During the 19th century, Philadelphia’s waterfront was lined with wharves which were operated by numerous shipping lines. Smaller vessels designed for domestic use, called packet boats, carried mail, packages, and a limited number of passengers to major cities across the Eastern seaboard. Morris Sheer, a parishioner at Gloria Dei, was one of the first captains of the line of packets that ran between Philadelphia and Charleston.
After over three hundred years of continuous use, the churchyard at Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church was in desperate need of repair and restoration. Trees and shrubs had overrun the burial ground and needed pruning and thinning. Gravestones were badly broken, headpieces were missing or had sunken into the ground. Family tombs had been sealed for decades and were in danger of collapsing.
Andrew Bankson (1705-1786) was a Swedish shopkeeper who owned approximately 35 acres of marsh “lying adjacent to Weccacoe and Moyamensing lands” from 1751 to 1770. This plot of land was a portion of a larger plantation that had been granted to Bankson’s grandfather, Anders Bengtsson, by William Penn in 1682. While conducting research on the Bankson family, I discovered this interesting series of newspaper articles published in the “Pennsylvania Gazette” which tell the story of a public scandal involving Andrew Bankson and the Swedish Church in Philadelphia in 1767. All of these articles are available to read at GenealogyBank, a resource that I have found to be extremely valuable while learning about Philadelphia’s history.