The Berger family came to Oakland about 1886, and lived here until the last daughter died in 1936.

John William Berger (c.1833 – August 26, 1890) and Eliza A. Berger (September 1835 – September 30, 1901) were both born in Pennsylvania. The year of their marriage is unknown, but daughter Lillian Ida Berger (c.1855 – June 28, 1934) was born about 1855 in Pennsylvania. Daughter Mary Ella Berger (August 1859 – September 6, 1936) was born in Iowa. There may have been a son, Willie Berger (c.1857 – ??), but he only appears in the 1860 U.S. census.

The Berger family was in Iowa until c.1885, and first appear in the 1887 Oakland directory. 1 John is listed as a bookkeeper, Lillian as a teacher, and Mary Ella (who mostly went by Ella until later in life) as a music teacher, and all are listed at 1454 - 10th Avenue, which is now 1918 - 10th Avenue. A brief mention in 1887 says John was the treasurer of the nearby East Oakland Baptist Church, and that Ella was planning to visit some friends in Council Bluffs, Iowa. 2 Another brief mention in 1889 says Lillian was home for 3 weeks vacation from teaching in Colusa County. 3 She applied for a teaching position in Oakland in 1891, but it's unknown if she got the job.

John is next listed in the 1888 directory as an auditor for the Oakland Bank of Savings. He died in 1890 of heart disease; a death listing in the Oakland Tribune incorrectly gives his address as 1454 - 15th Avenue. 4 He died without a will and Ella was named administrator of the estate; an appraisal estimated the value of his estate at $5175. 5 The probate papers indicate that Eliza was entitled to 1/2 the estate, and Lillian and Ella 1/4 each, but that the daughters willingly signed their portions over to their mother. Interestingly, in November there is a mention of Eliza and M. Ella Berger selling the lot to Lillian. 6 (The article may have transposed the names, with Eliza selling to Ella and Lillian, since in theory the lot belonged solely to Eliza at that point, but it's hard to tell.)

Eliza died in 1901. This time, Lillian was named administrator of the estate. Eliza's obituary says her remains were interred in Mountain View Cemetery. 7

Lillian died in 1934, 8 and Ella died in 1936. 9 No mention has been found of their burial locations, but there is a Berger family plot in Mountain View Cemetery.


The house at 1454 appears on the 1903 Sanborn with a second, smaller dwelling behind it at what is now 540 - East 19th St., sharing the 1/4 acre lot. It's unknown exactly what year 1454 was built. The county records list 1895, but c.1886-1887 when the Berger family arrived makes more sense. The address doesn't appear in the 1884 directory.

1903 Sanborn excerpt1911 Sanborn excerpt1950 Sanborn excerpt

Comparing the 1903 and 1911 Sanborn maps, something interesting happened. The house at 1454 was moved a short distance up 10th Avenue, and a second house was built on the corner, numbered 1450. No record has been found of the year, but some clues point to the changes happening around 1907. The 1907 directory lists Lillian and Ella living at 540 East 19th. The 1909 directory then lists Lillian running a boarding house, giving 1450 - 10th Ave. as her address. And the 1910 census lists the family of Dr. A. Damer Drew living at 1454 - 10th Ave. The sisters continued to live at 1450 until their deaths in the 1930s, and a series of renters lived at 1454.

Links and References

  1. Husted's Directory 1887
  2. East Oakland Oakland Tribune June 7, 1887
  3. Personal Mentions Oakland Tribune December 13, 1889
  4. The Death Record Oakland Tribune August 29, 1890
  5. Estates Valued Oakland Tribune May 26, 1891
  6. Real Estate Transactions Oakland Tribune November 6, 1891
  7. Deaths Reported Oakland Tribune October 3, 1901
  8. Lillian Berger obituary Oakland Tribune June 30, 1934
  9. Ella Berger obituary Oakland Tribune September 8, 1936