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Register of the Papers of the



2 ft.

MSS 21


The Bergdoll family became well-known through the Louis Bergdoll and Sons Brewing Co., founded in 1849 by Louis Bergdoll, a German immigrant.  During its peak operating period, the Bergdoll brewery produced one of the most popular beers in the country.  In spite of Prohibition, the company did not actually dissolve until 1951, when the Bergdoll building at 29th and Parrish Streets was sold.  The Bergdoll estates were valued at several million dollars.

Possibly the most famous Bergdoll was Grover Cleveland Bergdoll, 1893-1966, who earned a nation-wide reputation when he dodged the draft during World War I.  He fled to Germany and dodged the draft there when German authorities demanded that he join their military.  After years in exile, Grover returned to America in 1939, was tried, and sent to prison.  He was released in 1946.

Grover spent most of his later years under psychiatric supervision.  Grover's son, Alfred, and lawyer, David Meade White, became his guardians after his incapacitation.  Grover Cleveland Bergdoll died on 27 January 1966.


The Bergdoll Family Papers were received by the Balch Institute as a gift of Alfred Bergdoll in 1974.


The Bergdoll Family Papers contain clippings, correspondence and legal documents which cover Grover C. Bergdoll's family, youthful adventures as a pilot and racing car driver, his years in exile, trial, imprisonment, and later life.  Legal and financial papers concerning the estate of G.C. Bergdoll and the sale of his property are included.  An unpublished biography, The Curse of the Bergdoll Gold, by Alfred Bergdoll, and miscellaneous notes handwritten by Alfred Bergdoll are also included in the collection.  The papers are divided according to subject matter and arranged chronologically within each folder.

Approximately three hundred photographs of the Bergdoll family, their property, and Grover's auto racing and airplane piloting adventures have been separated from the papers and are maintained in Photo Group 118.  Many of the photographs were taken by G.C. Bergdoll.  Blueprints of the Bergdolls' Broomall property, which was condemned and sold in the late 1960's, have been transferred to the museum collection.  Additional newspaper clipping are available on microfilm.

The box list of the Register of Papers of the Bergdoll Family is three pages long.