52 Ancestors: Dr. Albert J. Berger (#15)

If you look at my family tree you'll see mostly farmers and field hands, some factory workers, miners, and a couple ministers.  But, as far as I have yet found, only one medical doctor - and that would be Albert Jacob Berger.  Albert, in addition to his interesting career, also led an interesting life - beginning with his birth.

Early Life
Albert was born near Essen, Germany on 4 December, 1877.  His parents, Americans by birth, were there doing missionary work for the German Evangelical Association (related to the Methodist Church).  Albert was the fourth of John W. and Susanna vonAllmen Berger's ten known children.

When he was about a year old, the family returned to their native Indiana and settled in South Bend in time for the 1880 US Census.  Three years later the family again moved, this time to Wabash.

When Albert was about ten the family left Indiana.  Albert's father's health was failing so they relocated to Los Angeles, California.  For whatever reason, Los Angeles proved to be unsuitable and the family again moved after two years.  Arriving in Oakland around 1890, the family finally found a place to put down roots.  However, one important member of the family would not be around to see the Bergers prosper in their new home.  Albert's father died a few days after Albert's fourteenth birthday.

The next record I have for Albert is the 1895 Oakland city directory, in which he still living at the family home and is a student.  Two years later, Albert is at the same address but working as a clerk for H. D. Kellogg & Co. (a drug store).

On 17 June, 1898, President McKinley signed into law a bill establishing a US Navy Hospital Corps.  That same day, Albert enlisted to serve in the Spanish-American War.  I know from a newspaper article that he was sent to the Philippines but I know nothing beyond that.  He left the Hospital Corps a year later, in 1899.  In 1925 Albert applied for, and received, a pension for this service.

Albert continues to appear in Oakland city directories (and the 1900 US Census) at the same address.  By the time of the 1902 directory, Albert is again listed as a student and this time I know what he was studying.

In 1904 Albert graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of San Francisco.  Around 1907, Albert became the proprietor of Hornung's Pharmacy (later it became just his office) in San Francisco.

Later Life
The later years of Albert's life are less known to me and information is rather spotty to find.  In 1910, Albert is enumerated in San Francisco along with a wife, Minnie, who he had married in 1905.  I have no other information on Minnie, or this marriage.

The next decade or so Albert spent as the ship surgeon for various steamships travelling the Pacific.  What time he spent in the US, seems to have been back in Oakland.  I find no other mention of Minnie and by 1925, Albert is married to Alma.  Also around this time, Albert and Alma relocated back to San Francisco.  Albert would spend the last years of his life there, dying from chronic bronchitis on 10 February, 1934.  His obituary mentions that he was a member of the Nelson A. Miles Camp No. 10, U.S.W.V. (United Spanish War Veterans) of San Francisco.

To Find
There are some records and information related to Albert I'd like to find:

  • His marriage records to both Minnie and Alma
  • A record of him in both the 1920 and 1930 US Census
  • His pension application (NARA doesn't have it so I'll have to do a FOIA request to the VA)
  • Information on the Nelson A. Miles Camp No. 10
  • His death record
  • Burial location (I want to know if he is with his parents in the Berger plot at Mountain View Cemetery)
(This is an entry in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge hosted by No Story Too Small)


Popular Posts