Etikettarkiv: Lotten

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

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.






Mademoiselle Frigel and her Girls

Illustration of Little Women. Frank T. Merrill. 1880
Little Women. Illustration by Frank T. Merrill. 1880

In the fall of 1841, Augusta started school in Stockholm. It was a boarding school run by Mrs. Lovisa Edgren and her husband, Johan Fredrik Edgren. During the summer of 1844, the Edgrens moved and the school closed. Augusta still had one more year to study in Stockholm so what school did she attend in the fall of 1844?

Augusta’s best friend Lotten kept in touch with Augusta after they had both finished school in 1845. She updated Augusta on the latest gossip.

I thought that if I could learn more about Augusta’s friends, I might be able to get the pieces of the puzzle and figure out which school they all attended.

What I never realized was that the answer was in plain sight in some of Lotten’s letters – Mademoiselle (Mlle) Frigel. I even quoted it in my blog about Augusta’s friend, Adele Peyron:

“Yesterday, I was visiting Mlle Frigel and she always asks about you and sent her warmest regards. Adèle Peyron also sent you many greetings. Erica Degermann and I are invited to Mlle Frigel on a final ball on Tuesday.” (16 April 1846)

On 18 December 1845, Lotten writes:

Your greetings to Mlle Frigel and the girls have already been conveyed.”

It was that sentence I reacted to. It wasn’t a mother and her girls that Augusta was sending greetings to – it was a mademoiselle and her girls. Didn’t that sound like a teacher and her girls?

How would I find out?

Googling Frigel + Stockholm leads me to a famous composer and professor of music theory. He was during the late 1700s and early 1800s Sweden’s most renowned music theorist – Pehr Frigel (1750 – 1842). He married Maria Charlotta Palmroth (1766-1797). Did they have any unmarried daughters that could have been teachers?

More googling.

They had three daughters: Beata Helena Charlotta (2 December 1790 – 26 November 1855), Andriette Christina (21 September 1795 – 6 October 1882), and Margareta (who died in infancy). Either Charlotte or Andriette could have been a teacher – or both.

Charlotta Frigel

I start looking for Charlotta. The first place I search is the digitized census records for Stockholm. I only find P. Frigel in the 1835 census records and, sure enough, it is Pehr Frigel. He, his daughter Charlotta, and a “cleaning woman,” are listed at the same address. Andrietta must have been living somewhere else.

What happened to Charlotta after 1835?

Now I search the Royal Library’s digitized newspapers for any mention of Charlotta. There are two hits.

The first one is in the Daglig Allehanda newspaper of 17  July 1840, noting that “by the Royal Majesty” Charlotta and her sister Andrietta and 8 other girls have been granted the right to be legally independent (Swedish: ”att vara myndig”). Unmarried girls could apply for this right but it wasn’t until 1863 that women automatically were granted this right at the age of 25. Of course, if they married they lost this right and their husbands became their guardians.

The second notice about Charlotta is her death notice. It states: “Death in the provincial towns: Mademoiselle Beata Helena Charlotta Frigel at Aske Manor in Uppland, 26 November 1855, 65 years old.”

Did she become a private teacher in some wealthy family?

Aske Manor as it looked in 1879 (Upplandsmuseet)
Aske Manor as it looked in 1879 (Upplandsmuseet)

I search on Frigel + Aske and find the memoirs of Adolf Ludvig Sehmann, born 1809 at Aske manor.

“From my 4th year, 1813, I still vividly remember two events: a funeral for a merely one-year-old little brother, and the arrival of a teacher, Mademoiselle Charlotte Frigel, for my sisters. I can still vividly see her looks and clothing in front of me as if it was just yesterday.”

It is a long memoir, but very interesting, about his family’s extensive travels in Europe over several years, their health issues, and their deep religiosity.

I look up the sister who Charlotta, at age 23, was hired to teach in 1813. Johanna Vilhelmina (Mimmi) was 6 years old. Two years later, a second daughter, Maria Carolina Matilda, was born.

I don’t know how many years Charlotta stayed at Aske and whether she was living there or just visiting when she died in 1855.

Today Aske is a small conference center.

Andriette Frigel

Her name appears with three different spellings: Andriette, Andrietta, and Andréetta. In the census records, she is listed as the head of the household with the title of “sekreterardotter”, daughter of a secretary. Her father, Pehr Frigel, was the permanent secretary of The Royal Swedish Academy of Music. He was also a secretary in the Royal State Office.

Mlle Frigel's census record for 1845.
Mlle Frigel’s census record for 1845.

Digitized census records of Andriette’s household exist for the years 1845 and 1870. I first pull up the image for 1845. I can hardly believe what I see.

I have found Augusta’s school! Andriette Frigel is Mlle Frigel in Lotten’s letters!

“Undersigned, daughter to the late secretary in the Royal State Office, Pehr Frigel, and through the Royal Majesty’s graceful resolution of 19 June 1840 declared legally independent, maintains a boarding institute for girls.”

The girls boarding with Mademoiselle Frigel are listed as Adelaide Peyron, Mathilda Biel, and Elizabeth Biel. All three had boarded with Mrs. Edgren the year before (in addition to Augusta and Josefine Stenbock).

Google street view of where Mlle Frigel had her boarding school in 1845.
Google street view of where Mlle Frigel had her boarding school in 1845.

And where did Andriette live? In 1845, her address is listed as the block named Blåman, House No. 8 or, according to the new numbering system, Drottninggatan (Queen Street) 53. I enter the address into Google Maps and smile. Of course, I know where that is. It is a clothing store – Indiska. Every time I am in Stockholm, I check out their sales. So this is where Augusta went to school during the fall of 1844 and the spring of 1845. And it is very close to where she was living, boarding with the Ribbing family. That place is now a Starbucks Café close to the Central Station. Of course, the locations are the same, not the houses. Soon I will be able to lead walking tours through Stockholm in the footsteps of Augusta. We will meet at Starbucks!

So what happened to Andriette later in life? There is one note stating that she was an artist – something I have not been able to verify. I search the digitized daily newspapers again and find her death notice. She died in Stockholm in 1882 at the age of 87.

Pehr Frigel’s Funeral and Jenny Lind

Which brings me back to Andriette’s father, Pehr Frigel. He lived to be 92. His funeral in 1842 was grand, to say the least. The daily paper wrote about the music that was performed and the solo artists – including Jenny Lind. She was only 22 years old and belonged to the same parish as Pehr Frigel. She would soon become world-renowned.

A note on Pehr Frigel's funeral (Daglig Allehanda, 10 December 1842)
A note on Pehr Frigel’s funeral (Daglig Allehanda, 10 December 1842)

Jenny Lind in 1840
Jenny Lind in 1840




Augusta’s Aeolian Harp

”Loddby, 8 May 1847

My sweet, dear Lotten!

…. It is a really beautiful evening, the bay is calm and clear like a mirror, a few stars shine in the clear blue sky, and I have put an Aeolian harp in the window. Have you ever heard one, Lotten? It is so indescribably melancholic when the wind seizes the strings and creates these sad, melodic notes. One can’t help but getting a feeling of sorrow. I imagine myself back in the Romantic times and believe I hear Näcken, the water spirit, playing on his silver harp during evenings like this, when everything in nature is poetry…”

I am still reading through the correspondence between Augusta and her friend Lotten. Augusta is home at her country estate, Loddby. I can imagine her sitting in one of the rooms on the second floor. Through the trees, she can see the bay of Bråviken. It is only May and the trees are still bare. The evenings are lighter and maybe she doesn’t even need a candle in order to write.


”It is a really beautiful evening, the bay is calm and clear like a mirror…”  Bråviken seen from Loddby

I continue reading her letter. Sometimes, the handwriting is hard to decipher and on page 3 of Augusta’s letter of 8 May 1847, I struggle with the Swedish word, Eolsharpa. What is that?

”Have you ever heard one, Lotten?”

I certainly haven’t heard one. I haven’t even heard of one.

Now I get curious. First, I find that the instrument is called Aeolian harp in English.

An Aeolian harp is a wind harp. It is named after the Greek god of the wind, Aeolus. Traditionally, they were long wooden boxes (sound boxes) with strings stretched from one end to the other. They were put in windows and the strings would vibrate in the breeze and create sounds.

I find a few images online of old Swedish Aeolian harps.

Swedish Aeolian Harp

A more complicated Aeolian harp is on display at The Higgins Museum in Bedford, UK.

British Aeolian Harp from 1812-1823


I also learn that Wendela Hebbe (b. 1808), the first professional, Swedish, female journalist, and her two sisters, Petronella and Malin, made their own Aeolian harps. They put them in their window, just like Augusta did.

Well, if they could make their own harps, I am sure I can find a YouTube video of how to make one . And I do. All you need is a box, some fishing line, and two pencils or pieces of wood. Of course, this is not how they made them in the 1840s! The first one I make doesn’t work. I think I was just a little too creative. I decide to watch the video again and pay close attention to details.

My Aeolian harp

It only takes a few minutes to make the new harp using a new US Postal Service cardboard box. Time for testing – but, of course, there is no wind!

I continue checking the weather and every time I see leaves moving in some light breeze, I grab my harp and head out. I stay with my ear close to the box, but even if there would have been a sound, there is too much background noise: the constant humming of air-conditioning units, trucks beeping as they back up, cars passing by, a lawnmower, distant police sirens, and a lot of chattering birds. I really can’t hear any harp sounds.

But maybe there was a reason for the harp being set in a window? The air would flow in one direction. How could I simulate that? I go inside and put my harp close to the air-conditioning vent in the living room. And suddenly – my Aeolian harp starts to play. I wouldn’t call it melancholic, rather an eerie sound from the un-tuned strings. It would make sense that the strings should actually be tuned.

And of course, one could build a really nice one to put in one’s garden.

But back to Augusta’s question: Have you ever heard one, Lotten?

Were these harps something new or something old in 1847? The harps couldn’t have been very common or else she wouldn’t have asked the question. Was hers an old one, that had belonged to her family, or had she gotten a new one or bought one? And who made these instruments and during which time period were they popular?  I am sure someone has the answers :).



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.