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#1 May-28-2017 11:16:am

memsuxwet
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Registered: Jun-19-2016
Posts: 13

Coleman / Friend Family of New Sweden

Hello,

I've read a lot of the in-depth research that's been done here in verifying or rejecting claims to Native American heritage. So, I was wondering what your opinions are on the supposed Lenape connection in the Friend / Coleman families. From what I can tell, if originates from speculation and a family story published in the 1900s referring to "Indian blood." I can find no concrete evidence either way. Here's what I have found thus far:

Hendrik Andersson Coleman (a.k.a. Henry the Finn)
b. abt. 1630 in the Kingdom of Sweden

1654 - arrived in Upland with brother Lars on the "Ömen"
1669 - arrest warrant issued for his participation the the Finns' Rebellion; he was quoted as being "well-versed in the Indian language," supposedly having fled to "live among the Indians" and having abandoned his farm and livestock, fearing his punishment.
1671 - census for Hendrik Andersson Coleman at Carkoen's Hook (disputed as to whether this is the same person)
1675 - he paid the fine for his participation in the Finns' Rebellion (after brother died and he inherited his estate)
1676 - land surveyed in Darby Township (same person?)
1679 - sold land in Darby Township (same person?)
1680 - census for Henry Coleman in Jone's Hook, Delaware (same person?)
1693 - census of Swedes on the Delaware

His wife was Anna (or Annika, etc.). She was recorded as still alive in 1703, but a maiden name is never recorded. Some people claim she was Lenape and that Henry Coleman married her while living "among the Indians" while he was evading arrest from 1669-1675. They had one child - Anna Hendriksdotter Coleman, no other known children.

(The co-conspirator in the Finns' Rebellion was captured, tried, and sent to Barbados into slavery. Some say this harsh punishment was fear enough for him to give up his old life and start a new one among the Lenape. If this were the case, it would be imaginable that he might marry and start a family).

The daughter, Anna Coleman (b. abt 1670?), went on to marry John Friend (b. 1666-1670?), son of Nils Larsson Vrände (b. abt 1619 in Sweden). His story goes that the local Lenape gave him the name "Vrände" (meaning male kinsman in Swedish) due to his close relationship with them. He also spoke Lenape, it is said. After the fall of the Swedish colony to the British, the name was anglicized as Friend.

One of their descendants founded Friendsville in Maryland. It has been claimed that both he and his wife (Karenhappuck Wyatt) had Native American ancestry which "protected" them from the local Natives' hostility. (His wife has seen since been disproven has having had Native American heritage). They were supposedly the first white settlers there (a statement contradicting itself, if true).

By the mid 1700s, the family has spread out along the frontier in West Virginia, western (and some in eastern) Pennsylvania, and Maryland. During the Pontiac's War in the 1760s, the family was spared any loss of life at their farm in Bedford County, Penn. (Friends Cove) - some may speculate this is due to their supposed heritage. Around the 1810s, large parts of the family migrated to Ohio.

For a very long time (until just a few decades ago), the official family history denied that the family was Swedish, and instead insisted that the progenitor of the family name was an Englishman by the name of Nicholas Friend who was shipwrecked off the East Coast. His widow, Anna Coleman Friend, then married the Swede, Nils Larsson. It has since been proven that no such English Nicholas Friend ever existed. It is speculated that the family concocted the story of being English to prevent persecution under the British, particularly due to the family's involvement in the Finns' Rebellion. No documentary evidence has ever been found for the English Friend connection.

Evelyn Guard Olsen has been credited with published a book that speculates Lenape heritage due to the circumstances listed above. She lists both Karrenhappuck and Anna Coleman has having had Native American heritage. I can find no other source that suggests Anna Coleman had any Native blood.

A quick Internet search will reveal all sorts of stories, blogs, family trees, etc. that talk about Anna Coleman's mother, listed as "Bright Lightning." However, I cannot find a single source for the origin of the name. Evelyn Guard Olsen's book does not mention it at all. The only "source" (if you wish to call it that) are Don Greene's books "Shawnee Heritage." However, he lists no sources for his information stating that this family has Native American heritage. Additionally, a quick search for information on the author shows that he is largely considered a fraud.

Which brings us back to square one. All that I can find out for sure was that Henry Coleman lived among the Lenape for several years and spoke the language. Subsequent generations of the family appeared to maintain friendly, or at least not hostile, relations with other Native Americans. His daughter, Anna Coleman, married the son of another proficient Lenape-speaker. There is no record of Henry Coleman's marriage (not unusual, of course, for the time period - very few marriage records survive), nor of his wife's maiden name. Peter Stebbins Craig (an academic on the subject of Sweden's North American colonies) does not believe Anna was Native American. He supports his claim based on speculative and circumstantial evidence (as do those that suppose she was Lenape) that there is no record of a Lenape-European marriage and that it would fundamentally be considered a Cardinal Sin for the Swedes and Finns in the area. (For a man living among the Lenape for fear of enslavement by the British - would a Cardinal Sin be that relevant?)

I am not expert in any of these fields. To me, it seems like there is only speculative and circumstantial evidence to suggest she may have been Lenape, but nothing even remotely concrete. Likewise, there is no evidence to the contrary. In fact, the family had already conceived a story to hide their Swedish origins by claiming to be English - muddying the waters further.

I'm keen to hear what you think. Is there any merit to the possibility that the Coleman / Friend families could have Lenape heritage? Or is it more likely just family lore that has spun out of control with the Internet quoting Evelyn Guard Olsen's book and Don Greene's unsourced works?

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#2 May-28-2017 01:14:pm

sschkaak
Moderator
Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 3975
Website

Re: Coleman / Friend Family of New Sweden

It's another family story like so many we've seen, here.  Concrete evidence to support it is non-existent.  If you can find a descendant of Anna Hendriksdotter Coleman, ON THE DIRECT FEMALE LINE (i.e., her daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter or son [or however many generations it takes to get to today], then a mitochondrial DNA test would prove whether or not Anna Hendriksdotter Coleman's mother, Anna or Annika, was an Indian--providing, of course, that Anna's or Annika's own mother--and all females in her direct maternal ancestry--were Indians.  Otherwise, this is just hearsay evidence, which is worthless--except as a catalyst to search for acceptable evidence.

The purported Indian ancestor is much too far back in time for an autosomal DNA test to provide proof.

Last edited by sschkaak (May-28-2017 01:16:pm)

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#3 May-28-2017 11:22:pm

memsuxwet
Visitor
Registered: Jun-19-2016
Posts: 13

Re: Coleman / Friend Family of New Sweden

Okay, as I suspected. Any thoughts on the possibility of Lenape-European marriages for the time period and place?

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#4 May-29-2017 07:36:am

sschkaak
Moderator
Registered: Sep-17-2007
Posts: 3975
Website

Re: Coleman / Friend Family of New Sweden

memsuxwet wrote:

Okay, as I suspected. Any thoughts on the possibility of Lenape-European marriages for the time period and place?

I suppose it's "possible."

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#5 Jun-14-2017 04:44:pm

memsuxwet
Visitor
Registered: Jun-19-2016
Posts: 13

Re: Coleman / Friend Family of New Sweden

Thanks for the comments. I'll see if I can track down an appropriate descendant to test.

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