Established in 1703 by the Swedish Lutheran Church an affiliation with the newly formed American Episcopal church began in 1789 as Trinity Episcopal “Old Swedes” Church. The pastor at the time, The Rev. John Croes, later became the first Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey.
An original log cabin dating from the 1640s, one of the very oldest in the United States, is in the churchyard. Records indicate that it was used extensively as a stop on the Underground Rail Road. It replaced an earlier 1703 log church, which was in a state of disrepair, in part due to its occupation by soldiers during the Revolutionary War.
Its minister during the war was Reverend Nicholas Collin, who had been born in Sweden. Collin began preaching here on June 3, 1770. Reverend Collin kept a journal which was published in 1936. His journal is filled with interesting details about the effect of the Revolutionary War on himself, his church, and the citizens of Swedesboro. Collin was allowed to remain in Swedesboro when he took an oath of allegiance to the United States “with explicit reservation to remain neutral and to do nothing which would be unworthy of me as a Swedish subject, and in case anything like that should be demanded of me I should be permitted to leave the place unhindered.”
British troops took possession of the nearby section of the Delaware River in September of 1777, and that “from that time on, there was a constant alarm by straying parties and the militia marching to and fro; Divine services were often interrupted on account of it.” The following month the Battle of Red Bank occurred about 12 miles from here at Fort Mercer, and the next day Collin went along with many people of Swedesboro to see the Battlefield.
The current Colonial church with box pews and Palladian windows was built by the local clergy and parishioners in 1784. The beautiful grounds and peacefully shaded cemeteries date back to the mid-1600s. The new cemetery, founded in 1829, is the burial site for Gov. Charles C. Stratton, the first freely elected governor in the State of New Jersey and Brigadier Gen. and Medal of Honor Recipient Louis Henry Carpenter, Commander of the Buffalo Soldiers, 10th U.S. Cavalry.