Vital StatisticsEdit

  • Born: c1618, near the ancient Swedish capital of Kinnekulle, in the Skaraboros district of VasterGotaland, Sweden
  • Married: c.1655, Brita Mansdotter, at Fort Trinity, New Sweden
  • Died: c1682, at Kingsessing, near Philadelphia, PA, at about age 64


Johan used the patronymic "Gustafsson" from which we infer that he was the son of Gustaf. Gustaf's own patronymic is not known, nor do we have any information about the name of Johan's mother. A review of church records near the Kinnekulle, such as those at the village church of Husaby, may reveal additional information.


Johan married Brita Mansdotter (1639-1724) about 1655, probably at Fort Trinity in New Sweden. Brita is believed to be the daughter of Mans Andersson and wife Brita. Mans and Brita came to New Sweden in 1639 aboard the Kalmar Nyckel in the Second Swedish Expedition to New Sweden.

Child ListEdit

Brita bore Johan eleven children between their marriage in 1655 and his death in 1682. Their last child, Anders was born the year before Johann's death, when Brita was 42.

  • Gustaf 1655- 1721 Anna Morton
  • Mans 1658- 1749 Christina Svensson
  • Carl 1660- 1718 Margaret
  • Hans 1662- 1712 Maria Rawson
  • Anna 1666-1740 1) Mattias Morton, 2) Jonas Walraven, 3) Charles Springer
  • Johan 1668-1697 married unknown
  • Peter 1670-1699 Brigitta
  • Jacob 1673-1699 unmarried
  • Elisabeth 1675-1730 1) Mathias Samuelsson Peterson, 2)Edward Robinson
  • Sven 1677-1722 Catherine Yocum
  • Anders 1681-1740 Tied Brita Samuelsdotter Peterson

Variant Spellings of "Gustafsson"Edit

Johann Gustafsson appears in many records of during Swedish, Dutch, and finally, English rule. Given the diversity of languages in use for these records, it is not surprizing that his name was spelled in a number of different ways. Ultimately, his sons abandoning the use of patronymics, adopted the anglicized form of the surname (Justice). The following summarizes some of the spelling variations of his name that appear in the records of the three nationalities that claimed control of the DRV at various times.

  • Sweden 1638-1655
    • 1642 - Johan Göstafsson,
    • 1644 - Johan Gustaffzon,
    • 1648 - Jan Gustafson
    • 1654 - Johan Gustaffson
    • 1655 - Johan Giöstason
    • 1655 - Johan Giöstaphs
  • Netherlands 1609-1667
    • 1655 - Jan Justen
  • England 1667 on
    • 1669 - John Eustace
    • 1677 - Jan Justa
    • 1682 - John Eustasson

Family HistoryEdit

Early Life, 1618-1655Edit

Johan Gustafsson signed on as a hired soldier on the fourth expedition to New Sweden 1 September 1642, at the rate of 10 florins per month. He is described in the account books as coming from near the Kinnekulle, a large fir covered hill or ridge along the southern border of Lake Vädern. It seems likely that Johan came from one of the small villages the lie near the Kinneculle. His father’s first name was presumably Gustaf, based on Johann’s patronymic of “Gustafsson” (“Gustaf’s son”), but nothing further of his lineage is known. We guess that he must have been about 20 years of age at this time, and so would have been born c. 1622.

Johan sailed to New Sweden on the Swan under the command the newly appointed governor, Johan Printz. The expedition, sailed from Gottenburg sometime in late spring or early summer, and arrived in the Delaware in late summer or early fall of 1643. Johan was assigned to the garrison of the newly constructed Ft. Elsfborg, on the eastern bank of the Delaware. He probably remained there, living a soldiers garrison life, until about 1653. He is identified in the records of New Sweden as a “gunner” , or beginning about 1654, as “constapel”. Constapel is probably best translated as corporal, but is sometimes associated with the term wapensmid (“weapons smith”) , and seems to have the connotation of a person who maintains weapons, or, in one definition, a “polisher of swords”, a plausible duty of a ‘corporal' in the mid 17th century.

New Sweden had been established in 1638 in the Delaware River Valley (DRV) in the First Swedish Expedition under Peter Minuit, the former Governor of New Netherlands, but now working for Sweden. Their initial settlement occurred near modern New Castle, where they established Fort Christiana.

The Dutch considered the DRV to be part of their New Netherlands Colony, based on the early explorations of Henry Hudson, and others. They had established a trading post (Fort Nassau) on the eastern shore of the Delaware, across from the location of modern Philadelphia. They did not, however effectively colonized the area, which provided the Swedes with the oppotunity to further their own colonial ambitions, and led to the foundation of New Sweden. In 1651 the Governor of New Netherlands, Peter Studyvesant, moved to reassert Dutch rights in the area, establishing Fort Casimer a few miles below Fort Christiana. In 1654 the Swedes responded by capturing Fort Casimer, renaming it Fort Trinity. Dutch soldiers were expelled and returned to New Amsterdam in the New Netherlands. Dutch settlers, on the otherhand, were allowed to remain in the area after swearing allegiance to Sweden. Among them were Mans Andersson, future fatherinlaw of Johan Gustafsson, and his daughter Brita Mansdotter. Mans was a Swede who had fled to the Dutch due to persecution under Governor Printz, and settled near Fort Casimer shortly after its establishment.

Johan was probably among the Swedish force that captured Fort Casimer in 1654. If so, it was probably his first military action. In any event, he was soon assigned to the newly rechristened Fort Trinity where he is described as a “gunner”. Fort Trinity was to remain in Swedish hands for only a short period. Studevesant responded the following year by sending an overpowering force against Fort Trinity, capturing it in the summer of 1655, and then forcing the capitulation of the Swedish Governor, Johan Risling, two weeks later at Fort Christiana. This left the Dutch in full control of the Delaware, bringing an end to New Sweden. It was during the interlude between the fall of Fort Casimer and the fall of Fort Trinity that Johann met and married Brita Mansdotter.

Christina Kils, 1655-c1669Edit

Even though they had driven Sweden from the Delaware River Valley, the Dutch allowed individual Swedish settlers, as well as some of the Swedish soldiers, to remain if they swore allegiance to the Netherlands. Johan swore his allegiance in late 1655 or early 1656 . He continued on soldiering for awhile, and is recorded as a “Gunner” at Dutch Ft. Casimer as late as January 1656. However, by February of that year records indicate that he was authorized to start a plantation on Christina Kil. That suggests he was a civilian by that date.

And well he might have so chosen. He was now at least 30 years of age, and more like 35. In addition, he had a young wife, and a son, Gustaf, who had been born sometime in 1655. Perhaps it is because of the increasing family responsibilities that he abandoned military service, and took up farming.

The only additional record that we have for this period of their life is in 1658 when “Jan Justen” and others are paid for cutting wood for a Dutch ship. We assume that the family remained on Christina Kils until the English succeeded in expelling the Dutch from the New Netherlands in 1664. Once again, the new governance of the Delaware Valley permited the existing settlers to continue on as before, in this case requiring that they swear allegiance to the English Crown.

Kingsessing, c1669-1682Edit

In 1669, and some 30 years after his arrival in the New World, Johan was granted a 150 acre tract of land in the village of Kingsessing,near modern Philadelphia. It seems likely that this event is related in some way to the fact that the English had taken over from the Dutch two years previously.

Kingsessing was a small village between the Schullykyl River and Cobbs Creek, a few miles south of modern Philadelphia. The name of the village is said to be derived from the Indian name, Chinsessing (a place where there is a meadow). It was probably established shortly after Governor Printz established his based of operations at nearby Tinicum Island. In 1653 Governor Printz wrote that "Fort Vasa, also called Kingsessing, [is] about three English miles up the [Skullykill] river, where 20 freemen live, [cultivating] 20 morgans field [about 40 acres] with cattle and horses.” Another contemporary, Thomas Companius Holm wrote that “It was not properly a fort, but substantial log houses built of good strong hard hickory two stories high.” That probably describes the home that Johan and Brita made for themselves in Kingsessing.

By the time they received the grant at Kingsessing, Johann and Brita had six children. Over the next eleven years they would have five more.Inspection of their dates of birth of their children indicates that Brita bore children with great regularity every two or three years. The absence of substantial gaps in the birth record seems to indicate that no children died in infancy. All known children survived into adulthood.

Their last child, Anders was born in 1681. Johann died shortly thereafter (1682) leaving Brita with seven children under the age of 15. Brita continued to live in the Kingsgessing area, probably until all of her children were grown. In later years she moved in with the family of her daughter Anna (1666-1740), in the New Castle area of Delaware. Brita died in 1724, and is buried in the New Trinity cemetery in New Castle.


Bill 00:37, 29 August 2006 (UTC) Jerry Brimberry


Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.