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Sven Gunnarsson's Geni Profile

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Sven Gunnarsson

Birthplace: Skanings, Skaraborg, Sweden
Death: Died in Wicaco, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Gunnar and NN
Husband of Brigetta Margareta Juliana Gunarsson
Father of Gertrude Nilsson; Olle (Woola) Svensson; Anders Svensson; Helene Svensdotter and Sven Svensson

Managed by: Private User
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About Sven Gunnarsson

In August 1639, the Swedish government, needing settlers for its New Sweden colony, sent word to the governors of Elfsborg, Dalsland and Värmland to capture deserted soldiers and others who had committed some slight misdemeanor and to send them to America.

Among the "convicts" rounded up in this effort was Sven Gunnarsson. When the Kalmar Nyckel left Göteborg in September 1639, he was aboard with his pregnant wife and two small children.

Initially, in New Sweden, Sven was stationed at the Fort Christina plantation, where he was found in 1644 working on the New Sweden tobacco farm. In October 1645 he was finally granted freedom from his servitude and joined other freemen residing at Kingsessing (now West Philadelphia). Here he was known as Sven the Miller, as he operated the first gristmill built in New Sweden on present Cobbs Creek.

Being a freeman in New Sweden was like being a peasant under the tyrannical rule of Governor Johan Printz. Like other freemen, Sven was required to work without pay at Printz's Printzhof plantation whenever the Governor demanded, was prohibited from trading with the Indians and forced to buy all necessities at the company store. Like other freemen, he fell heavily into debt. Another such freeman, Lasse Svensson the Finn and his wife Carin had their plantation seized by Printz (who renamed it Printztorp). Both Lasse the Finn and his wife were forced to live without shelter in the woods. Both perished, leaving several impoverished children.

It was not surprising, therefore, that Sven Gunnarsson was one of the 22 freemen signing a petition of grievances which they submitted to Governor Printz in the summer of 1653. Printz called it a "mutiny" and returned to Sweden.

Sven the Miller fared better under Governor Rising, 1654-1655. He even volunteered to help defend Fort Christina against the Dutch invasion. A pitched battle was averted when Rising decided to surrender the colony.

Conditions proved to be even better under Dutch rule. Stuyvesant allowed the Swedes living north of the Christina River to organize their own government. That government, known as the Upland Court, treated Sven Gunnarsson well.

In 1664, Sven Gunnarsson moved with his family across the Schuylkill to Wicaco, a former Indian settlement, where Sven's 1125-acre plantation embraced what would become the future City of Philadelphia. Here, on his land, the first log church at Wicaco (now Gloria Dei Church) was built by 1677. Sven Gunnarsson died about 1678 and probably was one of the first to be buried at the Wicaco church.

In the spring of 1683, Sven's three sons agreed to provide the northern part of Wicaco for William Penn's planned new city, to be called Philadelphia. They were left with 230 acres apiece. Records prove that Sven also had two daughters.

Sven Gunnarsson (b. Bef. 1610, d. 1680)

Gunnarsson was sent by the Swedish government in 1639 to work in the New Sweden colony, which was located along the lower reaches of the Delaware River, and by 1645 had become a freeman. In 1653, he was one of 22 signers of a petition of grievances against Gov. Johan Printz, which ultimately led to his removal. He volunteered to defend Fort Christina against the Dutch invasion, but after the colony was surrendered, removed with his family north. They settled on 1,125 acres (4.55 km2) at a place called Wicaco, a former Indian settlement, which would become what is modern-day Society Hill in Philadelphia. His land was home to the first log church in the area, built in 1677, today known as the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church. Sven Gunnarsson died in 1678 and was one of the first buried at the church. He had five children: Anders, Olle, Gertrud, Sven, and a daughter of unknown name. His son Sven Svensson would go on to serve in the government at Upland Court and the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, while the son of Anders, Andrew Swanson, would become a progenitor of the Du Pont family in modern-day Delaware. The old patronymicon would be anglicized to Swanson in many instances.

See also, "Sven Gunarsson and his Swanson Descendants", Dr. Peter Stebbns Craig, published in Swedish Colonial News, Vol. 1, Number 18 ( Fall 1998) - []

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Sven Gunnarsson's Timeline

Skanings, Skaraborg, Sweden
Age 26
Age 26
Age 30
the Kalmar Nyckel (at sea)
Age 32
New Sweden, Aroostook, Maine
Age 34
New Sweden, ME, USA
Age 68
Wicaco, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA