Ministers in the Crane Hook Church

Jacob Fabritius

From Alf Aberg "The People of New Sweden" 1988

After the English takeover in 1674, the Swedes continued to attend their churches in Tinicum and Christina and then in 1667 at Crane Hook. Two years later a fourth church was established in a log building at Wicaco above the Schuylkill by the river where many Swedes lived.

"Churches proved to be easier to come by than clergy. Reverend Lock, it is true, preached alternately in four churches, but eventually he became so feeble that the parish had to find an assistant. The newcomer was a Dutchman, Jacob Fabritius, from the Lutheran Church in New York. Fabritius was always in disagreement with his wife and his parishioners, and therefore glad of the opportunity to move to Delaware. He preached his first sermon in Wicaco on Trinity Sunday 1677. It was in Dutch, a language which all the Swedes evidently understood. Five years later Fabritius had the misfortune to go blind, but he continued to discharge his duties until his death nine years later. He lived further up the river, traveling every Sunday in a dugout canoe to Wicaco. Sometimes he continued 120 [actually, about 25 mi] km. downriver to the church at Crane Hook. He made his way to the church by holding onto a stick held out by his escort. From this, says Israel Acrelius, we can infer that, although for a long time the parish had two priests, 'there were nearly none'".

From "A History of New Sweden" by Israel Acrelius, Rector of Old Swedes Church, Wilmington, 1759. Translated by W. Reynolds, 1874 p176

His fellow-laborer was the Rev. Jacob Fabritius, by birth, a German, or, as some have thought, a Pole. He was called from New York, where he was without any assured position. He preached mostly in Dutch, but so far mastered the Swedish language that he could intelligibly hold service in it. His first sermon was delivered at Wicacoa on Trinity Sunday of the year 1677. Five years afterwards he had the misfortune to become blind, and continued so until the time of his death, which was nine years later. Nevertheless he watched over his congregations according to his ability. He resided above Philadelphia, in the place called Kensington, and by the aid of a canoe went to Wicacoa, yea, even down to Tranhook Church, about four Swedish miles [26 English miles], in the same manner, and what is more also down into Maryland. When he walked, he was led by some one who went before him with a staff: From this it may be concluded that although there were two ministers in the churches, yet their infirmities made them hardly equal to one.