SOME BERGSMANNS FROM SPIS
December 15, 1994
re-formatted May 2, 2001
who did not want anyone
PREFACE TO THE 2001 RE-FORMATTING
My son Jeremy Bergsman recently reserved “Bergsman.org” on the internet and the family is slowly exploiting this resource. I have resurrected “Some Bergsmanns from Spis” electronically and put it in its present form. The content has not been changed except to correct a few typos, spell out in full some abbreviations that I had been forced to use by the constraints of Roots3, etc.
The Roots3 software, designed to run on DOS, is now amazingly antiquated. (Thank you, Bill Gates…) Only with Jeremy’s help was I able even to run it. No one took up my offer, six years ago, to send them the software and the files, and by now it would be considerably less useful to someone who wanted to use them. But the offer still stands.
In the six years or so since I more-or-less arbitrarily stopped working on this and published it, of course a lot of genealogical events have occurred – Bergsmanns (of all spellings) and their relatives have died and others have been born. More prosaically, some of us have moved. I have not entered any of these events in this document; it is now at least six years out of date. I will mention only one aspect of those six years: my cousin Leo Bergsmann moved to the Washington area and I was able to spend some very enjoyable time with him before he passed away last year, aged 94 and still going strong. Leo was smart, witty, opinionated, snobbish, and one of the more cultured people to come out of Wilkes-Barre. He also loved Italian food. In short, a man after my own heart.
As I get older, and my children approach middle age, I treasure my family more and more.
7360 Stone Ct
St Leonard, MD, USA
Email: joel at bergsman. org
1 May 2001
PREFACE TO THE 1994 COMPILATION
Origins of this work
Fate sent three messengers that caused me to put this report together.
My first wife, Anne Bergsman, became actively interested in tracing her own family perhaps ten years ago. This interest included the ancestry of our two children, and so she began digging up information, interviewing the older generation, and generally tracing my ancestors ‑- before I had any interest in the project. She also searched for and found first one, and then a better piece of computer software, an inestimable aid in compiling, sorting, and printing the information.
Around 1990 the Iron Curtain that divided eastern and western Europe collapsed. Soon after, my work took me to eastern Europe. I recalled that my father, who had just recently passed away, had been in correspondence with a cousin in Czechoslovakia. I got the name and address, announced myself, and visited him in Bratislava. He was Sandor Horsky, first cousin of my father, and he lived together with his daughter Olga, her husband Pavel Nagel, and their daughters Zuzana and Daniela. Sandor and my father had never met ‑- had never been within 5,000 miles of each other ‑- but Sandor looked like my father, acted just like him in myriad ways, and pictures of him as a young man could hardly be told apart from pictures of my father at a similar age! More important, Sandor remembered, and indeed could hardly be stopped from telling me about my Bergsmann relations who had not left Europe. The deaths of so many of them in the Holocaust was clearly one of the motors of his passion. He is the source of much of the information here, and to his passion and to his memory – he passed on about a year ago – I dedicate this work.
The third messenger of fate, less of a help but probably a necessity nonetheless, was simply my own advancing age. It does seem that most people's interest in their genealogy ‑- perhaps in the past in general ‑- increases with age; in any case it has been true of me. Unfortunately, we thus miss the chance to interview our parents and grandparents, and can only bemoan the lost opportunity. For what is really interesting here is not so much the dry names and dates of ancestors we never saw, but the stories about their lives. And few of these can be found in any archives, no matter how diligent the researcher.
What have we here?
My paternal grandparents Jacob and Pepi, both born "Bergsmann" and first cousins, were born and raised in or around a town then called Altendorf, now known as Spisska Stara Ves, in the Carpathian mountains. The town was then in the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now northern Slovakia. (Altendorf means "old town" in German and Spisska Stara Ves means "old town (or old place) of the Spis region" in Slovak.)
Sandor Horsky and others provided me with names and family connections going back to my great-great-grandfather, Simon Bergsmann. Other relatives added more information about Simon's descendants.
An accidental contact in the 1960s with Marvin Bergsmann, like me a resident of the Washington DC area, opened a window to another set of Bergsmanns; this window was enlarged through Anne's efforts and subsequently those of Rita Bergsmann Young, the late Florence Bergsmann Miller, and Marvin. We put together another numerous set of Bergsmanns going back to a David Bergsmann, of the same time and resident in the same Spis region as Simon. To date we have not found the "smoking gun" of an explicit connection, but I am morally certain that we are related. Why?
· This isn't very rigorous, but it is scarcely conceivable that there could be Bergsmanns from Spis, going so far back, but not related.
· Marvin looks exactly like all the Bergsmanns in my own extended family. As noted in the body of this report, he is descended from not one, not two, but three Bergsmann grandparents; his own parents were first cousins and his paternal grandfather was the brother of his maternal grandmother. My own father and aunts also had three Bergsmann grandparents; their parents were first cousins and their father's parents were first cousins. Moreover, one of my father's sisters ‑- Anna ‑- married a Bergmann cousin, Manny. In this inbred group, there is a strong family resemblance and Marvin especially resembles those cousins of mine who are children of Manny and Anna -- who had Bergsmann cousins for parents, Bergsmann first cousins for grandparents, and Bergsmann first cousins for great-grandparents!
· When my father's mother ‑- a Bergsmann at birth, god bless her ‑- died leaving several young children, a lady named Bergsmann came from the Ohio Bergsmanns to care for the family for a time. In a letter to me in 1964, my father says, "I was aware of family relations by the name of Bergsmann in this country ‑- they resided in Ohio. Uncle Max Bergsmann did correspond with them and visited them." Marvin is from this Ohio Bergsmann family, the descendants of David.
Anne's efforts also found Betty Madick of Whittier California, descended from a Gerson Bergsman also from Spis. Again we have not identified a common relative, but I have no doubt, for the same main reason, that again we are all family. In Gerson's family, also, five out of seven children of Abraham Bergsmann (born during the period 1852 - 1866) had names common in Simon's branch of the family: Jacob, Fani, Simon, Peppi, and Anna.
And so we have three families, all descended from Bergsmanns who lived in Spis in the early part of the 19th century, who I'm sure are related but for which I don't have the connecting individuals. I present them thus, and hence the title "Some Bergsmanns from Spis."
4825 DeRussey Pkwy
Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA
SOME TECHNICAL NOTES
1. For anyone who wants to go on with the genealogy of all or part of this family, I am more than happy to share the data; it's easily transmittable on one diskette. The software is "Roots III;" quite flexible and yet easy to use. Both to be fair to the creators, and to have your own manual which is indispensable, I'd suggest buying your own copy of the software.
2. In listing descendants I present only five generations here, even though I have quite a few names of sixth-generation family members. There may also be some fifth-generation people not named Bergsmann who are mentioned with their parents but do not have an entry of their own. My only excuse is laziness; may my grandson Raymond, and my many younger cousins, forgive me.
3. The software has some limitations on word length in some places. In some places, the Austro-Hungarian Empire is referred to as "A-Hungary," Spisska Stara Ves as "S Stara Ves" and Spisska Nova Ves as "S Nova Ves," and there may be similar invented abbreviations that I'm now forgetting or have not yet invented.
4. I've omitted the country in many places where it's obvious; mostly when it's the USA and also with cities such as Budapest, Prague, Bratislava, etc. Towns and cities that are in or adjacent to the Spis region include Folvark, Hanusovce, Kezmarok, Krempachy, Lechnica, Lesnica (a different place), Osturna, Rakusy, Slovenska Ves, Spisska Vlachy, and Velka Frankova. All are in what is now Slovakia.
5. Dates printed in bold are felt to be certain or very nearly so; dates printed in regular type are somewhat less sure.