Friday, May 27, 2016

Early Emigrants: Sophie Sager -a woman before her time Part 1

Sophie Sager
Among the earliest  Swedish emigrants was  also a female pioneer whose career took her from the swedish countryside to the dangerous sides of Stockholm and later  across the Atlantic to Brooklyn.New York.  The first woman held public  lectures on women's rights.
and sued a man for assault and battery in her own name.

Childhood and adolescence
Sophie Lisette Sager came from a  family  of  industrialists .Born in 1825 in Byarum ,Jönköping county, the daughter of  Gabriel Sager and his second wife Johanna Bergenholz. After her father's death in1834, the family went broke .and in1840 they had to move to the poorhouse  .Sophie education came to depend on the charity of relatives. According to Sophie she later had to earn a living as a governess and companion.

In 1848 a relative paid for Sophies  travel by steamboat to Stockholm and for her stay there in order to learn fine needlework. It  was Sophies plan to open her own dress shop in Stockholm.
Her  experiences in the shady suroundings there, would turn her life upside down, and drive her on to the public stage.

The trip to Stockholm The Sager case
After her arrival Sophie took lodgings with a shoemakermaster family Dillström in Bollhusgränd in Stockholms Old city. Bollhusgränd was already in the late 18th century known to be a prostitution district.  After rows and quarrels with mrs Dillström who had an illigal tavern and wanted Sophie to be at the guests disposal,
Sophie was forced to move and managed, thanks to a certain stable manager Gustaf Adolf Möller , to find lodgings with his housekeeper.Lovisa Ström.  Sophie soon  discovered that miss Ström  was Möller’s mistress and also engaged in prostitution under the cover of “receiving needlework”. Before long, Sophie  also had a nocturnal visit, . The visit was energetically rejected. The stable manager then began a sexual siege of the dismissive Sophie , which ended with attempted rape and assault.

Sophie managed to escape and was tended to by a doctor Johan Eric Brisman  who helped her report Möller to the police and documented her injuries. The long and detailed statements to the court Sophie Sager wrote herself, and she represented herself before the court.
The statements were thus the first of Sophie Sager’s writings to be published. They reveal a reality that her contemporary female authors probably never had any personal contact with and did not write about. Stockholm’s nocturnal world of bars, prostitution, and general immorality. Möller was convicted and scandalised and left Stockholm  in 1849.

The trial was  a sensation and  extensively written about in the  Stockholm newspapers.
and the documents concerning the trial were printed as a book Sagerska målet (The Sager case)