Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday's Obituary - Name Games: Sophia Dorothea Stieg Berg

In the Friday, March 11, 1921 issue of The Long Islander, the obituary reads: "Mrs. Doretha S. Berg. Saturday morning at the home of her son, Albert, on the Hempstead Turnpike, this vicinity lost its oldest resident by the death of Mrs. Doretha S. Berg. The cause of death was general debility, due to old age, the deceased being 97 years of age. The funeral occurred Tuesday afternoon from her late home which she made with her son. Services were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Carr, of Hempstead, and were largely attended. The interment followed in Greenfield Cemetery, Hempstead. Mrs. Berg is survived by three sons, Albert, Peter H., and Theodore Berg, and 11 grandchildren."

Now, Doretha, or Sophia as I have her in most of my records, is my 3rd great grandmother and one of those goshdarned relatives that are so hard to find because they go by so many, many names. I actually don't know that much about her. I know she was born in 1825 in Germany and that she married my 3rd great grandfather, Peter Hansen Berg, in New York City in 1851. On the marriage certificate, her name is supposedly given as Sophia Dorthea Christina Steig or Stegt. Her maiden name has also been spelled Stieg and her father's last name (on her death certificate) as Stigter.

It's hard enough when there are a variety of spellings for a surname. Now there's fun with first names!

In the 1860 U.S. census she's listed as Soffiah Berg. In 1870, Sophia Berg. In 1880, Sophia D. Hansenberg (that was the year Peter's middle and surname were combined - it's like the universe is just laughing at us sometimes as we scramble to track down records). In 1881 there's a record of a petition for naturalization for Sofhia D. Berg. That's a fun one. In the 1900 census she's again Sophia D. Berg. In 1903 her husband Peter died. In 1910, she's suddenly Dorothy Berg. Can't find her in the 1892 or 1905 NY census yet because of all these name games, or in the 1920 U.S. census either, but on her death certificate, she's Dorothea S. Berg. Just to be different. Which is close to the name on her obit, Doretha.

I just call her Great Grams.

Anyway, in the obit, her son Theodore is my 2nd great grandfather, and one of the 11 grandchildren mentioned is my great grandmother Amelia Berg Raynor. In fact, Sophia/Dorothy/Dorothea/Doretha also had several great grandchildren when she died (my family seems to like to do death in extremes - either very young or very old. Forget about this 60s-80s years of age crap...), including my grandfather, Clifford Monroe Raynor, who was 6 at the time of Great Grams' death.

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