Kategoriarkiv: Letters and Diaries

Cecilia’s Album: Charlotte Lindström – A true friend?

One of Cecilia Koch’s friends gave her a card with a cryptic message. Charlotte Lindström had drawn a picture of a blue flower – a Forget-Me-Not – and included the text: pas une véritable amie (not a true friend). It doesn’t make sense to me. Or did she copy the phrase and mistook par for pas? The phrase, par une véritable amie (by a true friend), would make a lot more sense.

We will never know. But if you have any ideas, please let me know.

And we will never know for certain who Charlotte Lindström was. But I have a very good candidate. Lindström is a fairly common name in Sweden and Charlotte (Charlotta) was a very popular name in the mid-1800s. However, social class was also important at the time. Someone who gave Cecilia a card for her memory album would have belonged to the same class – the ones who paid for their daughters to attend private schools.

I scanned church records in Stockholm for candidates and found one that met my criteria. When I realized that she and her family lived in the house next to the family Edgren, whose school Augusta and Cecilia attended, I was pretty certain this was the right girl. And if I am mistaken, this blog will simply be one about an interesting family in Stockholm.

Gustafva Magdalena Sophia Charlotta Lindström

Charlotta Lindström was born in Uppsala on February 5, 1831. When Charlotta was a baby, they moved to Stockholm where her two younger sisters were born: Sophia Jacobina (June 7, 1832) and Hedvig Ottilia (August 5, 1833). Sophia later changed her middle name, Jacobina, to Jacquette. Their father, Jacob Niklas Lindström was a young professor of medicine and physician at the royal court (Swedish: kunglig livmedicus). Their mother was a countess, Magdalena Eleonora Charlotte Wrangel.

It was a young successful family. The godparents listed at the girls’ baptisms all belonged to the aristocracy, which bode well for the girls’ futures.

The Cholera Epidemic of 1834

But being a medical doctor in the 1800s had its risks. And when the cholera epidemic hit Stockholm in 1834, nobody knew what caused cholera and doctors had limited means of treating patients.

On August 25, 1834, Stockholm officially declared a cholera outbreak. It would last until October 12. During these 49 days, the official number of cholera cases was 7,895 and 3,277 died. Charlotta’s father was one of those who succumbed to the disease. He died on September 29, 1834, at the age of 33.

The parents of two other friends of Augusta and Cecilia also died from cholera that fall, Therese Gustafva Aspegrén and Hilda Theophila Lagerheim 


The girls grew up not having known their father. They moved several times within Stockholm and in 1844, they were neighbors with the Edgren family, in a block named Svalan. It is possible that they also attended Edgren’s school. And if they didn’t, they certainly knew the girls who were boarding with the Edgren family, like Augusta.

For a well-connected family, life still went on with balls and visits. Anna-Lisa Geijer, the wife of Erik Gustaf Geijer (professor and chancellor of Uppsala University), mentions Charlotta’s mother in a letter to Malla Silfverstolpe (writer and literary salon hostess). In a letter dated February 1, 1847, she complained about a boring ball she had attended. She was, however, delighted to have run into Charlotte Wrangel (Charlotta’s mother) who, “as always, was well and tastefully dressed”. On her head, Charlotte wore a creation of “black lace and purple flowers that suited her a lot.”

Then tragedy struck again. Charlotta’s mother died from cancer in 1856, at the age of 53. The three girls, who were now 25, 23, and 22 years old, were put under guardianship by the court. The two male guardians were unrelated to the girls: Royal Cabinet Chamberlain Johan Gabriel Eketrä (b. 1808) and Chamberlain Carl Gustaf Leijonhielm (b.1820). They would manage the girls’ finances and their inheritance.

Later years

Of course, the girls could not live by themselves. Someone would have to take them in. Alternatively, a well-educated girl from a respectable family could always take a position as a governess in a family or become a lady’s companion.

According to church records in 1856, the 3 girls moved in with an elderly widower and nobleman, Major Carl Jonas Lagerberg, on his estate Hamrum in Korsberga parish far from Stockholm. How did they know him? Sadly, their time there was short. Major Lagerberg died the following spring and the girls had to move again.

I follow the girls’ moves in and out of parishes across Sweden. In 1857, Sophia moves in with the family Hamilton at Boo castle close to Örebro. And Hedvig moves to Karlskrona. Charlotta seems to end up in Linköping.

Only Hedvig marries – a navy officer (later, Admiral) named Jacob Lagercrantz. They move back to Stockholm and raise 5 children. Charlotta lives with them at the turn of the century. I wish I knew how her life turned out. She died from a stroke on June 26, 1812, in Linköping.

And by the way, Charlotta and my great-grandmother, Anna Hermanna Lindström (b. 1849) were cousins. Their fathers were half-brothers.

Rosalie Roos’ Bathing Costume

Sara and Kerstin enjoying saltwater bathing at Gustafsberg (photo: Nathalie Kereki Bohlin)

A couple of years ago, Kerstin and I made 1840s bathing costumes. At that time, I remembered a description of bathing costumes in an autobiography by a Swedish young woman. She had visited Charleston, South Carolina in 1854 and described them in a letter to her brother.

The other day, I found the book again: Travels in America 1851-1855 by Rosalie Roos (translated and edited by Carl L. Anderson).

Rosalie Roos was born in 1823, so she was 4 years older than Augusta. In 1851, she left Sweden for a teaching position at Limestone Springs Female High School, a boarding school in South Carolina.* She stayed at the school until the beginning of 1853 when she became the governess to two of her students on the Peronneau family plantation, Dungannon.

In the summer of 1854, the family vacationed in Charleston which she described in a letter to her brother Axel:

I have another nice day to tell you about which was spent on Sullivan’s Island, just about the only summer resort which the city people have nearby. At 5 o’clock, good Mrs. Peronneau came to awaken me, and at 7 we were aboard the little steamboat which was to take us to the island.

The Company included Mrs. de Saussure with a couple of children, Clelia, Mary, and I. At the dock on Sullivan’s Island, we were met by old Mr. de Saussure, a little, portly, and prosperous-looking, exceedingly pleasant, and genial old fellow, in whose carriage we went to his residence and were welcomed there by his wife and two daughters. After breakfast, we sat on the piazza and I delighted in seeing and hearing the saltwater waves break against the fine sand of the shore just a few steps away from the house. Later we were invited to go out on ’the beach,’ which at flood tide lies under water. Traveling across the white, fine-grained sand bar was especially pleasant, and we got down from the carriage to gather shells and seaweed which the waves had thrown up on the shore. Back at the house, we were invited to go bathing, which we accepted with pleasure.

”One of the daughters let me borrow a bathing dress consisting of wide unmentionables and a jacket of red flannel, and a kind of coat of the same material to throw over my shoulders when descending into the water. Clelia and Mary received old bathing costumes of lesser elegance, and I assure you it was a droll sight to see us wandering off in this strange attire with old sunbonnets on our heads. In these bathing costumes, the women can quite freely enjoy bathing in the sea without being concerned about onlookers; they are excellent for this purpose, although I should not feel myself inclined to be dressed in this manner or to go bathing with gentlemen, although this is said to be quite usual.”

It was glorious out in the water; it was thoroughly warm so that I did not feel one shiver when the first wave washed over me, and it was with difficulty that we could bring ourselves to leave the salty element after we had been in almost one hour. Later it tasted marvelous to eat watermelons, apples, pineapples, bananas, fresh figs, raisins, and almonds, along with lemonade – doesn’t it make your mouth water?

Some American illustrations of bathing costumes in the 1800s:

Bathing Costume in 1858

Bathing Costumes in 1869

Bathing Dresses in 1868
Bathing at Long Branch, – ”Oh, Ain’t it Cold!” Drawing by Winslow Homer. 1871
Saltwater bathing

*“Originally named the Limestone Springs Female High School, the new institution attracted the daughters of the most influential families of South Carolina, who sought the finest liberal arts education available at that time. On November 6, 1845, a total of 67 young women began their classes at Limestone.” (https://www.limestone.edu/history-of-limestone)

Source: Roos, Rosalie. Travels in America 1851-1855 (Based on Resa till Amerika 1851-1855, Ed. Sigrid Laurell), transl. and ed. Carl L. Andersson. 1982. Southern Illinois Univ. Press.

Featured Image. Saltwater Bathing. 1857. Illustration by Augustus Hoppin (1828-1896).

Cecilia’s Album: Amelie Ahlberg (Tottie) Makes a Drawing of Haddon Hall


Haddon Hall. Drawing by Amelie Ahlberg (Tottie), 1844.


Amelie Ahlberg made a drawing for Cecilia. I have now learned that these pencil drawings were not original creations but copies of prints. Drawing was a subject in Edgren’s school and copying prints might have been part of the curriculum.

I uploaded Amelie’s painting in Google Lens and it was an instant hit. The original print of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, England, was drawn and engraved by Jandes Baylin Allen (1803-1876). The print was published in The Ladies’ Cabinet of Fashion, Music and Romance, Volume V, 1841.

Haddon Hall. Jandes Baylin Allen (1803-1876). Appeared in The Ladies’ Cabinet of Fashion, Music and Romance, Volume V, 1841.

Amelie’s drawing is a fantastic copy of the original. One has to really scrutinize the drawing and the print to find differences (such as Amelie forgetting to draw the birds in the sky). Amelie must have been interested in art at an early age and maybe encouraged to draw. She has a Wikipedia page where she is described as a Swedish drawing artist.

Amelie Ahlberg’s Family

Amalia Lovisa Augusta (Amelie) Ahlberg was born on June 29, 1830. Her father was Johan Daniel Ahlberg, a physician at the royal court (Swedish: kunglig livmedicus) and also the chief medical officer (förste stadsläkare) in Stockholm. Amelie’s mother was Louise Henriette Moll. They had 6 children:

  1. Charlotta Henrietta Bothilda (b. 1828)
  2. Amalia Lovisa Augusta (b. 1830)
  3. Johan Georg Theodor (b. 1832)
  4. Emma Eugenia Matilda (b. 1833)
  5. Adelaide Theresia Paulina (b. 1837)
  6. Henriette Elisabet Pauline Christina (b.1851 – long after her older siblings)
Louise Henriette Ahlberg (in 1838) with her three oldest daughters (in 1852): Charlotte (Lotten), Amelie, and Eugenie. Drawings by Maria Röhl.

In 1845, the family lived at Stora Vattugränd 13 (they were the owners of the house), right across the street from Edgren’s school. One can therefore speculate that at least the 2 oldest girls, Charlotta and Amelie, attended Edgren’s school with Cecilia.  And if they did, did Amelie’s sister Charlotta also provide a greeting for Cecilia?

There is a drawing, similar to Amelie’s, that is signed: Charlotte. It might likely be drawn by Charlotte Ahlberg (so she will get her own blog post).

In 1854, Amelie married Henry Rumsey Tottie, a wholesale merchant who was born in London. His father was also a merchant besides being the Swedish Consul General in London. Amelie and Henry settled in Stockholm and raised 5 sons.

The fact that Amelie has a Wikipedia page and is a documented artist means that she continued to draw throughout her life. The drawing she made for Cecilia when she was 14 years old is, therefore, a real treasure. I wonder if any other drawings by her have survived.

Cecilia’s Album: Lovisa and Eugenia Dethmar

Lovisa (or Louise) Edgren (born Dethmar) was a beloved teacher. Unfortunately, there is not a single portrait of her. When the family Edgren’s private school for girls closed in 1844, the students kept in touch with each other and with their former teacher through letters, reminiscing about this wonderful time in their lives.

Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, 18 December 1845.

“Lucky Augusta who gets letters from Mrs. Edgren! Greet her a thousand times from me. Tell her that I still worship her as warmly as when I said goodbye to her for the last time, and when I start talking about them, it is always an inexhaustible topic and at those times, I forget both time and place and it takes me back to the happy times when I was educated by them; when a smile and a friendly word by Mrs. Edgren sent me to the seventh heaven. Tell her all this, and say that if in the future, whether I get ever so happy or unhappy, I will never forget them. Oh, when I just think of them, I get overly joyous.”

Lovisa Dethmar was born in 1802 at Reckenburg, an estate close to Anholt in southwestern Germany close to the Dutch border. Her father, Friedrich Wilhelm Dethmar, born in 1773, was the pastor in Anholt and a writer. Lovisa had at least two sisters, Eugenia, born in 1806, and Adelheid Clementine Therese, born in 1809. One sister moved to England.

When Lovisa was young, she was sent to Dresden to study. She was already a great artist and good at playing the harp. During her studies, she got interested in the works of the Swedish poet Atterbom and decided to visit Sweden. It is fascinating that a pastor’s daughter, in the early 1800s, was sent away to study so far from home. Dresden was famous for its architecture and art treasures and maybe she was sent to Dresden to study art? Or did she study literature? The fact that she traveled to Sweden because of an interest in poetry shows signs of independence and determination. Maybe it was these personality traits that made her such an engaging and loved teacher.

This is how I image Lovisa Dethmar in Dresden. Kerstin and I saw the painting there during our Augusta journey through Europe. The painting ”Woman on the Balcony was painted in 1824 by Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869)

It was in Sweden she met her future husband, Johan Fredrik Edgren. He was an educated man and also a pastor. They were married in Anholt in 1838 and then settled in Stockholm. Lovisa’s sister, Eugenia, decided to join them and the same year, the family opened their private school for girls in Stockholm.

The school closed in June of 1844 when Pastor Edgren was appointed pastor at Morup’s parish on the Swedish west coast. As the girls in the school bade farewell to each other and the Edgren family, Cecilia got many cards for her memory album. But from some correspondence between Augusta and Lotten Westman, we believe that Cecilia actually stayed with the Edgren family in Morup after the school closed in Stockholm.


Lovisa Edgren wrote her greeting to Cecilia in her native German. The owner of Cecilia’s Memory Album kindly provided me with a translation of the German text to Swedish. The English translation is my own.

In Swedish: Endast det rika sinnet älskar, endast det fattiga begär.” (Schiller)
In English:None but the wealthy minds love; poor minds desire alone.”

(The quote is from Friedrich Schiller’s Liebe und Begierde:

Recht gesagt, Schlosser! Man liebt, was man hat, man begehrt, was man nicht hat;
Denn nur das reiche Gemüt liebt, nur das arme begehrt.


In Swedish: Dig, min Cecilia, blev ett så rikt sinne givet, även oss har det glädjat att leva tillsammans med Dig. Förhoppningsfullt var den korta tiden även för Dig ej förgäves ödslad. Detta önskar längtansfullt,

Din trogna väninna L. Edgren”

In English: You, my Cecilia, were given such a rich mind, we too have been delighted to have you with us. Hopefully, the short time was not wasted in vain even for You. This wishes longingly,

Your faithful friend L. Edgren”


Lovisa Edgren’s 38-year-old sister, Eugenia Dethmar, also wrote to Cecilia.


In Swedish:
”Dig ledsagar genom det vilda livet ett nådigt öde;
Ett rent hjärta gav dig naturen,
O! giv det så rent tillbaka!

Giv att världen möter dig så vänligt som du möter den,
giv att hon dig gör vad du gör henne,
så kan du bara bli lycklig.

Detta önskar dig din väninna E. Dethmar.”

In English:
”A merciful destiny shepherds you through the turbulent life;
Nature gave you a pure heart,
Oh! give it back so pure!

May the world treat you as kindly as you treat it,
may it do to you what you do to it,
then you can only be happy.

This is the wish of your friend, E. Dethmar”


Cecilia’s Album: The Wishes of a Young Woman

I pick a random page out of Cecilia’s memory album.


This one has a handwritten poem with the word Kärleks (Love’s) emphasized in larger letters. The page is signed with what I interpret as S. F. En. I am not sure about the S, but what else could it be? I wreck my brain; are there any friends of Cecilia and Augusta whose last name is En (it is a proper Swedish last name) or starts with En? I check the lists of confirmation friends, school friends, members of the secret orders – the Innocence and the Amaranth – that Augusta belonged to. I find nothing.

I then take another approach. I check to see if the poem might have been written by someone else and published. It takes some playing around with Google, like changing the preferred language and searching on various parts of the poem. It works and I find the source!

Literal translation:

Oh how I would want to be
        (for wishing is allowed)

The flower, lush and lovely
which sits there on the turf

How I would face the sun
and happily open my purple mouth

To imbibe power, light, and warmth
out of God’s Well of Love

The poem appeared in a book Lyriska toner (Lyrical Tones) by Wilhelmina and was published in 1843, the year before Cecilia received the handwritten page for her album. The title of the poem is En ung flickas önskningar (The Wishes of a Young Woman) and what was copied was the first of the poem’s five stanzas.

There is an introduction in the book, written by the pastor in Clara parish (1825-1831), Frans Michael Franzén. Besides being a pastor, Franzén was also a famous poet. I can see why Franzén was moved by Wilhelmina’s poems. He wrote similar poems that also ended up in girls’ memory albums. And even the bishop in Stockholm, Johan Olof Wallin, wrote poems that were likewise copied.

At the time, women writers often wrote under a pseudonym, and Wilhelmina simply published under her first name. Later, when she became a rather famous author and translator, she used her real name, Wilhelmina Stålberg.

That is when it hit me. The handwriting of the poem in Cecilia’s album looked like that of an older person. It was definitely not written by someone of Cecilia’s age, someone who had perfected their cursives, dipping the quill in the inkwell and making beautiful letters. If this was a poem that was known by pastors, could S. F. En belong to the clergy?

The answer was staring me in the face! En could mean that the last name started with E and ended with n, not starting with En. Cecilia and Augusta attended Edgren’s school, founded and operated by Pastor Johan Fredrik Edgren and his German-born wife, Lovisa Carolina Wilhelmina Dethmar. And the initials were J. F. and not S.F. Pastor J. F. Edgren had written the poem for Cecilia before she was leaving Stockholm in June of 1844.

Pastor Edgren later became important in Augusta’s life. He officiated the wedding between Augusta and Adolf Nordwall in Morup’s parsonage. I wonder if she also got a poem or if he recited any during the wedding ceremony.


Pastor Edgren’s wife, Mrs. Lovisa Edgren, also wrote a greeting to Cecilia. Hers was written in her native German and was more personal. From some correspondence to Augusta, we believe that Cecilia actually stayed with the Edgren family in Morup after they closed their school in Stockholm.


Mrs. Edgren’s 38-year-old sister also lived with the Edgren family. Eugenia Dethmar was born in Germany in 1806. She too gave Cecilia a page for her album – a poem and a wish, both written in German.