Alfred Bergin

ALFRED BERGIN, B. D., Ph. D. The Bethany Church at Lindsborg ever since it was established on the prairies of Central Kansas nearly fifty years ago has been a powerful influence not only in the religious life of Kansas but to a remarkable degree in the social and intellectual advancement of the people of the state. It is the oldest and the parent church of the Swedish Lutheran people who did so much to colonize and develop these prairies from a wilderness into a smiling landscape of farms and towns. The church has a membership of over two thousand people. It was organized by Dr. Olof 0lson on August 19, 1869. After Dr. Olson's ten years of service Dr. Carl Swensson served as pastor all his ministerial life, or for twenty-five years. Dr. Swensson will always be gratefully remembered by the church and by hundreds of people outside of the church. During his pastorate the famous Messiah concerts were started, and there is no one artistic movement or enterprise in the state of Kansas which has become so widely known and is more justly entitled to the appreciation of the cultured classes. The direct result of Dr. Swensson's pastorate was the founding of Bethany College.

For the past twelve years Dr. Alfred Bergin has been pastor of Bethany Church. In that time he has continued the great work begun by his predecessors, and at the same time has made himself a factor in the welfare of the community and the state.

While most widely known as an author, minister, teacher and religious leader, Dr. Bergin has in his time come into close contact with the practical realities of life and in various roles. He was born in Vester Bitterna, Vastergotland, Sweden, April 24, 1866. Graduated from the public schools of Sweden at the age of twelve and confirmed in 1881, he arrived on June 9, 1883, at Carver, Minnesota. On the 11th of June he began work at A. Ahline's brick yard. There he put in every summer at hard labor until 1889. In 1884 he matriculated in Gustavus Adolphus College at St. Peter, Minnesota, kept at his studies as regularly as his means permitted, though for two years he had to remain out of college altogether, and was granted his degree, Bachelor of Arts, in 1892. He taught a parochial school in St. Paul in 1890, in Duluth in 1891, and in Skandia in 1892.

Entering the Augustana Seminary at Rock Island Illinois, in 1892, Dr. Bergin was graduated with the degree B. D. and ordained as pastor in the Lutheran Church in 1894. He served as missionary in several counties of North Dakota in 1893-95, then removed to Warren, Minnesota, and was pastor of ten churches until 1897. From there he went to Cambridge, Minnesota, where he lived eight years and in 1904 accepted the call to succeed the late Dr. Carl Swensson in Lindsborg, Kansas.

During his college years he served as brick maker, section hand, brakeman, saw mill laborer, railroad laborer, mason, census enumerator, newspaper reporter, teacher, wood cutter and mail carrier. He knows life not only through books but at the very fountainhead, and from this knowledge he has derived much of his power to sympathize with and lead men to better things.

While pastor at Cambridge, Minnesota, he attended the University of Minnesota and received the Master of Arts degree in 1899, while in 1904 the University of Minnesota conferred upon him the degree Doctor of Philosophy. For several years he served as statistician of the Minnesota conference, as a member of the board of directors of Gustavus Adolphus College and as secretary of the St. Croix district.

While a member of the Kansas conference Dr. Bergin has been vice president of the conference several years, president, secretary and treasurer of the McPherson district, secretary of the mission board, member of the board of directors of Bethany College and president of the board several years, and for several years has been professor of ethics at Bethany College. He has served as president of the board of the Old People's Home, as member of the hospital committee, etc. In 1916 he was elected by the synod a member of the board of directors of the Augustana Book concern.

Just prior to the war Doctor Bergin traveled extensively in Europe and visited most of the different countries there. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Geographic Society, Kansas Historical Society, American Scandinavian Historical Society, the Church Historical Society of Sweden, etc.

Doctor Bergin among all the burdens of an active ministerial career has found time for studious research and literary production. The following books of which he is author may be mentioned: "Nagra Ord I Viktiga Fragor," 1898; "History of Cambridge, Minnesota," 1904; "The Law of the Westgoths according to Manuscripts of Aeskil, 1200 A. D.," 1905; "Lindsborg," 1909; "The Swedish Settlement in Central Kansas," 1910; "Faith and Life," 1913; "Under Pines and Palms (European travelogue)," 1916. He has written the words for the following musical productions: dr.Lagerstrom's Cantata, Gustavus Adolphus' Death, Eaolsharpan (a few songs), and Kyrkosangen (a few songs); and also for Professor Bergqui's Christmas Cantata.

Doctor Bergin has edited or assisted in editing the following papers: Hermdal and Gustaviana at St. Peter, Minnesota; The Literary Helper and Kansas Young Lutheran at Lindsborg; and Ungdomsvannen at Rock Island, Illinois. For about twenty-five years he has been a contributor to Minnesota Stats Tidning, St. Paul; for about ten years to Lindsborg-Posten, Lindsborg; and for several years to Augustana, Tidskrift, Barnens Tidning, etc. Some of the more important of his individual articles are to be found in the Lutheran Church Review, Prairieblomman, Korsbaneret, Balder, Kornblixter, Deklamatoren, etc.

Doctor Bergin married in 1894 Anna Hult, of Skandia, Minnesota. Six children were born to them. Carl, Valdemar and Ada are deceased. Those still living are Adelia, Ruth and Esther.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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