Bergmann and Mountain Men

Mountain Men vineyard, 1821
Mountain Men vineyard, 1821

[America, 1821] The entire Bergmann family was in Washington. President James Monroe, on whose ship Emmett, John and Laurie had sailed to Europe about twenty years ago, was sworn in for his second term.

President James Monroe

In the afternoon, James had invited them at to a celebration in his house. “Do you like the wine?” a cheerful voice asked behind Heinrich. He turned around – there stood a young woman who looked at him expectantly, “it’s from our vineyard in Virginia. You know, when a President from Virginia is sworn in, we should drink a toast on him with wine from Virginia, shouldn’t we?” “Of course,” Heinrich said spontaneously, but then he, who never had been at a loss for words, did not find anything to say – he had just met the woman of his dreams.

America to the Americans – the Monroe Doctrine (1823, America)

President Monroe was concerned. In the Old World, the absolute monarchies had restored their power after the French Revolution and Napoleon. Now they intended to surpress republican and liberal ideas and institutions. The monarchs of Russia, Austria, Prussia and France had joined forces in the “Holy Alliance”, to jointly defend the old order. It almost seemed that the Old World was trying to extend its old order into the New World. During the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the colonies in Latin America had raised against Spain and Portugal.

When the rulers, with the help of the Holy Alliance, tried to re-impose their rule and Russia claimed Alaska, President James Monroe gave a clear warning:

“We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”*

Bergmann and Mountain Men

“Peace and safety,” Johann repeated the words of the Monroe Doctrine. After all the years, he and his family had been granted that. And what a fabulous family did he have! He, the former prisoner of war, had married into the family of the man whom his great-uncle had once helped to escape. His two children James and Jenny were happy. James lived with his family in Washington, enthousiastically working for the Library of Congress. James would make his way.

Jenny’s dishes

Jenny had married Niklas, they now managed the “Merry Dragon” inn together. They had a son, Harvey. Laurie had been right, soon the “Merry Dragon” was also well known for Jenny’s beautiful dishes. On her plates and cups big and small dragons cavorted, flying over mountains and valleys or swimming across a big river. “Where is that scenery?” her guests often asked. “It is great-grandfather’s and Niklas’ home, the Seven Mountains at the Rhine. My father too comes from the Rhine, and so we kids are born with a fondness for dragons,” she said smilingly, “Over there in the Seven Mountains is a hill, the Drachenfels, on which allegedly once a mythical dragon lived. The famous Lord Byron from England wrote a poem about it, ‘The Castled Crag of Drachenfels.'”

Niklas’ drawings

In quiet hours Niklas often sat on the front porch, drawing. One loved his little works and many neighbors asked him to draw themselves and their homes for their relatives in the Old World. Not only that, he supported the small school in his town and helped many children learn to read and write. Once a week, they came to him in the Merry Dragon Inn, then sat at the table that Jenny’s grandfather Ambrose had made for children. Each child got a plate made by Jenny, covered with pastry, and then they read together.

Letters across the ocean

The Bergmann brothers also kept contact with their relatives at home. A particularly lively correspondence unfolded between Niklas and his cousin Hubert Limbach, an elementary school teacher. One had to give the Prussians credit for that, they did take care of the school system.

Hubert, his Belgian wife Henriette and his mother, called “Grandma Limbach” in an affectionate way, lived in a small house on the Rhine. They had established their family business there. Grandma Limbach, a very skillful milliner and tailor, created beautiful things from old and used materials that families with little income could afford. For many years she had been a seamstress at the court in Düsseldorf. When after Napoleon’s defeat the French official fled head over heals, taking the Grand Duchy’s money with them, Grandma Limbach had taken the remnants of fine cloth and braids that nobody there needs any more.

His wife Henriette has opened a café, where she served homemade hot chocolate and snacks. Hubert is an elementary school teacher, and he often invites his pupils to the “Stübchen” and works with them on their reading. Henriette treated them to hot chocolate and a snack, and Hubert showed them the drawings Niklas sent from America.

Mountain Men vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley

Heinrich lived with his wife Rebecca on her family’s vineyard in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Johann had visited him there. His skin tanned and carrying baskets filled with grapes under his arms, he came out of the vineyard, followed by his two sons, Joseph and Ben. Soon they would have a little sister. “Mountain Man’s Bliss,” he said, smiling and pointing to his children, and that was the name of his wines – “Mountain Man’s Red Bliss” and “White Bliss”. One could see that Heinrich was happy. Johann smiled even more. Now their family name Bergmann had not only been translated into the English version “Mountain Man”, but had become a bit of a program.

Johann was happy. Also Hedy Bergmann was granted many happy years in America. Soon the young generation would take over, and they were best friends. He felt that his lifetime was reaching an end, and he looked with gratitude upon his life. A few months later he died in peace, and shortly thereafter his wife Laurie died too.

* Quoted from the Monroe Doctrine, available at

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