Bergt & Panning Store – Altona, NE

A brand new surname shows up on this blog today.  Panning.  This surname does show up in our German Family Tree somehow, even though there are no local entries for this name in any local church records.  Mary Panning is today’s birthday girl.  She was born on April 27, 1869, the daughter of Henry and Meta (Meyer) Panning.  I was able to find Mary and her family in one census record before she was married.  That was an 1885 Nebraska state census in which the Panning family was living in Dodge County, Nebraska.  Mary was 16 years old.

Mary Panning 1885 Nebraska Census Dodge County NE
1885 Nebraska state census – Dodge County, NE

Mary Panning’s future husband was Gottfried Bergt.  As you may have already guessed, Gottfried was a man with Perry County roots.  Gottfried’s father, Wilhelm Bergt, was a member of the Gesellschaft that arrived in America in 1839.  Wilhelm became a Lutheran pastor and served the church located in Uniontown for part of his career.  Rev. Bergt would spend the latter part of his career in the state of Nebraska.

Gottfried, the son of Wilhelm and Gottlieben (Rauss) Bergt, was born on August 18, 1863 in Archbold, Ohio, where his father was a pastor before moving to Uniontown in 1864.  We find Gottfried in just one census while he lived in Perry County.  It was the one taken in 1870.

Gottfried Bergt 1870 census Cinque Hommes Township, MO
1870 census – Cinque Hommes Township, MO

When the 1880 census was taken, we find Gottfried and his parents’ household living in Table Rock Township in Pawnee County, Nebraska.

Gottfried Bergt 1880 census Table Rock Township Pawnee Co NE
1880 census – Table Rock Township, NE

That leads us up to the marriage of Gottfried Bergt and Mary Panning which took place on April 16, 1891.  The marriage license for this couple says they were married by a Lutheran pastor in Dodge County, Nebraska.  It also mentions that the pastor was located in Hooper, Nebraska, and Gottfried’s residence was in Buffalo County, Nebraska.  Buffalo County was farther west in that state, and is likely the place where his father was a pastor.

Bergt Panning marriage record Nebraska
Bergt/Panning marriage license – Dodge County, NE

A few of this couple’s first children are said to have been born in Hooper, Nebraska, but we have a story which tells that Gottfried, along with F.G. Panning, Mary’s brother, established a store in Wayne County, Nebraska in 1898 and called the location of the store, Altona.  A post office was established in that store, and that is probably why the place needed a name.  The brief history of Altona is shown below.

Bergt history of Altona NE

A set of plat maps for Wayne County, Nebraska was produced in that same year, 1898.  We find Altona and the Bergt and Panning Store and P.O. on this map of Plum Creek Township.

Bergt and Panning Store Altona NE
Bergt and Panning Store – Plum Creek Township, NE

Mary’s brother, Fred Gerhardt Panning, married Emma Pflueger, the daughter of Henry Plueger, whose land is also seen on this map near the Bergt and Panning Store.  You can also see that a Lutheran church was also established at Altona.  That church still exists.  It is called First Trinity Lutheran Church.  That church can be seen as one of three Lutheran churches located near each other in the photo below.

stanton altona pilger nebraska churches

We find Gottfried and Mary’s household in the 1900 census for Plum Creek Township.  The couple had 4 of their 7 children by this time.  Fred Panning and Gottfried’s father, Wilhelm, who was a widower at age 88, were also living in this household.  Both Gottfried Bergt and Fred Panning were called merchants.

Gottfried Bergt 1900 census Plum Creek Township NE
1900 census – Plum Creek Township, NE

This Bergt couple spent the rest of their lives in the Plum Creek Township.  We find them next in the 1910 census.  I especially enjoy this census record because it includes the Emmanuel Stueve and Gottfried Lorenz households.  Both of them had Perry County roots.

Gottfried Bergt 1910 census Plum Creek Township NE
1910 census – Plum Creek Township, NE

Mary’s brother, Fred, is found on the next page of this census, and he was called a banker.  Apparently, the store may not have been successful in Altona because when we see the 1920 census, Gottfried is no longer called a merchant.  It says he had a farm operation.

Gottfried Bergt 1920 census Plum Creek Township NE
1920 census – Plum Creek Township, NE

The 1930 census would be the last one in which we find Gottfried Bergt.  This time Gottfried is called a livestock farmer.

Gottfried Bergt 1930 census Plum Creek Township NE
1930 census – Plum Creek Township, NE

Sometime along the way, the Gottfried Bergt family had a photograph taken which included all the children with their parents.

Gottfried Bergt family
Gottfried and Mary Bergt family

I made an attempt at identifying all the folks in this picture, but I am also willing to admit that I may be wrong.  Back row (L to R): Adolph, Adele, Herbert, Paula, and Clara.  Front row (L to R): Gottfried, Elmer, Flora, and Mary.

Later in their lives, Gottfried and Mary had these photos taken.

Gottfried Bergt died in 1936 at the age of 73.  Mary can still be found in the 1940 census in which she was living alone.

Mary Bergt 1940 census Plum Creek Township NE
1940 census – Plum Creek Township, MO

Mary Bergt died in 1960 at the age of 91.  She and her husband are buried together in the First Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Altona.

Gottfried and Mary Bergt gravestone First Trinity Lutheran Altona NE
Gottfried and Mary Bergt gravestone – First Trinity, Altona, NE

I found out that at least two other people associated with this family married men who were originally from Perry County.  Their daughter, Paula Bergt, married Paul Mueller.  Also, Mary’s sister, Anna Panning, married Paul Gotthilf Schmidt.

This story is yet another one which documents Perry County personalities ending up in an area of Northeast Nebraska that I refer to as a Perry County suburb.  That area is shown in this map.

Northeast Nebraska county map Perry County suburb

After many intervening years, I daresay that there are more folks with the Bergt surname in Nebraska nowadays than there are in Perry County.




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