Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bergers in a Flash

My grandmother (living), was the daughter of Gideon Gottlieb Berger and Georgiana Wellons.  Gideon and Georgiana were married in 1919 in Yreka, Siskiyou, California.[1]  At the time, Gideon was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Sisson; Georgiana was a school teacher in nearby Edgewood.[2]

Gideon's father, John W. Berger, was also a minister.  He preached for the Evangelical Association in German and was the son of Rhineland-Palatinate immigrants.[2, 3]  Gideon was born in Wabash County, Indiana on 11 Oct 1885 and came to Oakland, Alameda, California in 1891.[2, 4, 5]  He was one of nine children.[3]  Gideon lived in California throughout his life and died in 1965.[2, 6]

Gideon's father, John, was born in Marshall County, Indiana on 17 August 1841.[3]  His father, Heinrich Michael Berger, was a farmer who had arrived in the US around 1832.[6]  When the Civil War broke out, John enlisted in Company K of the 29th Indiana Infantry Regiment.  He fought at Shiloh before becoming ill and being discharged.[3]  In 1866 John married the daughter of Swiss immigrants, Susanna vonAllmen in Evansville, Vanderburgh, Indiana.[7, 8]  John, through his church work, lived in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and lastly California in addition to the several years he spent doing missionary work in Germany.[3]  He died in Oakland, Alameda, California in 1891.[9]

John’s father, (Heinrich) Michael Berger, was born in 1788 in Annweiler, Germany.[10]  He and his wife, Friederika Matz, had their first known child in 1814 in this same area.[11] 

Coats of Arms of the Südwestpfalz and Südliche Weinstraße, present-day districts in the
Rhineland-Palatinate which encompass the Berger family's ancestral homeland.

Total word count (excluding sources): 267; written for the 115th Carnival of Genealogy.

Associated Berger surnames: Wellons, vonAllmen, Matz, Kupperin, Ringgenberg, Beyler, Zimmer, Walmer, Parker, Lawrence, Jory, Tretheway, Fisher, Nemitz, Grimshaw, Miller.

1. Siskiyou County, California, marriage license and certificate, Siskiyou County Marriage Register book 13, page 75, Gideon Berger to Georgiana Wellons, 26 September 1919; Siskiyou County Recorder's Office, Yreka.

2. "Pastor of Grace Methodist Church Retires," undated clipping, circa 1957, from unidentified newspaper; Berger family papers; likely from the Stockton [California] Record newspaper; privately held by Leah Allen, [address for private use].

3.S. H. Baumgartner, compiler, Historical Data and Life Sketches of the Deceased Ministers of the Indiana Conference of the Evangelical Association, 1835-1915, E. W. Praetorius, editor, volume 1 (Cleveland, Ohio: Publishing House of the Evangelical Association, 1915), pgs. 116-119.

4. "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," digital image, ( : accessed 28 February 2012), card for Gideon Berger, Oakland Draft Board #4, Draft Card B, database image 192; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, NARA microfilm publication M1509. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm roll 1531211.

5. "U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 28 February 2012), card for Gideon Gotlieb Berger, born 1885; citing Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration., Family History Library film number 1784583, image number 02312; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., United States.

6.  Social Security Administration, "U.S. Social Security Death Index," database, ( : accessed 28 February 2012), Gideon Berger, 556-48-9940, California (1953).

7.  1880 US Census, Saint Joseph County, Indiana, population schedule, South Bend, enumeration district (ED) 163, p. 470D, dwelling 746, family 867, John Berger (Head); digital images, ( : accessed 13 August 2011); NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 309.

8. Vanderburgh County, Indiana, Book 5: page 481, Berger-vonAllmen, 9 December 1866; Index to Marriage Records 1846-1920 Inclusive Volume VIII, WPA, Original record located in County Clerk's Office.

9. "Berger," obituary, The San Francisco (California) Daily Call, 14 December 1891; online images, The Library of Congress (  : accessed 15 January 2012),  Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

10. Germany Births and Baptisms, 1559-1898." index, FamilySearch ( accessed January 15,  2012). entry for Henrich Michael Berger, born 15 May 1788; citing Church Records, FHL microfilm  193772 ; Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.

11. Germany Births and Baptisms, 1559-1898." index, FamilySearch ( accessed January 15,  2012). entry for Heinrich Berger, baptized 5 July 1814; citing Church Records, FHL microfilm 193230; Index entries derived from digital copies of original and compiled records.


  1. Wow, nicely done, Leah! Great writing and sourcing!

    Thanks for participating in the COG!

  2. Beautiful sourcing, and a very interesting flash history.

  3. Complete with footnotes! Wonderfully done.

  4. Your post was interesting to me on a number of levels -- the conciseness of writing, the great sourcing --- and most of all the fact that Gideon and Georgianna were married in Yreka --- which is just a hop, skip and a jump over (45 miles) the Siskiyou Pass from where I live.

  5. Leah,

    Great overview of your Berger family, with some tantalizing glimpses into their lives. And footnotes too!


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