August and Josef

A history of two brothers

For some time now I've been working on a Wiki-article about Josef Hammar. It is now done and active on

The work has been interesting. As Wiki doesn't accept private reference material as letters, diaries etc. I had to search extensively for available sources and turned up some for me yet unknown. For example a search for the subjects of one of Josef's published articles, "Reserapport från kriget i Sydafrika" (Travelling Report From The Boer War) gave me an odd hit with a book titled Abbozzo di un nuovo sistema monetario by Dionigi Martinelli scanned by Google. It turned out that this scan had appended to it "Helsingborgs-Landskrona nation i Lund" by Vilhelm Ljungfors which contained a biography of Josef published 1903. It also turned out that August Hammar Sr. was a honorary member of Helsingbors-Landskrona Nation and had his own biography in the book. This source verified some facts that I knew but had not found in any other published source.

I also found a reference to a list of published articles by Josef that is supposed to be in "Sveriges läkarehistoria" (History of Swedish Physicians) vol. 4 (1822–1935). I started to look up where I could find a copy to read and photograph and was on my way to Carolina Redeviva (University library in Uppsala) when I found a copy of the entire work (vol 1-5) in leather at an on-line used bookstore for 400 kr (~£37). So I'm awaiting a package eagerly to see if there is more surprises in it. UPDATE: And today they arrived. My expectations where fulfilled.

To say the least Josef lead an interesting life.


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).


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