It’s already August, but what a fun summer Kerstin and I have had. First, we visited places where our great-great-grandmother, Augusta Söderholm, had played as a kid or visited as a young woman, then we spent a night on a steam-engine ship, and then we traveled by both steam ships and steam trains. Back in Stockholm, we visited the city archives to find out more about Augusta’s school in Stockholm. Finally, one of the highlights of the summer was our participation in the activities at Torekällberget, a living-history museum in Södertälje. We now have lots of materials for future blogs!
But right now, I am on a mission to find Augusta’s school friends. I have slowly been going through the correspondence between Augusta and her best friend, Lotten Westman, and trying to put faces to the names mentioned.
”Stockholm 16 April 1846
My own Augusta!
Thank you, thank you, for your latest and, for so long, an anticipated letter which was dearly received.
… Yesterday, I was visiting Mademoiselle Frigel and she always asks about you and she sent you her warmest regards. Adèle Peyron also sent you lots of greetings. Erica Degermann and I are invited to Mademoiselle Frigel on a graduation ball on Tuesday…”
So, who was her friend, Adèle Peyron (or Peijron)?
Her full name was Adèlaide Virginia Peyron and she was born 13 June 1831 in Stockholm – so she was 4 years younger than Augusta. Adèle, Augusta, and 3 other girls all boarded with their teacher, Mrs. Edgren, and her husband in their house on Stora Wattugränd 12 in Stockholm. Kerstin and I visited the place where their house once stood, just behind Klara Church. Now it is an office building clad in steel.
Did the girls share beds? It was very common in the 1800s. It was also a way to keep warm in the winter. I assume they would have become very close, just like sisters.
So what happened to Adèle?
She married chamberlain Gabriel Gerhard Sigge Sparre af Rossvik in 1853 and had 2 sons and 2 daughters. But her life was marred by a tragedy.
”Sad Things Still Happen”
That is the title and the first words of a ballad we sang in Sweden as kids. It tells the sad love story of the nobleman and lieutenant, Sixten Sparre (who was already married and had 2 children), and a famous Danish circus artist, Elvira Madigan. Desperately in love, they decided to run away to Denmark. Having no means to support themselves and no one coming to their rescue, they then planned to commit suicide – a romantic last picnic before Sixten shot Elvira and then himself.
The news were all over the papers in the summer of 1889. And the ballad about Elvira Madigan became famous throughout Sweden through “Skilling Prints” – inexpensive prints of song texts. And 100 years later, the ballad is still famous. Not to mention an award-winning movie made in 1967.
Adèle Peyron and Sixten Sparre
Augusta’s friend, Adèle, was Sixten’s mother.
In 1844, when Adèle and Augusta were both listed as living in the Edgren household, Adèle was only 12 years old. They were learning German and French together, doing their embroideries, and going to children’s balls. She could never have imagined the events that were going to affect her family, nor the shock and sorrow she would experience on receiving the news about her son.
While searching for Adèle, I landed on another blog. The blog is written by Adèle’s great-great-granddaughter, Kathinka Lindhe. She writes about Adèle and about a book she has published. And there is a picture of Adèle! I find it fascinating that we are both blogging about our great-great-grandmothers – who were best friends!