Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Guardian of the Golden Gate"

The other day when I was at a local bookstore I came across a book that was both interesting and hit close to home genealogy wise. The Presidio (and the Bay Area) has always played an integral part of my family history. I have several branches that lived in the area and two branches that have a direct connection to The Presidio. My great-grandmother lived through the 1906 earthquake and her father spent time at the refugee camp on Golden Gate Park (the Park and the Presidio established a massive camp for all the displaced refugees of the earthquake; see the picture above) for several days searching for his lost family (my great-grandmother and her mother had gone to Alameda to stay with family but could not get word to him for days). Another direct connection to the Presidio has to do with my great-grandfather on another side of the family. He was born in Indiana to a missionary family that came to California for the German Evangelical Association (a branch of the Methodist church that was established for Germans and people of German extraction in the US; services were also held in German and the society worked to preserve German religious traditions amongst Germans in the US) when he was a small boy. They settled in the Oakland area in the early 1890's and remained in the area for forty years. My great-grandfather became a Methodist minister (like his father) and joined the US Army Chaplain Corps. during WWI (his father had been a Union Chaplain during the Civil War) and was stationed at The Presidio. Below is a picture of him (Gideon Gottlieb Berger), his mother (Susanna vonAllmen Berger) and sister (Florence Berger) at, I believe, the family home in Oakland around the time (June 1917) he enlisted.
The Presidio is now a part of the National Park Service and a historical landmark. There is also a historical association for the Presidio which also strives to help preserve the site. If you ever get a chance to visit San Francisco be sure to visit the Presidio (among other places), you won't regret it. It truly is the best example of Pacific Coast history I can think of as it has vital roots in many eras of history. It was a vital part of the California of Spain and Mexico and later served the US as an important military base during both World Wars and peace time as well as gave shelter to many after one of the worst disasters in US history (the 1906 earthquake). It truly is the "Guardian of the Golden Gate."

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