Augustus and Harriet (Newberry) Mayer

Bernie's Father

Augustus Magnus Mayer came from a Swiss-German-French background. Born in 1881 in Wheeling, West Virginia, he was the first of eleven children raised by Cecilia (Lula) and Grandfather Mayer (first name unknown). They later moved to a farm in Pennsylvannia.  The siblings included George, Bill, Charlie, Magdaline, Sabina, Lewis, and several others whose names were derived from musical terms.

The children attended parochial schools where they received a formal "high German" education. Consequently, Augustus grew up as a competent bilingual in English and German with neither language accented.

Augustus acquired many skills growing up and working on the family's farm. He learned how to plant and harvest a variety of crops as well as how to raise farm animals. Although he was rememberd as a hard-worker, his most memorable trait was his wonderful sense of humor. It is said that Bernie inherited his father's laugh.

As was the case with many young men around 1906, Augustus left the farm and headed west. In California, he gained employment with the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Bernie's Mother

On December 6, 1887, a second daughter, Harriet, was born to George and Margaret (Byrne) Newberry in Portland, Oregon. Over the next several years, the family grew to include four children: Ella, Harriet, Myrtle and Bill.

As the story goes, the children's mother died while George was out at sea. Their maternal grandmother, Mary Byrne, feared tht the children's father would not raise her grandchildren properly. Consequently, on September 28, 1896, she separated the siblings and dispersed them in different boarding schools. Harriet spent the next four years growing up at St. Francis Technical School (later known as St. Vincent High School) in San Francisco where she was raised as an "orphan" by the nuns.

While Harriet was in San Francisco her grandmother passed away without telling the children where to find each other. Finally, on April 1, 1900, her luck changed for the better and Harriet's sisters located her. She went to live with with her sister Myrtle.

Boy Meets Girl (#1 in this saga)

One of the benefits of working for the Southern Pacific railroad were the passes that Augustus received to travel by rail during his free time. He was headed north on such an excursion when a young woman seated across the aisle from him caught his attention. It was Harriet, although she gave him a false name when he asked. As a friendly gesture, he bought her something to read at one of the train stops. It isn't known exactly how he found out who she really was or where he could find her again, but when she disembarked the train in Dunsmuir, it wasn't the last time he ever saw her.

By 1908, August and Harriet were married, and they set up their residence in the San Francisco bay area. Finally, Harriet would have a family of her own.