Throughout the family there are stories about Bergsmanns going farther back than those we have here, including stories about the origin of the two spellings ‑- "Bergsmann" and "Bergmann" ‑- which everyone agrees are two different versions of the same family name. 


            The richest of these stories would seem to be embodied in a book ‑- also made into a television miniseries! ‑- in Hungarian.  The author, András Kennessei, is a Hungarian, resident in Buda­pest; a well-known writer and antiquarian, his maternal grand­mother was a Bergsmann and he was raised among a wealth of stories about the history of the family.  "Are they myths or are they real?" I asked him; he shrugged his shoulders as only we Hungarians can and replied, "They were told to me as real."  The book is Százezer Ös, published in 1989 in Budapest by Szepirodalmi Konyvkiado.  I have a rough translation of one short chapter, which had been published in a Budapest newspaper, clipped by Sandor Horsky, given to me, and thus used to find András.  Unfortunately the rest of the book is, so far at least, not readable by me.


            András' tale, in the book, begins at the end of the 16th century.  There were pogroms in Saxony (the region north-west of Spis on the other side of the Carpathian mountains; now at least partly Poland).  Two young brothers named Bergmann fled the pogroms and settled in what was then called (in Hungarian) Iglo; now our Spisska Nova Ves.  The younger brother, discontent after a time, moved further on to Szeben (in Erdely; now part of Romania).  Still according to the tale, both brothers became prosperous merchants, and to avoid confusion between them the Szeben brother added an "s" in the middle and thus changed his name to "Bergsmann."  The Szeben brother may or may not have subsequently gone to Jerusalem (with his "s") and financed a Sultan in a crusade against Persia, which upon repayment made him a very rich man.  If so, it was all gone before I was born...


            Between the reported arrival of the brothers in Iglo at the end of the 16th century, and Simon Bergsmann's birth in nearby Krempachy in 1812, is a span of something like, say, 225 years or about ten generations.  Plenty of time for the Szeben brother and his issue to journey back to Spis, bringing their "s" with them, and give birth to my great-great-grandfather.  Fascinating to speculate on such an odyssey.


            Other living relatives have also told me, more vaguely, that the family was originally of the same name, either with or without the "s" in the middle, and that some member or members changed it.  My uncle by marriage Emmanuel Bergmann, who married my father's sister Anna Bergsmann, knew he was related and told the same general story that someone had changed the name.  As to which one it was originally, with or without the "s", people do not agree.  My father's story, for example, was that three generations earlier there were four Bergsmann brothers, of whom two dropped the "s".  It's not clear from which generation he was counting back three; his own father had three other brothers, but they all kept the "s".


            A third spelling, my own ‑- "Bergsman" ‑- is simply the result of my father's having informally dropped the final "n" and my having followed him in that as in so many other things.  He said it happened by accident; the phone company listed him with one "n" and he stuck with it.  It would have been easy because his signature degenerated into a slightly wavy line around the middle of the last name; nobody could tell what the last letters were, much less how many "n"s there were.  Anyway, as far as I know, my father, I and my sons are the only one-n Bergsmans in the family...[1]


[1] Wrong, as my cousin Leo Bergsmann informed me; there are many other “one-n Bergsmans.”