Swedish town celebrates Bronx connection

Swedish town celebrates Bronx connection
Roy Gustafsson, the founder of the Jonas Bronck Center and Brian Andersson, a founding director, holding the flag of the Bronx in front of Norra Ljunga, the church in Sävsjö, Sweden where Jonas Bronck was baptized in 1600. The church was built around 1100.
Photo courtesy of Brian Andersson

The hometown of the borough’s first settler welcomed back Bronk’s and Bronxites alike.

The new Jonas Bronck Center in Sweden, celebrated the 375th anniversary of Bronck’s arrival in the Bronx on Saturday, August 23.

The celebrations took place in Sävsjö, Sweden, the municipality that includes Komstad, the village where Jonas Bronck was born around 1600.

They were attended by Lenny Caro, Bronx Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, Brian G. Andersson, founding director of the Jonas Bronck Center, and Steve Nallen, president of the Jonas Bronck Beer company, in addition to a number of Swedish elected officials and descendents of Jonas Bronck’s family.

Family members included Jonas Bronk, currently of Los Angeles, whose children would be the 11th generation descended from Pieter Bronck, Jonas Bronck’s nephew or cousin.

For years, it was thought that Bronck was Danish, but around 1980 historians discovered that those claims were false and he was actually born in Sweden, said Andersson, a Bronxite of Swedish descent and former Commissioner for the NYC Department of Records.

Since then, Andersson has been spreading the knowledge of Bronck’s Swedish roots until it caught the attention of the right people who had the ambition to create the Jonas Bronck Center in Sävsjö. August’s celebrations were the culmination of a lot of work, said Andersson, and was one of the largest events the Swedish town had ever hosted.

The celebrations included the presentation of a proclamation from the Bronx Borough President, the unveiling of a monument to Jonas Bronck, which has a sister stone in Woodlawn, and a seminar about Bronck, among other events.

Local residents welcomed the visitors with open arms, said Caro, and they were honored by the recognition.

“They were proud to know one of their own created our borough of the Bronx,” said Caro.

Andersson said the events created a good opportunity to tell people about the Bronx, past and present.

“The Swedes need to know more about the Bronx, as does everyone else,” he said.

The celebration is just the beginning on an ongoing relationship between the Swedish town and the Bronx, said Andersson, and the Jonas Bronck Center has plans to grow into a cultural center and a place for genealogy research.

“Where Americans can look for Swedish roots and Swedes can look for American cousins,” he said.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwill‌iams@‌cnglo‌cal.com.

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