Israel Helm

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Israel Helm (1630-1701/2) was a colonist and soldier in New Sweden in North America.


He was born as Israel Åkesson, and later adopted the surname Helm. He came to New Sweden with his father, Åke Israelsson, in 1641. His father died during the trip, and he probably became a ward of Governor Printz when he arrived at New Sweden in 1643. He became a soldier in 1648, and accompanied Printz back to Sweden in this capacity in 1653.

Åkesson returned to New Sweden two years later and probably settled on Tinicum Island. The island was sold to Joost de la Grange in 1662, whom Åkesson accompanied back to Sweden where he recruited 32 settlers among the Swedes in Finland and returned with them to the Dutch colony at Amsterdam in the New World, in 1663. As a reward, he received from the Dutch governor a monopoly on the fur trade in Pennsylvania and was entitled to become a justice on the Swedes' Upland court where he served until 1681. By this time, his military rank had risen to captain, and he had adopted the surname Helm in place of Åkesson.

In his trading with the local American Indians, he learned their language, and was frequently employed as an interpreter. He acted as such in 1675 at the conference between Gov. Edmund Andros, the magistrates of New Castle, Delaware, and the Indian sachem of New Jersey, when their treaty of peace was renewed.

In 1677, he was living in Gloucester County, New Jersey, where he remained for the rest of his life. His remains were buried with his wife's in the Old Swedish Cemetery on Tinicum Island.