Etikettarkiv: von Dardel

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?

Elisabeth Schwan at Stjernsund

The view from Stjernsund's Castle
The view from Stjernsund’s Castle

Look, do you think these are Elisabeth Schwan’s? I ask Kerstin.

On a small round table, some beautiful antique fans are displayed under glass.

Kerstin and I are visiting Stjernsund’s Castle where Augusta’s friend, Elisabeth, lived after she and her husband bought the beautiful castle from the royal family in 1860. I wrote about her earlier this year (The Girl in the Yellow Ball Gown: Elisabeth Schwan).

Stjernsunds Castle in the 1850s
Stjernsunds Castle in the 1850s

We are on a guided tour of the castle, eagerly looking for traces of Elisabeth. Much of the inventory would have belonged to Elisabeth’s and Knut’s daughter-in-law, who lived in the castle until her death in 1951. But maybe there would be a few things left from Elisabeth?

And now it looks like I have found something that could have been hers. Our wonderful tour guide, Pernilla, confirms that this is indeed Elisabeth’s. Another similar table has some old letters addressed to Elisabeth. Elisabeth also brought all her copper pots and pans with her when they moved to Stjernsund – all hanging nicely in the kitchen, sorted according to size.

Using the language of Augusta’s time, Stjernsund is handsomely situated on a promontory above the still, blue waters of lake Alsen. Here, Elisabeth and Knut raised 5 sons, born between 1851 and 1861.

I wonder if she kept a diary? Did she miss the social life in Stockholm? Did her friends from Stockholm come and visit her?

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. Elisabeth Schwan is the girl in the yellow ballgown. She was 17 years old.

While Elisabeth was busy with her family, her husband made Stjernsund famous for its cattle. Knut Cassel was interested in animal breeding and through selection of superior breeding stock, the herd at Stjernsund came to be the most influential genetic stock for what is now the Swedish Red-and-White Breed of dairy cattle (SRB).

Kerstin and I visit the exhibition in the Dairy. There are two photographs on the wall, one of Elisabeth and Knut with their 3 oldest sons (Fredrik b. 1851, Carl b. 1853, and Knut August b. 1855) and another one of Knut later in life. As their 4th son, Albert, was born in August of 1857, and Elisabeth is having a 2-year-old Knut August on her lap, the picture must have been taken around 1856-1857, prior to the family moving to Stjernsund. Elisabeth would have been in her late 20s in the picture and possibly pregnant with Albert.

Elisabeth Cassel, born Schwan, and her family around 1856-57.
Elisabeth Cassel, born Schwan, and her family around 1856-57. Photo at Stjernsund’s Castle.

Finally, while doing the genealogy research on Knut Cassel, I discover that he and Augusta were 4th degree cousins (through Augusta’s father’s ancestry).

Knut Cassel
Knut Cassel. Photo at Stjernsund’s Castle.

As Kerstin and I always do on our ”Augusta journeys”, we dressed appropriately for a visit in the early 1850s. Our new friend and Stjernsund’s guide, Pernilla Gäverth, captured our visit in the following pictures.

About SRB cattle (in Swedish):

Erik W. af Edholm’s Diaries

The elusive diaries at Stockholm City Archives

He had found them!

He had actually found Erik W. af Edholm’s original diaries from 1843-1848!

Half an hour earlier, the archivist at Stockholm City Archives had told me that the family Edholm’s archive took up several yards of shelf-space and with the diaries not specifically cataloged, I could look forward to spending weeks looking through boxes of random family memorabilia. The diaries would probably be in one of those boxes.

“Can you please check if there is anything on those shelves that would indicate that the materials should have been sealed until the year 2000,” I ask the helpful guy who is carting up boxes from the vaults below.

Maybe the diaries were boxed separately since they were not to be read until the year 2000?

”Maybe there is something written on a box that would indicate that? I could come with you and help you look,” I suggest with a smile.

“Nope, sorry, you can’t. But I’ll see what I can find,” he promises me.

And now, half an hour later, he has found them! Two boxes, tied with strong brown string, containing the diaries I had been looking for.

The box containing Erik’s diaries

Did Augusta really socialize with Erik af Edholm? Who else did?

I probably need to explain my quest for these elusive diaries.

It all goes back to Augusta’s admirers; that is, admirers according to her best friend Lotten Westman.

“I saw all your admirers at Gunther’s concert last Tuesday – Bergenstråhle, Löwegren, Edholm, etc, etc., as I believe there is a multitude of them.”
(Lotten to Augusta, Stockholm, October 1845)

Earlier this year, I blogged about these four young lieutenants: Knut Bergenstråhle, Ludvig Löwegren, Erik W. af Edholm, and Gillis Bildt.

But how would I know if Augusta really socialized with them? Could that be corroborated by other sources? Would they figure in other published diaries from the same time period?

The answer is yes, at least with regards to Erik af Edholm. Maybe because he seemed to have been very social and well-liked.

My first source is Marie-Louise Forsell, a contemporary, well-connected, young woman who kept diaries which were published posthumously. She writes about Erik who she met at Holmqvist’s ball:

 “Lieutenant Edholm really liked our dark-grey silk gowns and he was the only new one with whom we danced.” (27 March 1843)

Additionally, two sisters, Lotten and Edla Ulrich, whose diaries were recently published by Margareta Östman, also write about Erik. But their description of him is that of a friend or a brother as the two families were close friends. Eric af Edholm’s father was King Carl XIV Johan’s private doctor. The father of Lotten and Edla was the King’s private secretary. Both families lived in the royal palace and the Ulrich and af Edholm children grew up together.

Erik also kept a diary

But then I found out that Erik also kept a diary! He wrote almost daily between the age of 23 (1840) and until his death in 1897.

After a happy dinner at Djurgården 13 August 1844. Erik af Edholm is the fellow falling off the carriage. Drawing by F. Dardel.

In 1944, Erik’s son published selected parts of the diaries from the time period 1840-1859 in a book called “Svunna Dagar” (Days Gone By). The book is fascinating. Every year, from January through March, there were balls. Some weeks, Erik was invited to private balls every day. With a sense of humor and sometimes self-sarcasm, he describes his social life. But he also describes, always in positive ways, his dance partners. One particular favorite was Mathilda Horn, whose father was the governor of the province of Stockholm (Landshövding):

“Miss Mathilda was charming in a white dress with a collar of lace tied around her delicate neck with an enviable blue ribbon. The hair framed her beautiful forehead with long, brown curls and her eyes shone with tenderness and goodness.” (17 January 1843)

Now, if Erik knew Augusta and they went to the same balls, would he have written anything about her? That was what I wanted to know.

Diaries from 1845 and 1846

With white cotton gloves, I open the box of diaries from 1843-1848. Inside the box are small bound notebooks. I open the diary for 1845. That is when Augusta was 18. She later described how happy she was that year, dancing to Strauss waltzes and forgetting everything else around her.

Did she dance with Erik in 1845?

The diary is written in cursive with an ink pen. The font size, if it had existed, would be a 6. That is pretty hard to read! The best strategy is to take pictures with my iPhone and then look at the images on my computer screen when I get home.

In addition, the diary is written in French!

A typical page in the diary.

It will take some time to go through all the images of Erik’s diaries. And some brushing up of my French.  At least, the penmanship is good.

But I check one thing. Did Erik attend Gunther’s concert that Lotten wrote about in her letter?

He did!

“…Puis je vais au concert Gunther dans l’église Ladugårdsgärde…” (14 October 1845)

And to corroborate that, I read the Stockholm newspaper that reported on the concert. It was a farewell concert by the famous Swedish tenor, Julius Günther, who often sang together with Jenny Lind. Julius Günther was to move to Paris. The concert drew a crowd of over 1000 and was very well received.


Heijkenskjöld, Syster, ed. 1915. Sällskapslif och hemlif i Stockholm på 1840-talet: ur Marie-Louise Forsells dagboksanteckningar. Stockholm: Bonnier.   (Translation of title: Social Life and Home Life in Stockholm in the 1840s: From Marie-Louise Forsell’s Diary Notes).

Östman, Margareta. 2015. Systrarna Ulrichs dagböcker – från Stockholms slott, Djurgården och landsorten 1830-1855. Stockholm: Carlssons.   (Translation of title: The Ulrich Sisters’ Diaries – from Stockholm’s Palace, Djurgården, and the Countryside 1830-1855).

Erik af Edholm. 1944. Svunna dagar – ur Förste Hovmarskalken Erik af Edholms dagböcker: Tidsbilder från 1800-talet utgivna av hans son. Stockholm: P. A. Nordstedt Söners Förlag. (Translation of title: Days gone by –  from the First Marshal at the Court, Erik af Edholm’s Diaries: Vignettes from the 1800s published by his son.)

Fritz von Dardel paints Augusta’s lieutenants – and tags them

I was actually going to write about Augusta’s first love. Then I got curious about all the young men who were interested in her. In 1845, Augusta was 18 and her admirers, who had just started their military careers, were in their late 20s. Augusta and her best friend Lotten Westman met them at balls, theatres, and concerts. After Augusta left Stockholm, Lotten wrote letters which included the latest gossip.

Gossip about Bergenstråhle, Löwegren, Edholm, and Bildt.

Lotten to Augusta, Stockholm, October 1845

”I saw all your admirers at Gunther’s concert last Tuesday – Bergenstråhle, Löwegren, Edholm, etc, etc., as I believe there is a multitude of them. Do you know, I made a startling discovery that Knut Bergenstråhle has ”moonlight” on top of his head. I sat on the balcony, thus high above them all, and made that little discovery. Lieutenant Löwegren looks like ”world contempt and bitterness” when you see him out on town and I think he has become completely transparent tout pour nous.”

Lotten to Augusta, Stockholm, 18 December 1845

Sketch of couples on their way to a masquerade ball. Fritz von Dardel 1842.
Sketch of couples on their way to a masquerade ball. Fritz von Dardel 1842.

”All your admirers, the Bergenstråhles, Löwegren, Bildt, and God only knows the rest of them, were at the masquerade ball at Carlberg and {unreadable verb} the masked ones. They themselves were not wearing masks; it would have been a shame to put masks on such beautiful faces.”

Lotten to Augusta, Stockholm, 7 April 1847.

”Lieutenant Bergenstråhle was at Ekströms and I had the honor to “gallop” with Lieutenant Knut. Lieutenant Löwegren was also there. Seriously, I like him and he looks rather handsome.”

Fritz von Dardel paints the social scenes

What did these young lieutenants look like?

Enter Fritz von Dardel.

Von Dardel was a contemporary, well-connected nobleman who had a passion for drawing and painting social scenes. He was the same age as Augusta’s lieutenants and attended the same social events. In a world before cameras, he recorded the events in sketches and paintings. Many times he included himself in the painting. And he was ahead of his time by tagging people in his paintings by writing their names in the margins.

In the picture below, Augusta’s friend Lieutenant Edholm is the young man in the middle (as tagged).

The Coronation Ball Given by the Nobles, 16 Oct 1844. Painting by Fritz von Dardel. Lieutenant Erik af Edholm is dancing with the voluptuous woman in the middle.


In the picture below, Augusta’s friend Knut Bergenstråhle is the young lieutenant holding the hand of the young girl dressed in yellow. Did Augusta attend this ball?

The Amaranth Ball, 6 January 1845. Painting by Fritz von Dardel. Knut Bergenstråhle is the young lieutenant in the middle.
The Amaranth Ball, 6 January 1845. Painting by Fritz von Dardel. Knut Bergenstråhle is the young lieutenant in the middle.

Fritz von Dardel also painted Lieutenant Löwegren as he was playing piano at some social gathering.

Ludvig Löwegren by Fritz von Dardel
Ludvig Löwegren by Fritz von Dardel

So what became of Augusta’s lieutenants?

Knut (b. 1816) and his brother Claes (b. 1819) Bergenstråhle became army officers.

Ludvig Löwegren (b. 1817) became an army officer, a pianist, and a composer.

Erik af Edholm (b. 1817) became an officer, marshal at the court of King Karl XV, and director of the Royal Theatre.

Gillis Bildt (b. 1820) became prime minister of Sweden in 1888.

Augusta's lieutenants later in life. Top row: Knut and
Augusta’s lieutenants later in life.
Top row: Knut and Claes Bergenstråhle.
Bottom row: Löwegren, Edholm, and Bildt.