Cecilia’s Album: Adèlaide Peijron (Sparre) – A Poem about Friendship

Today’s card in Cecilia Koch’s memory album is from Adèlaide Peijron. I wrote about Adèlaide in 2018 when I was searching for the girls who, like Augusta, lived with the Edgren family in Stockholm. Soon after writing the blog post, I received an exciting email from Adèlaide’s great-great-granddaughter (and our new friend), Kathinka Lindhe. At that time, she was working on a book about Adèlaide’s son. More about that down below.

Tomt och ödsligt blir Ditt lif
Om ej någon vän du äger
Wänskapen Ditt hjerta gif
Den allt annat öfverväger
Den är fast som klippans stål
Och ur denna verld dess mål

My translation (I am no expert on translating poetry and this time I took some liberties to improve on a simple literal translation)

Empty and desolate your life will be,
if not a friend you have.

A heartfelt friendship, do bestow,
a gift that beats all else.

Friendship – solid as a rock,
aim for it in life.

Who was Adèlaide?

Adèle’s full name was Adèlaide Virginia Peijron and she was born on 13 June 1831 in Stockholm. She was almost 13 years old when she wrote the loving poem to Cecilia.

Adèlaide’s mother was Adèlaide Elisabet Schön (1808-1837) and her father was the officer Edouard August Peyron (1796-1858) who had been introduced into the House of Nobility in 1837 with the new name, Peijron. In 1844, when Adèlaide wrote the poem to Cecilia, her father was a chamberlain (kabinettskammarherre) to King Oscar I.

Adèlaide’s mother died when Adèlaide was only 6 years old. It is understandable that the father could not take care of his young daughter. In 1840, at the age of 9, Adèlaide was therefore boarding with the Edgren family. She lived with the Edgrens until they left Stockholm in May of 1844. She then moved in with Mademoiselle Andriette Frigell who continued the school.

”My own Augusta!

Thank you, thank you, for your latest and, for so long, an anticipated letter which was dearly received.

… Yesterday, I was visiting Mademoiselle Frigel and she always asks about you and she sent you her warmest regards. Adèle Peyron also sent you lots of greetings. Erica Degermann and I are invited to Mademoiselle Frigell on a graduation ball on Tuesday…” (Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, 16 April 1846)

In September 1846, Adèlaide’s father married Anna Maria Bagge (1810-1858) and Adèlaide now had a stepmother. This upcoming wedding was already news in Mademoiselle Frigell’s school in the spring of 1846:

“Speaking of Mademoiselle F., Adèle Peyron’s father will remarry, with Mrs. Bagge, born Groen. So Adèle gets a stepmother. She went with her on May 1st but Adèle did not look happy at all, said Erica Degerman who saw her. Poor Adèle, I do not think it should be fun to have a new mother when you are that old.” (Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, 6 May 1846)

In 1853, Adèle married chamberlain Gabriel Gerhard Sigge Sparre af Rossvik and they had 2 sons and 2 daughters. One of the sons was Sixten Sparre.

Adele with her two daughters in 1860.

Sixten Sparre

Sixten Sparre was married and had two children when he became infatuated with a beautiful circus performer, Elvira Madigan. He left his family and convinced Elvira to leave the circus and join him. They traveled to Denmark but had no means to support themselves. Their ”honeymoon” ended in tragedy. Their bodies were found in a forest, Elvira presumably shot by Sixten who then shot himself. Their short story was the perfect fodder for the press – a romantic love story of a lieutenant and a beautiful circus artist who in desperation jointly committed suicide. Did they?

For the surviving family, it was something else – the tragedy, the shame, the history that should be forgotten and not mentioned. Kathinka Lindhe writes about this in her book Vacker var han, utav börd: Sixten Sparre, mannen som mördade Elvira Madigan (Transl. He was beautiful, of noble birth: Sixten Sparre, the man who murdered Elvira Madigan), published in 2020. It is a fascinating narrative about Sixten Sparre. She also writes about Adèle’s life after her son’s murder/suicide.

Adèle had had her own marital problems. Her husband had squandered all the wealth she had brought into the marriage. He had been forced to declare bankruptcy, and when he died in 1897, there was no inheritance for Adèle to live on. She had to manage on a pension but fortunately, she later received a substantial inheritance from a relative. She died in Stockholm in 1909, at the age of 78.


Cecilia’s Album: Axelina Fries (Fock) – A lock of her hair

Axeline Fries was 14 years old in May of 1844. When she sat down to write a card for Cecilia Koch’s memory album, she had already decided on her favorite poem. She knew it by heart.

Måtte nya blommor smycka,
Hvarje dag du möter än.
Intet saknas i din lycka,
Helgad utaf vänskapen.

(Literally translated as:
May new flowers adorn,
every day that greets you
Nothing lacking in your happiness
sanctified by friendship)

She made sure that her letters were perfectly lined up on the card and she underlined friendship (vänskapen).

But she wanted to give Cecilia something more and something personal.

A lock of her hair.

She gathered a few strands of her long, straight, brown hair and then, with her embroidery scissors, made the cut. She twisted the lock into two circles, like a pretzel, and tied it with a strand of red embroidery floss.

Two years later, her friend Cecilia died of measles and Axelina’s message would not bring any personal memories to those who read it. Now, 178 years later, I feel like I am finding a message in a bottle.

Who was Axelina? What did she look like? Did she marry? Did flowers adorn every day that greeted her?

Axelina Maria Magdalena Fries

Axelina was born in Malmö on September 5, 1829. Her father was Bengt Fredrik Fries (b. 1799), a professor of zoology who in 1831 became the curator of the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. His wife, Axelina’s mother, was Anna Christina Lundberg (b. 1804).

Anna Christina Lundberg (Professor Bengt Fredrik Fries’ wife). Drawing by Maria Röhl, 1846.


Professor Bengt Fredrik Fries

Axelina had two younger sisters, Josefina Helena Gustafva (b. 1831) and Ida Maria Elisabet (b. 1834).

Axelina’s father died suddenly in 1839. In 1842, the family moved to Clara parish and to the house at the corner of Stora Vattugränd and Clara Östra Kyrkogata. It was the same house where Charlotta Lindström’s family lived (Charlotta, who also wrote a card for Cecilia’s album). The situations of the two families, Fries and Lindström, were similar. The fathers in both families were professors who had 3 young daughters when they suddenly died in their 30s.

Josefina and Axelina Fries in 1846. Drawings by Maria Röhl.

Axelina marries Baron Alfred Henrik Edvard Fock

“You probably already know that Axeline Fries is engaged to a Baron Fock, but they will not marry yet. He is awfully much smaller than her, it does not look very nice. When she takes his arm, he disappears right under her red coat.” (Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, March 6, 1848)

It was well known that Baron Alfred Henrik Edvard Fock was unusually short in stature. A friend of Alfred Fock, Fritz von Dardel, referred to him as “little Fock”.

“I had been asked to speak, but I instead persuaded little Fock to do it and he succeeded much better than I should have done.” (Fritz von Dardel describing a visit by industrialists and artists to thank Crown Prince Oscar for his support).

Alfred Fock. Drawing by Fritz von Dardel

Alfred Fock was born in 1818 in Bjurbäck, close to Jönköping. When Axelina met him, he was a lieutenant and a teacher of physics in Stockholm. He would later leave the military and become a professor of physics at the Technology Institute in Stockholm; nowadays the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He also became a member of parliament.

Alfred Fock

Axelina and Alfred got married on February 24, 1849. They had five children:

Anna Magdalena ”Malin” (1849-1933), did not marry
Axel Fredrik (1852-1878), did not marry
Carl Alexander (1854-1938), married Huldina Beamish
Gertrud Maria (1856-1856), died in infancy
Ida Lovisa Josefina (1864-1914), married John Edvard Magnus Sager

In the winter of 1858-59, Axelina and her two sisters visited Maria Röhl again. These are the artist’s quick sketches. She focused on the faces at these sessions.

Axelina, Josefina, and Ida Fries. Sketches by Maria Röhl.

A new home at Hantverkargatan 18, Kungsholmen

In 1851, the family moved to Hantverkargatan 18 (block Fikonträdet). They lived there until the end of the year 1856.

The address seems familiar, and in the house examination records, I recognize the names of Augusta’s childhood friends from Krusenhof in Kvillinge parish: the Hjort family. This is the house Augusta visited on her trips to Stockholm in the 1850s. And this is where she lived when she was ill with tuberculosis and was treated by Dr. Pehr Henrik Malmsten, a famous doctor in Stockholm. Augusta must have run into Axelina when she visited the Hjorts and when she stayed with them.

Augusta describes her visit to the Hjorts in her diary, March 12, 1851.

“The day after our arrival, we waded through quarter-deep dirt to our friends on Kungsholmen, where we were warmly received, had a pleasant evening and reminisced about our winter evenings at Krusenhof.

Aunt and Nanna have a small sunny and nice home, in the middle of a garden that extends all the way down to the lake shore. In the summer, this little place must be a real paradise where you have flowers and light, fresh air and Lake Mälaren’s blue surface and verdant islets to rest your eyes on, as well as the most magnificent views of Riddarholmen and Söder and, over all, the steamships that from different directions rush to their common goal – Riddarholmsbron.”

Axelina’s Grandchildren

Axelina died on October 9, 1888, in Stockholm. That should probably be the end of this blog entry – one about a young, happy girl who wrote a lovely poem to her friend and gave her a lock of her hair.

But there are at least two of her grandchildren who should be mentioned. Axelina’s son, Carl Alexander, and his wife Huldina had 5 daughters: Fanny, Elsa, Mary, Carin, and Lilly.

My Memory of Axelina’s Granddaughter Mary

I actually have a memory of Axelina’s granddaughter.

I am around 5 years old and we are celebrating midsummer at Rockelstad Castle in Helgesta parish. I only remember two things: my parents dancing in a crowded place, and the old countess, who lived in the castle, giving me a large, shiny coin, maybe a 2-crown or 5-crown coin as a prize in a game organized for the kids. I curtsy politely as expected of me. It feels like a fairy tale, getting a shiny coin from an old countess who lives in a real castle.

Countess Mary von Rosen was Axelina’s granddaughter. She was born in 1886 and married Count Eric von Rosen (b.1879) in 1905. He was a pilot, an ethnographer, and the owner of Rockelstad Castle.

When I was a child, our family spent the summers at Ådö in Helgesta parish not far from Rockelstad Castle. There were lots of stories about Eric von Rosen, of his travels, parties, hunting trophies, etc. That is all I knew.

When I searched for Axelina’s granddaughters, I learned that Eric von Rosen died in 1948 and his wife in 1967. I guess she wasn’t as old as I thought she was when I was little.

Axelina’s Infamous Granddaughter Carin

Mary’s younger sister Carin married nazi-leader Hermann Göring in 1922. He was working as a commercial pilot in Stockholm after World War I and knew Eric von Rosen (also a pilot). Carin was visiting her sister Mary when she met Göring at Rockelstad. The couple moved to Germany in 1922 and became high-profile members of the nazi party. Carin died before World War II in 1931, at the age of 42, from a heart attack. Hermann Göring’s war crimes are well documented.


Axelina’s sisters Josefina and Ida never married.
The poem Axelina copied is an anonymous poem. It was published in a book in 1857.
All drawings by Maria Röhl are available at regina.kb.se




Cecilia’s Album: Charlotte Lindström – A true friend?

One of Cecilia Koch’s friends gave her a card with a cryptic message. Charlotte Lindström had drawn a picture of a blue flower – a Forget-Me-Not – and included the text: pas une véritable amie (not a true friend). It doesn’t make sense to me. Or did she copy the phrase and mistook par for pas? The phrase, par une véritable amie (by a true friend), would make a lot more sense.

We will never know. But if you have any ideas, please let me know.

And we will never know for certain who Charlotte Lindström was. But I have a very good candidate. Lindström is a fairly common name in Sweden and Charlotte (Charlotta) was a very popular name in the mid-1800s. However, social class was also important at the time. Someone who gave Cecilia a card for her memory album would have belonged to the same class – the ones who paid for their daughters to attend private schools.

I scanned church records in Stockholm for candidates and found one that met my criteria. When I realized that she and her family lived in the house next to the family Edgren, whose school Augusta and Cecilia attended, I was pretty certain this was the right girl. And if I am mistaken, this blog will simply be one about an interesting family in Stockholm.

Gustafva Magdalena Sophia Charlotta Lindström

Charlotta Lindström was born in Uppsala on February 5, 1831. When Charlotta was a baby, they moved to Stockholm where her two younger sisters were born: Sophia Jacobina (June 7, 1832) and Hedvig Ottilia (August 5, 1833). Sophia later changed her middle name, Jacobina, to Jacquette. Their father, Jacob Niklas Lindström was a young professor of medicine and physician at the royal court (Swedish: kunglig livmedicus). Their mother was a countess, Magdalena Eleonora Charlotte Wrangel.

It was a young successful family. The godparents listed at the girls’ baptisms all belonged to the aristocracy, which bode well for the girls’ futures.

The Cholera Epidemic of 1834

But being a medical doctor in the 1800s had its risks. And when the cholera epidemic hit Stockholm in 1834, nobody knew what caused cholera and doctors had limited means of treating patients.

On August 25, 1834, Stockholm officially declared a cholera outbreak. It would last until October 12. During these 49 days, the official number of cholera cases was 7,895 and 3,277 died. Charlotta’s father was one of those who succumbed to the disease. He died on September 29, 1834, at the age of 33.

The parents of two other friends of Augusta and Cecilia also died from cholera that fall, Therese Gustafva Aspegrén and Hilda Theophila Lagerheim 


The girls grew up not having known their father. They moved several times within Stockholm and in 1844, they were neighbors with the Edgren family, in a block named Svalan. It is possible that they also attended Edgren’s school. And if they didn’t, they certainly knew the girls who were boarding with the Edgren family, like Augusta.

For a well-connected family, life still went on with balls and visits. Anna-Lisa Geijer, the wife of Erik Gustaf Geijer (professor and chancellor of Uppsala University), mentions Charlotta’s mother in a letter to Malla Silfverstolpe (writer and literary salon hostess). In a letter dated February 1, 1847, she complained about a boring ball she had attended. She was, however, delighted to have run into Charlotte Wrangel (Charlotta’s mother) who, “as always, was well and tastefully dressed”. On her head, Charlotte wore a creation of “black lace and purple flowers that suited her a lot.”

Then tragedy struck again. Charlotta’s mother died from cancer in 1856, at the age of 53. The three girls, who were now 25, 23, and 22 years old, were put under guardianship by the court. The two male guardians were unrelated to the girls: Royal Cabinet Chamberlain Johan Gabriel Eketrä (b. 1808) and Chamberlain Carl Gustaf Leijonhielm (b.1820). They would manage the girls’ finances and their inheritance.

Later years

Of course, the girls could not live by themselves. Someone would have to take them in. Alternatively, a well-educated girl from a respectable family could always take a position as a governess in a family or become a lady’s companion.

According to church records in 1856, the 3 girls moved in with an elderly widower and nobleman, Major Carl Jonas Lagerberg, on his estate Hamrum in Korsberga parish far from Stockholm. How did they know him? Sadly, their time there was short. Major Lagerberg died the following spring and the girls had to move again.

I follow the girls’ moves in and out of parishes across Sweden. In 1857, Sophia moves in with the family Hamilton at Boo castle close to Örebro. And Hedvig moves to Karlskrona. Charlotta seems to end up in Linköping.

Only Hedvig marries – a navy officer (later, Admiral) named Jacob Lagercrantz. They move back to Stockholm and raise 5 children. Charlotta lives with them at the turn of the century. I wish I knew how her life turned out. She died from a stroke on June 26, 1812, in Linköping.

And by the way, Charlotta and my great-grandmother, Anna Hermanna Lindström (b. 1849) were cousins. Their fathers were half-brothers.

Rosalie Roos’ Bathing Costume

Sara and Kerstin enjoying saltwater bathing at Gustafsberg (photo: Nathalie Kereki Bohlin)

A couple of years ago, Kerstin and I made 1840s bathing costumes. At that time, I remembered a description of bathing costumes in an autobiography by a Swedish young woman. She had visited Charleston, South Carolina in 1854 and described them in a letter to her brother.

The other day, I found the book again: Travels in America 1851-1855 by Rosalie Roos (translated and edited by Carl L. Anderson).

Rosalie Roos was born in 1823, so she was 4 years older than Augusta. In 1851, she left Sweden for a teaching position at Limestone Springs Female High School, a boarding school in South Carolina.* She stayed at the school until the beginning of 1853 when she became the governess to two of her students on the Peronneau family plantation, Dungannon.

In the summer of 1854, the family vacationed in Charleston which she described in a letter to her brother Axel:

I have another nice day to tell you about which was spent on Sullivan’s Island, just about the only summer resort which the city people have nearby. At 5 o’clock, good Mrs. Peronneau came to awaken me, and at 7 we were aboard the little steamboat which was to take us to the island.

The Company included Mrs. de Saussure with a couple of children, Clelia, Mary, and I. At the dock on Sullivan’s Island, we were met by old Mr. de Saussure, a little, portly, and prosperous-looking, exceedingly pleasant, and genial old fellow, in whose carriage we went to his residence and were welcomed there by his wife and two daughters. After breakfast, we sat on the piazza and I delighted in seeing and hearing the saltwater waves break against the fine sand of the shore just a few steps away from the house. Later we were invited to go out on ’the beach,’ which at flood tide lies under water. Traveling across the white, fine-grained sand bar was especially pleasant, and we got down from the carriage to gather shells and seaweed which the waves had thrown up on the shore. Back at the house, we were invited to go bathing, which we accepted with pleasure.

”One of the daughters let me borrow a bathing dress consisting of wide unmentionables and a jacket of red flannel, and a kind of coat of the same material to throw over my shoulders when descending into the water. Clelia and Mary received old bathing costumes of lesser elegance, and I assure you it was a droll sight to see us wandering off in this strange attire with old sunbonnets on our heads. In these bathing costumes, the women can quite freely enjoy bathing in the sea without being concerned about onlookers; they are excellent for this purpose, although I should not feel myself inclined to be dressed in this manner or to go bathing with gentlemen, although this is said to be quite usual.”

It was glorious out in the water; it was thoroughly warm so that I did not feel one shiver when the first wave washed over me, and it was with difficulty that we could bring ourselves to leave the salty element after we had been in almost one hour. Later it tasted marvelous to eat watermelons, apples, pineapples, bananas, fresh figs, raisins, and almonds, along with lemonade – doesn’t it make your mouth water?

Some American illustrations of bathing costumes in the 1800s:

Bathing Costume in 1858

Bathing Costumes in 1869

Bathing Dresses in 1868
Bathing at Long Branch, – ”Oh, Ain’t it Cold!” Drawing by Winslow Homer. 1871
Saltwater bathing

*“Originally named the Limestone Springs Female High School, the new institution attracted the daughters of the most influential families of South Carolina, who sought the finest liberal arts education available at that time. On November 6, 1845, a total of 67 young women began their classes at Limestone.” (https://www.limestone.edu/history-of-limestone)

Source: Roos, Rosalie. Travels in America 1851-1855 (Based on Resa till Amerika 1851-1855, Ed. Sigrid Laurell), transl. and ed. Carl L. Andersson. 1982. Southern Illinois Univ. Press.

Featured Image. Saltwater Bathing. 1857. Illustration by Augustus Hoppin (1828-1896).