Alette Beyer 1726-1810

Alette's maiden name was Busch. The family came from Jutland in Denmark, and settled in Trondheim in the early seventeenth century. Selbu copper works was among the enterprises the Busch family obtained interests in. Her father, Marcus, was an auction director. Thus we understand that the family had a solid position.
Alette married Otto Beyer (1711-1778), who came from Flensburg in Germany. He had been sent to Trondheim to trade, and he enjoyed success in this endeavour. In 1761 they bought the Halset estate in Byåsen, which had previously been crown land. When she was widowed, Alette took over the management of the estate, assets and other substantial trade activities. She enjoyed a celebrity position among the prosperous people in the town, actively participating in social events and parties. Madame Beyer (as she was called) was hospitable and generous, donating substantial sums to the school system in Trondheim. Alette and Otto had no children, but they adopted Alette's brother’s son, Cornelius. This boy was also called Otto, and massive inheritances from several relatives made him one of the richest men in Norway for a brief period of time. However, he managed to fritter away large portions of the fortune on questionable business deals. The large Beyer dock building (Kjøpmannsgaten 5, next to Gamle Bybro [the old town bridge]) dates from his period as an active businessman.
Alette Beyer must have been a woman of considerable size, and several statements about her size are recorded. For example, it was said about Kjøpmannsgaten 5 that it "appears among the other buildings in Trondheim just like Madame Beyer among the town's ladies". In the middle of the 1980s her reputation was briefly revived in her honour. Then the first music café opened in the Beyer building. The name of this enterprise, typical of its time, was simply Madame Beyer. The success of this yuppie enterprise was more akin to the business career of Otto junior than to Alette "Madame" Beyer and her stout frame.
Recommended reading: Ida Bull: De trondhjemske handelshusene på 1700-tallet [The merchant houses in Trondheim in the 18th century]. 1998.

Author: Einar Rædergård