80 Albert Philip la Cour

He was a son of Peter Christian la Cour (no. 53) and Caroline Jacobine la Cour, born on 9 December 1841 in Nimtofte. After attending his uncle Peter’s boarding school at Margrethelund farm in 1854-55, Albert worked as a farm apprentice on the Tøstrup estate of O. Larsen, a member of the Danish parliament, and on his father’s Mallinggård estate. In 1860 he moved to Copenhagen, where he graduated from secondary school and two years later (1862) received a degree in agriculture. For the following two years, he worked under N.P.J. Buns as deputy farm-bailiff* for the Gedsergård estate, which was owned by a titular councillor of state named Tesdorpf. He fought in the Second Schleswig War* of 1864, reportedly as a cheerful and brave soldier, and was subsequently attached to the Royal Danish Agricultural Society for about a year, appointed to supervise the export of cattle shipped to Britain. That he was appointed to this position is a testimony to his skill and reliability, as he was still quite young. In 1866 Albert went back to work for Tesdorpf and was the farm-bailiff* at Ourupgård manor until 1870, then at Sædingegård manor until 1877. There is certainly no doubt that these years were highly educational for him. He certainly had a most excellent opportunity to become familiar with the series of advances and improvements that characterised Tesdorph’s farming with regard to soil treatment, artificial fertiliser use, dairy operations, livestock care and feeding, etc. He learned to act responsibly on the basis of rational principles: he became first and foremost an excellent practitioner, but also a practitioner with a clear understanding that any good practice must to some degree be guided by common concerns or, if you will, pure theory, so that in him there was no contradiction between theory and practice. He became a sober-minded theorist who never ventured further than where he was on firm ground.

Albert married Henriette Vilhelmine Blicher la Cour (née Blicher) on 11 May 1870. Henriette was born on 2 May 1848 in Ringkøbing to Jens Blicher, a district medical officer, and Juliane Johanne Mantzius. She trained as a housekeeper at Valsølille, a farming estate near Ringsted.

In 1877 Albert became superintendent of the Classen agriculture school at Næsgård manor. By then he was already so highly respected as a farmer in both practical and theoretical terms that he was a natural choice for the superintendent position. And it soon became clear that the choice had not been a poor one: Albert possessed the ability to manage and administer, to be respected and yet liked, and to awaken people’s desire to work and to learn.

One of his pupils from the years 1889 to 1891 described his impression of Albert as a superintendent as follows: “He was an excellent mentor to young people. He knew how to gain respect, and he knew how to get his apprentices to work. When his broad figure appeared in the fields, on foot or on horseback, people fell into order and the place bustled with work. His commanding voice was always heard and always understood, for it came from a strong and independent person who, as a practical supervisor, had an overview of things that provided the necessary background for the authority he possessed. And la Cour was above all an authoritative man. Authority was in his words and his voice, his whole being and behaviour. At times this could cause resentment, but none of his apprentices who graduated from his two-year school could fail to realise that behind the stern face and taciturn manner lay milder currents and feelings that now and then rushed forth and gave evidence of a warm heart and love for young people and an interest in their affairs and their future. You felt it sometimes when he taught from his teacher’s desk, when his deep practical experience was expressed in the language of theory. That’s when he could get that twinkle in his eye that signalled a lighter mood, and he would take us by storm. But mostly we felt it when, during the quiet evening hours, he would gather his family and his apprentices about him for prayer or recreation, and it was then he could move any of us with the power of his big heart. No one who has been an apprentice at Næsgård will forget the impressions he received during those hours. And, in this, la Cour may have given his apprentices their best memories of him.”

As the years went by, Albert’s reputation grew, and he became a widely utilised and trusted man in the Lolland- Falster region. In 1879 he was elected to the board of the Maribo County economic society and later became its vice-chair. He was also on the board of the federation of Lolland-Falster farmers’ unions and chaired the committee this organisation set up for
cattle breeding and milk-recording associations. In 1887 he became a member (and later chaired) the national agricultural fair commissionfor the third district and in the autumn of 1905 was appointed vice-chair of the association for the promotion of agricultural exports. His real field of expertise was cattle breeding, and his colleagues referred to him as one of the most knowledgeable members of the national agricultural fair commission, whose opinions always had a decisive influence. As a lecturer and writer, he was in great demand. He was not eloquent or any kind of fine stylist, but his oral and written presentations were as trustworthy as the man himself was. In 1889 he was made a Knight of the Order of Dannebrog*, and in 1902 he was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Dannebrog.

After his death on 28 February 1906, Albert was spoken of as “a faithful man, faithful to the issues he worked for, the institutions he came into contact with, and the people he had become attached to. The many who crossed his path, in their turn, will faithfully preserve the memory of his strong and capable personality.”

Henriette remained at Næsgård manor until April 1907, and then moved to Rønne on the island of Bornholm to live with her son, Albert (no. 80-8), until May 1909, when they both moved to Copenhagen. In 1921 Henriette moved to Viborg together with Albert. She and Albert made several trips abroad, for example to Dresden and the Harz region in Germany. She became an honorary member of the la Cour family association in 1934 and died on 20 September 1938 in Viborg. (Thirteen children: the Næsgaard Line.)