Bernard (Baruch) Berger, the patriarch of today's Berger Family group profiled on the tree page, lived in what was once Prussia. (East Germany) 18th Century map Today that country is now unified Germany. The current United States & Canadian contingent of his descendants stem from two of his grand children: Casper and Gustav.
In Feb. 1870, Gustav, about 26 and his wife Zerlinda, 24, left Hamburg Ger. on the Holsatia to emigrate to the United States through the port of New York City. Zerlinda, appears, at the time of sailing, to have been pregnant with their daughter Sarah. After arriving in the U.S., the couple moved on to Detroit Mich. to established themselves. Somewhere along the line, Gustav started a cigar manufacturing business,(reported on the 1880 census) which also came to involve other newly arriving family members. Among other Berger names associated with the tobacco business was one Abram(or Abraham)Berger who's exact relationship to Gustav is unknown.
In May of 1870, Casper departed from Hamburg, on the very same Holsatia, which had returned from America, and he also debarked in New York. He soon reunited with Gustav in Detroit, and joined the tobacco business. Casper, 22, married Lena Bloom, 19, 1n 1874. While there is some confusion regarding exactly how many children each family had, and, in fact their true names, the offspring were many. The 1900 census from Detroit shows each family with 5 children. It also indicates that the Casper Berger family lost a child(Bertha).
By 1900, practically every able-bodied family member was engaged in some facet of cigar manufacturing, either as bookkeepers,clerks or salespersons. In 1905, control of the business passed from Casper Berger to his son Robert C. Berger, who through, at least 1914,(Book of Detroiters, 1914) kept the business going. (see profile on Credits Page.) Gustav Berger died in 1913 as a result of being hit by a runaway Detroit streetcar. Casper died in 1927 of heart failure, Both men (and some of their family) are buried in Woodmere cemetery in Detroit.
Click on these links to see the Berger listings in Detroit in 1885 and 1894. Many of the family members and some unknown, are shown ot to be engaged in the tobacco business.
To view these directories it is necessary to click on "full screen" under the View menu and then click the expander in the lower right hand corner of the image. Click View and uncheck "full Screen" to return to normal size.
1885 Detroit directory 1885
1894 Detroit Directory 1894
1890 Gustav Berger listing Gustav
Here's some information on the origin of the name "Berger". Though both names, Berger and Burger are pronounced the same, there is a distinct difference in what they may signify. According to old German namebook records, a "berger" was a person who came from the mountains, because "berg" is The German word for mountain. However, not all Bergers come from Germany. There are thousands of them listed in the French telephone directories, as well as many in Switzerland. In France, "Berger" is pronounced "Berzhe", accent on the second syllable, and it means "Shepherd" or "Peasant". During the 16th and 17th centuries many French protestants, Hugenots, as they were called, were forced to flee the country to save their lives. The biggest contigent of them sought sanctuary in Switzerland, England, and especially, Germany. Under the "Edict of Potsdam" they were invited to settle in that city(near Berlin) which was also the home of the leaders of Prussia. Depending on how far back you can trace your ancestors will probably determine whether they were mountain people or peasant people. As for "Burger", the opposite may be true. "burg" is the German word for town, thus, burgers were townfolk. The mayors of the town were called "burghers" and they have been immortalized in bronze by the sculptor Auguste Rodin who created a larger-than-life tableau called "The Burghers of Calais". Of course, Calais is in France, which either clears up or adds to the confusion regarding the origin of the name "Berger".