EARLY SETTLER OF NEW SWEDEN
JORAN SCHNEEWIESS KEEN
Joran Schneeweiss Keen is an ancestor of Martha Glen, wife of Hill Freeburn and this site is allied with the Freeburn website. As you work through the Keen family from Joran to Hans to Erick to Catharine Keen you will end up following the last link to the opening pages for Hill Freeburn and his family. I hope you find this history as fascinating as I do.
NEW SWEDEN 1638 to 1643
Few People today realize that long before Penn arrived in Pennsylvania that the Swedes had built a colony along the Delaware River - New Sweden. Just take a look at Philadelphia City Hall. Not only are there two statutes of Swedish settlers on the City Hall Tower there is a Plaque on the Building itself noting as a prominent Swedish settler our very own ancestor, Joran Kyn!
The first Swedish expedition to North America embarked from the port of Gothenburg in late 1637. It was organized and overseen by Clas Fleming, a Swedish Admiral from Finland. A Dutchman, Samuel Blommaert, assisted the fitting-out and appointed Peter Minuit to lead the expedition.
The members of the expedition, aboard the ships Fogel Grip and Kalmar Nyckel (pictured on left), sailed into Delaware Bay, which lay within the territory claimed by the Dutch, passing Cape May and Cape Henlopen in late March 1638, and anchored at a rocky point on the Minquas Kill that is known today as Swedes' Landing. They built a fort on the present site of the city of Wilmington, which they named Fort Christina, after Queen Christina of Sweden.
In the following years, 600 Swedes and Finns, mainly Forest Finns from central Sweden (and also a number of Dutchmen and Germans in Swedish service) settled in the area. The settlement constituted an invasion of New Netherland, since the river and the land in question had previously been explored and claimed for that colony.
Peter Minuit was to become the first governor of the newly established colony of New Sweden. Having been the Director of the Dutch West India Company, and the predecessor of then-Director William Kieft, Minuit knew the status of the lands on either side of the Delaware River at that time. He knew that the Dutch had established deeds for the lands east of the river (New Jersey), but not for the lands to the west (Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania).
Director Kieft objected to the landing of the Swedes, but Minuit ignored his missive because he knew that the Dutch were militarily impotent at the moment. Minuit finished Fort Christina during 1638, then departed to return to Stockholm for a second load, and made a side trip to the Caribbean to pick up a shipment of tobacco for resale in Europe to make the voyage profitable. Minuit died while on this voyage during a hurricane at St. Christopher in the Caribbean.
The official duties of the first governor of New Sweden were carried out by Lieutenant (then raised to the rank of Captain) Måns Nilsson Kling, until the next governor was chosen and brought in from the mainland Sweden, two years later.
NEW SWEDEN 1643 - THE ARRIVAL OF GOV. JOHAN PRINTZ
The new Governor was one Johan Björnsson Printz (pictured on left). He arrived in the colony on 15 February 1643 with two ships, Fama (Fawn) and Svanen (The Swan). This is where the story of our Ancestor begins. Jürgen Schneeweiss went on the New Sweden payroll on 1 Sept. 1642 when he was advanced three months' wages in Stockholm (30 guilders). He sailed to America on the Swan, arriving in the New Sweden colony with Governor Printz on 15 Feb. 1643. He served as a soldier under Printz until 1653 when Printz returned to Sweden. Joran was among the "sadldairne som dageligen folia, forresa och achta pa Governeuren," which means soldiers who daily attend and travel with the Governor. Much of what we know about the Joran Kyn and his descendants we know from a series of articles by Dr. Gregory B. Keen (pictured on right), a descendant of Jürgen Schneeweiss and Secretary of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, wrote a series of articles for the Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography, 1878-1883, "The Descendants of Jöran Kyn of New Sweden," in which he wrote that the progenitor of the Keen family was born in Sweden. You can read Dr. Gregory's original article on Jorgan Schneeweiss Keen by following this link. Later Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig was able to prove that in fact Joran was born not in Sweden by in Saxony, Germany. You can read his article here from the Swedish Colonial Society website. Joran Schneeweiss (also seen as "Snewit") translates to Joran "Snowhite" which must have referred to his hair color or complexion.
Under his rule the Swedish colony initially prospered, and he built Fort Nya Elfsborg on the east bank of the Delaware and Fort New Gothenburg on Tinicum Island (to the immediate SW of today's Philadelphia International Airport), where he also built his own manor house which he called Printzhof. (see articles on Tinicum Island and Printzhof) Before long, however, problems with the surrounding Dutch and English colonies became increasingly severe. Short of supplies from Sweden, Printz was unable to prevent the Dutch and the English from practically monopolizing the beaver fur trade in the area. His main adversary was Peter Stuyvesant, Director General of New Netherlands. In the end, Printz found his position impossible and in 1654 he returned to Sweden. Joran had earlier accompanied him to Tinicum Island and resided there until Printz left New Sweden in 1654. Choosing to remain in America, Jürgen adopted the surname of Kühn (Keen) and settled on Upland Creek. An English patent, issued 4 August 1668, described his lands as comprising 400 acres in three separate lots.
1654/1655 - 1664 - NEW SWEDEN CHANGES HANDS
In May 1654, the Dutch Fort Casimir was captured by soldiers from the New Sweden colony led by governor Johan Rising. The fort was taken without a fight because its garrison had no gunpowder, and the fort was renamed Fort Trinity. As reprisal, the Dutch — led by governor Peter Stuyvesant — moved an army to the Delaware River in the late summer of 1655, leading to the immediate surrender of Fort Trinity and Fort Christina.
Returning to our Ancestor, on 7 April 1663, before the Upland Court, Jurriaen Kyn (as he was called by the Dutch court clerk) sued Evert Hendricksson the Finn for assault and battery. The defendant was convicted and expelled from the colony, only to be granted refuge at Crane Hook by Gov. d'Hinoyossa of New Amstel. We know about this from a letter, a transcription of which, you can see here.
1664 - THE ENGLISH TAKE OVER NEW SWEDEN
This status lasted officially until the English conquest of the New Netherland colony was launched on 1664-06-24 when the Duke of York sold the area that is today New Jersey to John Berkeley and George Carteret for a proprietary colony, separate from the projected New York. The actual invasion started on 1664-08-29 with the capture of New Amsterdam. The invasion continued, and was concluded with the capture of Fort Casimir (New Castle, Delaware) in October of 1664. The invasion was one of the things that was contested in the start of the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
The last known reference to Joran occurred on 1 March 1687/8 when "Urine Keen" conveyed his lot in Chester town (former Upland) for a Quaker meeting house. His other lands had previously been transferred to his three known children: Hans Keen (our direct relative), Jonas Keen, and Anna Keen.
Hans Keen (read original article) was endowed, at least as early as 1668, with two hundred acres of land, a part of the original paternal grant. Here he resided for several years, having his estate confirmed to him as "one of ye six" Inhabitants of Upland Towne." In the list of "Tydables" of 1677 he appears among the persons living at "Taokanink," and at a court at Upland, March 12, 1677-8, we find him acknowledging a deed of sale of the Upland property.
1678 - HANS KEEN - THE MOVE FROM UPLAND TO OXFORD TWP.
Hans Keen, apparently the eldest son, sold his Upland property to his brother Jonas in 1678 and moved to Pennypack Creek in what later became Oxford Township or Tacony. He died before 10 August 1684, when his widow Williamke Kühn was listed as a contributor to the Wicaco church. She later became the second wife of Caspar Fisk (Fish). Hans and Williamke had five surviving children: Matthias (born 1667), Eric, Jonas, Gertrude and George, all of whom married and had children.
1700 - ERICK KEEN - SUBSCRIBER OF GLORIA DEI CHURCH
Erick Keen, (read original article) son of Hans and Willemka Keen, was born at Upland, and removed with his father's family up the Delaware, where he grew to manhood, and married Catharine, daughter of Jan Claassen, younger sister of his brother Matthias Keen's wife. Through her he inherited fifty acres of land in Bristol Township, Bucks Co., Pa., part of his father-in-law's estate. He purchased, March 4, 1702-3, from his cousin Maons Keen three acres of land and meadow in Chester Township, Burlington Co., N. J., but whether he ever resided there cannot now be ascertained. On the 25th of January, 1706-7, his mother and brothers deeded to him a hundred acres acquired by Matthias Keen from Erick Mollicka, originally one of his father Hans Keen's tracts (the lower one of the two ascribed to "Enock and Keene" upon Holme's Map), situated on the Delaware River, at the mouth and along the eastern side of Wissinoming Creek. Erick Keen was already in possession of it, and he continued to dwell on it, engaged in agricultural pursuits, the rest of his life. His name appears in Pastor Andrew Budman's list of the Lutheran congregation of Wicacoa in 1697-8, and in the first list of pewholders in Gloria Dei Church in 1705, and among contributors to the salaries of the Swedish clergy at sundry times. He subscribed to the erection of the present Church edifice [Gloria Dei Church] in 1700, and lived to contribute to the repair of it in 1738, and aided in 1717 in building the parsonage at Passyunk, and was for many years Vestryman and Warden of the Congregation of Wicacoa. He was one of the gentlemen who made the present of American fur to Mr. Secretary Lilljeblad, spoken of in the account of Matthias Keen, and signed the petition, also there referred to, addressed to the General Assembly of the Province on occasion of certain grievances inflicted on the Swedes by the Proprietary Government. After the death of his first wife he married Brigitta (her surname unknown to us), who survived him. His will is dated January 7, 1741-2, and was admitted to probate on the 28th of the same month. Here is a citation for the administration of his estate. He was, without doubt, buried in Gloria Dei Churchyard, although no tombstone marks the position of his grave.