The Township Of Tinicum.
low, narrow, marshy strip of land lying nearly in the middle of the river, extending almost the entire length of Tinicum Island proper, which is known as Little Tinicum Island. At its broadest part Tinicum is about a mile and a half in width, and its circumference is in the neighborhood of nine miles. It contains two thousand seven hundred and fifty acres, two thousand of which are marsh or meadow land, the average level of the ground being four feet below high water-mark. Originally Big Tinicum Island consisted of but five hundred acres, the remainder of the land having been reclaimed from the water by the construction of banks or dikes.
From a description of Tinicum in 1679-80 we learn that then it was about two miles long, or a "little more than a mile and a half wide .... The southwest point, which only has been and is still cultivated, is barren, scraggy, and sandy, growing plenty of wild onions, a weed not easily eradicated. On this point three or four houses are standing, built by the Swedes, a little Lutheran Church made of logs, and the remains of the large block-house, which served them in place of a fortress, and the ruins of some log huts. This is the whole of the manor. The best and pleasantest quality it has is the prospect, which is very agreeable."1 The Indian name of this island was Tanakon, Tutacaenung, and Teniko, which, after the Swedes settled there, was changed to Nya Gotheberg,2 and subsequently termed by the Dutch the Island of Kattenberg,3 while the English changed the Indian name Tennakong, as it is more usually written, to Tinicum.
1 Journal of a Voyage to New York in 1679-80; Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society, vol. i. p. 177.|
2 Acrelius, "History of New Sweden," p. 69.
3 Penna. Archives, 2d series, vol. vii. p. 496.
The first settlement of Europeans in Pennsylvania of which authentic records exist was made on the island of Tinicum by the Swedish Governor, John Printz, subsequent to Feb. 15. 1643, in exercising the discretion reposed in him by the home government as to the site of his residence. "The convenient situation of the place," we are told by Acrelius, "suggested its selection."4 Professor Keen declares that "the encroachments of the neighboring Dutch, and the recent repairs of their little Fort Nassau, determined the new Governor to remove to the more commanding post of Tutæaenugh, or Tinicum."5 Certain it is, that shortly after Printz reached the province he changed the location of the capital, removing to Tinicum, where he erected a "new fort provided with considerable armament," which he named Nya Gotheborg, and also caused to be built a mansion for his own residence, surrounded by "a fine orchard, a pleasant house, and other conveniences," to which he gave the name of Printzhof.6 At the same place also "the principal inhabitants had their dwellings and plantations," but at the conclusion of the year 1645 the settlement in that vicinity was small, and the dwellings few, for Hudde reports that "there are some plantations which are continued nearly a mile, but few houses only at considerable distance one from the other, the farthest is not far from Tinnekonk, which is an island, and is toward the river side secured by creeks and underwood."7 The fort was simply a block-house, for Andrias Hudde describing it states "that it is a pretty strong fort, constructed by laying very heavy hemlock (greenen) logs the one on the other."8 In less than two years after it was erected it was totally destroyed by fire. On Nov. 25, 1645, Swan Wass, a gunner, between ten and eleven o'clock, set the fort on fire, and in a short time all was burned, nothing being saved except the dairy.9 Vincent says "that the conflagration was occasioned by the neglect of Swen Wass, who had fallen asleep, and a candle which he had left burning set fire to the structure."10 Printz, however, treated the act as a criminal one. Hence in his report he spoke of Swen Wass as "the above-mentioned incendiary," and informed the home government that he had caused the man to be tried, that he had been convicted and sentenced, and he had sent him to Sweden, in irons, that the sentence might be executed." The destruction of the fort was a severe ordeal for the colonists, for winter had set in bitterly cold, the river and creeks were frozen, and, as New Gottenberg was on an island, no one could get to it; and as Printz reports, "the sharpness of winter lasted until the middle of March; so that, if some rye and corn had not been unthreshed, I myself, and the people with me on the island, would have starved to death. But God maintained us with that small quantity of provisions until the new harvest." Here also Printz had "a commodious church built," a small log structure. which the Governor reported he had adorned and decorated "according to our Swedish fashion, so far as our limited resources and means would allow," which sanctuary was appropriately consecrated "for divine services" by Rev. John Campanius on the 4th of September, 1646. A burial-place was also laid out, and Campanius records that "the first corpse that was buried there was that of Catherine, the daughter of Andrew Hanson. She was buried on the 28th of October, in the said year, being the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude."11
4 History of New Sweden, p. 42.|
5 Penna. Mag. of Hist., vol. ii. p. 327.
6 Campanius, p. 79.
7 Penna. Archives, 2d series, vol. v. p. 104.
9 Report of Governor Printz for 1647, Mag. of Hist., vol. vii. p. 273.
10 History of Delaware, p. 196; Hazard's Annals, p. 84; Massachusetts Historical Collections, vol. vi. (N. S.) p. 434; Winthrop, vol. ii. p. 254.
11 Campanius' "New Sweden," pp. 79, 80.
As with all European colonists, the impression prevailed among the Swedes that precious metals would be found in the New World. Hence, in his report for 1647, Governor Printz says, "Mines of silver and gold may possibly be discovered, but nobody here