How is Josef Bergmeister related to “my” Josef Bergmeister?
Our story began when I discovered a reference to a Josef Bergmeister who died fighting for Germany in World War I. This Josef was from Puch, the hometown of my great-grandfather of the same name. The town is very small, so I assumed they were related. Thanks to Ancestry’s release of the Bavarian World War I Personnel Rosters, I learned more about Josef, including when he was born, his parents’ names, and how he died in 1916. In fact, I learned about many other Bergmeister men, too. Although the indexing is not yet complete (see the main search page for more details), there are thirteen Bergmeister men listed. Of these, eight are directly related to my great-grandfather – including Josef whose name was inscribed on the memorial in Puch. With the help of my cousin Armin Bergmeister, I’ve assembled the following tree showing the names of the Bergmeister men up until the World War I timeframe. Click on the image to enlarge.
The soldier Josef and my great-grandfather Josef are first cousins once removed. Josef’s own first cousin, Anton, also died in the war just weeks before him. With their deaths, the Bergmeister family in the town of Puch ended. Other Bergmeister relatives had moved to other towns in Bavaria as well as the United States, but nearly three hundred years of the Bergmeister family in Puch came to an abrupt end. Both Josef and Anton were second cousins to my grandmother and her three brothers that were born in the United States (and their German-born sister).
My great-grandfather also lost two of his second cousins in the war, Sigmund and Hermann. Two of his third cousins (Andreas and Magnus) fought as well as his third cousin’s son, Anton, and his 5th cousin Ignatz.
I chose to focus on the soldier Josef for this story, but each of the soldier’s stories – as gleaned from the rosters – is worth remembering. Unfortunately, we have no photograph of Josef, but thanks to my cousin Armin I can share a photograph of one of these Bergmeister soldiers, Sigmund – Armin’s grandfather. Sigmund died on 15 August 1916 at the age of 31, leaving behind one child. His brother Hermann died less than two years later at the age of 24, leaving behind two children.
There are many men named Josef on the Bergmeister family tree. I am currently familiar with cousins from three distinct lines of descent: 1) my own family’s descent through Josef (son of Josef, son of Jakob, son of Josef), 2) the line descended from Johann (son of Castulus, son of Jakob, son of Josef), and 3) the line descended from the soldier Sigmund (son of Sebastian, son of Simon, son of Josef). In my own American line, the name Joseph Bergmeister was passed on and is currently owned by a handsome young man, my second cousin once removed. He is the sixth straight Joseph/Josef Bergmeister – and would have been the 8th straight if it weren’t for his 4th great-grandfather, Jakob. There is also a current Josef Bergmeister in Germany, my 3rd cousin once removed and a very charitable host along with his brother Hans and their wives. They are both descended from the Castulus line. (See a photo of Castulus as well as my Josef on The Bergmeister Family page!)
So, one mystery was solved. Thanks to the Bavarian military rosters, I now know more about Josef Bergmeister, the previously unknown soldier, as well as many other Bergmeister cousins my great-grandfather left behind when he came to America.
But wait! Now there’s a new mystery…how are we all related to the other five men named Bergmeister listed in the personnel rosters? We already have a hint that the “other” Philadelphia Bergmeister family is originally from the town of Hoerdt and is related to at least one of these men. As to how far back we have to go to connect the two, and who the other four men are, those are mysteries still waiting to be solved!
Need help figuring out relationships and what “removed” cousins are? See The Family Relationship Chart