Tag Archives: Steelman

Mathias Steelman (c1723-1793): Working Immigrant Ancestor Down to Possible Parents: Part 3: Candidate for Father

It has been seen in the previous Steelman posts in this series that Ella Stille Mansson had about sixteen grandsons. “About” is certainly an indefinite term since the father of Matthias Steelman could be among the unknowns and a man who left little in the way of a paper trail.

However, since Mathias Steelman is first found in Kent County, Delaware, it makes sense that he might be closely related to the other Steelmans in Delaware – namely Charles Steelman who died in 1708 in New Jersey and his widow,  one son and two daughters.

Charles’s survivors left New Jersey and settled in New Castle County, which happens to share its southern boundary with the northern border of Kent County.

There are two issues with this theory, though. First, the other Steelmans lived in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Gloucester and Burlington Counties, New Jersey.

With land becoming more scarce and costly, it isn’t unreasonable to think that Mathias Steelman might have migrated from either of those colonies to Delaware.

As a quick recap, Ella Stille and Hans Mansson had five sons who might be the line to Mathias Steelman:

  1. John who married Maria Stalcop – 2 sons, maybe more children
  2. James who married Susannah Toy – 6 sons
  3. Peter who married Gertrude Keen – at least 4 sons
  4. Christiern who married Mary Cann. No known children.
  5. Charles who married Anna Nilsson – 1 son; their one son, Charles Jr., reportedly married once in 1737, so he couldn’t be the father of Mathias.
  6. Eric who married Brigitta (MNU) – As Eric was born in 1681 and had two known sons – Hans and James – it is unlikely that this line is Mathias’s. Hans and James would be too young to have a son born c1722/23.

Of the three remaining sons, I think there is one who is most likely to be the ancestor of Mathias and that is Peter Steelman.

Peter Steelman and Gertrude Keen married c1693, probably near Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey. They are said to have had four sons among their five children:

Peter Jr., born c1693 and died in 1720, apparently unmarried, Charles, born c1697 and died in 1779 leaving a will (no mention of a son Mathias),
John, born c1700 and died 1764 or later
Mathias, born c1705 and died 1772 leaving a will (no mention of Mathias of North Carolina)

There is one important detail about the Keen family that drew me to Peter Steelman. Gertrude Keen had several brothers, one of whom was named Mathias. This branch of the family is the only one where I have come across the given name of Mathias.

Yes, it is a common Swedish name, but most family names of that era were given to children to honor or remember another family member with the same name.

Now of these sons of Peter and Gertrude (Keen) Steelman, Peter Jr.’s early death in 1720, apparently unmarried, closes him off as a line to Mathias of North Carolina.

Peter’s sons Charles and Mathias both left wills with neither mentioning a son Mathias living in North Carolina.

That leaves one known son, whose descendants are unaccounted for – John, born c1700 and who reportedly died in 1764. Other than these unverified dates, there seems to be little information to be found about him.

Now, let’s look at the names of Mathias’s and Ruth’s children, particularly their sons, named in his 1793 will in Surry County, North Carolina – Selah Cain, William Steelman, John Steelman, Charles Steelman, Rachel Creson, Ruth Speer, James Steelman, George Steelman, (Mathias Steelman died 1782 and his father administrated his estate)and Elizabeth Speer, based on the order named in their father’s will.

William is not a name found among any of the early Steelmans, so he may have been named for someone in his mother Ruth’s family. He has been identified as Mathias’s and Ruth’s oldest son.

In birth order, the next son is John. Could that be because Mathias named his second son after his father? It’s a definite possibility.

Next comes the million dollar question – what records might document the life and family of John Steelman?

First, the diary of Swedish Pastor Andreas Sandel includes multiple mentions of Peter Steelman and his family. Some of the later entries are more pertinent to this research question.

In 1720, there are two entries –

January 5: Death of Peter Steehlman, son of Peter Steehlman
April 19:  Raccoon Creek Swedish Church, donation book:

Hans Steehlman – 1 shilling for Bible
Olof Steehlman – 3 shillings for Psalm Book
Peter Steehlman – Bible & Psalm Book, 1 shilling each

1720: List of those who subscribed for the purchase of the parsonage in Pilesgrave and gave them bonds:^^

Hans Steehlman, Junior 0.6.0
Eric Steehlman 1.0.0
Peter Steehlman 1.0.0
Hans Steehlman 1.0.0 (Senior?)

The fact that Peter Steelman is recorded in the congregation of Raccoon Creek Swedish Church is extremely important because Great Egg Harbor is on the eastern side of New Jersey, while Raccoon Creek Church is in Swedesboro, 60 miles northwest of Great Egg Harbor.

Swedesboro is almost on the Delaware River and is but a stone’s throw from New Castle County, Delaware.

Notice, also, in the church notes that two Hans Steelmans are listed – one identified as Junior, which by deduction means the other is Senior.

Johan, Johannes and Hans are all variations of the given name John and one of these men, probably Hans Junior who would have been around 21 years old, is the son of Peter and Gertrude.

There is a problem with John, or Hans, Steelman, as John who married Maria Stalcop also named a son John Jr., born c1697 and who reportedly died in the 1760s.

The two Hans Steehlmans on the 1720 parsonage list above are likely the two cousins.

However, I am not sure how later records can distinguish between them since I haven’t found them in land, tax or probate records.

Unfortunately, New Jersey and Delaware records are mostly locked on FamilySearch and I think I will likely need the expanded resources found in books in the Family History Library.

In spite of these limitations, my current belief is that Mathias Steelman of Surry County, North Carolina may well have been the son of John Steelman and grandson of Peter Steelman and Gertrude Keen.




Matthias Steelman (c1723-1793): Working Immigrant Ancestor Down to Possible Parents: Part 2: Ella (Stille) (Jochim) Mansson

Yesterday, we looked at the life and family of Olof Stille of Roslegen, Sweden, born c1610 and who died around 1684.

His grandchildren, the children of his daughter Ella, were the generation responsible for the creation of the Steelman surname.

Ella Stille was born c1634, Roslagen, Sweden. She married (1) Peter Jochimsson, c1651, although he was about 12 years old than she was.

He died while on a trip to New Amsterdam (New York) in 1654, leaving young widow Ella and two children. Peter Petersson Yocum was born c1652 and daughter Elisabeth Petersdotter was born in 1654. Therefore, sadly, neither child had any memories of their father.

Ella soon married (2) Hans Mansson, with whom she had six sons. They originally used the patronymic surname of Hansson, but eventually adopted the surname of Steelman.

Hans Mansson seems to have had some of the same rabble rousing traits as his father-in-law.

In the summer of 1640, Hans Mansson. born c1612, from Hanaskede, Skaraborg (about 135 miles northwest of Stockholm), Sweden, was convicted of ruining “six of the best apple trees and two of the best cherry trees in order to obtain material for some mane combs,” which was a capital offense. He was given a choice of death by hanging or leaving Sweden, which he did, also sailing on the 1641 Charitas voyage to New Sweden.

If he was previously married, nothing is known of his wife or possible children.

Like Olof Stille, Hans Mansson became a well-respected citizen first of New Sweden and later, in the 1670s, on Pennsauken Creek in Burlington County, New Jersey.

Hans Mansson died at Senamensing, Burlington County, New Jersey about 1691. In 1692,  “Widow Hance” was instead listed on the tax roll.

By 1693, Ella Mansson and her six sons began using the Steelman surname. If Ella had any surviving daughters, nothing is known of them.

Ella (Stille) (Jochim) Mansson-Steelman outlived both her husbands and was buried in Gloucester County, New Jersey on 22 January 1718, just a few years before Matthias Steelman was born.

Children of Ella and  Hans Mansson:

  1. John, born c1655; married Maria Stalcop, daughter of John Andersson Stalcop. He removed to New Castle County by 1687, then to Cecil County, Maryland by 1693 and finally to what is today Adams County, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1749. John became an Indian trader and had at least two sons.
  2. Jons (James), born c1660; died 1734, Great Egg Harbor, Atlantic, New Jersey; married Susannah Toy, before 1690. James was survived by six sons and two daughters.
  3. Christiern, born c1670; died after 1737, probably New Castle County, Delaware; married Mary Cann, by 1708. She was a Quaker and the widow of James Claypoole. It is unknown whether he had any children.
  4. Peter, born c1674; died after 1737, probably Atlantic County, New Jersey; married Gertrude Keen, daughter of Hans Keen, c1695. He had five sons and two daughters.
  5. Charles, born c1679; died 1708, Senamensing, Burlington, New Jersey; married Anna Nilsson, daughter of Anthony Nilsson, c1701. He had one son and two daughters. This family removed to New Castle County, Delaware after his death.
  6. Eric, born c1681; died 1731, of smallpox, Gloucester County, New Jersey; married Brigitta (MNU). He had two sons and four daughters.

Can any of the sons of Ella Steelman be eliminated as the grandfather of Matthias Steelman? Nope, not a single one!

Next, we’ll take a look at whatever records can be found to document the names and wherabouts of the sixteen Steelman grandsons of Ella.

In spite of the work of Peter Stebbins Craig, online trees for these six children of Hans and Ella (Stille) Mansson Steelman are a hot mess.

It will take some digging to identify her sixteen grandchildren with any certainty and, from there, try to determine possible fathers for Matthias Steelman, c1723-1793, of New Castle County, Delaware and Surry County, North Carolina.

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.