Select Bergman Surname Genealogy
Bergman is a surname which is Swedish and German in origin, the
German version being Bergmann. It means “mountain man” in both languages, as well as “miner” in German. Bergman can also be a Dutch name although Holland has no mountains. Some Bergmans there might have started out as Borgmans

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The two most famous Bergmans have both been from Sweden – the film director Ingmar Bergman and (unrelated) the film actress Ingrid Bergman, mostly remembered for her role in the 1942 film Casablanca. The Bergman numbers in Sweden are around 15,000 today. They came to America in the late 19th century, mostly to the upper Midwest states.

Bergmanns in Germany today run around 28,000, mainly in the eastern part of the country. Israel von Bergmann, a landowner in Pomerania, was an influential privy councillor in the Prussian court in the early 1700’s.

Some early Bergmanns to America did come from Hesse. There
was also an enclave of Mennonite Bergmanns recorded around Danzig (now Gdansk in Poland) from the 16th century onwards. A number of them migrated, first to  southern Russia, and then, in the 1870’s, to America.

Bergmann is both a German and Yiddish name. Jewish Bergmanns and Bergmans began coming to America in the early 1900’s. A second wave came later as they fled Nazi Germany.

Most of the Bergmanns shed an “n” in their name on their arrival in America; although some did not.

America. Bergman in America can have German, Dutch, Swedish, and Jewish origins.

German. The Bergmans here included:

  • Johann Christoph Bergman who was an early arrival from Hesse. By the 1760’s he was in Frederick county, Maryland. Later Bergmans moved onto Ohio. Solomon Bergman, after marrying in 1855, settled down in Defiance township where he built his log cabin.
  • Jacob Bergman who came to America, also from Hesse, around 1852 and fought in the Civil War. He was afterwards a pioneer of southern California, running a stagecoach station on the Butterfield road to Los Angeles.
  • Christ Bergman who had left his home in Asch (in present-day Czech Republic), fleeing military conscription, sometime
    in the 1850’s. He married but lived a wandering life – to Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin – before finally settling in Cherokee county, Kansas in 1874.
    In addition to farming, Christ was a veterinary surgeon and was well known in the county for his ability to treat horses.
  • while German Mennonite refugees from southern Russia had
    also arrived in Kansas in 1874. Katarina Bergman, married to Johann Barkman (a variant spelling of Bergman), came four years later. It was Barkman rather than Bergman that then featured among the Mennonite preachers in Kansas, Nebraska and later in Manitoba.
  • and Wilhelm Bergmann, a tailor from Saxony, who came to Kansas in 1882 before eventually settling across the border in Tecumseh, Missouri.

Dutch. A Bergman family had settled in Miami county, Indiana which was where Joseph Bergman was born in 1861. He had three sons – Alfred, Arthur and Joe – who all attended Notre Dame University and all displayed great prowess on the football field:

  • Alfred Bergman was known as “Big Dutch” and afterwards
    played some professional baseball.
  • Arthur or Dutch Bergman, also known as “Little Dutch,” was later the football coach for the Catholic University of America and then for the Washington Redskins, in both cases with an outstanding winning record. 
  • and Joe Bergman who settled in California after World War One.

Swedish. Minnesota and Wisconsin became the focus for Swedish immigration into America from the 1860’s onwards.

Their numbers included some Bergmans, Lars and Ingrid Bergman for instance who settled in Upsala, Minnesota in the 1880’s. L.E. Bergman founded the Bergman Silo Company in Princeton, Minnesota in 1915. Reuben Bergman recalled in later life his recollections of his family’s Christmas in Milwaukee in the early 1900’s.

Walter Bergman was born in Youngsville, Pennsylvania in 1899, the third of three siblings of a Swedish immigrant farmer. He became an indefatigable civil rights advocate who as one of the first Freedom Riders was savagely beaten by the Ku Klux Klan in 1961. He lived to be 100.

Jewish. Bernard Bergman, born in Hungary, came to America with his parents in the 1920’s. He was a leader of New York’s Orthodox Jewish community who made a fortune from his real estate and nursing home holdings. He was, however, convicted of bribery and Medicaid fraud in 1976.

Among the Jews who fled Nazi Germany for America were Gustav Bergmann, an Austrian-born philosopher who came in 1938 and became a professor in Iowa, and Stefan Bergman, a Polish-born mathematician who arrived in 1939 and later became a professor at Stanford University. David Bergman from Czechoslovakia who survived Nazi concentration camps settled after the war in Cleveland.

Canada. Some Mennonite Bergmans from Russia made it to Canada. Cornelius and Anna Bergmann arrived in 1874 and made their home in Altona, Manitoba. Anganetha Bergmann, a daughter of the murdered Hermann Bergmann, arrived in 1923 and settled with her husband in Fiske, Saskatchewan.

Gustav Bergman, born in Illinois of Swedish parents, migrated north in 1902 with his brother Emil to Alberta where they took up homesteads. Gustav was the first elected mayor of the town of Beverly near Edmonton in 1914.

South Africa. Jacob Bergman came to Port Elizabeth in 1893 from Lithuania (where his family name was Gochin). His brother Joseph followed him ten years later. They made their home in Cradock township.

Walter Bergman was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who ended up in South Africa in 1936. After World War Two he settled in Cape Town and earned a living in ice skating and photography which were ostensibly his hobbies. However, he made his name in numismatics with his collection of Roman coins.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

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Dutch Bergman from Notre Dame was a prominent American football coach in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Ingrid Bergman
the Swedish film actress was a star of Hollywood movies in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Alan a
nd Marilyn Bergman were prolific lyricists and songwriters in America in the 1960’s.

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  • 11,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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