Kategoriarkiv: Travels and Transportation

17. Anna Elisabeth Sofia (Sofi) Carlstrand (Osbeck) – A Manager of Porters (Stadsbudsföreståndarinna)

When Sofi was confirmed in St Jacob’s Church in May of 1844, she had experienced more tragedies than any of her friends in the confirmation class. As she sat in the church with the other girls, she must have been thinking of her father. When Sofi was little, he had been the pastor in this church. She missed him, and her mother, and her sister, and her grandparents. They had all died within a few years. All she had left was her brother and a few cousins.

Anna Elisabeth Sofia (Sofi) Carlstrand

Anna Sofia Elisabeth Carlstrand was born in St. Jakob’s parish on November 15, 1827. Her mother, Sofia Wilhelmina Söderlund, had only been 18 years old when she gave birth to Sofi. Her father, Pastor Erik Carlstrand, was 34 and the pastor in St. Jacob’s church – a very prestigious position. Soon Sofi would get some younger siblings: Julia Mathilda Carolina in 1829 and Erik Johan in 1831.

But like so many other young women, Sofi’s mother suffered from tuberculosis and in 1832, at the age of 22, she died, leaving behind the three young children. Sofi was 5 years old. The same year, her maternal grandparents also died.

Moving to Brunskog

Two years later, in 1834, a cholera epidemic occurred in Stockholm. Sofi’s family was not spared. Her then 5-year-old sister succumbed to the disease. Was that the reason that Sofi’s father decided to leave Stockholm with his two surviving children the following year? Or did he want to move closer to his hometown of Karlstad? Regardless of the reason, Sofi’s father accepted the position of pastor in the small parish of Brunskog, a rural community nestled in the deep forests of Värmland. In May of 1835, the small family and their housekeeper, Johanna Schaumkel, moved to Brunskog.

Living in the parsonage in Brunskog was quite different from their apartment right across from St. Jacob’s church in Stockholm. The parsonage was spacious and the views of the forests and the mountain ridge across the large lake provided both solace and inspiration. For 8-year-old Sofi and her 4-year-old brother Johan, there was so much more space for play and discoveries.

Brunskog Church in 1835

Tragically, Sofi’s father died 3 years later, in 1838. He was only 44 years old. Sofi and her brother were now orphans. Who would take care of them?

Back to Stockholm

I spend several evenings trying to find the traces of Sofi. I find that Johanna, the housekeeper, moved to Stockholm in 1839 and became the housekeeper to Sofi’s mother’s, half-brother’s widow. And there is a note in Brunskog parish’s household examination records that Sofi also moved to Stockholm in 1839. But as she was a child and an orphan, her moves between parishes were not recorded. I was hoping that she had also moved in with her mother’s relatives, but she hadn’t. Maybe she was put in a boarding school for girls – she was 12 years old and probably in need of some formal education. The only thing we know is that in 1844, she was confirmed in St. Jacob’s Church in Stockholm. Likewise, there is no trace of Sofi’s brother until he is an adult living in Stockholm.


The next footprint she leaves in the digitized records is her wedding to Pehr Victor Herrman Osbeck on January 17, 1852. Herrman Osbeck was the grandson of Pehr Osbeck, a Swedish botanist and explorer. Herrman’s father, Carl Gustaf Osbeck, was a medical doctor in Stockholm. And Herrman was also the brother of Frans Theodor Osbeck, who married “our” Augusta’s cousin’s daughter, Albertine Schubert.

Herrman had the title of Possessionate: someone who owned a larger country estate, or a property in a major city, or an ironworks. I haven’t found what he owned. To get a picture of Herrman’s and Sofi’s life, I turn to the digitized newspapers. I start with the obituaries and since they don’t mention any children, they either did not have any or, if they did, they did not survive.

Herrman and Sofi lived in Maria Magdadela parish in the south of Stockholm. Herrman was an entrepreneur and someone who was “with the times”. The first mention of him in the papers is with regards to the new invention, the telegraph. Herrman was part of the management team that led the installation and laying of the telegraph cables to Uppsala in 1854. After that, his title changes to Commissioner. He is now a real estate agent, advertising real estate such as a pharmacy being for sale, including all its commodities.

The Commision Office at the Railroad Station

And then he has a bright idea. Or was it Sofi’s? Did they work together?

It is 1860, and the railroad is coming to Stockholm. Herrman puts an ad in the paper:

Commission-Office at the Train Station in Stockholm
When the railroad is completed, the undersigned will receive and send all kinds of goods arriving from or being sent to the countryside. The fee will be paid at a fixed rate. Storage and transportation will be available. Gentlemen who wish to take advantage of this to send goods are asked to contact the undersigned.

On December 1, 1860, the railroad between Stockholm and Södertälje opens to traffic. The station in Stockholm is not where the central station is today. In 1860, it was in the south of Stockholm, close to where Herrman and Sofi lived.

And Herrman is in business! He even advertises that he takes care of receiving, selling, purchasing, and shipping any kind of product. And as people in the countryside realize that there is a reliable agent in Stockholm, they provide goods for him to sell. He advertises draft horses, birchwood, oatmeal, and … fresh milk every evening!

It makes me think of COOP, the small convenience store located in Stockholm’s Central Station today. A place for busy commuters to get a few groceries before getting on the subway or commuter train. Times have really changed but, on the other hand, there is still demand for oatmeal and fresh milk!

Business is booming for Herrman and Sofi. Why not expand the services offered?

In 1864, Herrman advertises that he is not limiting his services to the railroad station. He will provide his services to all of Stockholm.

And then in 1866, there is an Industry Exposition in Stockholm. Herrman gets the contract to receive and take care of all goods for the exhibition that arrives by train. And he advertises his multitude of services to the exhibitors.

”Industripalatset”, the Exhibition Palace in Kungsträdgården was built for the Industry Exposition in 1866

Transportation within Stockholm

So far, Herrman had focused on shipping and receiving goods. But what about the passengers who arrived in Stockholm by train? What services did they need? They needed the same services as today – transportation from the train stations to their final destination and someone to help with their luggage. The difference was that luggage was bulkier and heavier than today and might have to be delivered to your destination.

Luggage would be taken care of by porters, but it was total chaos outside the train station with porters accosting the travelers. And the travelers had no way of knowing who they could trust or what constituted a reasonable fee for transporting their luggage. Herrman proposed to the railroad authorities that he could provide porter service (Swedish: Stadsbud). The porters would be wearing a recognizable uniform and the fees would be posted. They agreed and in 1868, he started his “Railyard Service” (Swedish: Bangårdsservis).

The Railyard Service was so successful that in 1869, he realized that travelers arriving by steamboat faced the same problem and that he could provide his services to those as well. He called it “Steamboat Service” (Swedish: Ångbåtsservis).

When Herrman died in 1889, Sofi took over the business. The fact that she took over the business suggests that she likely was a partner in the business all along. She was 62 years old and for the first time in her life, she had a professional title: Stadsbudsföreståndarinna (Manager of City Porters).

In 1899, she was quoted in the newspaper about her views on changing the fee structure and hourly salaries for the porters. She did support an increase in hourly salaries.

Sofi died in 1902 from a stroke. She was 74 years old.

What an interesting life she had.

Painting by Jenny Nyström published in Svea Illustrerad Veckotidning, 1886. It depicts two porters (Stadsbud) recognizable by their caps, helping Christmas shoppers.

Augusta goes west

Well, Augusta only went as far west as the west coast of Sweden. But for two weeks, we are taking Augusta’s Journey to America and exploring the 19th century in Viriginia.

We start with a morning stroll in Old Town Alexandria. The town was founded on the Potomac River in 1749 and is a beautiful little town just one metro-stop away from Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport.  Old brick houses line cobblestone streets and the little private gardens are overflowing with red, pink, and white azaleas. Mockingbirds serenade each other from blooming Dogwood trees and fragrant Black Locust trees. It is such a lovely time of the year.

We don’t get far before a nice man walking a beautiful little dog greats us and ask if we want him to take a picture of us. We have stopped at a street corner where red and yellow roses make a portal over the brick-paved sidewalk. I ask if we can include his sweet little dog in the picture.

Our stroll then takes us to Christ Church – the 18th century church which George Washington attended. The cemetery is so beautiful at this time of the year. Here we meet a lady, curious and interested in our muslin summer dresses, and get to share our story about Augusta.

Next, we head to Prince Street and Duke Street.  The sidewalks are narrow and our skirts are wide, so we need to step aside when meeting others.  But the citizens of Alexandria are equally courteous.  A man that we meet, raises his hat and says ”Good Day, Ladies!” Such good manners!

But of course, we are really time travelers and despite having read Victorian etiquette books, we decide that we need to stop at an outdoor restaurant and have a cold beer.  Here we meet another wonderful couple and get to share Augusta’s Journey.  And we meet their sweet dog, Sasha, a little black Havanese dog with a friendly smile.

How nice it is to be a time traveller or time ambassador?


A side-trip to Nebraska

License plates celebrate the 150th anniversary of Nebraska becoming a state in 1867
License plates celebrate the 150th anniversary of Nebraska becoming a state in 1867

I just got my new Nebraska license plates for my car. They celebrate the 150th anniversary of Nebraska becoming a state in 1867. When Augusta set off on her European journey in 1847, Nebraska was not even a formal territory. So when did the large Swedish migration to the US start? Who were the first families to settle in the heartland?

I had hoped to find that the towns considered to be the Swedish capitals of Nebraska (Oakland and Stromsburg), or any of the towns or communities with the names of Gothenburg, Malmo, Wausa, Swedeburg, and Swedehome would have been settled by early Swedish immigrants. What it seemed like, is that most of the Swedes arrived from neighboring states and especially after the railroad across Nebraska was finished in 1867.

New Sweden Lutheran Church, Jefferson County, Iowa
New Sweden Lutheran Church, Jefferson County, Iowa

According to Arnold Barton’s The Old Country and the New: Essays on Swedes and America, the first organized group of Swedish farmers to emigrate, and which founded a lasting Swedish settlement in the American Midwest, was led by Peter Cassel from Kisa parish in Östergötland. In 1845, his group settled in Jefferson County in southeastern Iowa and named their settlement New Sweden.

Peter Cassel praised life in Iowa in letters published by the Swedish press. This contributed to an increasing number of Swedes wanting to emigrate, and the start of the mass emigration.

The story of Peter Cassel and New Sweden is documented in an article in the Palimpsest in 1978.

Cultural Heritage Östergötland also describes the journey of Peter Cassel and his family and friends in 1845: “On an early May morning the small group breaks up from Kisa and travels with horse and wagon to Berg at the Göta Canal from where the journey continues with canal boat to Gothenburg.”

Sven Ljungberg: The Emigrants
Sven Ljungberg: The Emigrants

This is where it all comes together. Peter Cassel and his family lived in the same province (Östergötland) as Augusta. They left Kisa by horse and wagon and traveled the 40 miles to reach Berg. On the way, they would have passed Slaka church where Augusta was baptized and Lambohov – the beautiful estate of baron Sparre – which Augusta and her friends visited, dressed in black silk taffeta.

When they arrived at Berg, they boarded a steam boat for their journey on the Göta Canal to Gothenburg – the same journey Augusta wrote about in 1850, and Kerstin and I made in June.

Which brings me to another interesting discovery. Many of the Swedes who emigrated to America would sail from Gothenburg. In order to get to Gothenburg one would have to travel across the country, and before 1856, there were no railroads. So many emigrants started their journey to America on a small steam boat on the Göta Canal. And just like Kerstin and I did, one can still make this beautiful journey on one of Göta Canal Rederi AB’s boats and experience this first leg of the emigrant’s journey to America.

1883 map of Nebraska and Iowa
1883 map of Nebraska and Iowa

So what about Nebraska? It is most likely that some early settlers in Nebraska had roots in the province of Östergötland and that some had started their America journey on the Göta Canal. According to Ardith Melloh, “Young married couples and single men left New Sweden in south-eastern Iowa for the cheaper land and homesteads in western Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.”

Further readings on the Cassel colony can be found at: http://www.anusha.com/cassel.htm







The First Train Ride

The Railroad to Berlin
The Railroad to Berlin

After having spent a week in Lübeck, Augusta and her mother leave for Berlin. The weather is rather miserable but they enjoy passing the “enchanting” little town of Ratzeburg. After Ratzeburg, the landscape is flat and infertile, but the scenery is not important to Augusta – she is excited about getting to Schwarzenbek where the railroad starts.

There were no railroads in Sweden in 1847 (the first local railroads opened in 1856 – after Augusta’s life time – and the railroad from Stockholm to Göteborg didn’t open until 1862).

I can almost envision Augusta and her mother when they finally are about to board the train – the novel and controversial mode of transportation. Augusta is waiting to step up into the train compartment, following her mother. Her mother’s wide dress fills the entire entrance to the compartment. When it is Augusta’s turn to step up, she gathers her skirt with her left hand. In her right hand, she is carrying a fashionable little reticule, a rolled-up travel blanket, and a parasol. The rest of the luggage has been left with the porters.

Now she will get to see the interior of a train car; this is what she has been looking forward to – and to experience the dizzying speed of a train ride. She is almost overwhelmed by what she sees and wonders how she will describe this luxury to her friends back home. She will not have a chance to write it down in her small diary until they have arrived at Hotel de Rome in Berlin and she has a desk to write on.

”Quite curious whether the journey in the so highly praised steam cars would please me, I waited with the utmost impatience for the train, which soon arrived. The first entrance in the wagon pleased me immensely. One was by Monsieur le Conducteur locked in a small delightful cabinet, with a ceiling lamp and four stuffed sofas, two and two against each other. The train started and I felt like I was flying through the air. In the distance, however, one could see the objects one passed, but as the whole of the Prussian countryside was ugly, I did not pay any attention to the scenery but instead conversed with my neighbors who, with the usual German talkativeness, informed us of everything we wanted to know for our stay in Berlin.”

Maybe the compartment looked like the one in Abraham Soloman’s 1854 controversial painting of flirtation in a first-class cabin while the girl’s father is asleep.

Abraham Soloman. First Class - The Meeting (original version) 1854
Abraham Soloman. First Class – The Meeting (original version) 1854

Soloman then re-painted the scene according to Victorian morals – now with the young man talking to the father.

Abraham Solomon (1824-1862) First Class - The Meeting (Revised Version)
Abraham Solomon (1824-1862) First Class – The Meeting (Revised Version)

Or maybe the compartment looked like the one in August Leopold Egg’s 1862 famous painting: The Travelling Companions.

The Travelling Companions
The Travelling Companions 1862

Now Kerstin and I are planning our travels by train through Germany. Hopefully the compartments will be just as cozy and the trains alot faster.







AP Rehder and his daughter Mathilde

At this time last year, Kerstin and I hatched the idea of making the same trip through Germany that our great-great-grandmother Augusta had made in 1847, and which she described in her diary. We thought it would be an interesting vacation trip. Then we realized that we needed to find out more about Augusta and her life in Sweden in the mid-1800s. We also wanted to share what we found, and we named the project Augusta’s Journey. And what a fun journey it has been!

Where has Augusta’s Journey taken us this last year?

Over the last year, Augusta’s Journey has evolved into a multifaceted research project – there are just so many topics that are interesting. In addition, we decided to make clothes that Augusta would have worn, and travel by similar means, following her travels described in her diary. And yes, she didn’t only travel to Germany, but made many trips throughout Sweden.

Kerstin and Sara
Kerstin and Sara

The highlight so far was our journey on Göta Canal where we, dressed in 1850s clothing, spent 4 days on M/S Juno, the world’s oldest registered cruise ship, making the same journey that Augusta described in her diary.

But the most positive outcome of our journey has been the new friends we have made over the year. And the positive comments from all who have been following our journey! Augusta’s family has certainly grown. So thank you for all kind support and interest!

What is next?

We thought that the journey through Germany, dressed in clothing of the time, might be nice to make this fall. But that would also mean making new clothes for colder weather. And travelling by train and river boats would necessitate some smart solutions to “luggage”. Whatever we bring, we will have to carry with us, and we would not have the same luxury as Augusta had – hiring local servants. The hatboxes would definitely have to be left behind (even though they were very good laptop bags on the Göta Canal cruise).

Lejdenfrost’s business contact: AP Rehder

Kerstin has already started researching Lübeck – our starting point in Germany. Gustaf Lejdenfrost, Augusta’s brother-in-law, had a business contact in Lübeck with the name of August Peter (AP) Rehder. In the summer of 1847, Augusta and her mother were invited to travel with Lejdenfrost to Lübeck and meet the family Rehder. This would also be a great opportunity for Augusta and her mother to do a sightseeing trip to Berlin, Dresden, Potsdam, Prague, Leipzig, and Hamburg.

Augusta’s Travel Journal in Germany

At 6 am on the 20th of June, 1847, Augusta, her mother, and Lejdenfrost arrived by boat to Travemünde and had breakfast “together with some members of the lovely Rehder family who had come to meet us.” After some sightseeing, they all traveled to Lübeck.

Adolph Menzel: Bauplatz mit Weiden

For dinner we were invited to Rehders and we spent the afternoon in a beautiful garden outside the city, where there was music and where we played games like ’last couple out’, ’one hits the third’ and others.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to find out more about the Rehder family? Who were they, and what happened to the family. Are there still descendants somewhere in the world, or some still in Lübeck who we could visit?

This week, Kerstin handed me the baton – she was already digging into the history of the Tesdorpf family in Lübeck and their relationship to Augusta’s friend Mina Tesdorpf. But she had found a hotel that might be Rehders’ old house – there was just some issues with the street numbers …

Hotel Anno 1216

Alfstrasse 38
Alfstrasse 38

“Behind the façade of one of the oldest brick buildings of Lübeck is a small, exclusive hotel like no other…” reads the welcome page of Hotel Anno 1216. The history of the house is indeed interesting “The historic building stands on the corner of Alfstrasse and An der Untertrave, thus occupying an important strategic position within the original street network of the newly founded settlement of traders. The first written reference to the house dates back to 1305.”

This is where my sleuthing starts. Of course there is a book one can buy about this house (Alfstrasse 38), but there are always online archives that will provide the same information. After some digging, I find the owner list of this house going back to 1305. And yes, AP Rehder bought the house in 1853 and sold it in 1863.

So, when Augusta visited in 1847, Rehder had not yet bought Alfstrasse 38, but lived right across the street from Hotel Anno 1216, at the opposite corner of Alfstrasse and An der Untertrave (today Alfstrasse 41).

The issue with the street numbers can quickly be resolved. The street numbers changed over the years but those on a city map from 1840 match Rehder’s addresses in the digitally available address books of inhabitants of Lübeck at the time.

Carolina Mathilde Rehder

Besides AP Rehder, his daughter Mathilde is mentioned by name. She became a good friend to Augusta, and when, after 4 weeks in Germany, they returned to Sweden, Mathilde and her father came along. Mathilde spent a couple of weeks with Augusta, first in Stockholm and then at her home, Loddby. Augusta was 20 years old and Mathilde was 19 and they became best friends. I wonder if Mathilde also kept a journal?

“In Stockholm we spent a few days to show Mathilda its beautiful surroundings and places that could be worth seeing. She found our capital, if not magnificent or spectacular – characteristics that we ourselves must admit it does not possess – at least, as she expressed, ”sehr gemüthlich”, and our park, Djurgården, won her undivided approval.

It does not take many days to take in all of Stockholm’s ”Sehenswürdigkeiten” and on the 3rd day after our arrival, we traveled with Raketen and Captain Sandberg to Norrköping.

Mathilda spent two weeks at Loddby; then her father came to pick her up and Lejdenfrost and I accompanied them to Norsholm, where we bade them farewell after a long and nice time together.”

So what happened to 19-year old Mathilde?

She married Cay Dietrich Lienau and had several children, the exact number we don’t know. Three children can be found on various genealogy sites: Paul Adolph Wilhelm (b. 1855), Cay Dietrich (b. 1867) and Louise “Lizzie” (b. 1869).

Louise emigrated to USA. She was married to Wilhelm Grojitzki who was also born in Germany. They settled in Michigan and had 3 children:
Amand Clara, born in 1889, married William Fredrick Lienau and had 5 children,
Clara Louise, born in 1891, married George H. Lozer, and
Alma Rowena, born in 1904, married Theodore John Kratt and had 2 children

So at least in the US, someone can call Mathilde his or her great-great-grandmother, just like Augusta was ours.