One of Sierra County’s most experienced and competent mining men is Theophilus Berger, whose operations over a long period of years have gained for him an enviable reputation in the mining circles of the Sacramento Valley. He was born in Canton Berne, Switzerland, on the 8th of January, 1854, and is a son of John and Marguerite Berger. His grandfather, John Berger, was a sergeant in a regiment of dragoons, and for more than one hundred years the family were owners of landed estates in Canton Berne, were in their country’s military service, and held government positions of authority.
Theophilus Berger received a good education in the public schools of his native country and in young manhood came to the United States. He landed at New York City, where one of his sisters, Mrs. Marguerite Winter, was living. He remained in the eastern metropolis for some time, being employed as a bookkeeper and general office man for a hop importing house. In 1881 he came west to Nevada and entered the assay office of the Justice mines. After leaving that position he did a great deal of prospecting, and later obtained employment at the Comstock mine in Virginia City, Nevada. He gained such knowledge of mining methods and such proficiency as a mine operator that his employers sent him to Sierra City, California, to assume the superintendency of their Marguerite mine, near this place. He remained in charge of that mine for two years, during which time he sank a shaft three hundred and sixty feet deep and uncovered a lode of gold ore running twenty dollars a ton. However, this was turned into a stock-selling proposition and was mismanaged. After that Mr. Berger engaged in prospecting and discovered the Mountaineer gold mine, in the vicinity of Sierra City. He sloped this mine for a distance of three thousand feet, but it also became a stock proposition. At present he has an option on the Marguerite and the Young America gold mines, situated two and six miles, respectively, from Sierra City. Both mines are rich in gold-bearing ore, needing only the requisite capital to put them on a paying basis.
Mr. Berger was married, at Sierra City, to Miss Mary Seitz, who is of German descent and was born in Downieville. They now have a very comfortable home in Sierra City, and they have had the following children: Thelma, Mrs. A. Nickels, of San Francisco, her husband is a traffic officer for the Southern Pacific Railway Company; Victor, who was accidentally drowned at the Mountaineer mine at the age of fourteen years; Mrs. J. W. Wright, whose husband is manager of the Feather River Lumber Company at Delleker, California; Mrs. Louis Nestler, at 3220 Covington Street, Oakland; Edwin, mill man for the Murchie mine at Nevada City, California; Herbert T., a marine engineer who is now chief engineer on the Matson Steamship Company’s liner, “Golden Harvest,” plying between San Francisco, Australia and Tahiti; and John Ralph, who is a member of the firm of W. A. Stinson Company, of Elko, Nevada, wholesale and retail dealers in general merchandise.
Mr. Berger maintains an independent attitude in political affairs, and he is keenly interested in all things which have a bearing on the welfare and prosperity of his home community. He has lived here for many years, enjoys an extensive acquaintance and is uniformly regarded as one of Sierra City’s best citizens.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 345-346. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.