Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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UNANDER, Eric, clergyman, born in Sweden; died after 1759. He arrived at Philadelphia with Reverend Israel Acrelius, the Swedish-American historian, 6 November, 1749, and took charge of Swedish Lutheran congregations at Racoon and Penn's Neck, in New Jersey, where he labored under Acrelius and afterward as regular pastor until 1756. His parish embraced a wide extent of territory. He conducted services in Swedish and English almost every Sunday, held catechetical examinations once a year in every family that was connected with his extended parish, and visited other Swedish settlements on Delaware bay, at Salem, along Timber creek, and other places. Of his labors Acrelius says: "One who has seen his toil and labor, his zeal and diligence, and thus under long-continued sickness, can safely testify that during the time that Mr. Unander lived in Racoon he did not eat the bread of idleness." When Provost Acrelius returned to Sweden he desired to accompany him, but, as the affairs of the congregations did not allow the loss of two pastors at once, he was willing to remain. He therefore became the successor of Acrelius at Christina in the year 1756, receiving his commission the previous year. He continued as pastor until 1759. The church at Christina, now Wilmington, Delaware, known as "Old Swedes' Church" (see illustration), has an interesting history. In 1638 the first colony of Swedes arrived, settled along Christina creek, and built Fort Christina on the site of the present city of Wilmington. The fort undoubtedly did double service, both as a place of defence and a place of worship. Reverend Reorus Torkillus was the first pastor, who arrived with the first colony. On 28 May, 1698, the erection of a new church was begun at Christina back of the fort In the following year the new church was dedicated under the name of Trinity Lutheran church Reverend Eric Tobias Bjorck was the pastor at the time The historian Acrelius describes the building as follows : " The church is of granite, and is sixty feet long, thirty feet broad, and twenty feet high Tile wall is six feet thick in the foundation and three feet at the windows, as well as above them. In the church there are five large arched windows and three arched doors." The following inscription (in Latin) is found on the west gable : "1698. If God be for us, who can be against us? In the reign of William III., by the grace of God, King of England. William Penn being Proprietary; William [Markham], Deputy-Governor. The most illustrious King of Swedes, CHARLES XI., now of most glorious memory, having sent hither Eric Tobias Bjorck of West-mania, pastor of the place." The ground for the church was given by John Stalcop, who was then one of the church wardens. To this was added an additional purchase of land in 1699 of 250 acres for a parsonage and support of the pastor. The first grant of hind was for a Lutheran church, and the further purchase was made by the Lutheran congregation for their own and descendants' use. The congregation was presided over by Lutheran pastors until the year 1792, when a pastor of the Protestant Episcopal church took charge of the congregation. The church is still in a good state of preservation and is used for divine worship. The town of Wilmington is built on the church-glebe that was once owned by Trinity congregation.
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