This Southern New Jersey town was settled by a small group of Swedes and Finns in the mid-1600s. Mostly hunters and fishermen, the settlers began farming the area, rich with wood supply and fertile soil, and befriended the Native Leni Lenape as they expanded into New Jersey creeks.
Originally named Raccoon (from the Lenape word “narraticon”), the quiet settlement soon transformed into a town with churches, taverns and shoppes for trade. Under a Lease System, unique to New Jersey, the settlement developed south from Raccoon Creek to the present center of town at Borough Hall on King’s Highway. In 1765, the borough’s name was changed to Swedesboro; it was incorporated in 1903.
Swedesboro houses one of the country’s oldest existing log cabins, the Van Leer/Mortenson Log Cabin. Originally located at Grand Sprute Plantation along Raccoon Creek, the cabin has since been moved to New Sweden Park at the edge of Trinity “Old Swedes” Church Cemetery. The great grandson of the cabin’s original owner, John Morton, became a signer of the Declaration of Independence!
Another historic gem of the Borough, Trinity “Old Swedes” Church is the oldest church in Gloucester County. Founded in 1703, it is the first Swedish Church in the state and the third in the nation. Its cemeteries gave a final resting place to many historical figures, including Dr. Bodo Otto, Jr. (a physician to George Washington’s troops), Eric Mullica (founder of Mullica Hill), and Governor Charles Stratton (the first popularly-elected governor of New Jersey).
Since its founding in 1638, Swedesboro has grown to a community of over 2,500. This historic borough has preserved its past in landmarks and eclectic architecture (complete with four local sites listed on The National and/or State Registers of Historic Places, with two more on the way!), but is also focused on creating a climate of opportunity in the future.
A fresh downtown district is developing, offering a variety of shopping and dining experiences for visitors and residents alike. Just one visit to this Southern New Jersey town will show it is alive with history and authenticity, but also a fresh and lively family fun destination.