Cecilia’s Album: Mathilde Biel (Nordenfelt) and Elise Biel (Edman) – Two dear sisters

The start of summer vacation in 1844 was bittersweet for the girls in Edgren’s school. The school was closing, and decisions had to be made for the fall semester. The girls who had been boarding with the Edgren family, like our Augusta, had to look for new lodgings if they were to continue their schooling in Stockholm. Some girls would not come back in the fall, like Cecilia. Mademoiselle Frigel, one of the teachers, was offering girls a place to stay and she would also continue teaching the girls.

When Cecilia left Stockholm, several of her classmates wrote poems or made drawings for her memory album. Many poems were copied from other books. These are the poems Mathilde and Elise gave Cecilia.

Skall dig vänners minne fågna,
Deras trohet glädja dig;
Skall du åt dem stunden egna,
Skänk ett ögonblick åt mig!

Bland vänners antal tecknar sig,
Den i din framtid du visst glömde,
Om detta blad ej minnet gömde,
Af den som evigt älskar Dig.

I decided to not translate these poems. They simply convey a message of friendship.

Mathilde and Elise Biel

Mathilda (Mathilde) Carolina Sofia and Emilia Elisabeth (Elise) were sisters. Mathilde was born in 1830 and Elise in 1832. They also had an older brother, Fredrik August, born in 1829, and a younger brother, Carl Axel Hugo, born in 1833. Their father, Christian Friedrich Biel, was a German-born, wholesale merchant. Their mother was Augusta Mathilda Hasselström, born in Jacob parish in 1803. She was the daughter of krigsrådet Lars Adam Hasselström (A krigsråd was one of four civilian members of the Royal War Council. The other three members of the council were military leaders). The Biel family lived in a stately house at Skeppsbron 36.

Their house (Skeppsbron 36) is the one that is cut off on the right side of the large brick customs house (Ferdinand Tollin, 1841)

Christian Friedrich Biel and his business partner, Johan Albert Kantzow, owned one of the largest export and import firms in Stockholm, Kantzow & Biel. The company was a major exporter of iron to the US, and the first private Swedish firm to trade directly with China (link below). From their house, they had a great view of the ships arriving and departing Stockholm

The view from Skeppsbron (Johan Fredrik Julin, 1840-1849)

In August of 1839, Christian Friedrich Biel suddenly died. The girls’ mother was now a widow at age 36. She had four young children to care for.  She decided that the two girls, aged 8 and 10, should attend a boarding school and she chose Edgren’s school in Klara parish. Mathilde and Elise moved in with the Edgren family in 1840 and lived there through 1843. When Edgren’s school closed in 1844, Mathilde and Elise moved in with Mademoiselle Frigel, who continued teaching the girls from Edgren’s school. The two girls lived with Mademoiselle Frigel through 1847.

The rest of the family had in December 1840 moved to Kungsholmen, Garvargatan 8. In 1847, the girls’ mother died. She was only 44 years old. The cause of death was listed in church records as “wasting” (Swedish: tärande).

So what happened to Mathilde and Elise later in life?

Mathilde Biel

Mathilde Biel (Nordenfelt)

Mathilde, or Matilda, married nobleman Olof Nordenfelt in 1852. Olof was born in 1826 at Björneborg in the province of Värmland. When his father died, he inherited the estate and its ironworks. He became chamberlain at the royal court in 1860 and a member of parliament in 1867.

Olof Nordenfelt

They had 9 children:

Olof 1853,
Cecilia 1854
Matilda 1855
Sofia 1857
Johan 1859
Hugo 1862
Hjalmar 1864
Carl 1866
Ingeborg 1872.

Cecilia, Matilda, and Sofia Nordenfelt


Mathilde died in 1888 at the age of 57.

Elise Biel


Emilia Elisabeth (Elise) Edman, born Biel. Photograph by Robert Roesler. Privately owned.

Emilia Elisabeth (Elise) Edman, born Biel. Photograph by Robert Roesler. Privately owned.

Elise, or Elisabet, married Victor Edman in 1850. Victor was born in 1813 in Stockholm and this was his second marriage. His first wife had died following the birth of their second son. In 1850, he was an adjutant to the crown prince. Between 1856 and 1870, the family lived at Svanå in the province of Västmanland. Victor was the majority shareholder and manager of the Svanå ironworks.

In 1870, the family moved to Stockholm. They bought a house in the same block as where Elise and her sister had lived with Mrs. Edgren! The house was just around the corner from Mrs. Edgren’s school. They also rented a small farm, Edeby on the island of Lovön.

In 1875, Elise and Victor celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary and Victor surprised Elise with a gold bracelet consisting of seven linked medallions, each containing a photograph. The photographs were portraits of Victor, in the middle, and his six children – two from his first marriage and four from his marriage with Elise. In 2017, the bracelet was gifted to the Nordic Museum in Stockholm by Victor’s great-great-grandson and namesake.

Elise died in 1907 at the age of 75.


Portraits are from www.ridarhuset.se







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