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“Wanted by the United States” notorious draft evader and deserter, Erwin Bergdoll, of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Brewery Family, 1918

[N.p. 1918] printed broadside, with half tone portrait of Erwin Bergdoll and text; sheet measures 7 ¾” x 10 ½”, black and white portrait, minor wear, and light staining to bottom margin.

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Erwin G. Bergdoll (1890-1965)

Erwin G. Bergdoll was born on 24 June 1890, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a son of the famous Philadelphia Bergdoll brewery family. He was the son of Louis Bergdoll Jr. (1857-1896) and his wife Emma Christina Barth (1861-1944). The family brewery was founded by Erwin’s grandfather, Louis Bergdoll Sr. (1825-1894). The senior Louis Bergdoll was born in Sensheim near Heidelberg, and learned the craft of brewing and the brewery trade in Germany. He arrived in the United States at Castle Garden on the ship Doris, on 27 June 1846. He partnered with Charles Psotta in his first brewery. Their business increased and they expanded their City Park Brewery. It was one of the breweries which made Philadelphia's Brewerytown the beer capitol of the United States. Philadelphia's taste ran towards lager and Bergdoll and Sons' lager contributed to Philadelphia's reputation as a center of beer production. Later, in retirement, he turned to real estate and built a number of houses in the city's Fairmount section. Among the charities he supported were the German (now Lankenau) Hospital, The Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Salem Reformed German Church

Bergdoll’s grandson, Erwin G. Bergdoll was a wealthy privileged child, and took up race car driving, competing in the 1915 Indianapolis 500. He also won the last Fairmount Park Motor Race held in Philadelphia in 1911. When he was drafted during World War One, he appears to have decided to dodge the draft, following in his older brother’s footsteps Grover C. Bergdoll (1893-1966).

The family was of German heritage and the brothers at best were conflicted about joining an attack on their Fatherland. The boys, raised by a coddling mother were seen by the general public as irresponsible, entitlement-minded adults born into great wealth. After being on the lam for about two years, Bergdoll eventually surrendered himself to authorities on 21 July 1920, just after his brother Grover had escaped from the authorities and gone back to evading the authorities. Erwin was held on trial for draft dodging and was found guilty in August of 1920 and sentenced to four years hard labor at Leavenworth Prison.

Erwin Bergdoll died at Camden, New Jersey, on 21 March 1965 and was buried at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County, PA.

 

Text of Broadside:

“Wanted by the United States

 

[2 ¾” x 3 ¾” portrait of Bergdoll with cap, tie and sport coat, collared shirt]

 

Erwin Bergdoll

 

Notorious Draft Evader and Deserter wanted by the United States Authorities at Philadelphia, PA.,

on charge of willfully evading the Selective Service Act.

 

Erwin Bergdoll, a member of a wealthy Philadelphia family, interested in the Bergdoll Brewing

Company, left Philadelphia on May 9, 1918, since which time he has been traveling extensively throughout

the country. It is believed that he is constantly on the move, accompanied by a male companion. He is an

an expert automobile driver, aviator and speed king.

 

Description: - Tall, medium build, gray eyes, and brown hair.

 

This man is a serious offender against the laws of the United States, and his arrest is earnestly desired

by the military authorities. Every effort should be put forth by Federal and State Officers to bring about

his apprehension. An appeal is made to all patriotic citizens to co-operate with the authorities in effecting

his arrest. In the event of his apprehension, please detain him and wire or telephone full particulars to the

undersigned, or to the representative of the Department of Justice at Philadelphia.

 

Francis Fisher Kane,

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Penna.,

Philadelphia, Penna.

 

Todd Daniel,

Acting Local Agent of Department of Justice, Philadelphia, PA.”