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Bergmann, Mrs. Mary (Maria E.)

by Henry and Anita Wilde

Mrs. Mary (Maria E.) Bergmann, the founder of Juneauís historic Bergmann Hotel, was born in 1863 near Hanover, Germany, in the town of Hammel (known for the medieval story of the Pied Piper). She moved to the United States early in life and was married to Mr. W. Bergmann, a native of Gaggenau, Germany, and relative of the German weapons designer, Theodore Bergmann. He died in 1894, and Maria first came to Juneau in 1896, looking for work and on the same boat as her later lifelong friends George Miller and the George Wheelock family. She first worked at the Franklin House, then returned to look after an ailing aunt (who had raised her from childhood) in Leipzig, Germany, for three years, and came back to Juneau for good after her relativeís death.

She then worked at the old Perseverance Mine cookhouse and as a nurse at Dr. Simpsonís Hospital for several years. After leaving the Simpson Hospital she took charge of the Circle City Hotel for George Miller and ran it for him until 1906, at which time she took it over for herself and partners. Her niece, Miss Elenore Johanna Wilde, then aged 26, came in 1910, from Leipzig-Gohlis, Germany, to help her in running the Circle City Hotel. In the spring of 1914, she opened the Bergmann House which she had built on its present site with financing by the B.M. Behrends Bank and the Circle City Hotel was disposed of by her.

Mary died in 1916, of a streptococcal blood stream infection complicated by a brain abscess at St. Annís Hospital at the age of 53. Drs. L. O. Sloan and L. P. Dawes tried to fight the infection in that pre-antibiotic era for four weeks but without success. She is buried at the Masonic Plot at Evergreen Cemetery. B.M.Behrends, John W. Troy, John Spicket and Herman T. Tripp were among the pall bearers. Mrs. Bergmann had no children. She was survived by her niece Mrs. Goodman Jensen of Yankee Cove, two brothers in Germany and a distant relative by marriage in Seattle Ė General Bergmann, then in the German Army.

Her life in Juneau had been filled with kind and unselfish deeds. No one was ever turned away from her doors hungry; she always had a kind word and consolation for those in trouble and she had staked numerous prospectors. In fact, every old timer on Gastineau Channel and more recent residents who have enjoyed the pleasure of her acquaintance, can recall numerous kind deeds and unselfish acts. Many owe their lives to her careful nursing, and a still larger number owe her devotion for comfort and kindness which are beyond price. The entire community felt the loss of Mrs. Bergmann.

The Bergmann Hotel (as it is now called) is still a popular hangout for Juneau old-timers, miners and would-be prospectors and has been declared a historical site.

Mrs. Maria E. Bergmann, 1900.

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