Bernheim, Gotthardt Dellman




Principal 1868-1870

Birth: November 8, 1827, Iserlohn, Märkischer Kreis Nordrhein-Westfalen, Prussia.
Death: October 25, 1916, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, North Carolina, USA

Rev. John Herman Bernheim
Lisette Dellman Bernheim.

With parents and younger brother, the Reverend Charles H. Bernheim, came at age five to Western Pennsylvania. His father of a distinguished Berlin Jewish family, was educated to be a rabbi, converted to the Christian faith and became a Lutheran minister.

First Spouse: Elizabeth Crowe Clayton Bernheim
Married: April 25, 1854 in Charleston, S.C.

Children from First Marriage: Eight.

Second Spouse: Amanda Ella (Lease) Bernheim;
Married: April 22, 1897; Nokomis, Ill.

Education: From Pennsylvania, rode horseback to enter Theological Seminary and Classical Institute, Lexington, S.C., graduating in 1849. Received D.D. degree.

Ordination/License: Licensed 1843 and ordained 1853 by South Carolina Synod. Calls: Zion (later called Wenthworth Street, then St. Andrew’s), Charleston, S.C., 1851- 57. Transferred 1858 to North Carolina Synod: St. John, Cabarrus County-New Bethel, Stanly County; organized and was second pastor of St. Mark’s, Charlotte, 1861-65; St. Michael, Troutman; organized and served Ebenezer, Rowan County; St. Paul, Wilmington, to 1881. Transferred to Ministerium of Pennsylvania, 1883; Grace, Phillipsburg, N.J., nine years. Transferred back to North Carolina Synod, 1892; first pastor, St. Matthew, Wilmington, 1892-1901; supplied St. Paul in 1892; supplied St. Luke-Morning Star, Monroe, 1905-07. Other: In 1866 was authorized by the Conference to assist some members of Organ in establishing a new congregation nearer where they lived. In 1869 was elected to a three year term on the Board of Trustees of North Carolina College. Was also elected Recording Secretary of the Synodical Missionary Society. Was elected as a delegate to the Winchester convention of the General Synod South. Secretary, North Carolina Synod, 1861; president, two years. Service in educational institutions. Financial agent of North Carolina College, 1858, member of first board 1859 and college President, 1882-83; dean, later principal, Mt. Pleasant Female Seminary, 1868-70; dean and professor of Bible, Elizabeth College, Charlotte. Author of The Success of God’s Work, Localities of the Reformation, History of the German Settlements in North and South Carolina, The First Twenty Years of the History of St. Paul, Wilmington, N.C., and with the Reverend George H. Cox, History of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Ministerium of North Carolina (1902); contributed many articles to church periodicals. Retired in 1901 to Charlotte.

Magnolia Cemetery
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA

Source: Synod, Lutheran Church in America North Carolina. Life Sketches of Lutheran Ministers : North Carolina and Tennessee Synods, 1773-1965, 1966.


Transcribed from the hand-written correspondence of Lisette Clayton Bernheim Hood, daughter of Rev. G. D. Bernheim, to Dr. James Edward Smoot, dated 2 Jul 1931. Smoot was a retired physician in Concord, NC who was compiling sketches for his unpublished manuscript, An Encyclopedic History of Cabarrus County. From the Bernheim Family Records in the Dr. James Edward Smoot Collection, North Carolina State Archives (Raleigh, NC), MARS ID: 400.443, Call #P.C. 1362.5. The following transcription is as written.

July 2nd, 1931,
Dr. J Edward Smoot,
67 Grove St., Concord, N. C.,

Dear Dr. Smoot –

I am at last sending you the sketch of my Father, Rev. G. D. Bernheim, D. D., that I promised, and would have sooner, but had another fall, & am now scarcely able to guide a pen much less collect my thoughts sufficiently. Please attribute to this reason any deficiencies I know you will observe in the writing of the sketch. I was not able to use my typewriter.

Pleas also add this item where ever it will fit in: that while he was conducting Mont Amoena Seminary he also (in 1868 & 1869) had charge of Ebenezer Church, in Iredell Co., where he built a new church, thus adding to his reputation as a church-builder.

I was much interested in the leaflets you enclosed of Marshal Ney, as I always believed the truth of his having been the brave Mareschal of Napoleon. I would so much like to see a copy of the book, & also of your “History of cabarrus Co.,” which will contain the sketch of my dear Father. I hope you were able to obtain a good cut of the portrait of my father.

With thanks for the kind expressions concerning Father, & hoping you may be able to remodel my sketch so as to suit your purpose, I remain,

Very sincerely,
(Mrs.) Lisette B. Hood.
New Hope Road, Gastonia


A Brief Biological Sketch of Rev. G. D. Bernheim, D. D.

Gotthardt Dellman Bernheim was born Nov. 8th, 1827, at Iserlohn, near Cologne, on the Rhine, province of Westphalia, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany. He missed by a few years being born in the reign of Jerome Buonaparte [sic], youngest brother of he Emperor Napoleon, who placed all the members of his family on European thrones. He was the son of Rev. John Herman and Lisette Dellman Bernheim. One of his father’s brothers (Maurice) was court physician to the old Emperor William I, and at the death of the latter occupied the Chair of chemistry in the University of Berlin until his death. Another uncle (August) emigrated to America and became senior member of the well-known wholesale clothing establishment of August Bernheim and Bauer. The family originally came from the little town of Hohenzollern, my grandfather having been born “under the shadow of the Castle of the Black Eagles,” the home of the former German Imperial family. My grandfather was educated at Goettingen University and spoke seven languages; my father five. The family emigrated to America when Father was 4-1/2 years old, his brother Charles Herman, two years younger, he also becoming a minister of the Gospel. My grandfather was sent out by the German Society for the conversion of the Jews, and served in this capacity and as pastor of different churches in Pa. until his death, in 1847. The youth of our land, in those early days, appreciated and struggled for an education as the youth of these days cannot understand. My grandfather, at the age when his sons needed to attend school, was pastor of the Lutheran church at Kittanning, Pa., & lived on the banks of the Alleghany [Allegheny] River. A highly-educated Lutheran Minister, Dr. John Dobler, conducted a school across the river. I have heard my Father tell how he and his younger brother would make bundles of their clothing and books and swim across the river in warm weather, reversing the operation in the afternoons while they skated across in the winter. In 1837 when the family crossed the ocean in a little schooner, it took three months to make the trip, adverse weather having blown them out of their way several times. They landed in Baltimore, Md., from there proceeded by wagon to Penna. When the time came for the 15-year-old lad to attend a higher institution (he having decided to become a minister) his father’s means being limited he decided to attend Newberry, Lexington (S. C.) college Theological Seminary which was then considered the best and cheapest institution of its kind in the South. There were no railroads to expedite such a journey, so the father mounted his horse, placing his young son behind him, and this made the trip in two weeks, depending upon the hospitality of friends along the way.  Just before he graduated from the classical dept., at the age of 19, his father died, and he was compelled to make the long journey back to look after his mother & family. He brought his brother back with him & entered him in Newberry College, first seeing that his mother and sisters were well located in Philadelphia, where she kept a boarding house for theological students there. During all his vacations he traveled from town to village as Agent for the American Bible Society, both he and his brother selling Bibles to defray their expenses at College. After his graduation and ordination his first charge was as assistant to the Rev. John Bachman, D. D., L. L. D., one of the most learned divines, botanists and entomologists of his day. Co-laborer with the Audubon brothers who were his sons-in-law. Thus his first ministerial work was at historic old St. John’s Lutheran church. Seeing an opening for another Lutheran church in the Rutledge Ave. vicinity, Dr. Bachman assisted Father in founding Zion Evan. Luth. Church, which was later merged into the large and flourishing St. Andrew’s church on Wentworth St. During the yellow fever epidemic in Charleston, in 1852, his mother was stricken and died being buried in Magnolia Cemetery, in the family plot there where Father is also buried. In 1854 this dreadful plague decimated the city again, leaving only two clergmen [clergymen] to bury the daily toll of the dead – a Catholic priest and father. At last he too was stricken, but recovered, thanks to God and the tender nursing of his young bride Miss Elizabeth Crowe Clayton, whom he married April 25th, 1854. To this union eight children were born, four of whom are still living. In the latter part of 1858 he received a call from old St. John’s Lutheran Church, 3 miles from Mt. Pleasant, N. C. With his faithful wife and a young daughter (myself) he took up his abode in Mt. Pleasant, where five more children were born. At that time there was no parsonage at St. John’s and no church in Mt. Pleasant, St. John’s parsonage being located there. What was then North Carolina college, now Mt. Pleasant Collegiate Institute, was then under the presidency of Dr. Bittle, and Father assisted him in teaching , in connection with his ministerial duties at St. John’s. Himself a highly-educated man and a well-known historian, he was always intensely interested in educational matters, and wherever he preached he would look out for the establishment of a school. Many men & women whose names are written high in the halls of fame having been his pupils. In the fall of 1859 he and Rev. J. A. Linn were sent to Wilmington, N. C. to establish a Lutheran Church among the many German emigrants who were flocking to the port of Wilmington. this was the building of St. Paul’s Evan. Luth. church which is still a powerful religious influence in our State. In 1860, or perhaps ’61, he established St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Charlotte, and soon after came to that city to live, having purchased a farm on the outskirts of the city, which is now known as Wesley Heights and Seversville. He & his family lived here during all the troublous years of 1861-65, Father serving his congregation without salary and supporting his family by farming. In the spring of 1865 the Federal Gov’t lodged 3200 of what were called “galvanized Yankees,” hired Hessian troops on our “Cedar Grove” farm; and such were the depredations and dangers to his family that he finally decided to pay a long-deferred visit to his native Germany, if it were possible to “refugee” thro’ the battle-fields of Va. Thro’ many difficulties and privations he succeeded in getting to New York City; but learning that the War was over, and communication reestablished, he gave up the idea of the European trip and returned to serve his little congregation in Charlotte. His heart had always been set on the establishment of a Female Seminary in Mt. Pleasant, and in the fall of 1865 he saw the way clear for the realization of this cherished dream. Mrs. Bittle, the wife of the president of the male College, had opened a small school for girls in Mt. Pleasant, wishing to give  to the sisters the same educational advantages enjoyed by their brothers. so he again moved to that loyal little town, himself bought the building that first housed “Mont Amoena Seminary,” (latinzed from Mt. Pleasant), obtained from the N. C. Synod authority to collect funds for the re-purchase and improvement of the property, opened the school with a small faculty, traveled over the North and collected the necessary funds, then presenting Mont Amoena Seminary free of debt to the N. C. Synod. Not many persons know that such names as Wm. H. Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, the Astors, Remensnyders and Geissenhainers, are on the roster of those who gave of their substance to the purchase of this struggling little institution. But he knew these men personally, and thro’ his unflagging energy and winning personality he accomplished his purpose. He continued the school for four years longer, until he saw it on a fir– financial basis and successful operation, where others could carry on the work. He then accepted a call from St. Paul’s Church, in Wilmington, where he served over 12 years – his longest pastorate – and where he lived his pleasantest years and did his greatest work. Here he wrote his most successful book – “the History of the German Settlements and Lutheran Church in N. & S C.” – a work that is still regarded as the standard historical annals of its nature. In collaboration with Rev. Dr. Geo. H Cox he also published “The History of the N C Synod & Ministerium.” He and a few kindred spirits in Wilmington established the “N C. Historical & Literary Society,” now merged in Raleigh as a State Society. He unflinchingly favored the W. C. T. U. [Women’s Christian Temperance Union], entertained Miss Frances Willard when she came to Wilmington to establish a branch, his wife being the first Pres & his oldest daughter the first Sec. His resignation of the pastorate of St. Paul’s was a result of his staunch against the sale of intoxicants, for one of his outstanding characteristics was this unflinching adherence to what he regarded as his duty and the right thing to do. In the pursuit of his duty he left no consideration stand in his way. His regard for the correctness of history, and his love for his church, family and friends were his chief traits. His was a positive character, and all who knew him were sure of his stand on all questions of morality and ethics.

On leaving Wilmington he again returned to Mt. Pleasant, as President of N. C. College. He also was senior member of the trio that for four years published “At Home & Abroad,” a Southern literary magazine that enjoyed great success. the other two publishers were his two elder daughters. Having resigned as pres. of the college, he accepted a call to Grace Church, Phillipsburg, N. J., where he labored successfully for nine years, having built a fine stone church on the site of the wooden one he found there. Then he returned to Wilmington to become second pastor of St. Matthews’ English Luth. church, established as a branch of St. Paul’s. It was during this pastorate that he lost his beloved & faithful wife, in 1895. It [sic] April, 1897 he married Miss Ella Lease, of Illinois, who is still living. About this time Elizabeth College was established in Charlotte, and he was elected Prof. of Sacred Literature & Dean of the faculty. At the same time, altho’ he was then over 80 years of age he preached once a month at a small church in Mecklenburg Co., until the infirmities of age prohibited any further work. At last God called him Oct. 23rd, 1916, from the labors of earth to the joy of Heaven, being then 89 years old, all but 16 days. He served his Master long & faithfully & of him it may be said: “Well done, good & faithful servant. Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord!”


The Charlotte News (Charlotte, NC) October 25, 1916, p. 11.

Rev. G. D. Bernheim, D. D., Oldest Minister of Lutheran Church in South, Has Passed–Born in Prussia–Minister, Author, Educator, Organizer.

Rev. Dr. Gerhardt Dellamann Bernheim, one of the most venerable and most beloved ministers of the Lutheran church, died last evening at 8:20 o’clock at his home on Elizabeth avenue, after an illness extending over two years or more. For several months Dr. Bernheim had been in a very feebled condition and, owing to his extreme age –89 years–his death was not unexpected. His death ends the career of one of the most influential men in the United Lutheran Synod of the South.

The remains were taken to J. M. Harry’s undertaking establishment and there prepared for burial.

Friday morning at 9 o’clock the body will be removed to St. Mark’s Lutheran church, to lie in state until 11 o’clock when the funeral service will be conducted by the pastor of St. Mark’s, Rev. Dr. John F. Crigler, assisted by Rev. Dr. M. M. Kinard, of Salisbury, and Rev. George H. Cox, pastor of St. John’s church, near Mt. Pleasant.

The body will be taken to Charleston, S. C. at 4:40 o’clock Friday afternoon over the Southern Railroad, the interment to take place in Magnolia cemetery in Charleston.

The pallbearers will be, E. J. Atwood, A. G. Jacobson, J. D. Barrier, Dr. C. A. Misenheimer, C. Valaer, R. C. Bieberstein, W. L. Bruns, A. R. Willmann.


Dr. Bernheim was born in Iserlohn, in the province of Westphalia, Prussia, on November 8, 1827. He was the son of Rev. John H. Bernheim and his wife, Lisette Dellmann Bernheim, his father also being a distinguished minister of the Lutheran church. The family arrived in Philadelphia when Dr. Bernheim was four and a half years of age, coming fro there to South Carolina. While still in his teens Dr. Bernheim entered Newberry College at Newberry, S. C., and received his classical education there. He also received his theological training there, the theological department being later removed and made the Lutheran Seminary now located at Columbia, S. C. Displaying an aptitude for learning that remained a striking characteristic through life, he became a strong factor in the upbuilding of the Lutheran faith in North and South Carolina and a leader in education and thought throughout the South.

Dr. Bernheim’s first charge as pastor, after graduation from the seminary, was at Charleston, S. C., where he organized the Zion Evangelical Lutheran church, which was afterwards merged into St. Andrews. After several years work in Charleston, Dr. Bernheim was called to the pastorate of old St. Johns’ Lutheran church in Cabarrus county, this state, then one of the most flourishing Lutheran churches in the South, being the center of a splendid German settlement noted for education, energy and ability.

While connected with this charge Dr. Bernheim was elected president of the North Carolina College, now Mt. Pleasant Collegiate Institute. Later he was made president of Mt. Amoena Seminary, thus serving as president of both the male and female colleges located at Mt. Pleasant.

In 1858 while still serving as president of the two colleges at Mt. Pleasant Dr. Bernheim went to Wilmington and organized St. Paul’s Lutheran church.

St. Mark’s Organized

It was about this time that Dr. Bernheim took the first step toward the organization of a Lutheran church in Charlotte. Being intensely interested in seeing this accomplishment he moved his family here from Wilmington in the latter part of 1860, and organized a church, it bring called St. Mark’s. He secured the ground for the church, a building being soon erected.

Dr. Bernheim was the first pastor of St. Mark’s and served the church with notable ability during the civil war and for some years afterward.

Dr. Berheim was an intimate friend of Rev. Alexander Sinclair, D. D., at that time pastor of the Presbyterian chruch, (First church,) and father of Mr. Alexander M. Sinclair, now residing on North Church street.

Knew President Wilson’s Father

In 1866 Dr. Bernheim went back to Mt. Pleasant to take up the presidency of Mt. Amoena Seminary again and served as pastor of Ebenezer Lutheran church in Rowan county at the same time. In the latter part of 1869 he went to Wilminton to become pastor of St. Paul’s church in Wilmington, which he had founded some years earlier. He lived in Wilmington and served as pastor of that church for thirteen years. His contemporary and warm friend there during a part of that period was Dr. Joseph ruggles Wilson, pastor of the Presbyterian church, and father of Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States.

Always interested in historical and literary events, Dr. Bernheim was one of organizers of the Wilmington Historical and Literary Society, being associated in that undertaking with the late J. G. Burr, Col. Edward Cantwell, Alexander Sprunt, Sr., and Alexander Strunt, Jr. The society has now been merged into the state organization for historical research

Goes Back to Mt. Pleasant

In the latter part of 1882 Dr. Bernheim was requisitioned again to serve the cause of education in his church and went back to Mt. Pleasant to become president of the North Carolina College. After a year there, he was called to the pastorate of the Lutheran church at Phillipsberg, N. J., where he served nine years. In 1892 he accepted the pastorate of St. Matthews Lutheran church in Wilmington, this state, and labored there for ten or twelve years.

From Wilmington he came to Charlotte in 1904 to take the position of dean of the faculty of Elizabeth College and to occupy the chair of Bible history, the congregation of St. Matthews at Wilmington bestowing upon him the title of pastor emeritus.

In addition to his work at Elizabeth College, he served as pastor for a few years at Morning Star Lutheran church, near Matthews in this county.

Author of Note

Dr. Bernheim all his life was an assiduous student and became as widely known as an author as he was as a minister. His book entitled, “German Settlement and German Churches in the Carolinas,” is a standard historical work and a valuable contribution to the history of the state and the South. He spent twenty-one years collecting data for it. His “History of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Ministerium of north Carolina,” is almost equally valuable and his contributions to church and secular literature is extensive and characterized by scholarly execution. The latter volume was written with the collaboration of Dr. George H. Cox, pastor of St. John’s, near Mt. Pleasant. “Localities of the Reformation” was another interesting volume, which Dr. Bernheim published after an extended visit to Germany, during which he visited all the places notable in the history of the Reformation. Dr. Bernehim’s father was also a poet of distinction.

Had Uncle at Court

An uncle of Dr. Bernheim’s, Dr. Moritz, was court physician to Emperor William, father of the present emperor of Germany. At the accession of Emperor Frederick William, father of the present emperor, Dr. Moritz went to the University of Berlin and became professor of chemistry there, holding that position until his death.

Twice Married

In 1854 Dr. Bernheim married Miss Elizabeth Crowe Clayton, of Charleston, S. C., who died in 1895. The children by this union are Mrs. Lisette Clayton Hood, of Charlotte; Mrs. Eloise Burkheimer, formerly of Charlotte, now of Rockingham; E. Clayton Bernheim, of Southbridge, Mass.; W. Augustus Bernheim, of Hamilton, Canada; Oscar F. Bernehim, of Allentown, Pa.

In 1897, Dr. Bernheim married Miss Amanda Lease, of Nokomis, Ill., who survives.

There were no children by the second marriage.

Also Surviving Dr. Bernheim are eleven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, John W. Kirby, Jr.; also an aged sister, Mrs. Selma Bernheim Parrish, of Charleston, S. C., and a number of nieces and nephews.

The funeral services Friday will be in keeping with the life and character of the distinguished man, the great volume of whose life was closed last evening.

A tribute worthy of him will be paid by church and state.