Olle Matthiasson, alias Olof Isgrå, alias Oliver Caulk and his Caulk/Calk Descendants
by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig Fellow, American Society of Genealogists Fellow, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania Historian, Swedish Colonial Society originally published in Swedish Colonial News, Volume 2, Number 8 (Spring 2003)
Among the soldiers arriving in New Sweden on the Eagle in 1654 was a young man named Olle Matthiasson, who had recently been drafted into the Swedish army. As was the custom, he was assigned a soldier's name befitting his appearance or personality. In this case Olle was assigned the name of Isgrå, meaning "ice-gray," probably because of his prematurely gray hair.
Olof Isgrå at New Castle
Olof Isgrå first saw military action on 21 May 1654 when the Dutch surrendered Fort Casimir at present New Castle to the Swedes without firing a shot. (The small garrison there had run out of gunpowder.) The fort was renamed Fort Trinity by Governor Rising and placed under the command of Captain Sven Skute. Fearing that the Dutch Governor Petrus Stuyvesant might attempt to recapture Fort Trinity, Governor Rising assigned Captain Sven Skute the task of rebuilding and strengthening that fort and assigned half of his soldiers, including Olof Isgrå, to assist in this endeavor. However on 31 August 1655, a Dutch fleet of seven ships passed by and landed north of the fort, cutting the fort off from Rising's remaining troops at Fort Christina. Stuyvesant demanded that Skute surrender the fort, but he initially refused. When word reached the soldiers in the fort that the Dutch troops outnumbered the Swedes by a 10:1 margin many soldiers, including Olof Isgrå, decided it was hopeless to try to defend the fort. Captain Skute then addressed his soldiers and demanded, "Whoever wants to be a loyal fellow and serve his ruler like an honest man, step forth from this rebellious lot and come with me." During this confusion, Olof Isgrå jumped over the wall of the fort and surrendered himself to the Dutch, also informing them of the division of opinion within the fort. Lacking the support of his own soldiers, Skute surrendered the fort to Stuyvesant the next morning. The ill feelings between Isgrå and Skute carried forward for a considerable time. In January 1656, Olof Isgrå accused Captain Skute of having confiscated the poor tax for his own use. Skute denied the charge and claimed Isgrå threatened to kill him. In the summer of 1656 Olof Isgrå agreed to sell his plantation north of the fort at Swanwick to another former New Sweden soldier, Constantine Grönenberg, and in February 1657 he appeared at the Dutch fort again to promise he would pay his debt to Isaac Allerton, a New England trader, within a year. After that time, the name of Olof Isgrå disappears from the record. The reason, it turns out, was that he had fled to the Sassafras River in present Cecil County, Maryland.
Olle Matthiasson in Maryland
Among the things Olle left behind in the New Castle area was his soldier's name. Reverting to his patronymic, Olle Matthiasson, his wife Anna and their three small children were granted head rights in Maryland in 1664 and 200 acres, which he called "Sweedland," were surveyed for him on the south side of the Sassafras River in 1665. Later, about 1670, he moved with his family to a tract on the north side of the same river, called "World's End." The English scribes in the area had some difficulty with Olle's first name and often entered it as Olive or Oliver.
The Naturalization and Death of Oliver Caulk
The name of Olle Matthiasson disappeared from Maryland records after 1671. Thereafter the owner of "World's End" became known as Oliver Caulk. The name, quite obviously, came from the fact that his once ice-gray hair was now chalk white. ("Calk," now spelled "kalk" in Swedish, means "chalk.") On 6 June 1674, Oliver Calk, described as a native of Sweden, became a naturalized citizen of Maryland, meaning that he could convey or will his land to his children or others. By 1683, Oliver Caulk had been named a Commissioner in Cecil County. Oliver Caulk died at "World's End" shortly before 30 May 1685, when his widow Ann and his eldest son Isaac Caulk were named administrators of his estate. The inventory, filed 20 days later, showed that his estate included a horse, a mare, 2 yearlings, 8 cows, 4 steers, 2 heifers, 38 hogs, 5 deerskins, 2 guns, a number of beds, tools for the carpenter and cooper trades and two indentured women servants.
Among the children of Oliver Caulk and his wife Anna were four sons: Isaac, Peter, James and Jacob. It is likely that they also had daughters, but their names are not yet known.
1. Isaac Caulk, the eldest son, inherited the "World's End" plantation on the north side of the Sassafras River. He married, before 1691, Mary Finch, an English woman, daughter of Francis and Mary Finch of Kent County, Maryland. He died at "World's End" in 1702. His widow, Mary then married Daniel Pearce of Kent County. She named five children by her first husband in her will of 26 May 1740:
Oliver Caulk, baptized in Cecil County on 30 September 1692, was past 60 before he married Phoebe Brown, a Quaker, in 1752. He died at "World's End" 22 December 1781, survived by three children: Mary, Isaac and Oliver.
• Isaac Caulk, born c. 1693, married Temperance (surname unknown) and died at "World's End" in the winter of 1748/9. They had nine children: John, Isaac, William, Oliver, Jacob, Benjamin, Richard, Mary and Sarah.
•Mary Caulk, born c. 1696, married • George Wilson.
• Sarah Caulk, born c. 1699, married John Kennard.
• Jacob Caulk, born in 1702, never married and died in Kent County, MD, in 1758.
2. Peter Caulk, the second son, moved south to Talbot County to earn his livelihood, acquiring part of "Lostock" in 1706. A successful planter, he died there c. 1727. The name of his first wife, who died c. 1710, is unknown. His second wife, Sarah Cartwright, died in 1738. Peter's children by his two wives were:
• Mary Caulk, born in February 1698, apparently died young.
Peter Caulk, born in 1700, married Mary Sockwell in 1725 and died at "Lostock" in 1756. He had five children: Mary, John, Henry, Dawson and Daniel.
• • John Caulk, born c. 1704, died unmarried in 1728.
Lawrence Caulk, born c. 1709, married the widow Mary Camper in 1744 and died in Dorchester County in 1772. His children included John, Elizabeth and Peter.
• • Sarah Caulk, born c. 1714, married Bartholomew Roberts.
• Alice Caulk, born c. 1716, married Edward Collison. James Caulk, born in 1718, married Judith Tribbles in 1740. He died before 1783 at his plantation called "Lewis" in Talbot County. His children included a son named Peter.
•Francis Caulk, born c. 1722, apparently died unmarried • after 1745.
• Charles Cartwright Caulk, born c. 1723, died before 1743.
3. James Caulk, the third son, was married by 1695 to Sarah Allum, daughter of Nicholas and Ann Allum. Sarah's mother had been born Anna Wheeler, the daughter of John Wheeler and Catharina Lom of New Sweden. They lived in Talbot County, where James Caulk died c. 1706. One child has been identified:
James Caulk, born c. 1700, in Talbot County, moved as an adult to Northumberland County, VA, and then to Prince William County, VA, where he died in 1776. By his wife Eleanor, he had two known sons: James Calk, born 5 July 1729, and William Calk, born 7 March 1740.
• 4. Jacob Caulk, the youngest son, became a shoemaker in Cecil County. On 7 February 1713/4 he married Sarah Joce, widow of Thomas Joce of Kent County, MD, and mother of three children. Later, Jacob married Mary Freeman, daughter of William Freeman of Cecil County. They had two children: Elizabeth, born 23 November 1716, and William, born 11 February 1723/4. The will of Jacob Caulk, who died 11 February 1724/5, left his entire estate to his widow Mary during her widowhood, but if she remarried, his estate was to be divided between Elizabeth and William. His widow married Thomas Ward in 1729. No later trace has been found of the two children.