A journey that leads to Selma Lagerlöf
I am reading Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, dated 15 April 1846. It is full of gossip about who is engaged to whom, who came to visit, and who talked about whom. There are so many names mentioned – who were they?
“Do you know, I find Augusta Sjöstedt just as boring now as when she sat in school with open mouth and read German verses, do you remember that? And how her legs were always in my way? But it was a fun time! “
So who was Augusta Sjöstedt? I easily find her – Augusta Amalia Jakobina Sjöstedt, born 16 July 1829 and, in 1850, married to Adam Henrik Carlheim-Gyllensköld. Her parents were Jacob Sjöstedt (b. 1785) and Sofia Ulrika Richnau (b. 1800).
Jacob Sjöstedt was a wealthy brewer in Stockholm, just like Lotten’s father.
I check out the city census of 1845 and find him and his wife, children, and servants listed in his neat handwriting.
At the bottom of the page, there is also a paragraph about a girl living with them:
“In addition, Demoiselle Elisabeth Lowisa Wallroth, born 29 April 1827, is staying with us as a traveler during the winter months. She is a resident of her father’s household, the estate owner and merchant Carl Johan Wallroth in Philipstad.”
Searching on Elisabeth Lowisa (or Louisa) Wallroth is like hitting the jackpot. Those cherries line up and I can imagine Google adding the sound effects. Did she became famous later in life???
In 1909 when, for the first time, the Nobel Prize in literature was awarded to a woman, the recipient, in her acceptance speech, mentioned her mother:
“Deep within me, however, was a wondrous joy at receiving this Prize, and I tried to dispel my anxiety by thinking of those who would rejoice at my good fortune. There were my good friends, my brothers and sisters and, first and foremost, my old mother who, sitting back home, was happy to have lived to see this day.”
The recipient was Selma Lagerlöf and her mother was Elisabeth Louisa Lagerlöf, born Wallroth, the girl who was living with the family of Augusta Sjöstedt, who in turn was the girl Lotten Westman had described as pretty boring.
So it is most likely that all these girls went to the same school and had Mrs Edgren as a teacher: our Augusta, Lotten Westman, Augusta Sjöstedt, and Louisa Wallroth.
And our Augusta and Augusta Sjöstedt were in the same confirmation class according to the records of first communion in the Jacob parish in Stockholm.
The next girl I need to find is Dora from Nora. I don’t even know where to start. My best guess is to start with wealthy families in the town of Nora in the 1840s.