Berge descendants group photo
Berge descendants group photo

In early summer, Susan (Berg) Turgeon from Seattle, Wash., contacted Shirleen Sturtz at the Dug Road Inn inquiring about room reservations.

She was planning a trip to Decorah with her father, Alvin Berg, and her brothers, Marc and Brian Berg, along with their spouses and some of their children. This trip to Iowa was to be an 85th birthday celebration for her father, who wanted to return to Decorah with his children to visit extended family.

Alvin, Marc and Susan were all born in Decorah; Brian was born in Vancouver, Wash., where Alvin’s immediate family currently resides and have since 1963. When Shirleen heard the name Berg she commented that it was also her grandfather’s name, and a quick genealogy check revealed they were all descendents of Baard and Kari Berge.

Alvin decided he would host the first Berge/Berg Family Reunion, and after a few phone calls and an article in the Decorah Newspapers, the event took place at Dug Road Inn Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2015.

Bard and Kari Berge
Baard and Kari Berge were born in Norway in 1845, and came to the United States in 1870 on the ship Mercator, settling in Glenwood Township in 1871 --  not far from the Glenwood Lutheran Church.

hey had eight children between 1875 and 1890, including Caroline Berge Nerison, Emma Berge Kirkeby, Carl Berg, Albert Berg, Ida Berge Rocksvold, Nellie Berge Geving, Amanda Berge Lennon and Henry Berge. (Some of the sons dropped the “e” from Berge.)

Only living grandchildren
The only living grandchildren of Baard and Kari Berge are Iona (Rocksvold) Crawford and Caryl (Berge) Larson, who were both able to attend.

Great-grandchildren attending were Alvin Berg, Arnold (Chunky) Berg, Cheryl (Berg) Novak, Irene (Berg) Lovstuen, Gail (Berg) Keefe, Peter Rocksvold, Shirleen (Peterson) Sturtz, Kathy (Snell) Tollefsrud, Dianne (Snell) Headington and Dena (Larson) Tangen.

Many other relatives also attended, including Alvin’s nieces and nephew Sally (Berg) Tieskoetter, Wanda (Berg) Schroeder, Larry Berg, Jo (Berg) Iverson, Sherry Berg and Tammy Berg, and his sister-in-law Pat (Berg) Fisk.

In total, five generations gathered together for the party. A great time was had by all, and a few were happily surprised to learn they had known and worked with each other for years but did not know they were cousins.

The following day, Tuesday, Sept. 8, Alvin’s immediate family toured Luther College, escorted by Karl Jacobsen, husband of Alvin’s sister Jerrine (Coonradt) Jacobsen.

Alvin is a Luther alum and holds the distinction of life member in the President’s Council, recognition of his charitable giving to the College.
Later that afternoon the family was joined by Sally (Berg) Tieskoetter and together they arrived unannounced at the original Berge farm in Glenwood, where Jerry and Patti Johnson now reside.

The Johnsons were terrific spontaneous hosts and able to share much history of the farm and buildings. Alvin’s family admired the original 1880s era log cabin, built using Norwegian construction techniques, and enjoyed hearing the many stories about the original outbuildings and life for the Berges at the turn of the century.

From the farm hilltop, they gazed out over the beautiful Upper Iowa River vista and gave thanks to the courage and fortitude of Baard and Kari Berge on behalf of their descendants.