John C. Berger, Ph. D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Dodge City, Kan., was born at Franklin Center, Lee county, Iowa, May 30, 1870, the fourth son of John and Barbara (Schmidt) Berger. His father was born in Germany April 9, 1831, and his mother in the same country, Dec. 14, 1831. Mr. Berger emigrated from the Fatherland in 1852 and opened a harness shop at Franklin Center. Within a short time he began to deal in live stock and became one of the well known stockmen of that locality. John Berger and Barbara Schmidt were married on July 23, 1854. They located in Franklin Center, where the young wife aided her husband to build up a business that he conducted there for forty years. In 1893 the family came to Halstead, Kan., where he continued his harness business and bought several improved farms. Mr. Berger retired from active life in 1906, and accompanied by his wife went to Los Angeles, Cal., to enjoy the sunset years of life. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on July 23, 1904, all their children living and a number of their grandchildren being present. The four sons and four daughters are as follows: Mary A., born March 2, 1856, died in 1873; Elizabeth A., born Sept. 30, 1857, now the wife of Henry J. Jesberg, a shoe merchant of Los Angeles; Christian A., born Aug. 2, 1859, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Red Oak, Iowa; Samuel E., born Jan. 22, 1861, was a Presbyterian minister and died in September, 1889; Henry D., born Sept. 12, 1863, lives in Halstead, Kan., and continues in his father's business; Emma Mary, born Feb. 26, 1866, died in August, 1884; John C., subject of this sketch; and Lydia Clara, born July 6, 1874, is at home with her parents.
John C. Berger attended the public schools of Lee county, Iowa, and after completing his elementary education entered Parsons College at Fairfield, Iowa, graduating in the year 1894. While in college he was called to devote his life to the Gospel ministry, and matriculated at the McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Ill., in the fall of 1894 for special training, graduating there with the class of 1897. Immediately after his graduation Mr. Berger became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Great Bend, Kan., where he remained two and one-half years. During that period he doubled the membership of this congregation and cleared the church of a heavy indebtedness. In 1899 he was called to Western Highlands Presbyterian Church, Kansas City, Kan., where he remained two years, doing a good work and completing his post-graduate work for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. From Kansas City he went to Horton, Kan., where he ministered six years and two months to the Presbyterian church. While at Horton Dr. Berger received 235 new members into the church and raised $16,000 for church work and improvements. On Oct. 1, 1907, he was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Clay Center, Kan., which church he served for three years and nine months, and within this short time brought the membership of his congregation up to 420, an increase of 195 members. Here he also raised $4,000 for a beautiful new manse, one of the finest and most modern in equipment of any in eastern Kansas.
On June 18, 1911, he accepted an urgent call to the First Presbyterian Church of Dodge City, where he is now laboring with great acceptance. The first six months of his work here he has added sixty new members to the church, and the future augurs great things in this most promising field.
On Sept. 19, 1899, Mr. Berger was united in marriage with Haddie E., daughter of William and Haddie H. Torrey of Great Bend, Kan., where Mrs. Berger received her elementary training. Subsequently she attended Lewis Academy at Wichita and the college of the Sisters of Bethany at Topeka, where she took special courses in art and music. Mr. Torrey is one of the oldest residents of Great Bend, as he was the first station agent of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railway there, holding the position thirty-two years. Three children were born to Haddie and John C. Berger: John Torrey, born Nov. 25, 1900; Robert Birdsey, born Oct. 31, 1904, and Barbara, born June 28, 1907. Dr. Berger is held in high esteem by the citizens of Dodge City and loved by his congregation.
Unassuming, yet forcefully, he impresses all with whom he comes in contact with the gentility of his character, the true spirit of a Christian gentleman and the scholarly attainment of a finished and accomplished preacher of the Gospel. In all his ministry he exhibits an urbanity of temperament, a sincerity of purpose and a disposition of good will to all recognized, not only by the members of his church, but by the whole community, to which he endears himself, regardless of creed, race or religion. To Mrs. Berger is due a great degree of their popularity, for she is a lady whom to meet is to love, and by her gentle nature and varied accomplishments she makes a wide circle of firm and true friendships that will be remembered and lasting. During his Gospel ministry of fourteen years, all spent in Kansas, Dr. Berger has been privileged to add nearly 600 members to his pastorage.Pages 1493-1495 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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