In the 1880s, the island Omø was home to close to 300 inhabitants. This was a time when all small islands and villages in Denmark had quite a few more stores and small tradesmen than we know today.
At Husmandsstræde 5 in the village Omø By, baker and miller Niels Christian Nielsen Møller had a bakery that supplied the residents of Omø with freshly baked rye bread made with rye flour from his own mill on Havnevej.
But in the 1880s, another baker opened his bakery on the outskirts of the village. Now, a bakery at Dragesvej 2 sold wheat bread made with wheat flour from the mill on Ørevej. The inhabitants of Omø were over the moon about the novel white bread, and the old rye-bread baker Niels was in so deep despair over all the customers he lost to the new baker that he made a very drastic and tragic decision.
As the story goes, Niels went to his mill on Havnevej and set it on fire. While the mill was burning, the rye-bread baker climbed up the mill and hanged himself, surrounded by the crackling flames.
The other baker kept baking white bread for the inhabitants of Omø. But by all accounts, the wheat-bread baker who had huge success with his white bread was quite troubled after that event.
In the footsteps of the bakers
The Danish folklore collection contains several interesting interviews with the inhabitants of Omø from the beginning of the 20th century. This story comes from one of the interviews where Andrine Møller, widow of rye-bread baker Niels, talks about the tragic ending to her husband’s life. According to this story, the skilled wheat-bread baker suffered from nightmares every night after the event.
The two bakeries were located in Omø By, about 20 minutes’ walk from the marina. The street Havnevej leads up into the village, and this was where the rye-bread baker’s mill was situated. As mentioned, it burnt down completely, and today, open fields take up the area where the mill was. The buildings that housed his bakery can be seen at Husmandsstræde 5 in the village. Today, the house has been rebuilt as a private residence.
Around 250 metres (0.15 miles) from there, the other bakery was located at Dragesvej 2. There was a bakery in that location right up to 1984. Today, the buildings are a private residence. The mill that milled the white wheat flour is located 300 metres (0.19 miles) away on Ørevej 9. The mill building is still there and has been rebuilt as a private residence.
Today, there is no longer any bakery at Omø. However, the inhabitants and visitors to Omø can still buy bread and other necessities at the grocery store in Omø By. It is important to support the remaining small businesses on the islands to prevent the last stores from having to close, too.