Dalgas - the company’s first managing director

Enrico Mylius Dalgas

Enrico Mylius Dalgas is a descendant of one of the French Huguenot families, which fled its homeland in 1685.

His great-great grandfather, Antoine Dalgas, emigrated to Switzerland, and his grandfather Jean Marc Dalgas (1756-1811) was the first member of the Dalgas family to settle in Denmark. His grandfather was educated as a clergyman and worked as such in the Reformed Church in Fredericia. He was married to the daughter of a mayor from Eberfeld in Germany.

Jean Marc Dalgas was not only the parish’s spiritual leader, but also an active adviser on many fronts. In his writings he describes in detail the method by which soil should be cultivated based on crop rotation with tobacco or potatoes in order to keep the soil clean before sowing wheat and rye. He discussed questions regarding fertilisation, he wrote about craftsmanship and trade, and about taxes and rights. He had a particularly practical nature which stemmed from his native Lausanne, where during his childhood years he had seen his mother as the hard-working farmer’s wife who looked after the interests of the family home.

The clergyman had a large family, of which Jean Antoine, E. M. Dalgas’ father, travelled to Naples and made a living as a businessman. In 1813 he married Johanne Tomine Stibolt, the daughter of chamberlain, senior grade commander Andreas Henrik Stibolt. His father died when Enrico was 7 years old, and his mother travelled to Denmark, where the children were brought up.

Education and employment at the Highway Authority
E. M. Dalgas chose the career path of an officer and fought in the wars of 1848-50 and 1864. In the first of these wars, he lost two brothers.
Having served with the artillery, he became a highway engineer, and a large number of stretches of road in Jutland are the result of his work. Dalgas achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel, and later, when the Highway Authority was placed under civil administration, he became an assistant to the senior highway inspector with a residence in Århus, before taking over this position in 1885.

His employment in the army and the Highway Authority provided Dalgas with his livelihood, and he was thus able to carry out his work at DDH without remuneration. At the same time his job had great significance for his personal development. The management of major highway construction projects taught him about management and about working on a tight budget.

Through the extensive soil analyses and cutting involved in road construction, he gained extensive insight into the upper layers of soil in the heaths. Through his numerous journeys and surveys he also gained extensive insight into the terrain and watercourses of West Jutland.

His participation in the assessment of the damage done by road construction to fields and crops taught him to assess a variety of conditions concerning agriculture, and through his contact with the general public he became aware of public feeling and opinion, in addition to winning friends and allies.

There was a great deal of public interest in the issue of the heaths at the time, and in 1866 three attempts were made to form companies for the reclamation of heathland in Jutland.

DDH’s foundation
On 28 March 1866 DDH was founded at the "Hotel Royal" in Århus. Its establishment was part of a natural development. E. M. Dalgas, senior attorney Morville, landowner F. Mourier-Petersen and other visionaries could see the direction in which things were moving, and made it their business to organise and assemble the forces which were already working towards the same goal, i.e. the establishment of artificial meadows, reclamation of heathland and planting on the heath.

With regard to DDH’s foundation, Dalgas remarked: " In terms of formalities no major task has been more poorly prepared than ours".

What was the reason that the company was able to achieve such vitality and become such an important enterprise within Dalgas’ lifetime? An incisive answer was provided by professor A. Oppermann in 1895: "Because its leading men were fortunate to find the right resources to awaken the interest of both the public in general and the heath farmer in particular; because they chose a way of working which allowed energy and competence to make up for a lack of operating capital; and finally because there was among them a man who was willing and able to direct all his energy towards fulfilling the role of managing director."

Dalgas – a man of letters
The results of Dalgas’ diligent efforts can of course primarily be found on the heaths themselves, where he spent more than 200 days a year tirelessly engaged in providing help and guidance for anyone who needed it. However, at the same time he was an industrious writer with literary activities encompassing more than 1000 pages distributed between books, pamphlets and articles. Even an incomplete list of the titles provides a good insight into the impressive breadth of his knowledge, whilst a single sales figure provides evidence of the demand for his work.

During the period from 1866 until DDH's periodical was published for the first time in autumn 1879, the following publications from Dalgas’ hand saw the light of day:

Overview of the heaths in Jutland, 1866
Geographical pictures I and II, 1867-68
Guide to tree planting, 1871
Deep trench ploughing, 1872
A heath journey in Hannover, 1873
Instructions for the establishment of small plantations, 1875 and 1883 - 50,000 copies printed
Heathland bogs and fens, 1876
Meadow migration, 1877
Planting in Jutland, 1877
The heaths and their cultivation, 1878.

Later articles tackled topics such as heathland bog plantations, potato-growing, fertiliser analyses, forest history, parasitic fungi, waterproofing of timber, labour camps for convicted criminals, waste collection service, etc.

E M Dalgas

E. M. Dalgas (1828 - 1894) was the co-founder of Det danske Hedeselskab, DDH, in 1866 and the company’s first managing director from 1866 - 1894.

Not only for the sake of the land of the dead do we act, but for the living, who also have needs.
E.M. Dalgas (1866)