Wednesday, June 6, 2007

New Sweden is old!

Once upon a time, about 400 years ago, the megalomaniac Swedes (ie., their king or queen at the time), decided to become a colonial power. So they sent off a ship (Kalmar Nyckel) with some (un?)lucky farmers and a Lutheran minister, and sent them off to the United States where they founded New Sweden along the Delaware River. This was in the early 1600s. They didn't last long, well, the people did, friendly as they were with the Lenape Indians, but when the Dutch showed up with many more soldiers and sieged the Swede's little fort made out of mud, the Swedes gave up their colony. So, the Swedes gave up, and the Dutch took over. I read somewhere that there are a million descendants from those 400 Swedes, but I don't remember the exact number.

But, what is left of the Swedish heritage in New Jersey? EH and I decided to find out. We went on our 2-day road trip and here is what we found, most of it accidentally, in fact.

We are getting nearer to the Old Swede's hunting grounds - see! Kurt's Liquor Store, obviously an old Swedish name.

Even the township is Swedish - Elsinboro Township (Nya Helsingborg?). Not far from here was Fort Elfsborg.

Fort Elfsborg (Nya Alvsborgsfastningen?) is no more, except for a sign. Sven Skute abandoned it in 1651 (maybe he 'skuttade' away from it). It seems like nobody really knew where it was, but the name is written on the road map of New Jersey.

Here is the shore, close to the old fort (not 'old fart'!). We reclaimed the land, can you see it in the sand? The waves reclaimed it again, really quickly! Too bad it was an American flag, not Swedish... At this point in New Jersey, the horizon is not flat, a very strange phenomenon that scientists have wondered over since 1651, when the Dutch took over. Maybe there is a lot of right-leaning people in this part of the state.

We were happily driving along, passing Hancock Historic house at Hancock Landing where some people were massacred during the revolutionary war (the American landscape is full of massacres and battlefields in this part of the country, really depressing). We saw this little house, and when we got closer the sign said "Swedish stuga", for real. It is a copy, but the logs are 400 years old. What do you think, does it look like a Smalandsstuga?

Mmmm, Swedish fish, the most famous "Swedish" candy. The fishes are always red here, but in Sweden they come in all kinds of colors, and my favorite is the Salta Sillar (EH says they are rare these days, maybe because they are disappearing like the cod?). No more cod pieces for the Swedes! Especially not after the Dutch took over, then it was just still life for all.

We also found other Swedish things, but that is saved for another post.

Photos by EH, text by LS


O.K. said...

I know there is a modern built copy of Kalmar Nyckel sailing today, I think it has its home port on the american east coast. I'll see if I can find it.

O.K. said...

Found it: Wilmington, Delaware.
The ship has its own webpage as well:

LS said...

Yep, Wilmington is right across from where Fort Elfsborg is! We haven't seen the ship yet, that will be the next Swede trip. When are you coming over O.K.? :)

PP said...

where are the pics of the fisking boats with Swedish names?
do you like my swinglish?

O.K. said...

PP: It makes pörfäkt säns! (Perfect sense).

LS said...

Fisking boats were in Cape May, we will add that tonight! Fisk, fisk, fisk, for all!