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New Society Governor
Enjoys History

Our new Swedish Colonial Society Governor, Herbert R. Rambo, describes himself as "an interested student" of colonial history in the Delaware River region and specifically the "Ancient Sweeds."

He is descended from the youngest son of Peter Gunnarson Rambo and Brita Mattsdotter. The New Jersey branch of his family begins with John Rambo and Birgitta Cock, daughter of Peter Larsson Cock and Margaret Lom. His Swedish ancestors are numerous and, as a result, he is related to many of the New Sweden families, including Skute, Helm, Springer, Keen, Homan and Mattson. "I can still remember my grandmother describing our Mattson relatives as the holy branch of the family," he said, referring to Mattson girls who married Swedish pastors, including Rev. Andreas Rudman, Rev. Andreas Sandel and Rev. Peter Tranberg.

"I was introduced to the Colonial Swede heritage at an early age, perhaps at seven or eight years. I recall when a section of Aramingo Avenue in Philadelphia collapsed, swallowing a bus and revealing a long forgotten stream named Gunnar's Run. The TV news reported that it had been named for Gunnar Rambo, an early colonist," he said.

"The stories that I heard from my father and grandmother at times seemed farfetched. Among other things, I was told that Peter Gunnarson Rambo had greeted William Penn on his arrival; that Peter had also signed treaties with the Indians; and that the Rambo's had their own Rock. I tended to dismiss such notions as being overly enthusiastic

"Time and study would show that there was no exaggeration. I came across a list of the persons selected by their Swedish peers to greet the new Proprietor when he arrived at Upland, now Chester, Pennsylvania. On this list were the names of Peter Rambo and Peter Cock.

"Later while studying at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, I was dumbfounded when I came across a copy of Penn's treaty with the Indians for the purchase of land west of the original city. As witness to Penn's signature, there was the mark of Peter Rambo," he remembered.

"But Rambo Rock eluded me for years. I really thought my father mistakenly was referring to the Rocks at Fort Christina. It was only a few years ago that our Society Historian, Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig, who seems to know just about everything about everybody, asked me if the Rambo Rock was still in existence. It turns out that Peter and Brita Rambo's plantation at Passyunk on the Schuylkill River was known for its Rambo Rock because of the large boulder at the water's edge. Now the site of an oil refinery, the rock is long gone and has been replaced with a wharf for oil barges," he recalled.

Rambo is a career civil servant with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection where he works as contract administrator. During his career he had held positions in administration, planning and public relations. He and his wife Zofia are parents of one son, John Gunnar Rambo, of Washington, D.C.

Our new Governor is also a member of the Delaware Swedish Colonial Society, the Friends of the Swedish Log Cabin, the Friends of the Norsemen,thePennsylvania Heritage Society, the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and the American Swedish Historical Museum. He is Vice-President of the New Sweden Centre, which will soon open its new museum facility at 819 East 7th St., Wilmington, DE. Rambo is also a member of the Mizpah-Haddon Heights Masonic Lodge, the Timen Stiddem Society, the Scandinavian Craft Club of Philadelphia and the Major Peter Jacquett Chapter of the Delaware Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

"I have a particular fondness for the eight "Old Swedes" churches, and I especially enjoy participating in the Patriots' Lucia, hosted annually on December 13th by Christ (Old Swedes') Church in Upper Merion," he said. Rambo is a member of Trinity Episcopal (Old Swedes') Church in Swedesboro, New Jersey where his family was among the founders. "We will observe the 300th anniversary of Trinity Church in 2003."

"I promise it will be a year of great pageantry in tribute to those who have gone before us as we celebrate our religious mission moving forward into its fourth century," Rambo noted with pride.

"My association with the Swedish Colonial Society is a labor of love. I look forward to fulfilling my duties with enthusiasm," Rambo said.