image of HofSülten, Mecklenburg, Germany

Happy birthday to my great-grandmother Lena Dueger Johnson

Caroline Johanne Friederike (“Lena”) Düjer (Dueger) was born on July 27, 1869, in Mecklenburg, Germany.  Mecklenburg is in the North of Germany and borders on the Baltic Sea.

Lena’s father, Carl, was a farmer. At the time Lena was born,  Mecklenburg was a Grand Duchy and almost all the land was owned by the Grand Duke, Frederick Francis II. Most of the people living on the land were serfs. Also, in the late 1860s and 1870-71, Prussian influence was unifying Germany and the Franco-Prussian war was raging.

This might be why in 1872 the entire Dueger family migrated by ship from Hamburg to New York City and from there to the Buffalo, New York, area. At the time they migrated, the family included Lena’s parents and five children. Several more children were born in the United States.

The family settled in the Tonawanda and North Tonawanda area, and  many of their descendants still live there today.

Newspaper clipping about the 1953 Dueger Family Reunion in North Tonawanda
Newspaper clipping about the 1953 Dueger Family Reunion in North Tonawanda

According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Lena never went to school.

In 1892, Lena married my great-grandfather, Peter George Johnson.

Lena was a life-long member of the Lutheran Church, and she was a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Lena died in 1949 in North Tonawanda while living with her daughter Clara Johnson Pullen. She was living just a few blocks from DeGraff Hospital, where I was born.

Lena Dueger Johnson's gravestone in Elmlawn Cemetery in Kenmore, New York
Lena Dueger Johnson’s gravestone in Elmlawn Cemetery in Kenmore, New York

Although my parents and I lived only a few miles from the Pullens during the 1940s, I don’t recall ever seeing Lena, and I don’t have any pictures of her.

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