Etikettarkiv: Wahlfelt

Stockholm, March 12, 1851

Contemporary watercolor of Stockholm by Fritz von Dardel

Since Saturday evening I am here in Stockholm, our Swedish Paris, the dance-hungry’s Eldorado. Our journey here was miserable; unfavorable road conditions for the sleigh and grey, chilly weather. We ate bad food and slept miserably in cold, unpleasant lodgings, chatted with drunk coachmen, drank mulled wine, and finally arrived frozen and exhausted to our nice and beautiful Stockholm where we took in at Hotel Norrköping on Stora Nygatan. The day after our arrival, we waded through deep dirt to get to our friends on Kungsholmen where we became heartily received, had a pleasant evening, and dreamed us back to winter evenings at Krusenhof.

The view of Riddarholmen and the Old Town as seen from Kungsholmen. Augusta would have walked across the bridge; however, it was still March, so the lakes would have been frozen and the trees would have been bare.

Tante and Nanna have a small, sunny, and agreeable dwelling in the midst of a garden that extends right down to the lakeshore. In the summer, this little place might be a real paradise with flowers and light, fresh air and the view of Lake Mälaren’s blue surface, lush islands, and beaches to soothe the eyes, and glorious views of Riddarholmen and Södermalm and all the steamers that from different directions are rushing to their common goal at Riddarholmen’s quay.

Monday morning I went to visit Ribbingens and Bohemans. They were overly astonished to see me so unexpectedly in the capital city, and in the evening we saw the great opera, ”A Tale of the Queen of Navarre.” There I met Count Figge Schwerin who escorted me home and was quite himself, much disposed to let his lady alone carry on the conversation and himself look like he was sleepwalking.

Mother and I were visiting Ribbingens today where, marvelously, Baron Fredrik happened to keep company and was as decent and agreeable as he can be when he wants to. We departed early, for I had a premonition that Lieutenant Wahlfelt could get the idea to transport his insipid personality to Clara {where Ribbingens lived}, which definitely would not have been pleasant.

We have left Lejdenfrost in the care of Wallenberg and we now traverse to the island of the poppy-crowned god.


The family that Augusta visited at Kungsholmen was the family Hjort. The family had been Augusta’s closest neighbor and the children her best friends throughout childhood. In 1850, the family sold their estate, Krusenhof, and moved to Kungsholmen in Stockholm. The family members were Major Georg Leonard Hjort and his wife, Fredrika Elisabet Älf (referred to as Tante), and their children Aurora, Johanna (Nanna), Axel, and Erik.

Count Figge Schwerin is likely Fredrik Bogislaus (Fritz) von Schwerin who was born in Norrköping in 1825 (close in age to Augusta and from the same town). He was a captain in the army. Later in life, he became a banker, married, and had 2 daughters.

The family Ribbing and Boheman were good friends of the family.

Lejdenfrost was Augusta’s brother-in-law and benefactor.

The island of the poppy-crowned god is a poetic term for sleep – may be alluding to the effect of opium.

A Belated Happy Birthday, Fredrik Wahlfelt!

Paul Axel Fredrik Wahlfelt was born 200 years ago, on 19 February 1817.

It is very likely that Wahlfelt might not have celebrated his birthday. The featured image above is one of the few paintings of a Victorian era family birthday celebration. Celebrating birthdays became more common among well-off families at this time, but it was still more common to celebrate one’s namesday.

Lieutenant Wahlfelt in Fritz von Dardel’s painting

Anyway, remember Lieutenant Wahlfelt? He proposed to Augusta in the spring of 1849 and she rejected him. The truth is, she didn’t seem to think highly of him:

12 March 1851 (Augusta and her mother were visiting the Ribbing family)
”Mother and I was visiting Ribbingens today where, marvelously, Baron Fredrik happened to keep company and was as decent and agreeable as he can be when he wants to. We departed early, for I had a premonition that Lieutenant Wahlfelt could get the idea to transport his insipid personality to Clara {where Ribbingens lived}, which definitely would not have been pleasant.”

27 March 1851 (Augusta was invited to a glamourous ball given by Minister Wallensten)

”Lieutenant Wahlfelt was, thank God, resentful of me all evening so I was spared from hearing his stupid reasoning.”

Because Fredrik Wahlfelt (sometimes referred to as Paul or Pålle Wahlfelt) didn’t marry or have children, there is nobody to keep his memory alive. So to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of his birth, here are a few biographical notes.

A little more about Fredrik Wahlfelt

Photographs of Wahlfelt in the 1860s (Source: Riksarkivets porträttsamling)

Paul Axel Fredrik Wahlfelt was the second of 3 children born to lieutenant colonel Svante Fredrik Wahlfelt and Kristina Ulrika Tham. When Augusta met him, he was a lieutenant in Andra Lifgardet. He became captain in 1851 and major in 1862. From 1839, he was a teacher at the Gymnastic Central Insitute (GC) in Stockholm and later also at the military academies, Karlberg and Marieberg, where he taught gymnastics and weaponry. In 1851, he achieved the rank of senior teacher at GC, a title he kept until his death in the spa-city of Wiesbaden, 16 July 1873 (age 56).

Wahlfelt contributed to both theoretical and practical aspects of teaching gymnastics and weaponry. He also developed a bayonet fencing rifle.

Bayonet Fencing Rifle was a rifle modified for bayonet fencing.




One cadet at Karlberg described Wahlfelt in his memoir* :

P.H. Ling teaching in the gymnastics and fencing hall at the Gymnastic Central Institute. Drawing by Egron Lundgren 1839.

“In gymnastics and fencing, we had as a teacher the renowned fencing master Major Pålle Wahlfelt. He, as well as the majority of physical education teachers at that time, were not clear about the meaning of Ling’s admirable educational system and, therefore, taught gymnastics at Karlberg according to a system that was not a system at all. But he had a great ability to fire up us boys with his electrifying command and his energetic shouts.”

Bayonet fencing positions according to Ling’s system

“Seeing Major Wahlfelt fencing against two opponents was a delight. None of us has hardly reached a similar skill with said weapon.”

The fatal fencing accident of his nephew
Of the 3 siblings Wahlfelt, only Fredrik’s older brother Carl Svante Vilhem (1815-1886) married and had children. His oldest son, Nikolai Axel Fredrik Wilhelm, was born in 1861. At that time, the family lived in Finland. Axel obtained an MS degree and taught mathematics. He married Agata Magdalena Lönnblad. In 1893, he was living in Stockholm in order to work on his PhD in mathematics at the university.

Victorian fencing attire: Cruikshank’s picture of fencing on St. James Street in 1822

Axel was also a good fencer, just like his father and uncle Fredrik had been. On 20 February 1893, he had just finished a fencing lection with his instructor Drakenberg when he and a friend, Lieutenant Fid, continued with some free fencing. They were both wearing face masks as required. Somehow, the tip of Lieutenant Fid’s foil penetrated Axel’s mask between the nose and the left eye and Axel fell to the floor. The eyewitness account stated that there was no bleeding, but because he was lifeless, Lieutenant Drakenberg realized the urgency and called for a doctor. Axel died soon after arriving at the hospital, 32 years old.

Family descendants in the USA
At the time of the tragic accident, Axel’s wife Agata was pregnant with their first child. The child, Bror Axel Svante Wahlfelt, was born on 18 June 1893 in Helsinki, Finland.

What became of him? has the clues.

Thirty-one years later, he is listed as a sailor on the Swedish vessel “Anten” arriving from Shanghai, China to Port Townsend, WA on 25 June 1924. He had joined the crew in Newcastle and is listed as deserted after arrival in the US. On 31 March 1931, Svante then marries Hilja Leskinen in Manhattan, NY. In 1942, he registers for the World War II draft, giving his address as 2301 Wyoming Ave, Washington, DC (in Kalorama, DC, and next to what is now the Embassy of Yemen).

Svante died in 1963. His wife Hilja and her sister Maria Wikberg both lived in Saline, MI until they passed away. Svante and Hilja’s daughter Ruth Ebba Märta was born in 1933, married a Christophersen, and had 3 sons, which are listed as living in Denmark. Her sister Maria, who of course is not genetically related to the Wahlfelts, had a daughter, Ethel Posldofer, who in turn had 2 sons and several grandchildren. Descendants who probably have no idea of their grand family history.


*Source: Kadettminnen av överste Claës Christian August Bratt 1927 (pdf available online)

How boring it is to be ill … but Wilhelm von Braun writes humorous poems

In the summer of 1849, I was mostly at home except for a few weeks spent at Fullerstad and a few days at Krusenhof. August was very ill throughout the summer and the joy and well-being during that time were rare guests at Loddby. The last days of the year, I had a violent rush of blood to my lungs, and was sick for 3 weeks.  A thousand times I exclaimed with Braun:

How boring, so boring it is to be ill
woe it’s invention, nevertheless, still
time passes by, as time’s wont to do,
But slowly, damned slowly, time passes through.

(Attempt at translating Wilhelm von Braun’s poem Fantasi på sjuksängen).

This is the first diary entry where we learn that Augusta had tuberculosis, or consumption. Her brother August was also ill and we don’t know what he was afflicted with that summer. Fullerstad was the home of Augusta’s dear relatives, the Schuberts, and Krusenhof was the home of her best friends, the Hjorts.

But who was Wilhelm von Braun who wrote poetry that a 22-year-old girl would have memorized? Well, at that time he was one of Sweden’s most popular poets. And not all of his poems would have been suitable for young women :).

Wilhelm von Braun (1813-1860), like Paul Wahlfelt and other officer friends of Augusta, got his early education in the cadet school at Karlberg’s military academy in Stockholm. This was a boarding school for boys, usually from privileged families. Wilhelm followed the tradition of his father, and was enrolled at Karlberg at 15 years of age in 1828. After graduating in 1834, and for the next 7 years, he served as a lieutenant.

But his passion was poetry and prose. He published his first poetry in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in 1834. In 1849 he wrote a story called Napoleon, the Adventure of a Cadet, which was based on his experiences at Karlberg. In 1846, he resigned his commission as a lieutenant to be a full-time writer.

Von Braun is presently having a renaissance. There is now a Wilhelm von Braun Association who has published the book Wilhelm von Braun – The one that ladies never read (”Den där som damerna aldrig läst”). And while reading the book, one can enjoy a glass of Wilhelm von Braun’s Punsch, a traditional Swedish cordial, produced in honor of this national poet.

I am glad that Augusta still got to enjoy the poems suitable for women, and those that provided humor for young girls suffering with consumption.


Sources (in Swedish):…/ASU_207.pdf  (Kadettminnen av överste Claes Bratt)

Fantasi på Sjuksängen i Samlade Arbeten af Wilhelm v. Braun, Del 1 (pdf of book available free online) (Wilhelm von Brauns Punsch)

Featured image is part of an oil painting by Antonio Mancini (1852-1930), Resting, 1887.,+Antonio



Balls, theater performances, and concerts

”I spent the winter and summer of 1848 at home in deepest solitude, sometime interrupted by a visit from and to Krusenhof.

In January 1849 I traveled, accompanied by Hanna Schubert, to Stockholm where we stayed with baroness Ribbing. Naturally, we had a good deal of amusement: balls, theater performances, and concerts followed in pleasurable succession. Lessons in singing for Mr. Dannström and dutiful visits in return for the previous evenings’ pleasures occupied our mornings.

Erik Sparre came often and paid us visits and Lieutenant Wahlfelt did not come less often. In the spring he proposed to me, but I have always been told that my heart is petrified, and truth is, I believe that it is made of harder material than those of people in general. Anyway, the amiable Lieutenant’s proposal was rejected and in July I returned happy and free to my peaceful, quiet home.”


Krusenhof was the neighboring estate about 3 miles from Augusta’s home at Loddby. Her best friends, the family Hjort, lived there until December 1850 when they moved to Kungsholmen, Stockholm. More about the  family will come in later posts.


Hanna Schubert (b. 1829) was Augusta’s cousin’s daughter. She married Erik Sparre (mentioned above) in 1851.


Mr. Isidor Dannström was an opera singer and composer who also gave singing lessons. He was very famous in the 1840’s along with Jenny Lind. His portrait (right) was drawn by Joseph W. Wallander.


And who was Wahlfelt, the suitor? Paul Axel Fredrik Wahlfelt (b. 1817) was in 1849 a 32-year-old lieutenant who was an instructor in gymnastics and weaponry. He must have started his military education at an early age as the artist Maria Röhl included him in a drawing (left) of young cadets in 1832 .

In 1844, he was also included in Fritz von Dardel’s painting of the Burgesses’ Coronation Ball (top of page). This was a ball held in honor of the coronation of King Oscar I and Queen Josephine. The painting probably depicts the newly introduced dance – the polka. What is also interesting is that von Dardel tagged the dancers, as we do in today’s Facebook pictures. Therefore, we know that Paul Wahlfelt was the 5th gentleman from the left or the 4th gentleman from the right. It seems like that would be the tall, blond officer in the middle.


And as a footnote, Paul Wahlfelt never married.


Fritz von Dardel’s painting:
Maria Röhl’s drawing of Wahlfelt:
Isidor Dannström:
Hanna Schubert: