Etikettarkiv: Dethmar

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.