August and Josef

A history of two brothers

The Bager sisters: Hilda, Olga, Elise and Clara.

It is easy to think that the family history presented on this website is all about men: August and Josef, two adventurous men, are in focus . But we have reason to believe there were strong women in the family. Their sister Bina seems to have been one. But this story is even more interesting from a feminist viewpoint. Lets have a look at Josef Hammars mother-in-law and her sisters: -- In a previous blog I asked if anyone knew more about Hilda and Elise Bager in Marseille. I had heard some stories that they were independent businesswomen in Marseille. These stories seem to be partly right. In all there were four Bager sisters in Marseille off and on.  As far as we can read from the church registers their father Erland Bager was not the best of husbands (Ann-Britt Hammar has more details). All these four women left home at a very young age and they all ended up in Marseille. Some years later their mother Kristina (born Sandquist) took the younger children and left Erland Bager. But according to notes made by my father after talking to Hulda Hammar (born Sylvander) it turns out that what brought the first one of them - Hilda - to Marseille was her maternal aunt Marie Louise Sandquist. She was clearly an entrepreneurial woman  as attested by a text in Post och Inrikes Tidningar in 1862 from a Swede who had visited Marseille:

"In Marseille we checked in at good so-called skipper house [skepparhus] for Swedes, combined with an elegant café and restaurant, grander than anything in Stockholm. This is run by a decent [hygglig] Swedish woman from Lund, mamsell Sandquist, which by the French is pronounced 'mademoiselle Sanscuisses!'. She has been resident here since 1850 and has already accumulated a rather comely fortune".

In an issue from 1866 of the "Indicateur marseillais: guide de commerce" there are two shops listed as owned by Sandqwists:

Sandqwist, M. confection, quai de rive-Neuve 13

Sandqwist, B. comestibles, quai de rive-Neuve 9

The Bager sisters, who all followed their aunt to Marseille were:

Agnes Ragnhilda Gabriella (Hilda) born 1843. On the photo it is written Hilda Häggstad but it is clearly the same woman as on the Sylvander family photos (don´t ask me who Häggstad was)

Olga Emilia Augusta born 1849. In 1870 she is registered as house maid in the Lorichs family in Stockholm. According to my fathers notes she married a Norwegian captain Asbjörnsen. On the photo someone has written "fru Asbjörnsen, f. Bager).  When she moved to Marseille is not clear.

Marianne Lisette (Elise) born 1851. In 1869 she moved to Marseille and according to Erik Sylvander she worked in  a "magasin de fournitures pour la marine". She later married Adolf Sylvander in 1874 and is my (MW) great-grandmother.

Clara Ulrika born 1856. In the "Indicateur marseillais: guide de commerce" there is a C. Bager listed several times towards the end of the century as "Bager, C. (Dlle) masseuse".

I do not understand why these industrious women from a difficult family background are not talked more about in the oral family history. I am happy that Hulda Hammars paternal aunt Hulda Landeberg (born Sylvander) collected and kept all the photos and made such precise notes on them, and that my father interviewed Hulda Hammar about her maternal aunts the Bager sisters.

When Josef Hammar returned to Europe from the Russo-Japanese war in 1905 he came by ship passing many harbours in Asia. When he arrived in Marseille he visited the Adolf Sylvander family. Josefs sister Bina was married to Adolfs brother Anders Wilhelm. That is where he must have met his future wife Hulda Sylvander, then at the age 24.

This photo is archived in Strömstad museum from where I got a digital copy, when I visited the museum together with a French Sylvander team in 2014. The standing persons are from left to right (according to information from Ulf Lundgren given to the museum) : Harald Sylvander, Henri Sylvander, Adolf Sylvander (jr), Sigrid Sylvander,  Oscar Sylvander, Sigurd Sylvander and Josef Hammar. Sitting from left to right: Hilda Bager, Laura Mirzayans, Adolf Sylvander (sr), Elise Sylvander (born Bager), Hulda Hammar (born Sylvander).

The date is not known, but the marriage of Josef and Hulda in 1906 gives some indication. None of the small children Christine Sylvander (born 1907) and Frank Hammar (born 1908) are on the photo. The youngest person on the photo is Sigrid who was born 1894. On another  photo from 1915 of all the Mirzayans and Sylvanders and also including Josef Hammar all persons look distinctly older and there are several children.

The story of Hilda and Elise Bager is intriguing. Is it right that they were two independent Swedish businesswomen operating as ship chandlers in Marseille? Who told me that? Elise Bager apparently moved to Marseille 1869 at the age of  18 years (source: Släkten Bager av Alvar Platen).


Elin Sylvander was the twin sister of Harald Sylvander. She died only ten years old.Elin Sylvander
Female View treeBorn: 1885-02-20Died: 1905-07-27
Father: Anders Wilhelm SylvanderMother: Eliana Jakobina (Bina) Hammar
Children: none
Siblings: Harald Sylvander


Elin Sylvander was the twin sister of Harald Sylvander. She died twenty years old. August Hammar wrote from Pietermaritzburg to his sister Bina on Sept 16th 1905:

"My dear Sister Bina,

Yesterday evening I came back from a long absence and it was not until then I got your letter and the sad news of your Elin’s death. It was not so wholly unexpected; but there was still hope that she could be cured.

Yes, dear Bina, this must have been hard for you to bear; you can be certain of my and my family’s great sympathizing. I have so often imagined that your and my children would meet in the future and get to be more acquainted than the great distance allows." (Translated from Swedish by Elisabet Hammar)

Harald SylvanderHarald Sylvander
Male View treeBorn: 1885-02-20Died: 1943-03-28
Father: Anders Wilhelm SylvanderMother: Eliana Jakobina (Bina) Hammar
Children: none
Siblings: Elin Sylvander

Harald Sylvander (Strömstad)

Read my blogpost (in Swedish) on the fact that August called the "Victoria falls" by its correct Lozi name Mosia-oa-Tunya.

Also follow links from there to two previous posts about his surveying of Sofiero and Sigtuna; both were farms in Zululand.

Jur. stud. Gunnar Hammar 1883

Gunnar Hammar was between August and Josef in age   (born 1860). In 1882, the year before this photo,  his father  August Hammar Sr wrote to August Jr in South Africa "Gunnar has completed his academic course and is now in juridical activity with District Judge v[on] Sydow at Hammenhög (close to Ystad) where he not only is exceedingly happy, but has an excellent school to be trained in: Sydow is an outstanding lawyer. " In January 1884 August Sr wrote to August Jr: "But Gunnar has caused us even more troubles. At the end of October he came from Hammenhög, where he had served with the district judge v. Sydow, to Lund for a visit; but was found in a state of mental disorder, which made Uncle Karl take him to the hospital. As soon as I got to know this I went there and took him home, where he soon seemed to recover."

According to the church register for Nosaby parish Gunnar Hammar died on April 27th 1886 of tuberculosis ("lungsot"). (THANKS TO Ann-Britt Hammar for this additional information!)

His father does not mention Gunnars death in his letter from Nov 1886 but writes about the expenses they have had for Gunnar and Hasse.

Harald Sylvander, Strömstad (1885-1943), and  Harald Sylvander, Marseille (1888-1915)

To the left Harald Sylvander, Strömstad (1885-1943), son of Anders Wilhelm Sylvander and Bina Sylvander (born Hammar). Harald Sylvander, Strömstad was thus the nephew of August and Josef. To the right Harald Sylvander, Marseille (1888-1915) brother of Hulda Hammar (born Sylvander) and hence brother-in-law to Josef Hammar. The Strömstad Harald married Ulla Montgomery and many of my generation do remember her from New Years receptions at our grandmother Huldas little flat in Stockholm. Harald Sylvander, Marseille, was killed in battle in the Dardanelles 1915. Details about his death can be found on this link.



It is great to see each of our relatives entering into the homepage one by one. You do not need to apologize! I will look for more photos. I am sure I have Anders Wilhelm Sylvander in several ages + Eva Hammars husband Nils Vult von Steyern. I will also look for Hasse and Gunnar. Do you have them Johan?




In May 2016 I visited the old cemetery in Bouzarea outside Alger, where Josef Hammar was buried. In april 2015 the French embassy moved all human remains of this cemetery to another Christian cemetery in Alger. On this video Bertil Sylvander, who had visited the grave before, shows to Mats Widgren the site where he remembers Josef was buried. Mats Widgren


Mireille Hammar helping her father Josef preparing the donkey for spreading manure in Bouzarea some time 1925 to 1927

Great Johan ! With this photo of my mother Mireille Hammar with her father in Bouzarea I test the functions of the page. Many thanks for a great evening in Uppsala! Mats

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