Matthias Steelman (c1723-1793): Working Immigrant Ancestor Down to Possible Parents: Part 1: Olof Persson Stille

Matthias Steelman (c1723-1793), one of my husband’s 6X great grandfathers, is an interesting conundrum for a couple of reasons.

First, Steelman is a unique “created” surname, which originated with the children of Ella Stille, daughter of today’s subject, Olof Persson Stille, and her second husband, Hans Mansson.

Stille + man = Stehlman or Steelman

Second, the colonial beginnings of this family have been well documented by Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig, who is a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists (FASG).

Third, even with decades of research, no one has been able to make the parental connection to Matthias Steelman with any documentation.

Olof Stille was born in Roslagen, just north of Stockholm, Sweden on the island of Solo, probably around 1610, the son of Per Stille.

The family moved to another nearby island, Humblo, in 1627, when Olof’s father retired. It is said that Olof married on Humblo and began to raise his family with his wife.

The Steelman Family website has a detailed account of Olof’s life and, suffice it to say, it had a few scrapes with both neighbors and the law.

By early 1638, Olof had pushed the patience of local officials too far and was sentenced first to die by the sword, but appealed to a heavy fine.

Three years later, Olof Stille, wife, two children, his brother and several other relatives are found on the passenger list of the Charitas, sailing from Stockholm on 3 May 1641 and arriving in New Sweden on 7 November 1641.

New Sweden was a small geographical area along part of the Delaware River that extended from the northern tip of Delaware into parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Stille family and extended relatives settled between today’s
Crum Creek and Ridley Creek in New Sweden, which the Indians called Techoherassi.

Olof was a mill maker by occupation and probably built the first Swedish grist mill on today’s Cobbs Creek.

it seems a secondary occupation for Olof was rabble rouser, as he became a political leader in New Sweden, upsetting some authorities, just as he had in old Sweden.

However, Olof was well respected by his fellow countrymen in New Sweden, as he became chief justice of the first New Sweden court, formed in 1656, and serving for eight years.

Many of the cases involved disputes between the Swedish settlers and the nearby Dutch.

Olof Stille died c1684, in Moyamensing (South Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, survived by four children. His wife, for whom I have no record and thus don’t want to assign her an undocumented given name, predeceased him.


1. Ella, born c1634, Roslagen, Sweden; married (1) Peter Jochimsson, c1651 (2) Hans Mansson. She had children by both marriages.

2. Anders, born c1640, Roslagen, Sweden; married Annetje Pieters, by 1671, New Castle County, Delaware

3, Christina, born c1643, New Sweden; married Marten Roosemond, a Dutchman,  as his second wife. It is unknown whether she had any children.

4. Johan, born c1646, New Sweden; died 1722, Moyamensing, Pennsylvania; married Gertrude Gerritsen, daughter of Marten Gerritsen and Christina Lom of New Castle County, Delaware, c1683. The Lom family had sailed with the Stilles on the Charitas in 1641.

Next up is the story of the creation of the Steelman surname by the children of Ella Stille Mansson.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.