The Berg Family

The earliest recorded information about the Berg family, which we have in, our possession dates back to May 9, 1851.  On that date, the pastor of the Saude parish in Telemark, Norway, wrote and impressed his seal on a document vouching for the character of grandfather Berg's widowed mother and three children for the purpose of helping their plans to immigrate to America.  One of her children, a son, the oldest of her four children had emigrated a year or two earlier.

Grandfather's mother was identified as Anne Sigurdsdatter Berg, and the three children were identified as: 

1.     Halvor Halvorsen, born in 1822

2.     Kari Harvorsdatter, born in 1826

3.     Peder Halvorson, born in 1829

We assume, from the name of the children, and that of their mother, that the old Norwegian custom had been followed, and that the grandfather's father's name was Halvor Berg.  Sometime after they arrived in America, they officially adopted Berg as their surname.  My grandfather, then, became Halvor Berg instead of continuing as Halvor Halvorsen.

From all accounts, the family settled in northern Iowa.  Later, perhaps after he was married, grandfather Berg moved to some land he bought from the Minnesota and Southern Railway Company, about six miles north of Lanesboro in Fillmore County, Minnesota.  He also homesteaded on some land nearby, and that became the family home.

As nearly as we can reconstruct from the information we have and that which is told us, Halvor and Margit (Larsen) Berg had seven children, five of whom eventually found their way to Griggs County, either in the late 1880's or early 1890's.  Their father, who was widowed in 1873 when a bolt of lightning killed his wife as she was preparing the evening meal, continued to live on the farm in Minnesota until about 1900.

Soren, born in 1859 and the eldest, probably arrived in Griggs County first.  He settled in Hannaford, where he engaged in farming and the mercantile business until he moved to Washington State about 1920.

Andrew, born in 1861, came next - and directly to Cooperstown.  He, too, started in both business and farming.

A sister, probably born in 1863, died at a very young age.

From all accounts, Lewis, my father, came next, but I do not know the year.  He was born in 1865, so it is probable that he came in 1889.

In 1896, Andrew and Lewis, together with their cousin Albert Larson and a friend, Erick Erickson, organized a partnership under the name of Berg Brothers & Company.  This partnership had various businesses, and at one time had some fifty-five quarters of land, mostly in Griggs County.  When they dissolved their partnership in 1906, they all received some equities and land.

Albert Larson got the store and some land.  Erick Erickson got the implement business and some land.  Andrew Berg, who probably had the biggest investment in the company, received some banking equity and mercantile business in Hannaford and some land.  Lewis Berg received equity in a hardware business in Binford, and he also received land.

Halvor and John came to Cooperstown.  Halvor died a short while later, but John had a long life in Griggs County.  His principal occupations were in real estate, fire insurance, and farming.  After Andrew's death in 1914, John did much of the management of his (Andrew's) estate at the request of the widow, Mrs. Emma Berg.

During his lifetime, Andrew was vitally interested in the affairs of his chosen community, the city, and his church.  After his death, his widow donated funds for the school/city gymnasium in his memory.

Lewis, my father, was the managing partner of the department store owned by Berg Brothers and Company.  As part of his duties he made the daily trip to the post office.  He was attracted to the gentle and personable young woman who worked for the postmaster, Mr. Jimeson.  Attraction ripened into courtship and courtship led to marriage to Ingeborg Alfson on February 6, 1899.  She was the eldest child of Olav and Kari Alfson, who then lived about six miles north of Jessie.  That marriage was a happy one, and the couple made a good home for their five children.

My father was a member of the early town council or board and later member of the school board for several years.  It was during his time on that board that what was then known as the "little school" was built, and father was the liaison between the board and the architect and contractor.  Later, at the request of Andrew's widow, he assumed the general managership of the building of the gymnasium.

After the period 1906-1910, father's principal occupation was in farming and breeding dual-purpose Shorthorn cattle.  When the American Milking Shorthorn Association was organized, father was elected its first president - very likely in recognition of the fact that some of his cattle had set national records for production.

Anton Berg never lived in Griggs County except for a very short while.  His base was in Courtenay, Stutsman County, where he engaged in farming until he, too, moved to Washington State.

There no longer are any of grandfather Halvor Berg's descendants living in Griggs County. 

By Monroe Berg

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page 58

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