Albert Bergh: Early Pioneer

by

Loann Bergh

 

Many famous hunters and explorers have been credited foropening up the West. Thousands of pioneers tore off and settled all overthe West. They helped build up communities and practiced their privilegeof freedom. One such man that help settle a community in the Red River Valleywas Albert Bergh.

He was a tough man. He had to be tough in order to survivein those days. They didn't have the modern conveniences that we know ofnow. They had to work hard and most of it was with their hands.

Albert Bergh was born in a small town named Racine, Wisconsin.His parents were a couple of Norwegian immigrants. They lived on a smallfarm which consisted of an oxen and a horse to ride on. They had to do therest of the work by hand. There were very few people living in the area.The only time they were able to see anyone was at a local spelling bee.Albert went to a small country grammar school for five years. That was allthe education that he had.

Albert had an older brother who lived in Montana. WhenAlbert was twenty years old, he decided to visit his brother. One morninghe started out on foot carrying just a shot gun. He hunted all across thecountry for his food. At night, he slept on the ground beside the campfire.He always found time to stop at old settlements along the way.

One night he decided to spend the night in a woods. Hehad just left Devil's Lake, North Dakota. The campfire he had left was stillvery hot. All of a sudden he thought he heard a sound in the bushes. Heturned around quickly and caught a glimpse of an Indian. Then he realizedthat he had accidentally wandered into hostile Sioux Indian territory. Albertgot out of there as fast as he could. The only thing that saved him wasthe darkness. That was one thing that he never forgot!

After that episode, he decided not to visit his brotherfor obvious reasons. He traveled south and visited an army fort in Fargo,North Dakota. He found a job in Fargo at the International Harvester Company.

After a few years, International Harvester Co. transferredhim to Grand Forks, North Dakota. There he was promoted to a blockman forthe company. As a blockman, Albert traveled up and down the Red River Valleydistributing farm machinery to International Harvester dealers and collectedbills. He traveled in all kinds of weather. He used passenger trains ora horse and buggy as his means of getting around.

If a dealer was overstocked, Albert had to help sell thestock out. One such incident was in Kennedy, Minnesota. Kennedy was overstockedin cream separators. There were no horses around for him to use, so he putthe cream separator on his back. He walked for three miles out to a farmwest of Kennedy. The residents on the farm refused to buy the cream separator.He lived on their doorstep for two days before they would buy it. He couldhave stayed there for weeks if he had to. It just goes to show how stubborna man can be.

Another time the dealers in Little Fork, Minnesota werehaving a little trouble. They had ordered a large carload of bob sleighsfor the winter. In the middle of August, the carload of bob sleighs camein. His job was to go there and help sell those sleighs right then and there.It was a mighty tough job to do. Believe it or not, he had sold every oneof those sleds!

In 1896, he was married in Grand Forks, North Dakota toSophie Lekvie. They bought some land at Gully, Minnesota. They built a farmon it and moved onto it. They thought it was the most beautiful place inthe world. Most young couples do think of their first home that way. Theyhad four children. Henry and Charles are presently presiding at Gully, Minnesotawhile John and Mabel are deceased.

In 1923, Albert was forced to retire from the InternationalHarvester Company. The doctor had informed him that he had cancer and didn'thave too much time left to live. In International Harvester Company gavehim payments for the rest of his life. This really helped him out a lotfinancially.

When he found out he had cancer, he bought a small farmin Oslo, Minnesota. It was already built up for him. He didn't want to starta brand new farm if he wasn't going to live long enough to see it prosper!He had a couple of chickens and a cow from which they got their milk. Albertoften wished that he could go back in time to the good old days.

As the years started going by, Albert kept improving hishealth. He was returning to his good old self again. When he figured hewas well enough, Albert decided to open a bank in Oslo. This was in 1924.Albert was rarely ever seen in the bank but he had a manager who managedthings. The bank proved to be a very prosperous one. This was the way thatAlbert Bergh made his wealth. Then a terrible thing happened in 1928. Hismanager proved to be a very poor one and the bank was forced to close. AlbertBergh was very disappointed at this bit of new but there was nothing thathe could do about it. He realized that he still had a lot of money and thathe wasn't hurting that much.

Albert Bergh had also had some land up in NorthwesternMinnesota all this time. He had bought it when he was a blockman for theInternational Harvester Company. In 1921, he decided that it would be awise move to let his two sons, Henry and John, move up there. It was locatedon the Red River west of Hallock. They lived up there for two years. Henrydecided that he did not like it there at all so he moved back to Gully.

Arlo Bergh remembered a letter that he had seen that Alberthad written. It was to a person whom he was trying to get a payment fora bill. The last lines read something like this:

"I have a very sick cow now, and I hope this letter finds you in the same condition!

Sincerely yours,

Albert Bergh"

Albert Bergh died in 1935, and with him went a lot of talesof adventure. He knew a lot of the settlement of the West. He could tellwho started what town. He was a man that had lived and seen a lot. He hadtold many tales to his grandchildren but, of course, as the saying goes,"One does not tell all."

 

Bibliography

Bergh, Arlo O., Interview on January 18, 1971, at 7:30p.m. Subject: Albert Bergh's experiences.

Bergh, Dorothy H., Interview on January 20, 1971, at 7:00p.m. Subject: Buying land in Red River Valley

Bergh, Jay, Interview on January 24, 1971, at 3:30 p.m.Subject: Albert Bergh's wife

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Bergh, Jay, Interview on January 24, 1971, at 3:30 p.m.Subject: Albert Bergh's wife