51 Holger Magarus la Cour

Born in Odder on 18 November 1800, Holger was a son of Jørgen la Cour (no. 09) and Charlotte la Cour (née Guldberg). After his father’s death in 1809, he was taken in by Christian Magnus von Voss, who was a chamberlain to the king. For about two years, Holger was a pupil in a lower secondary school in Ribe, but immediately after his church confirmation in 1815 he became a sailor and travelled to many European ports. Although he qualified as an officer in 1818 in Copenhagen, he was still working as a sailor on a trip to Bahia in 1820. A letter from this voyage has been found, from “Bahia of St.Salvador” and dated 28 December 1820, with Holger writing home to his stepfather H.P. Barfoed, among other things stating, “Captain Hedemann is a kind man. He helps me a great deal and does many good things for me. I love him as a father, and I think he wants to be like a father to me if I follow his advice. Aside from him, there is not another educated person on board; this makes me indeed sad sometimes, but, my dear Father, you know my moods, and they cannot be denied.”

Later Holger became an officer and worked at sea in that capacity. In 1823 he was captured by Spanish pirates while leaving Bordeaux, but he and the rest of the crew freed themselves and brought the pirates to Copenhagen as prisoners. His maritime career was over in the spring of 1827, and that autumn he and his brother Lauritz (no. 52) shared ownership of Skærsø manor, which his brother had bought two years earlier.

Holger married Edele Charlotte la Cour (née Ingerslev) on 28 April 1830 in Hyllested. Edele was born on 24 June 1795, and her parents were Chief War Commissioner Hans Peter Ingerslev and Severine Elisabeth Rothe. She was homeschooled together with her siblings, but later attended Madame Wederkincil’s school in Aarhus, where the landed gentry sent their adult daughters to learn French and German. Edele spent four years of her youth with her mother’s brother – Dr W.H. Rothe, a doctor of theology and pastor at the Trinitatis church in Copenhagen – and his brother, a general, commandant at Kronborg and chamberlain to the king, which meant she moved within the best, finest and most intelligent circles in the country. Many of the famous men of the time were guests of Dr Rothe. “I remember,” Edele’s daughter wrote, “she told me about how, when Weyse was their guest, and they wanted him to play, which he didn’t always want to, one of the daughters of the house would play one of his compositions, and so he would complain, ‘You didn’t play it correctly.’ He would then go to the piano himself and play, often for more than an hour.”

After their marriage in 1830, Holger and Edele settled at Skærsø manor, but in September 1832 Holger leased the Meilgaard farm, which he took over in May 1833. They remained there until May 1839. For a number of years, Holger owned various farms, sometimes two at once: for example, Ordrupgård from 1835 to 1848, Søholt on Stubbe lake from 1839 to 1847, Hjortshøjlund from 1847 to 1852, Kærgaard from 1848 to 1875 and, lastly, Petersminde, a farm near Randers, from 1875 until his death five years later.

One of his daughters, Charlotte la Cour (no. 66), described him thus: “My father was a strict, fair, truth-loving and self-respecting man and also in possession of kindness and a fine education – in short, a gentleman in the best sense of the word. The air was always clean in our home: today’s often light and off-colour talk was banned. He was gifted with an aptitude for music, sang beautifully, played the flute and appreciated the fact that his daughters sang and played music. He even allowed his youngest to do voice training with Professor Rung in Copenhagen, which, seen from a contemporary perspective, was rather costly. He was also a man who read a great deal and who was well versed in good literature, and when the light of faith kindled in his heart, he especially read books that were about the kingdom of God.”

Holger and Edele could have held their golden wedding anniversary on 28 April 1880, had Holger not, unfortunately, died earlier that year, on 6 February. Just two months later, on 15 April, his wife followed him to the grave, where the following is written (here, translated):

The day that held the memories of happiness,
Became a celebration of quiet sadness instead,
No bride and bridegroom found by signs,
They once again reside side by side.

A little while only a little widow flower
Wound itself around her white locks;
Wedding dress she followed the trail
Just a short while ago home to those redeemed.
She who bore pain without complaint

Has won more than the serenity of death;
And those whom she left behind here,
They weep quietly, for they believe.

Edele was a capable and practical woman who ran her household in an exemplary manner and knew how to create comfort and beauty in her home within her limited means. She had a great love of flowers, and, wherever she lived, she created lovely gardens in which she worked tirelessly. But what was especially prominent was her compassion for anyone who suffered. Her generosity – her left hand never knew what her right hand was giving away, as the saying goes – outshone all else. When the crofters left Kærgård in the evening, it was with a big, fat jar full of food for their wives and children. If people in the village fell ill, she often cooked food for them, sometimes for as long as six months or a whole year. Holger died on 6 February 1880, and Edele followed him on 15 April that same year. (Six children: nos. 60–66.)