "Finnish Settlers Monument," designed by Wäinö Aaltonen and erected in 1938. The monument commemorates the landing of Finns on this continent in 1638 and is located in Crozer Park, Old Chester, PA. It is with hesitation that the Old Chester city's link to Crozer Park is provided since, despite a picture of the Finnish Settlers Monument featured on the web page, the web page only mentions the main entrance at 1500 Kerlin St, which is 7/10's of a mile away from the monument. At some point in the park's history (~ 1959), I-95 was constructed through the park. As they say in Maine, "You can't get there from here." The monument is only accessible from Concord Ave - specifically, it is directly across the street from 1150 Concord Ave (map).
The picture on right is the satellite view, showing the monument's location - click on the thumb-nail view to enlarge it.
Delaware Colony of Swedes and Finns Has Left Heritage to America
Because the colony of New Sweden retained that name for only eighteen years many students of American history are but slightly familiar with the Finnish and Swedish settlements which grew up in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey several decades before the coming of William Penn. The ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip, landing in the spring of 1638, brought the first Finnish and Swedish settlers. The present nation of Finland was then a part of Sweden, and the colony was named New Sweden. Wilmington, the first settlement, was called Fort Christina in honor of the Swedish Queen, daughter of Gustavus Adolphus who had planned the sending of colonists to America prior to his death on the battle field of Lutzen, in 1632. One branch of the stream which enters the Delaware River at that point still bears her name. Click the map or this Finnish Genealogical Society's web page link to read much more.
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From the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation website: "Fort Christina is rightfully famous as the home of the first log-cabin structures ever built on American soil, a barracks and a warehouse constructed by Finnish soldiers who were part of the original Swedish expedition." From the Delawareonline website: "Swedes and Finns are widely credited with building the nation's first log cabins after their 1638 landing at The Rocks in what became Wilmington. Two reportedly were built at Fort Christina, which started the Delaware Valley's first permanent European settlement." Pictured at right: The circa-1750 log cabin was given to the state by the Fenimore family and rebuilt near a monument commemorating the Swedes' landing in 1638 at modern-day Fort Christina Park. Photo & text credit: News Journal
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Finland Historical Marker On August 20, 1653 Finnish Captain Hans Ammundson Besk received a wonderful gift from Christina, Queen of Sweden and Princess of Finland. To reward him for his years of faithful service, the Queen gave him a large farm in Sweden's North American colony - a huge tract of land that stretched from present-day Marcus Hook all the way to Upland Creek. Besk, however, would never see his new possession. The following year, he died at sea en route to New Sweden on board the Haj and was buried in Puerto Rico. Although the Queen's loyal Finnish soldier never made it to the colony, many other Finns did settle there. Indeed, approximately half of the settlers of New Sweden were Finns.
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Acquired and then renovated by the state of Pennsylvania in the 1930s, the Morton Homestead in Delaware County is maintained as monument to Declaration of Independence signer John Morton, a descendant of Finnish settlers. In fact, Morton was probably born nearby, but the homestead has a rich history dating back to the 1660s and continues to evoke memories of Finnish settlement in the Delaware River Basin before the arrival of William Penn and British Quaker colonists in the 1680s.
Photo Credit: PHMC Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums