From poor boy to squire -
Hans Bachmann to Estrup

By Herman Madsen

- as a poor boy he went from door to door selling tobacco. But in contradiction to many others, he did not forget his poor childhood to the benefit of his copyholders.

When you drive from Vejen towards Holsted, the flat and monotonous stretch is around halfway down the stretch replaced by the splendid Estrup forest. Over a long stretch the main road runs through this forrest which is used as a halt on the open road crossing Jylland.
A lot of people stops at the picturesque manor house Estrup too, in the western fringes of the forrest. It's very complex architecture makes it an interesting building and it has an old and touching history.
During the war against Sweden [ed. First war against Karl 10th. Gustav (1657-1658)] is was heavily damaged. Large parts of the main building had to be rebuild. At the same time most of the estates copyholders were killed by the plague following the war. It was hard to keep a proper cultivation.
When Hans Bachmann got the manor in 1714, more than half a century after the war against Sweden, it was still in a very bad shape. But he thoroughly rebuild it so the architectural marks are both renaissance style and rococo style.
This doubleness was reinforced when H.C.Lautrup later reconstructed the original renaissance gable. of which only the west wing was left. As the three wing manor house presents it self now, it is a picturesque pearl in spite that the main road traffic runs near by. It is like a Cinderella castle among the mighty trees. The present and the past pulsates close at hand. *1)
Hans Bachmann was very important to Estrup due to his skills and humane attitude to the copyholders. He was a poor boy from Skodborg, a small village south of Vejen. The home was so poor that he had to assist on making a daily living for the family. His father send this bright boy around selling tobacco at the nearby farms. People liked this little bright boy and bought his tobacco. But it was often a hard work for the boy. Especially during the winter when he had to travel for miles between the farms on ragged roads. He learned to work hard and promised himself to work his way up. And he did in spite of the poor background.
After his confirmation he worded in various trades, but finally he joined the royal forestry where he made his marks through skills and fairness. He was promoted to Royal Head Forester [ed. Overførster]. In this job he supervised the King's forests in the counties of Haderslev, Kolding, Fyn, Als and Tåsinge. During this he inspected the large forest near Estrup owned by Christine Margrethe Clausen. Her husband had been Forest Ranger in Nordborg (Als). She was pleased by the just Hans Bachmann and they were married in 1714. The poor boy from Skodborg moved to Estrup as a squire.
Many tales has been told about his skills and mildness. Once a copyholder was late with his guild [landgilde]. He vent to the manor house to ask Hans Bachmann for respite. He was very surprised by the kind reception he had. He was asked to sit, had some food served and something to drink even before he had told about his business.
The outcome of his visit was quite different from what he had expected. Bachmann told him, that when he was a little boy and ran with the tobacco purse from farm to farm, the copyholder's father who had a small farm near Skodborg had often given him a meal when he arrived perished with cold to sell tobacco. Therefore he did not need to worry about the money he owed. He did not ask for them before the copyholder had been able to make ends meet and could pay without difficulties.
The nearby Sønderskov was owned by Jørgen Due a former Captain in the army. He knew very little about farming an the farm was so neglected that "he neither plowed nor sowed". It was told that one could buy the best oak tree in his forest for at pound of tobacco, when he was short of this. Bachmann lent him money for some time, but had to take over his manor, that was more stately than Estrup. He moved to Sønderskov and sold Estrup to General- Major Henrik Scholten.
Hans Bachmann had put a crucial mark on Estrup, Not only rebuilding the manor house, but managed to get a neglected farm working again. He would now have to start from scratch with the neglected Sønderskov. But the job occupied him more than anything else and it was a well-run farm he left to his children, when he died in 1745. The rebuilding of Sønderskov had been such hard work, that the copyholders had been treated harder than at Estrup. There were some complaints about the hard treatment and the hard villeinage in his last years. This distores to some extent the picture of the upright person from the first years as a squire. His eager to make Sønderskov profitable made a hard time for the copyholders to fulfil the demands. In common he is still considered as the skilled man who made two manors profitable.

***1) This was written in 1957 when the traffic could by no means be compared to the modern traffic of the 1990's. A new high way will lead the traffic away from this area.

The End
Translated by
Erik Bachmann