CATHARINA HELENA ÖRN (1790–1870)
– one of the richest women in Gävle
Catharina Helena (Carin) Lindh came to Gävle in 1814 merchant Carl Gustaf Örn’s wife. She was born in Östanfors, Kopparberg, Dalarna, as the eldest daughter of borough council in Falun, Johan Daniel Lindh and his wife Barbro Elisabet Ihrman.
Mrs. Örn was an unusually capable housewife, who in detail contributed in the work in the great and hospitable merchant's home. She had of course several employees that she handled in old-fashioned manners. There are several stories to tell, such as:
"For Christmas, a large pig and an ox were slaughtered, so the kitchen maid and the driver received their gratuities in proportion to the size of their cherished animals."
The household owned a lot of East Indian porcelain and three white plates. The latter three were used for everyday life. Even the horses had the best harnesses with hardware of real silver. The governor sometimes borrowed the horses.
After the great fire in 1869, only firewalls remained of the proud two-story house. Stories are told about Mrs. Örn’s hardship and how she, with the help of good friends and crewmembers left the town on the firm's ships. After the fire, all the precious furniture was to be evaluated. It was a difficult period when she had no possessions and had to share house with several other households. After some time, Mrs. Örn bought a new residence on the south, the current Södermalmstorg, but never liked it there. She died one year after the city fire.
Carin Örn was at her death one of Gävle's wealthiest women and the inventory occupied real estate, land, shares, etc. for a total of 313 628 SEK – a considerable sum (value today about 15 million) at the time. Mrs. Örn also seems to have acted as a bank for relatives and friends. The estate inventory also includes some inventories from Engeltofta, suggesting that there were a small dwelling on the lot.
Mrs. Örn was a frequent donor to both Gävle and Falun. Among other things, she donated to the so-called Örnska widow house in the corner of Drottninggatan and Kaplansgatan. The home consisted of 10 apartments with one room and kitchen, plus a room for the caretaker.