Born on 21 September 1828 in Svendborg and a son of Peter David la Cour (no. 10) and Ane Clausine la Cour, Carl described himself in a letter to Frederik Barfod dated 10 June 1877: “I lived at home until I was 141⁄2 years old. Between the ages of eight and twelve, I was taught by a private tutor, a theological student named Højer. Afterwards, I spent half the day at a newly founded lower secondary school and the other half being taught first by the catechist* in Svendborg, Pastor Wedel, and then by a private tutor named Saul, who later became a schoolteacher in Frørup on the island of Funen. On 1 May 1843 I became an apprentice with Brorsen & Tychsen in Odense, was promoted to shop assistant on 1 November 1847 and held that position until 1 January 1854. From then and until 4 April 1854, when I opened my shop together with Jacob Christian Hvalsøe under the name La Cour & Hvalsøe, I initially spent my time taking the trade exam, which at that time was required from anyone wanting to establish themselves as merchants in Copenhagen, Odense or Aalborg. In addition, I took a purchasing trip to Hamburg and later to Copenhagen. From mid-March, I was in Odense to organise the goods I wanted to sell. On 1 May 1861, Hvalsøe left the business and moved to Copenhagen. My company was then named ‘C. la Cour’ until April 1875, when I formed a company with Georg Tychsen under the name of La Cour & Tychsen.
“I have no real estate other than a small country house called Ly [‘Shelter’], which is located right next to Næsbyhoved forest. My property – house, garden and a little bit of forest – occupies a total area of about two acres. My wife received this property as a wedding present from her brother: it had belonged to their parents and was initially intended as a residence for my wife’s mother, who was a widow. In the many years I have lived in Odense, I have taken part in public affairs to some degree, but have always sought to evade actual appointments, since most of my time must go to my business. The only appointment I was unable to avoid was that of tax commissioner, a position I held for three years, from 1866 to 1869.
“My business has caused me to travel a great deal. In August of 1854 I made my first purchasing trip to Paris and then travelled there twice a year until the Second Schleswig War* broke out in 1864. Since then, I have been to Paris only once: in 1867, the year the World Exhibition was held. In 1859, my wife was with me in Paris. On the return journey, we went through Braunschweig to Harzburg, spent three days in the Harz mountains and then travelled home by way of Berlin. In 1875 my wife and I – along with two other families – took a trip to Switzerland, where we spent three weeks and returned home by way of Mainz and Cologne.” Carl closed his business in 1891. He was a hard-working and clever man, kind and good-natured and with a great love of family.
Carl married Christiane Martine la Cour (née Trolle) on 9 July 1858. Christiane was born on 16 December 1820 at Ravnholt manor, and died on 6 June 1880. She was a daughter of the former tenants and later owners of Næsbyhoved manor*, Jørgen Trolle and Gertrud Eriksen. She was a skilled and loyal woman with a great love of reading, but she loved art and nature even more. In his will dated 10 July 1886, which included codicils dated 29 April 1888 and 20 May 1890, Carl founded “The Christiane la Cour, née Trolle, Foundation for Destitute Widows and Destitute Unmarried Women of the Educated Middle Class in Odense and Svendborg” with an endowment of 100,000 Danish kroner. The interest earned on this amount was awarded on 16 December each year in lifelong grants to destitute widows or unmarried women of the educated middle class, preferably members of Christiane and Carl’s family until its seventh generation. Carl died on 16 December 1893. (No children.)