Catharine Lysholm 1744-1815

Catharine’s (her name is rendered with e or a) maiden name was Meincke. This was one of the town's most powerful and wealthy families, and their residence was Ilsvika Manor. Her mother's family name was Mølmann, also a name from the elite. With her well-standing background, it was quite predictable that she would find a husband from the same social stratum. She married Broder B. Lysholm in 1763. When he died quite young in 1772 his widow took over the business. She started a company with her brother Henrik, and this was the start of one of the most flourishing merchant undertakings in the final half of the eighteenth century. Together they founded Trondhjems Skibsværft [shipyard] in Bakklandet in 1779. Here ships were built which generally plied the seas to and from distant destinations for the enterprise's own business. Around 1790 "Hoffagentinne" [female court agent] Lysholm retired from her business, which would then pass out of the family. Her two sons never made it to adulthood, whilst three daughters married into solid positions in Trondheim.
In town the family lived in a row of merchant houses on Søgaten (now Kjøpmannsgata). While her husband was alive they also bought the country retreat Marienberg on top of the Steinberget hill. Parts of this are still standing. Catharine soon came to favour this Havstein property, which was developed into a magnificent estate. No expense was spared here, neither for the house nor the grounds. Parts of the long avenues still dominate the landscape. All the important visitors to the town were invited and served in the Trondheim manner. It was important to show that the offspring of the Flensburg settlers were just as wealthy and cultured as their ancestors.
Catharine Lysholm also played a small role in the story about Lysholm's Line Aquavit, which Jørgen B. Lysholm (1796-1843, no relation) developed into a world-class brand name. When in 1805 Catharine and Henrik's first ship, "Trondhjems Prøve", was furnished for a long trip with an assorted selection of export goods, they also included some barrels of potato alcohol. It was stored in oaken barrels previously used to store wine. This was no success in the Dutch Far East, and most of the barrels returned with the ship. This was when they discovered that the long voyage had done wonders with the aging process. Catharina never witnessed the great breakthrough this led to for this type of alcohol. But an aquavit brand, "Fru Lysholm" [Mrs Lysholm] has been named after her, as has a street in the Byåsen district of Trondheim.
Recommended reading: O. J. Johansen: Den tusenårige by ved Nidelven [The city of a thousand years by the Nid river]. 1936.

Author: Einar Rædergård