Born on 2 August 1808 in Odder to Jørgen la Cour (no. 09) and Charlotte la Cour (née Guldberg), Carl was only one year old when his father died. As mentioned above in other life histories, money was tight for Lotte Guldberg and her son Carl, who lived at home while his four brothers were taken in by other households. Carl once wrote how he recalled quite well how his mother had “many times sat with me in her arms, crying bitter tears for our circumstances.” Under such conditions, there was of course no money for formal education, and until his ninth year Carl received little to no schooling. From November 1820 to May 1824, he lived with his cousin Peter Worm (no. 45) in Hyllested, who prepared him for university. Following his mother’s marriage to H.P. Barfoed in Fakse, he lived with his mother, stepfather and his stepfather’s sons, graduating from upper secondary school in 1826 after being registered for his finals by his half-brother Magnus Barfoed. Carl then went to
Copenhagen to study, but he also worked as private tutor for the sons of the local rural dean*, Bregendahl.
At about this time, Carl described himself in an 1828 letter to his half-brother Frederik Barfod: “As for my person…I’m usually quiet and restrained, not infrequently melancholy, indeed sometimes even morose, all of these things rather intolerable to many people. As regards my daily dealings with people, no one could have fewer pretentions than I. Only if someone tries to belittle or doubt my ability in certain subjects which constitute main courses of study for me do I become fired with enthusiasm.”
In October 1828, he moved in with a cantor* named Lang in Vemmetofte. He remained there until about halfway through 1829 (the last letter he wrote to his half-brother Frederik from Vemmetofte is dated 25 May 1829). That summer, accompanied by Frederik, Carl travelled to the German Holstein region for health and other reasons. They realised that they could do so quite inexpensively if Carl pretended to be a famous silhouettist, and it helped that Carl was actually quite good at it. They got Frederik’s brother Kristen Barfoed, a lawyer in Store Heddinge, to make out passports for them: so that it would be more difficult for them to be found out, la Cour’s name was deliberately written so indistinctly that it could be read as “le Coeur”. After reaching Kiel, “Mr le Coeur” advertised in the papers about his art while his “servant” went from house to house with advertisements. It went very well, and people flocked to the “famous” silhouettist. From Kiel the two travelled to Preetz, and via Plön and Eutin to Lübeck, and from there they went to Hamburg, Neumünster, Kellinghusen, Itzehoe and Rendsburg, ending their tour back in Kiel, from where they took a ship across the Baltic to the island of Lolland in Denmark.
After this trip, Carl went back to his studies, and in 1830 he received a master’s degree in theology. “As a result, I find myself at the point where I now am the freest person in the world, bound by no ties at all, not even chained to a woman – which I suppose would not be so oppressive, however – and should an excellent opportunity present itself to me, I would not be so terribly afraid of a certain man’s arrows,” he wrote to Frederik Barfod (in November 1830). However, he complained in the letter about his health, which could have prevented him from remaining in Copenhagen so that he could study philology and thereby “pave the path to a position as lecturer, which is what I now desire.” Faster than he had thought, his wish for such a position came true: at about the same time as the above-referenced letter, he was asked both by the university management to work as a lecturer in Sorø and by the chancellery president to be a lecturer at the Herlufsholm school, and now he had to choose between the two. He chose the latter.
Two months later, in February 1831, he became engaged to Ida Møller, whose father was the estate bailiff at Vemmetofte. He jubilantly informed his half-brother Frederik: “My dearest wish has finally been fulfilled: Ida is mine! The day before yesterday I experienced the most blissful moment of my life, for the first time squeezing a beloved in my arms.” And subsequent letters bore witness to his happiness: “You can not imagine what kind of life now lies before me. Being engaged to a young girl who clings to her beloved with all the fervour of her heart: this is a bliss that no one not engaged to be married can comprehend or imagine.”
However, he fell ill – in the spring of 1832, he wrote he had been bedridden for some time with a hard and painful fever-like illness – and to recover his strength he journeyed to Carlsbad in the summer of 1832 and stayed there for four or five weeks. On his return trip, he travelled through Leipzig, Wittenberg, Potsdam and Berlin, but, although the doctors down there had given him great hope, he had not yet fully recovered. “I have somewhat – but not wholly – recovered, since the sea journey made me so much worse,” he wrote in August 1832, after having returned to Herlufsholm. His health was still fragile, and there were times in his life when he was almost unable to accomplish anything. In 1834 he was asked to become pastor for Bjørnsholm and Malle (with a residence in Ranum) and worked there until 1847. The 1840 census recorded him as living at the Ranum parsonage with his wife, their two daughters – Luise Nicoline (no. 87) and Georgia Christine Charlotte (no. 88) – six servants, and an impoverished foster son.
“It was 13 happy years,” Carl said in a speech in September 1872 at his 25th jubilee at Helsinge church. “There is only
one dark spot in my memory of that time: a small burial mound that hid a dear little one that we had to part with in sorrow and sadness. Otherwise I have only bright and happy memories of that time.” He had been transferred to Helsinge and Valby in September 1847 and enjoyed working there as well, saying in that same anniversary speech that “were there a few that left, but there were still more and more who joined, so that the church was sometimes too small. And this was not people from distant places – no, mostly this was the parish’s own children, whose desire to hear the preaching of the gospel had been steadily growing for a number of years….What a pleasure it has been for me to see that people still want to hear this old man as much as they did when he was younger.”
In 1856 Carl became rural dean* for the Strø and Holbo districts and on 28 July 1869 was made a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog*. He often visited Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, France and Italy, partly for his health, but also to study their school systems (especially gymnastics) and the picture galleries. In an official capacity, he took part in the “ordinary teacher meetings” before 1855 in Aarhus, Copenhagen and Odense. He resigned from his rural dean position in October 1872 and from his position as pastor in 1880.
Carl married Ida Theodora Wilhelmine la Cour (née Møller) on 25 May 1835. She was born on 30 December 1814 in Vordingborg, and her parents were Counsellor Ludvig Nicolai Møller, who later managed the monastery in Vemmetofte, and Johanne Kirstine Morthorst. Ida remained at home her entire youth, but after her marriage accompanied her husband on a trip to the garden exhibition in Hamburg, on a canal journey to Stockholm and on a voyage on the Rhine. She was a faithful wife and a loving and devoted mother, and she died on 16 March 1875 at the Dyrhuset hunting lodge on the Frijsenborg estate.
Carl’s second wife was Hanne Vilhelmine la Cour (née Sølling), and they were married on 26 May 1876. Born on 15 October 1848 in Rudkøbing, Hanne was a daughter of Gustav Emil Sølling, a district medical officer, and Henriette Cathrine Plum. She came to Helsinge in 1874 to work as an assistant in the la Cour household at a time when Carl’s first wife Ida had already been very frail for several years.
Carl died on 13 December 1880. Hanne married O.F. Obel, a cantor* in Varde, on 4 May 1883. We have no information on when Hanne died. (Three children: nos. 87– 89.)