Olof Thorsson (1601 - 1661)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Sweden
Death: Died in New Castle, DE, USA
Managed by: Ken Bates
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About Olof Thorsson

Olof Thorsson, progenitor of the Delaware Tossawa or Tussey family, arrived in New Sweden on the second voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel in 1641 accompanied by his wife Elisa, sons Olof and Lars and a daughter Christina. He settled at Paerden Hook ["horse n e c k in Dutch; also called Swanwyck] north of New Castle and became a judge on the New Castle court. He granted pastor Jacob Fabritius two parcels of land at Swanwyck in 1672, but in 1675, as a deacon of the Crane Hook church, he joined the others in urging that Fabritius leave the county. He died in 1678, survived by his widow and the three children named above See page 99

From Thorsson to Tussey

The name Thorsson was not a surname, but rather Olof's patronymic, meaning that he was Olof, son of Thor. However, in succeeding generations it became the family surname (spelled Toarson, or variants thereof), later evolving into Tossa, Tossava and finally Tussey.

Olof Thorsson of Swanwick and his Tussey Descendants

by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig, Fellow, American Society of Genealogists, Fellow, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Historian, Swedish Colonial Society

http://www.colonialswedes.org/Forefathers/Tussey.html originally published in Swedish Colonial News, Volume 2, Number 4 (Spring 2001)

Among the men sentenced for some minor crime and ordered to go to New Sweden in 1641 was one Olof Thorsson. As yet, his place of origin in Sweden and the nature of his crime is unknown. But it is known that when he boarded the ship Kalmar Nyckel in Göteborg he was accompanied by his wife and children.

After three years of servitude at the Christina plantation, Olof Thorsson won his freedom and chose to remain in New Sweden. He was hired as an agricultural worker at a wage of ten guilders per year, the same wage as a common soldier. As the years wore on, however, he found working for Governor Printz increasingly intolerable.

Co-founder of Swanwick

A new opportunity arose for Olle Thorsson and other disgruntled settlers in 1651 when the Dutch built Fort Casimir at present New Castle, Delaware. This led Olle Thorsson and a number of other New Sweden settlers to move across the Christina River and live under the Dutch. They were not permitted to live within the Dutch fort but were allowed to build a community of log cabins north of the fort at Swan Cove (Swanwick). This was to be Olle Thorsson's home for the rest of his life.

In May 1654 the Swedes, under Governor Johan Rising, captured Fort Casimir from the Dutch, so Olle Thorsson and his Swedish neighbors once again were under the Swedish flag. But Governor Stuyvesant retaliated in 1655, conquering all of New Sweden and with it the young settlement of Swanwick.

Olof Thorsson would see four more changes in government before his death in 1678. In 1657, Stuyvesant surrendered jurisdiction over Swanwick to another Dutch colony, called New Amstel. In 1664 the English captured all of the Delaware from the Dutch, only to surrender it back to the Dutch in 1673. Finally, in 1674, the area was returned to English rule.

A Family Divided

These changes brought an international flavor to Olle Thorsson's family. Under Dutch rule, his daughter Maria married a Dutch gunner Hans Block. Under English rule, his daughter Petronella married Captain John Carr.

Rifts, however, occurred in the family over the political issues of the time. During the Long Finn Rebellion of 1669, when Pastor Lars Lock sided with those prepared to take up arms against the English if, as was expected, Sweden attempted to retake its lost colony, Olle Thorsson's two sons sided with the rebels, while their father stood fast with the English government and his son-in-law Captain John Carr. The incident also led to Olle Thorsson inviting a Lutheran minister in New York, Jacob Fabritius, to establish a church at Swanwick to compete with Lock's church at Crane Hook.

Again, in 1675, there was a family split when the New Castle Court ordered every able-bodied man in the county to build a dike for Justice Hans Block's convenience. Rev. Fabritius was one of the leaders opposing this, and Olle Thorsson's two sons drew fines for refusing to work on the dike. This incident also led Olle Thorsson to withdraw his support for Fabritius and to return to Lars Lock's Crane Hook church. Fabritius had to look elsewhere and in 1677 became pastor of the new Swedish church at Wicaco.

Olof Thorsson died at Swanwick between May and November 1678. His widow Elisa (apparently short for Elisabeth) died after 22 December 1679, when she joined her eldest son Olle in agreeing to sell one of Olle Thorsson's properties at Swanwick to her granddaughter Barbara Block's husband, Peter Maeslander.

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Olof Thorsson's Timeline

1601
July 13, 1601
Sweden
1633
1633
Age 31
Sweden
1635
1635
Age 33
1637
1637
Age 35
1639
1639
Age 37
1641
1641
Age 39
1642
1642
Age 40
Sweden
1645
1645
Age 43
New Sweden, ME, USA
1661
April 8, 1661
Age 59
New Castle, DE, USA
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