For the Lutheran Andersson family, embarking on the insufferable four-month voyage from Sweden to the Delaware River area was no light undertaking. Ships of the 1650’s were cramped, filthy breeding grounds for disease and death; families often lost members and arrived in unanticipated poverty. However, for determined Helen, and her four children, the loss of husband Nils Andersson at sea was a literal groundbreaking start in this tiny 200-member New Sweden colony. Helen didn’t falter as she penned allegiance to Governor Risingh, married Mats Hansson, a prominent freeman, and became the first settlers on Mingua’s Island, with its rich bottomland that welcomed the plow, even as famine stalked the colony. While the males built a log cabin, intrepid Helen and her teenage daughters quickly planted corn and other crops, got deeply involved in church and community, and brought some normalcy to the primitive frontier. Helen shrewedly supported her second husband’s ventures and bore more children, who all prospered and established a strong culture that endured long after the colony passed into history. Helen’s eldest daughter, Anna, also a pioneer, survived Ljusnarsberg as a youth and that harrowing trip across the Atlantic as a teen. Learning from her mother, she helped raise her three younger siblings. Anna married Anders Bonde, taking care of home, farm, and livestock while educating Helen’s grandbabies. Anna lived nearly a full decade after Anders’ passing, involved in the community and Lutheran church activities and helping her own grandchildren grasp the reed of opportunity.
American Pioneer Chronicles:
Colonial Women: the heart, sweat, soul—the foundation of our Nation
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