Etikettarkiv: Westman

Dashing through the snow…

You can get to Stockholm’s international airport either by train or by car. Either way, you will pass Rosersberg, a small community northwest of Stockholm. If you are having a rental car, this is where you start looking for a gas station to fill up the car. If you are going by train, you just enjoy the beauty of the landscape. In the winter, there will be stretches of snowy fields, small farms in the distance, and dense evergreen forests. You could paint it for next year’s Christmas card.

When the train stops at Rosersberg, some people will get off and maybe some will take the connecting bus 577. That is how you get to Skånela Church and Skånelaholm Castle. I have never taken the bus and never visited the places. But now it is on my list for next summer’s excursions!

The reason?

I just can’t let go of an image of a teenage girl learning to shoot a pistol there and learning to drive a sleigh from Skånela Church to her home in central Stockholm. I can imagine her proudly driving the whole length of Drottninggatan, or Queen Street, in Stockholm. It must have been like a rite of passage – like getting your driver’s license and showing off by driving all the way up to your front door – and hoping your neighbors and friends are watching!

”My dear Augusta!

Thank you, my dear friend, for your long-awaited letter; you will not be angry with me for letting you wait a few mail days for an answer. I have been thinking of writing to you each mail day, but as you see, this has not happened. This Christmas has been the nicest one I can remember. First, we spent the Christmas holiday, or rather, the Christmas days as usual with our family. Then we traveled out to the countryside, to Pastor Schröderheim, where we spent 14 days – the most pleasant days you could ever imagine. We went to several balls at the neighbors, we went sledding, and in the evening, when we were at home, we sat in Uncle’s room and read aloud. I learned to shoot with a pistol and to drive a horse. On the way home I drove 10 miles* and then the whole length of Drottninggatan [Queen Street] all the way to our door. (Lotten’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, February 9, 1847).”

Augusta’s friend, Lotten Westman, was a wealthy city-girl. She was born and raised in Stockholm. Lotten and her sister Clara lived with a foster mother after becoming orphans. But the sisters had many aunts and uncles in Stockholm and distant relatives in the countryside. Those were the families they visited during the holidays.

Pastor Göran Ulric Schröderheim was one of them. He had married his cousin, Anna Charlotta Westman, and both of them were also Lotten’s father’s cousins. Schröderheim had been a pastor at the Royal Court but was at this time pastor at Skånela Church north of Stockholm. He and his wife had two sons, Göran and Johan.

”The pastor’s wife is a very decent, but ordinary woman. The sons, the lieutenant and the student, are also decent, especially the latter who was my real favorite. He is the most cheerful and kindest man you can imagine. Because we had had such a happy and fun time there, the first days after my return were so quiet, and I especially missed my favorite.”

Lotten liked Johan who was a student in Uppsala. He would later marry his neighbor at Skånelaholm Castle, Hedvig Lovisa Juliana Jennings.  The same neighbors whose balls Lotten had attended.

Today, Skånela parsonage is listed as a B&B for conferences and Skånelaholm Castle is open to the public.

Painting of Skånelaholm Castle (1881)

Let’s plan on an Augusta excursion to Skånela; imagining Lotten in a silk ballgown dancing in one of the castle’s halls, or dressed in a warm wool dress with layers of petticoats and shawls, practicing target shooting in the castle garden, or sledding down some slope – shawls flying!

*10 English miles = 6 fjärdings väg

Sleigh Ride, Einar Torsslow.
Sleigh Ride, Einar Torsslow.

Augusta’s First Love

Spring, the Fence by Václav Brožík
Spring, the Fence by
Václav Brožík

”They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.”

(Ernest Dowson, Vitae Summa Brevis)

The Summer Sejour to Gustafsberg, 1845

In the summer of 1845, Augusta turned 18. She had just finished her schooling in Stockholm and maybe her mother Anna thought it was time for her to meet a suitable young man. Why not at a seaside resort on the Swedish west coast?

During the spring, the resorts and spas advertised their facilities, the healing benefits of their mineral waters, and what the guests could expect with regards to entertainment and food. There were several resorts on the west coast. Mother Anna decided on Gustafsberg, a fashionable spa close to the town of Uddevalla.

Advertisement for Gustafsberg's Spa in Aftonbladet, 8 May 1845
Advertisement for Gustafsberg’s Spa in Aftonbladet, 8 May 1845
Mother Anna’s letter to Augusta, April 1845

“Your brother today gives you a present of 10 Rdr Bco that he wants you to use for making a dress of the silk fabric he gave you for Christmas as he heard that I have no money for that.”

Anna then gives Augusta advice about an alternative use for the money, such as making a small coat or collar to go with her black dress, and the importance of black lace on such an item because at the spa, “you can’t just run around in your little blue [dress]”. Final fashion decisions can wait until after the 1st of May.

“I am currently having your straw hat refurbished for everyday wear. I will send it to you when it is ready. I can’t afford to buy more than one so it has to be fairly beautiful. You asked me to sell the jewels. First of all, it wouldn’t be enough and secondly, you would not get paid enough. But on the other hand, it would be to your advantage if you used them yourself.”

I always have so much to do and a thousand expenses for this costly journey. We have to be there just before Midsummer and must necessarily be back here again 8 days before Lejdenfrost’s return, so we will spend 8 days there during the 2nd term. Many rooms have already been taken for the 1st term so I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Emilia Breitholtz' letter to Augusta - postmarked in Stockholm, 30 June 1845
Emilia Breitholtz’ letter to Augusta – postmarked in Stockholm, 30 June 1845

That is all we know about Augusta’s and her mother’s visit to Gustafsberg. Augusta didn’t start keeping a diary until 1847 and there are no letters from her during this time. But she did save an envelope of a letter that was addressed to her at Gustafsberg. From the coat-of-arms on the seal, we could discern that it was from the family Breitholz, so most likely from her friend Emilia Breitholtz.

Augusta’s First Love

Did Augusta meet a suitable young man at Gustafsberg? The clue is a letter from her friend Lotten in the fall of 1845. Augusta must have written to Lotten about her summer sejour and about a young man who she realized she could not marry.

Lotten’s letter to Augusta, October 1845

“My own beloved girl!

You can’t believe how happy I got when I received your dear, loving letter. You really made your poor friend wait for it; but I will not scold you, only thank you from my heart that you remembered your Lotten and, even more so, because you want to write to me in full confidence. You can’t believe how happy it made me. Thank you so much my little Gusta.

Believe me, I will not betray your trust. In my heart, you can lay down both your joy and your sorrow.

I am very sorry my good Augusta that you cannot get your relatives’ permission to a choice that your heart has made. Augusta! I am totally inexperienced in these things, but I love you so much because you listened to your senses instead of your heart which, sadly, many do not. But what would the result be? Indeed, poverty and misery. And I truly believe that ”when Poverty enters through the door, Love flies out of the window.” Perhaps I would not believe that if I had been in love myself, but there are too many stories confirming that the proverb is true. But Augusta, it is difficult for a young heart to accept that matters of money could separate two people who love each other. It’s really strange.

I want you to promise me something, my good Augusta. Don’t get married so soon, before you have had a chance to choose. Do not believe, because your first love could not be fulfilled, that you cannot be happy with someone else. You could find a man for whom you have deep respect and who would also be a good friend. But dear Augusta, be careful. I really shudder when I hear about these engagements settled during a ball. Imagine, frivolously entering into a bond for life! Your whole life! When you think about it, it’s horrible.

So you should be careful in making the right choice. Sweet Gusta, promise me that, do you hear me! You’re still so young. You know how deeply your Lotten cares for you and how happy I want you to be. Maybe you think I have given a long sermon, but I may be excused by my friendship for you. One thing, when you really want to pour out your heart, write to me.”

Lotten’s letter to Augusta, November 1845

“You can’t believe how I both laughed and was ready to weep over your love, as you and I call this infatuation. I was glad because you would never have been able to get the one you loved anyway. But I was sad, as you weren’t able to distinguish between a fleeting infatuation and true love. You would never have mistaken it if you had thought it over and tested yourself. What was it that you actually loved about him – his looks and some chivalrous traits? That is obvious because certainly, you couldn’t judge his character during a bathing-sejour when he perhaps always made you his [?]. And thus, he only showed his beautiful side. I only wish (and excuse me for this wish) that he will also just as easily bear the loss of you.”

Our Upcoming Summer Sejour to Gustafsberg

This summer, Kerstin and I are making our own summer sejour to Gustafsberg. We are going to stay in the bathhouse from Augusta’s time – now a hostel. And we are going to swim in our authentic bathing dresses that we are making. Let’s see how that goes! And we are going to visit the archives and see what entertainment they offered during the summer of 1845.

And maybe, just maybe, we can find a log of guests in 1845 and possibly find some candidates for Augusta’s first love?

I can only hope.

Gustafsberg in 1841
Gustafsberg in 1841

Who was Emilia Breitholtz?

I have continued to read the correspondence between Augusta and Lotten Westman from 1845. In the earliest letters, they decide to write each other monthly, but sometimes they write even twice a month. The letters give a glimpse of the concerns of 18-year-old girls who have just finished their education and now have to be content with home life, social life, and prospects of marriage. They would have loved social media; instead, they write letters to exchange gossip about friends, eligible lieutenants, and family members – in that order.

Stockholm, Thursday, 18 December 1845

My dear, good Augusta!

Heartfelt thanks for your last dear letter, you can hardly believe how happy I got and how much I have laughed…


Oh how fun it would be if you would come here this spring, but I would probably only catch a glimpse of you for all your other acquaintances. But if I were to abduct you, I would at least see you sometime. One can never meet Emilia Breitholtz at home because she is always at the Bohemans….


Augusta writes about the Boheman family in her diary. The head of the family was Professor Carl Henrik Boheman, in charge of the entomology collections at the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. In 1845 the household consisted of Carl Henrik, his wife Amalia Åberg and her elderly mother, and their 4 children: Hildegard (b. 1826), Hildur (b. 1829), Carl Hjalmar (b. 1834), and Ernst Hindrik Georg (b. 1836).

Augusta, Lotten, Hildegard, and Hildur were all close friends – in addition to Emilia Breitholtz.

Who was Emilia?

Emilia’s full name was Emilia Bernhardina Breitholtz. She was born in Stockholm in 1826, so she was the same age as Hildegard Boheman. Her mother, Emilie Hästesko-Fortuna, was a widow and lived with her children on Holländargatan, close to the Hay Market. Today, the google map street-view of the location is a parking garage.

Emilia’s father

Emilia’s father was Claes Josef Breitholtz, an officer who participated in the Finish War of 1808-1809 and the Napoleonic wars. Maybe he knew Augusta’s father?

Emilia Breitholtz

Emilia’s brothers also became officers. But what about Emelia? The only thing I can find about her is that she did not marry, that she died in Waxholm in 1891, and that she is buried in the family grave in Solna. What did she do? Did she teach? Maybe she kept a diary; maybe she wrote letters? Maybe some family member still have them? Or are they somewhere in the large Breitholtz family archive at the Royal Library? At least there is a picture of her later in life.

The search goes on. There are more names to follow in Augusta and Lotten’s correspondence and more stories about forgotten lives.

The Letter to Lotten Westman

Girl Reading by Albert Hendschel (1834-1883)

Augusta writes a letter to her friend Charlotta (“Lotten”). Lotten lives in Stockholm and Augusta has returned home to Loddby from Stockholm.


Loddby, 24 January 1847

…How many times I’m with you in mind, how many, many times I wish I had you here in my rooms, how many afternoons when the sun is setting and I sit alone in the corner of my couch do I imagine you sitting in the other corner and how we heartfully exchange our thoughts. I must be very fond of you to think of you so often. I have not seen a single soul since I came home because I have not been outside the door except for on New Year’s Day, when I attended the ball in the city {Norrköping} and had a royally boring time….


There are several letters between Augusta and Lotten in the family archives. Augusta writes about how she misses her friends in Stockholm: Emelie Breitholtz, Marina Ribbing, and Albertine Osbeck, born Schubert and related to Augusta. Maybe they all attended the same private school for girls?

A couple of weeks ago, Kerstin and I visited the Stockholm city archives – Stadsarkivet – to learn more about the education of girls in Stockholm in the 1840s. We know that Augusta studied in Stockholm from 1842 to around 1846 and boarded with a family. But what school did she attend? In the 1840s, there were few schools for girls. Maybe the city archives would have some information.

The archivist is very helpful and suggests that we start with the school archives and search for girl academies. So we do, and find only two schools. The first private school for girls in Stockholm was Wallinska Skolan which opened in 1831. It was located in the Old Town.  The other school was Bjurströmska Pensionen, competing for the title of the most exclusive girls’ school in Stockholm. In the middle of the 1840’s the school was taken over by a German educator, Ms Sophie Antoinette Kock, and the school was renamed Kockska Pensionen. In 1852 it again changed name with new leadership to Posseska Pensionen and in 1855 it became Hammarstedtska Skolan.

We find the addresses of the schools but not much else. We will need to continue the research. But what about her friend Lotten? Would her history give us any clues?

I google and I search in archives. I find that Lotten’s full name is Charlotta Sophia Ulrika Westman,  her birth date is the 15 November 1827, and her address in 1845. She and her sister are living with a miss Carin Hellberg, their care taker, in an appartment at the corner of Klara Norra Kyrkogata and Mäster Samuelsgatan. Today, the building is gone but it would have been located right behind Åhlens department store.

Where were their parents living? I continue my  church-archive search and find Lotten’s sister, Clara Carolina Dorothea Westman, born 16 February 1831.  She was baptized in Storkyrkan in Old Town. And by searching the baptismal records for this parish, I find that she was baptized by the famous bishop of Stockholm, J.O. Wallin, and that her parents were Isak Ulrik Abrahamson Westman, born in 1798, and his wife Eva Charlotta Plagemann, born in 1807. I also find that Lotten and Clara had a younger brother, Carl Abraham Ulrik Westman, born 2 February 1833 and also baptized in the same parish. But then the trail ends unless I am willing to read page up and page down of handwritten church records in order to find any of their names in records of death or departure to other parishes.  But in the genealogy site Geni, I find the parents listed with their birth and death dates. Lotten’s father died at age 36 and her mother at age 32. That explains why the two orphan girls were living with Miss Hellberg.

And then I find her on another geneology site. In 1857, she married and officer,Theodor Hugo Malcolm Abraham Wennerholm,  had 6 children, and lived to be 69 years old. But I also learn more about the Westman family. The Westman family was large and spanned many generations of brewers in Stockholm. The family became very wealthy. Maybe Lotten was sent to an exclusive school in order to get the best education and secure a good husband?

Augusta’s Journey continues. Sometimes the research is tedious, but it always leads to new discoveries and new knowledge.