Etikettarkiv: Augusta Sjöstedt

13. Augusta Sjöstedt and her sister Ophalia

In May of 1844, Pastor Petterson listed Augusta Sjöstedt as number 13 of the girls who got confirmed in St Jacob’s church. The ranking was based on his perception of the girl’s social status, based on her last name and her father’s profession. Augusta Sjöstedt did not belong to the nobility but her father, Jacob Sjöstedt, was a wealthy brewer.

The first time I heard of Augusta Sjöstedt was in a letter from Lotten Westman to “our” Augusta (Augusta Söderholm). Lotten was making sure that her friend did not miss out on any gossip from Stockholm.

 “Do you know, I find Augusta Sjöstedt just as boring now as when she sat in school with open mouth and read German verses, do you remember that? And how her legs were always in my way? But it was a fun time!“ (Lotten’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, May 6, 1846)

The school she was reminiscing about was Mrs. Edgren’s school close to St Clara church in Stockholm. Our Augusta, Lotten Westman, and Augusta Sjöstedt were classmates. In 1844, the school closed and many of the students transferred to Mlle. Frigel’s school.

A month later, Lotten wrote another letter.

“My dear, there are so many engagements here. At Mlle. Frigel’s school today, Ebba Almroth stated that Mlles. Schwan and Sjöstedt (the oldest) were engaged, but with whom she didn’t want to say. It may well be true, but you know how girls gossip about engagements in Mlle. Frigel’s school.”(Lotten’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, May 6, 1846)

The next time I found Augusta Sjöstedt’s name was in the Order of the Innocence’s register of debutants in December of 1844. To become inducted into the Order of the Innocence meant that one could now attend the most exclusive of balls, The Innocence Ball – or simply, The Innocence. In the register, our Augusta signed as number 4718 and then Ophalia and Augusta Sjöstedt signed as numbers 4719 and 4720. Maybe they walked in together?

Augusta Amalia Jakobina Sjöstedt

So who was Augusta Sjöstedt? I easily find her – Augusta Amalia Jakobina Sjöstedt, born July 16, 1829. Her parents were Jacob Sjöstedt (b. 1785) and Sofia Ulrika Richnau (b. 1800).

Jacob Sjöstedt was a wealthy brewer in Stockholm. Augusta Sjöstedt was the baby in the family. She had 3 older sisters and 3 older brothers. The family was well off. That was important because, in order for the girls to marry well, there had to be some investments in their education and their social life.

Fortunately, the two eldest daughters, Lowisa Carolina and Sofia Maria Ottiliana had already married by the time Augusta and her older sister Ophalia were making their debut in society. Now the family only had to focus on these two daughters. Well, there was also another girl living in the household. The family hosted a girl from a small town. Her story is chronicled in a previous blog post as her daughter became a famous writer who won the Nobel Prize in literature.

Attending a private school and going to balls were part of the girls’ upbringing. To be seen and to socialize was important. Ophalia must have been ecstatic when, at the New Year’s Ball in 1850, one of the royal princes (later to become King Oscar II) asked her to dance the first waltz. The write-up, in Swedish of course, of the entire event can be found here.

Swedish King Oscar II in 1865

But besides education and being seen in public, it was also important to be able to sing and play the piano. Most of the girls, including our Augusta and her friend Lotten, took singing lessons. And Augusta Sjöstedt played the piano

And then, if you could afford it, you could commission an oil painting of your daughter. Imagine your friends and acquaintances coming over to see the portrait! Of course, your daughter would be wearing her finest dress, maybe a shawl thrown over the chair, and why not, seated by her piano forte.

Augusta Sjöstedt, oil painting by Lars Hansen (1846-1848)

I don’t remember how I was searching, in what database and with what search words, but up popped the portrait of Augusta Sjöstedt! So lovely, in a beautiful pink silk dress. The portrait was bequeathed to the Nordic Museum in Stockholm in 1938 by her daughter.

But what about Ophalia. Wouldn’t she also have had a portrait? All I could find was a small image of her that looks like it was cropped from a larger painting.

Ophalia Sjöstedt (1826-1897)

Well, it all paid off. Both Ophalia and Augusta Sjöstedt married in 1850. And both married officers of noble families.

Ophalia married Georg Julius von Axelson on the 13th of February. She and her husband had 4 daughters and 1 son.

Augusta married Adam Henrik Carlheim Gyllensköld on the 26th of September 1850 and moved to his home, Vederslöv, close to Växsjö.

Adam Henri Carlheim-Gyllensköld
Vederslöv Manor, Augusta Sjöstedt’s new home.

Over the next 13 years, they had 6 daughters: Alma, Berta, Valborg, Ingeborg, Cecilia, and Sigrid. The youngest, Sigrid, born in 1863, became a famous pianist. She studied at the music conservatory in Stockholm, then in Dresden, followed by Vienna. In 1889, she started a music institute in Stockholm.

Sigrid Carlheim-Gyllensköld, pastell painting by E. Olán, 1887.

Previous blog posts about Mrs. Edgren’s and Mlle. Frigel’s schools and about Augusta Sjöstedt.


The Innocence and the Amaranth

It all started with a promise to a charming captain in the summer of 1850.

Our captain’s name was Krüger. He was a very polite and charming young cavalier who fulfilled all the duties of a host on his steamboat. He entertained me quite pleasantly during the trip, a trip which is also one of the most beautiful and comfortable one can undertake, and before we parted ways in Söderköping, we agreed to dance the first waltz on the first Innocence in the month of January. Let’s see if that happens or not. (Augusta’s diary from the Göta Canal)

What was the Innocence?

The Order of the Innocence and The Order of the Amaranth

The Order of the Innocence is a Swedish secret order that started in 1765. It supports charities while creating “innocent amusement” for its members. During its Day of Solemnity, new members are inducted. The Innocence Ball – or simply, The Innocence – is an exclusive and elegant ball which at Augusta’s time was held each January at the Stockholm Bourse. The order also arranged other balls during the year, and that is probably why Augusta mentioned it as the “first” Innocence.

There is also another secret order that similarly organizes an exclusive ball – The Order of the Amaranth (Stora Amarantherorden). It was created by the Swedish Queen Kristina in 1653 and then reinstituted in 1760. The grand ball, The Amaranth, was at Augusta’s time also held in January but at De la Croix’s salon.

Presently, The Innocence and The Amaranth are held in alternating years at Grand Hotel Stockholm.

A family that could “bring out into society those who lived with them

Not everyone could become a member of the orders – you needed contacts among the aristocracy and/or the wealthy merchants. What if you did not belong to the aristocracy or came from a wealthy family, what would you do? For a girl, this was the place to be seen if you wanted to marry well.

Augusta’s mother had made sure that Augusta was to board with a family that could “bring out into society those who lived with them”.  So in the fall of 1844, Augusta moved in with a noble family headed by the widow, Countess Jaquette Ribbing af Zernava (born Sparre af Rossvik). Augusta was 17 years old and ready to be a debutante.

Did Augusta attend The Innocence and The Amaranth?

Augusta didn’t keep a diary until 1847. There are letters from her friend Lotten, but not until 1845 when Augusta had already left Stockholm. And then there are a few letters from Augusta’s mother to Augusta in 1844 and 1845 – none of which mention any balls.

But then there are archives!

I find out that The Order of the Innocence’s archive is kept at the Royal Library and that the archive of The Order of the Amaranth is kept at Sweden’s National Archives. Both places are in Stockholm and the archives are not so secret anymore!

Membership books for The Order of the Innocence and The Order of the Amaranth

The Innocence Ball

Kerstin and I hit the Royal Library first. We get help from the experts in the hand-script department. After lunch, they have found the boxes of Innocence records and we start to untie strings and open the boxes with bound books.

On 7 December 1844, The Order of the Innocence had its meeting at the Bourse, to induct new members. A letter indicating the names of those who had been called to the meeting is included in the archive, as is a book of members, sorted by date of initiation.

Kerstin and I go through the list of names, and there it is – Demoiselle Emelie Augusta Söderholm has been called to the meeting. Now we search for her name in the book of members and, again, we find her signature and member number 4718. Her friends, Ophalia and Augusta Sjöstedt, sign below her and get numbers 4719 and 4720.

Augusta’s signature.
The Order of the Innocence, 1844.

So she became a member of The Order of Innocence in December 1844 and would attend her first Innocence Ball on 11 January 1845.

The Innocence Ball, 11 January 1845. Drawing by Fritz von Dardel.
Yes, Augusta was there!

The Amaranth Ball

The next day, we visit the National Archives. Again, boxes held together with strings are carted to our reserved desk in the very quiet reading room. Wearing white cotton gloves, we untie the strings and look at the bound records and envelopes.

There is a book of members listed alphabetically and there are letters describing each meeting or ball. As Augusta’s first Innocence Ball was in January of 1845, we assume her first Amaranth, if she was inducted, would also be that month.

We check the protocols for 1845, and there it is! In the protocol dated 6 January 1845, the date of the Amaranth Ball, Augusta is listed as a new member. We then find her name in the book listing the members.

Augusta’s membership in The Order of the Amaranth, 1845 (bottom line)

So yes, she did attend the Amaranth Ball on the 6 January 1845.

The Amaranth Ball, 6 January 1845. Painting by Fritz von Dardel. Kunt Bergenstråhle is the young lieutenant in the middle.
The Amaranth Ball, 6 January 1845. Painting by Fritz von Dardel.
Yes, Augusta was there too!

And what did she think about the balls?

Six years later, in 1851, Augusta attends a ball at The Bourse and reminisce on her feelings when she was 17.

Stockholm,16 March 1851

Last Friday, I accompanied the Theodors to a dance soirée at The Bourse. It was pretty animated and, in the words of the Ribbings, it was “la crème de la socialite” who from the gallery looked down on the dancing youth – a colorful crowd of blue, white, red, and yellow ball gowns with matching flower garlands under which one often saw a beautiful face.

Men of la beau monde, with and without uniforms, swarmed around in the richly illuminated, beautiful hall where joy seemed to be the evening’s heavenly patron. It was thus, as it is called in Stockholm, “a beautiful ball”, but God knows that I did feel a sense of regret when recalling memories from six years ago and saw myself – with a completely different feeling of joy – flying around the hall in a lively Strauss waltz. At that time, in a moment of happiness, I forgot everything around me. In this moment, on the contrary, I felt both hot and tired. At that time, I was close to despair when the final notes of the last dance died away. At this time, I was quite pleased when I finally sat in the covered sleigh on my way home.

After having found Augusta in both these archives, you just have to wonder – where else has Augusta left footprints that we are not aware of?