Thursday, March 6, 2014

52 Week Ancestor Challenge - LARS CARLSSON LOCK

Lars Carlsson LOCK is another of my direct line ancestors. Lars is my 7th great-grandfather. He is the first of the LOCK line on my mother's side in the New World, leaving Sweden in September 1647. Originally, Lars's surname was not LOCK. He, like others of his time, used the patronymic method of naming. In other words, since he was Carl's son, he was Carlsson. The surname of LOCK he derived from his Swedish town of origin, Lockerud, upon coming to this land. My great-grandmother was the last direct LOCK descended from him on our line.

It is estimated that he was born around 1624 in Sweden, his year of birth based on his age when he died. Lars was a minister in the New Sweden Colony, replacing John Carpanius upon arrival. His wife Catharina, born around 1635, married him here and they settled to live into the New Sweden glebe lands. Their church, a log building, was located on Tinicum Island which was the first Swedish settlement in the Americas. It was here that Lutheranism was established in the New World.

Unfortunately, though, Catharina was not happy with her lot in life as Lars's wife on this marshy island in the Delaware River. In 1661, she ran away with a man named Jacob Jongh who had arrived in the area in 1654 as a "soldier and commisary" and moved to Westchester County, NY. By 1677, they had returned to Philadelphia County. Jongh, the wife stealer, was sexton and schoolmaster of the new log church established at Wicaco until his death in April 1686. In the meantime, Lars had met and married Beata Lom, an 18 year old who was living with another Swedish family, the head of whom was named Olof Stille. Beata became the mother to all of Lars's children, while the runaway Catharina had only one child with Mr. Jongh (now spelled Young).

Because Lars was the only minister in the immediate area, he performed both of his own marriages. In the early days of this country, law as we understand it today was sparse, if in existence at all, so Lars used his biblical knowledge and considered her adultery to be a divorcement. There were some who took issue with this, but what else could be done with the main source of both legal and religious authority several thousand miles and months away.

It is interesting to note that Beata Lom, whose father was Måns Lom, is reputed to be the first non-native European infant born in what would eventually be known as the Delaware Valley. Dutch authorities claimed that Beata's marriage to Lars was not legal because a divorce had not yet been granted by Governor Stuyvesant, but Olof Stille, with whom Beata had lived, told them in court it was none of their business.

A number if Finnish families who had settled in the area with the Swedes moved off of Tinicum island to Crane Hook, which was under Dutch rule, and established another log church after being granted religious freedom by the Dutch governor of New Amstel, Alexander d'Hinojossa. Lars ministered there as well until he died.

In 1664, the British took control of the Delaware River region and in 1669, the Finns decided to fight back. Lars was a supporter of this cause and ended up being fined for taking part in the "Long Finn Rebellion" - so named because the organizer was a tall Finn.

Lars was the only minister in the area along the Delaware River until 1667 when the log church at Wicaco was built and Rev. Jacob Fabritius was hired. The hiring of Jacob Jongh, his first wife's "bill of divorcement", as sexton only added insult to injury for Lars who remained the minister for both the Tinicum and Crane Hook congregations until his death in 1688 at age 64, suffering "lameness" by that time. Beata followed him the following year. Their minor children moved across the river to Gloucester County, New Jersey, and lived with their aunt Maria Lom and her husband Johan Mattson. Most of the family settled in and around the area known today as Swedesboro. And, that is where the family remains today.

If you look at the map of New Sweden, you will see Kristina (where Wilmington, Delaware is today), Fort Nassau (where Gloucester City, New Jersey is now located and where I currently live) and the current location of Philadelphia directly across from Fort Nassau. Gloucester County once encompassed the area that includes Fort Nassau, but the modern boundary begins at the creek immediately below Fort Nassau.

As you can see, my family has been part of this area for a very long time. I have learned more about the history of this country because of tracing my family than I ever learned in high school history class.


Image credit - Map of New Sweden: This image was first published in the 1st (1876–1899), 2nd (1904–1926) or 3rd (1923–1937) edition of Nordisk familjebok. The copyrights for that book have expired and this image is in the public domain.

More information can be obtained by visiting the Swedish Colonial Society website.

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