Thank you, thank you, my good friend for your last letter, even though I had to wait quite some time to get it. But I will not scold you, only thank you so much for your last letter.
I should probably start by thanking you for your good wishes for the new year. I thank you for your wish that my heart will be free and I share your thoughts that one is happiest that way. I have received a very opposite wish from Dora; she wished that I would seriously fall in love with someone. Let’s see whose wish will come true by the end of the year. I am on your side so there are two wishes against one.
Have I written to you in the New Year and sent my well-wishes? I think so. If not, you know that I wish you all the best. My good friend, what many Christmas presents you got! It is a shame that they will not be seen in Stockholm this winter. You wish to hear mine; although they did not measure up with yours, I was completely satisfied. Here you have them:
Two dresses, very beautiful and modern, Parramatta or whatever it is called
One black long shawl
One pink silk cap
Book: Accounts of the Domestic Life
One beautiful bertha
The most beautiful, small, knitted cap to have on the trip to and from the theatre
A tied crepe
Ribbons of all colors and dimensions and lots of things too small to specify in detail.
What did Augusta get for Christmas in 1845? Maybe similar items. Clothes and accessories were obviously important Christmas gifts for 19-year-old women. Did Augusta also get clothing made of Parramatta – beautiful and modern?
I had never heard of Parramatta before and had to look it up. Parramatta was a type of fabric that became popular in the 1840s. Many advertisements in the daily papers, both in Norrköping and Stockholm, listed Parramatta among the fabrics for sale. So what was it?
The Parramatta Female Factory
Parramatta is a suburb of Sydney, Australia. In the 1840s, it was a British settlement. It was famous for its woolen mills and infamous for The Parramatta Female Factory. The factory was a penitentiary for women convicts who were sentenced to labor in the form of manufacturing woven cloth for export. It also served as a workhouse for incapacitated women. The factory opened in 1821 and in 1827, the women rioted because of cut in food rations and poor conditions. In 1842, over 1200 women and children lived in the factory. By 1848, the factory closed.
Parramatta as a Textile Term
Most of the fabric exported from Parramatta was wool fabrics. In textile terms, Parramatta refers to a light, twill, dress fabric with a silk or cotton warp and a woolen weft. So Parramatta fabric could be produced in Europe as well as being imported from Australia. Lotten’s dress fabric could have come from the Parramatta Female Factory or from some textile mill in Europe. But to Lotten, it was simply beautiful and modern.
The Book: Accounts of the Domestic Life
If there had been a bestseller list in December of 1845, Accounts of the Domestic Life would have been on the list. The book, “Skildringar ur det Husliga Lifvet” was penned by Anonymous.
Today, the book is available as a paperback on Amazon so I could have wished for it for Christmas! But there is no need for that; the book is available for free as a scanned copy of the 1845 edition.
The real author was Anna Fredrika Ehrenborg, born Carlqvist (1794-1873). She was deeply spiritual and a follower of Swedenborg. I don’t know if Lotten liked the book, but it would have been the kind of moral book a young woman should read.
I am sure Lotten never wondered about Parramatta manufacturing or why her gifts were considered suitable for young women. She was “completely satisfied” with her gifts. And I am sure the dresses and accessories were beautiful, just like those depicted on the fashion plates – the fashion in Stockholm, 1845.
I am still reading the letters from Charlotte “Lottten” Westman to Augusta. Augusta and Lotten had been friends in Stockholm while attending private girl’s schools in 1842-1845. When Augusta moved back to her country home, Loddby, outside Norrköping, Lotten kept Augusta up-to-date on the social life in Stockholm. In the winter of 1845-46, she tells Lotten about the sisters Ulrich.
Lotten and Edla Ulrich
Lotten’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, 24 November 1845
”…You must tell me in the next letter if you have become acquainted with the Royal Secretary Ulrich’s family and, if so, please convey my heartfelt greetings to them. I sincerely admire them. You must tell me how they are liked in Norrköping. At first acquaintance, the girls appear superficial and pretty unremarkable. But they are extremely good and the older one is particularly dear to me…”
Lotten’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, 22 January 1846
”…When you meet Lotten Ulrich, give her my heartfelt greetings. I think she will miss Stockholm a lot, as well as all her acquaintances here. She was the one who really grieved the most about leaving Stockholm but she is right in trying to accept her destiny when it cannot be changed…”
Who were the sisters Ulrich and why did the family have to leave Stockholm?
Lotten Ulrich (1806-1887) and Edla Ulrich (1816-1897) lived at the Royal Palace in Stockholm where their father, Johan Christian Henrik Ulrich, was the secretary to King Carl XIV Johan. When the king died in 1844, the family realized that their status would change and, in April 1845, they received a letter stating that they were now entitled to live at Kungshuset (The Royal House) in Norrköping. Lotten Ulrich was not excited about having to leave the Royal Palace in Stockholm for a house in Norrköping.
Lotten Ulrich’s Diary, Norrköping, Thursday, 12 September 1845 (my translation of the Swedish text, translated by Margareta Östman from the diary’s original entry in French (Östman, 2015).
”In Norrköping. This single word expresses the extent to which my destiny has changed since I last wrote in my diary. I’m no longer in Stockholm, in our dear little apartment in the Royal Palace, I am no longer at Gröndal, our beloved little rural home at Djurgården, these two places where I since my earliest childhood have spent my days; days that, when all is said and done, were happy, peaceful, and quiet No, I’m in Norrköping in The Royal House, eighteen [Swedish] miles from so many people and places that are infinitely dear to me and will remain so. It is here that I will now live my life, it is to this place we have traveled to live among people to whom we are indifferent and who are strangers to us.
And when I think of all the sacrifices that are required of us here, of all the pleasures I forever must forgo because of this move, then my heart breaks and I feel like crying in despair. And nevertheless – do I not have all the reasons to be content with my present situation, especially when I compare with how it could have been without God’s grace and without the grace of our good King Oscar I who gave us a place for retirement here in return for the one we had to leave in Stockholm? My destiny is determined, that is true, but do I not really have cause for despair and for letting my tears flow? …..”
Lotten Ulrich was trying to deal with the family move, her father’s retirement, and Norrköping. On the 6 January 1846, she attended a ball at the city hall in Norrköping. It was a beautiful ball, but Lotten Ulrich was so depressed that she didn’t even enter the ballroom.
I don’t know if Augusta ever did meet the sisters, and Lotten didn’t mention them again.
Ulrichs and Plagemanns
Lotten’s grandfather was the pharmacist Carl Johan Fredrik (CJF) Plagemann. His brother, Conrad Ludvig Plagemann (1784-1842) was a custom’s officer at Saint Barthélemy. He had 14 children born on the island.
The Ulrich sisters’ two brothers served consecutively as governors of Saint Barthélemy. Fredrik Carl (Fritz) Ulrich (1808-1868) was governor until his death in 1868. Bror Ludvig (1818-1887) then moved with his family to Saint Barthélemy and became the new governor.
It is no surprise that one of Conrad Ludvig Plagemann’s daughters, Lovisa Albertina (1815-1899), would marry one of the Ulrich brothers, Fredrik Carl (Fritz).
One of Conrad Ludvig’s sons, Arnold Plagemann (1826-1862) became a famous marine painter. In the late 1840s, he came back to Sweden and stayed with CJF Plagemann in Umeå. Some of his pencil drawings are included in the publication of letters between CJF Plagemann and his daughter Dorothea (Lotten’s “Dora”).
Fritz Ulrich corresponded with his sisters and family in Stockholm. They eagerly awaited his letter with news from Saint Barthélemy. News about the growing family. And sometimes they got packages or sent packages.
Lotten and Edla Ulrich describe in their diaries in 1838 how they buy a doll. It is going to be a present for Fritz’s 4-year-old daughter, Edla Wilhelmina (Minna), and will be sent all the way to Saint Barthélemy. The body, which is 23 inches long, and the head are bought separately. The head has real hair and enamel eyes. The doll will be outfitted with clothes that the sisters and their mother are making. They are very excited about the project.
Little Minna was actually Lotten Westman’s second cousin. How much did she know about her family in St. Barths? Sadly, Minna and two of her younger brothers died in a fever epidemic in 1841. In 1842, another daughter was born and given the same name. Seems like that was not an unusual custom.
In my last blog, I wrote about Augusta’s friend Lotten and her family. I mentioned that her grandfather, the famous pharmacist, Carl Johan Fredrik (CJF) Plageman, had moved to northern Sweden with his second wife, Eva Sofia. On a wintry day in 1853, she died. Letters from CJF Plagemann to his daughter, Dorothea, who lived in Stockholm, describe all the details of the funeral and the period of mourning. It is an interesting description of a winter funeral in northern Sweden. The following are translations of a few excerpts of those letters, which were compiled by Carl Johan Lamm and published in 1947.
Umeå, 5 February 1853
…The funeral will be in the church and then the body will be taken to the Södermark’s crypt where it will stay until spring when the ground will be bare and our family grave in the cemetery will be accessible. Now it is covered by 12 feet of snow.
Umeå, 18 February 1853
All afternoon, I have been busy writing invitation cards which our friend, pharmacist Johan Olof Asplund, will deliver tomorrow; that is, an invitation to our beloved and lamented mother’s funeral next Tuesday. The invitation is for 11 am. At around noon, when the guests have gathered, there will be coffee and pretzels, then wine and Bischoff, sweets, jam, cake, sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies – all according to local tradition – and then, lastly, bouillon and paté.
Once the church-ringing has started, around 3 pm, the men, after being called, will line up and the body will be carried by friends from the room to the gate, and from there in a wagon to the church and, likewise, be carried to the altar. The funeral will be performed by Pastor Jonas Åberg; then it will be carried out and put in the wagon. Some of the men will leave while others, including the grieving, will follow out to the cemetery where the casket will be put in the Södermark’s crypt. Those who have been the officiants and some of my closest friends will then come back to the house, around 30 people, and eat a dinner while standing. Oh! If it was just over! It will be a difficult and trying day for me…
…Miss Nordin and Carin Sjöström will give Dedé (Dorothea) a complete description of the beloved mother’s last weeks. I have kept her small hair braids. The Flower Room has been divided in half, covered in white, and with 4 chandeliers, 4-arm candle-holders, and 12 wax candles, it will, during the day, shine a light on the sad coffin. The coffin is black-lacquered and decorated with plates, handles, silver feet, and 132 north stars made of tin. The portraits of the Royals, mirrors, tables, and chairs are covered in white. In the innermost room, a corner sofa is placed and chairs are removed from all rooms. In this innermost room, we 3 grieving will be sitting, as well as others, and over the sofa is my beloved Dedé’s portrait dressed in a black crape. Everything will be well arranged for an honorable funeral.
Umeå, 26 February 1853
White morning curtains, that we have borrowed from Mrs. Anna Maria Meuller, will, according to local custom, hang over the windows that face the street for 6 weeks. Oh! Long weeks!
Umeå, 23 March 1853
Another death has occurred, that of young Mrs. Lindberg, who died in childbirth, 36 years and 3 months old, leaving her husband and child. Now my morning curtains, which I borrowed from Mrs. Meuller, have to be taken down and washed so that she can lend them to the family Lindberg. At least it looks a little happier and nicer in my rooms now that these covers have been removed.
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.”
In the fall of 1845, Lotten and Augusta are discussing their previous teacher, Mrs Edgren. Both girls have finished their education and now keep in touch by writing letters. Many letters mention Mrs Edgren. At what school did she teach?
Googling Mrs Edgren (Swedish: Fru Edgren) doesn’t help. There was another famous Mrs Edgren in Stockholm in the latter half of the 1800s (see footnote), but she was younger than Augusta. And no Mrs Edgren shows up in searches in city or national archives. It is frustrating – I know she existed, but there is no record of her.
This is where creative thinking might help. Why was a married woman a teacher? A married woman might only have resorted to teaching if she was a widow. And her husband must have belonged to the upper class if his wife was educated enough to teach in a private school. Could he have been an officer in the army? That could explain Augusta’s family’s connection with the Edgrens. My search has to widen.
Two nights in a row, I read everything I can find about Edgren families in Sweden – genealogy discussion groups and the like. The second night, my search takes me to a digitized book about Swedish families, published in the 1800s, with genealogy of a family Edgren from Åmål, Sweden. I read about the sons, Johan Fredrik and Per Adolph, who were educated in Uppsala. Suddenly, in the middle of the page about Johan Fredrik’s life, I read the following:
“Pastor Edgren … started in 1838, together with his wife, a larger, very famous educational institute for girls in Stockholm; was, according to the speech at his funeral, an accomplished man of the world and one of the diocese’s, not to mention the country’s, most educated priests.”
I have found Mrs. Edgren!!!
It is past midnight and I have to get a glass of wine to celebrate this victory and to slowly read all the details I can now find about Mrs. Edgren.
The paragraph about Pastor Johan Fredrik Edgren continues:
“Married 29 May 1838 in Anholt, The Rhine Province, Germany, with Lovisa Carolina Wilhelmina Dethmar, born 9 September 1802 at Reckenburg, … dead 30 January 1853 in Morup’s vicarage.”
Now I dive into church records, digitized newspapers from 1838 – 1844, and archives of building permits.
Pastor Johan Fredrik Edgren was born in Åmål in 1797, studied in Uppsala and got is his PhD in 1827. He then became a pastor in Stockholm and a private teacher in the af Ugglas family at Forsmark. In 1832, he became a chaplain in the army’s “Andra Lifgardet”.
Edgren’s School: 1838-1844
On 20 August 1838, the following ad was placed in the newspaper Daglig Allehanda:
At the beginning of October, the undersigned aim to open an educational institute for a small number of girls, where teaching will take place from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm in Science, Languages, and Drawing, and during two days a week, from 3 pm to 5 pm in handicrafts. The tuition is 80 Rdr or 100 Rdr Banko for a year. The location is Stora Vattugränden.
Fr. Edgren (Batallion Chaplain) L. Edgren (born Dethmar)
Stora Vattugränd, N:o 3.
In 1842, the address of the Edgrens, and presumably their school, is House No. 12, Stora Wattugränd – close to Clara Church.
Augusta started school in the fall of 1841. One could presume that this is the school she attended until the summer of 1844.
In February of 1844, there was an official bulletin in the daily papers announcing the appointment of Pastor Edgren to vicar at Morup’s parish in the province of Halland. That meant, they had to close the school and move from Stockholm to the west coast of Sweden. I search Morup’s church records and find that they were registered as becoming members of the parish on 1 July 1844.
And that put’s Augusta’s mother’s letter of 23 March 1844 in a new light. She was probably searching for a new school and new lodging for Augusta if she was to continue her education in Stockholm in the fall of 1844 (which she did):
Loddby the 23rd, Saturday evening
“My beloved child, I have now written to Mrs Edgren and asked her where and with whom I shall let you stay; we will see if she knows a suitable place for you if you need to remain [in Stockholm]. It is truly a great sacrifice of me to let you stay up there for another year, I need you so much at home.
… It would be helpful and fun for both of you if Cecilia Kock made sure that she came to the same place as you – tell her that. Now ask Mrs. Edgren to find a good place for you and I will take care of the agreement when I come up. By the way, ask how much Miss Hellberg* charges and find out what kind of person she is and with what kind of people she socializes, and if she can bring out into society those in her charge. It is very important to find a place that has a good reputation and where people are known for their honorable character. If you can find a place where they daily speak a foreign language, that would be good for you. Tell Mrs Edgren that. If she knows of such a family and they could take you in, that would be very good. I think she knows many foreign families.
… Write to me soon and tell me what you know, also what Mrs. Edgren has said about you remaining in Stockholm, if she thinks that’s what you should do. On Wednesday, I sent you your black everyday dress – I hope you have picked up the package. I hope you like it. There were also a pair of black silk gloves.
God bless you my own child and make you as happy as your mother wishes.”
*Lotten was living with Miss Hellberg.
Augusta’s whereabouts in 1844-1845
In November 1844, we know that Augusta is still studying in Stockholm and is now living with the family of Baroness Jaquette Ribbing. Not a foreign family but certainly one that met all the other wishes regarding reputation, character, and high society.
There are no records of her schooling from this time, but based on correspondence, it seems like she studied in Stockholm through the spring of 1845.
Another school to find!
What happened to Mrs Edgren and her family?
The Edgren family consisted of Mr and Mrs Edgren and their 3 children:
Carl Gustaf Julius Edgren was born in 1839, received technical training, and later worked in various industries in Scotland, England, and Sweden.
Albertina Amalia Sophia Theresia Eugenia Adelheid Emilia was born in 1840 and married a medical doctor, Professor Adolph Kjellberg.
There is a much more famous Mrs Edgren: Anna Charlotta Edgren (1849-1892), born Leffler. Anna Charlotta and her 3 brothers grew up in an intellectual home in Stockholm. Their father, Johan Olof Leffler, PhD from Uppsala, became a teacher and principal of boy schools in Stockholm. Anna Charlotta got her early education at the Wallin School, married Gustaf Elias Edgren, and became a famous writer. She later divorced him and married an Italian mathematician. Her oldest brother, Gösta Mittag-Leffler, became the first professor of mathematics at Stockholms Högskola (which later became Stockholm University) and started the Institute Mittag-Leffler.
Anna Charlotta’s father-in-law, Per Adolph Edgren, an army medical doctor, was Pastor Johan Fredrik’s younger brother. So Anna Charlotta’s husband’s aunt was Augusta’s teacher, Mrs Edgren.