To this day, it is difficult for professional genealogists and local historians to reconstruct a unified Von Berg family lineage. There is confusion about the naming, as at that time only the title required for certification was usually mentioned in official documents. Because the "Berger" continually expanded their territory, it is difficult to determine who was who.

The origin of the name Von Berg is hardly surprising. People lived on a hill. The 'von' indicates that it concerns a German noble family. In our case it is easy to determine how our ancestors acquired their name. The 'von' points to Germany. And our family tree takes place in Kreiz Düren/Jülich, where the Berg territory in the Rhineland is located.

Here, around 1050, Adolf von Hövel (German for height) was born, who was elevated to count by Emperor Heinrich IV in 1101 and has since called himself Count von Berg. It is almost certain that this Adolf is the founder of our family. We later find more and more noble families with the name Von Berg in North Rhine-Westphalia (and far beyond), but their family trees only start after 1300, which indicates that they are branches of the original family.

Does our family tree fit in with that of Adolf I? In his family tree we see the title succession of the County of Berg. His son Adolf II becomes the next count. Adolf III is again his successor, and so on. Such an Adolf often had more children and they did not become counts, but remained noble relatives. In this way, a forest of Von Berg families was created. Many genealogists start their search with the founding father, with which the tree gradually branches towards our time.

But in fact, starting a genealogical search with the founder of a family is of no value in determining ancestors. Also in our situation. Because in fact only one conclusion is possible: we descend from Adolf I von Berg, the one who first used our name. Will our family line continue through his son Adolf II? In our case probably, but not certain. What if Adolf I had another son, therefore a brother of Adolf II? He thus founded a new family line Von Berg. And then we can conveniently ignore Adolf II's bloodline.

In the family tree overview I still show the consecutive counts. The succession ends with the flawed historiography, which is also where our family tree ends. In Kreiz Jülich-Düren. A commitment is obvious after all.

Other researchers start from the last branch. The youngest alive or the last known. And in the case of the Düren family Von Berg, the information is easy to find. At least about the relatives living in the Netherlands. Searching in the Netherlands is easy. The Population Register was introduced by Napoleon in 1811. Citizens were required to register with their municipality with name and date of birth. From that moment on, every marriage, death and birth was recorded. This data has been digitized after 2000, which makes finding data easy. The first Von Berg registered in 1811 came from Germany. Because registration there only took place in 1811, it is more difficult to find relatives. The information can be found in baptism and death certificates of the local churches, but these have never been digitized. So handicraft. Actually more eye work and a lot of time. The results are displayed in the pedigree data in the Menu. It is striking that the collection of information came to a standstill at the end of the 15th century. What happened to our ancestors during a period of approximately 70 years? Yet only at most two generations.

This period, 1400 and 1470, is characterized by many feuds fought between the counts and dukes in the Rhineland area. Sometimes there was a duel, but usually a mutual quarrel was settled by a bloody war.

Now what? Can the family trees be connected somewhere? Are there any connection points? And are these reliable? Yes and no. As already mentioned, over time a forest has emerged on Von Bergen. And yes, they all lead to Adolf I. But no, because we don't know which tree from the forest belongs to which Von Berg. After all, new Von Berg (sub)Houses have been created. Filling the gap between 1440 and 1490 is a matter of reasonable guesswork. Assumptions based on logical deductions and the exclusion of improbabilities. "If this is so, then it cannot be that." What helps is the knowledge that every ancestor comes from the area around Jülich.


First a word about the fact that we are 'of nobility'. With the arrival of the Romans at the beginning of the first century, we saw titles of nobility emerge and only with the fall of the German Empire in 1918 were these official titles and associated political power abolished. Describing the ranks of the German nobility is impossible. The titles come and go, are intertwined or take on a changing meaning. (Can't hold back and want to know exactly? Go to https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutscher-Adel). Below is a brief overview.

First there is the high nobility. Families who ruled over territory and usually bore the name thereof. (The Counts and Dukes Von Berg, Jülich and Kleve were among the best known and most powerful Von Bergen.) These families passed on their titles and power from father to son. In addition, Germany has what is called the low nobility or imperial nobility. Associated titles were conferred by dukes, kings and emperors as a reward for services rendered. Or to rule in their place when their empire became too extensive. Finally, there was the free nobility or landed aristocracy. Traditionally, these families managed existing estates that had always been in their possession or had been made available as a fief by members of the high or low nobility. Our family belonged to what is called the Ministerial Nobility. The low nobles who managed an estate and performed official duties on behalf of emperors, kings and dukes.


Our family belonged to the Jülich aristocracy. For now, I have found two sources that provide an acceptable link.

1. One of the sources is the noble family Berg. This is considered to be part of the original nobility from Jülich and their residence was in Dürffenthal near Ülpenich. The family is first mentioned in a 1357 document with knight Christian von Durffendale, which begins the provable family line. Already in the Middle Ages, the Mons divided into two independent lines. Christian's heir was named Baldewin von Berge and his son was Daniel von Berg. Between 1433 and 1439 Daniel was judge in Düren. It was his sons, Rabod and Dietrich, who founded two branches of the family around 1430. One line is named after the ancestral house "Von Berg-Dürffenthal", the other "Von Berg-Blens". Rabod von Berg-Dürffenthal was the one who carried on the name Von Berg.

2. The other source follows the bloodline from the founder of our family; the first to use the Von Berg name. Adolf von Hövel. From the third paragraph in the first chapter, this line has been discussed in detail.

 

The search for our ancestors ends about 1470 with a descendant of the Von Berg family from Jülich: Johann von Berg or Johann von Berg-Jülich. Until now it has not been possible to find out who his parents were, where exactly he was born and which two sources mentioned are appropriate. Wikipedia states: "The Lords von Berg were a chivalric ministerial family of the Dukes of Jülich and served them in many high courts, as councilors and stewards". And this is in line with the professions and positions our family held at that time. Because the quotation mentions 'knight' and 'duke', the quotation from Wikipedia can apply to both.

Johann was married to Catharina von Lövenich. Nothing further is known of either.

This Johann's son was Baron Hermann von Bergh who was born around 1530. Not much about this person can be found in deeds and documents. As usual in noble circles, people married others in noble circles and Hermann was married to Margarete von Breuer.

Their son Johann von Bergh married Margarete von Schoeller. The Von Schoeller family was an influential family and founders of the paper and steel industry that is still known today. He lived in Holztirmpt around 1600.

Peter von Bergh was their eldest son. He was Rentmeister of the estate Nörvenich, a fief of the Duchy of Jülich. There, as Schöffe, a lay judge, he is charged with administering justice in a fief. Peter was mayor of Düren in 1625. He graduated with a degree in medicine.

More is known about his son Johann Hermann von Bergh. He was elevated to the Imperial nobility by Emperor Ferdinand III on September 23, 1637, and was given the title of Hofpalazgraaf. This makes him the emperor's direct representative in the Jülich estate. The title authorized him to appoint notaries, legitimize illegitimate persons, grant coats of arms, etc. He was also exempt from all taxes and civil charges. He also became an Erbförster and was responsible for the management of the Jülich hunting area and the granting of hunting permits. He was mayor of Düren in the years 1643, 1652 and 1661. Johann Hermann married Catharina Kreps, with whom he lived in the house 'zum Stern' at the market place in Düren. After he graduated from Vienna University, the couple moved to Haus Bergshof in Birgel. Apparently Bergshof had been in the possession of the Von Berg family for a long time.

His fifth son Franz Hermann took over Bergshof with the accompanying obligations as Erbförster. It is not known whether he was also allowed to use the title Palatinate. But given the rapid bourgeoisification of the Von Bergh family, this is unlikely.

It was the son Franz Arnhold who sold Haus Bergshof. He moved to Düren with his family. At the time he was married to Maria Magdalena Herckenrath. Apparently it is written in the genes of the Von Bergen that one marriage is on the tight side. Like his grandfather, he married three women and had fifteen children. Franz Arnhold was a lieutenant in the city of Zons.

His son Karl Joseph was born in Birgel. There is a noteworthy church document about him: Extract from the letter of the Roman Curia: "Anna Margarethe Mertens is the niece of Karl Joseph Berg through his brother or sister ("ex fratre germano seu sorore germana"); out of carnal desire he impregnated his niece and is now asking for a dispensation. Anna Margaretha would have been disgraced and unmarried for life if marriage had not been permitted; there would also be a risk that the two would lean towards Protestantism if their marriage were to are being refused. However, because they have promised to remain Catholic, a dispensation is granted. The pastor must impose upon them a severe penance for their sin; they must swear that they would not have committed the incestuous sin if they had known in advance that they had a dispensation could have requested; they are not allowed to assist anyone else in incest etc. - The child is declared legitimate.”

His son Johann Mathias was the last descendant of the German branch of our family. He married Anna Margaretha Mertens and they moved to the Netherlands during their lifetime.

This is where the history of our family ends. To this day, little information exists, with the exception of birth, marriage and death certificates with the occasional occupational mention.

 

June 2014
Jef von Berg