Lena Sofia Kämpe

The Kämpe home at Lövhult where Lena Sofia’s family moved in 1854. Her father was both soldier and farmer.

Lena Sofia Kämpe was born on February 6, 1845 in Årena, Målilla Parish, Gårdveda, Sweden. Her parents were Johan Samuelsson Kämpe (1815-1888) and Gustafva Petersdotter (1817-1913). In 1841 Johan became a soldier and took the soldier name Kämpe (in Swedish: fighter). After the birth of the first two children, Per August and Lena Sofia, Johan moved the family to another soldier’s cottage in Gårdveda in 1851 where they stayed for four years. Then they moved to another house in Löfhault, Gårdveda where Johan was both farmer and soldier. There were nine children altogether born from 1842 to 1864. All the children except Per August and Maria Gustafva emigrated to the United States.

Lefgren family bible where the children’s births were recorded.

Lena Sofia was married to Johan Alfred Löfgren on July 6, 1870. Their first child, Carl August Gotfred, was born on October 28, 1871, in Tynselt, Viserum parish, Kälmar län, Sweden. On June 21, 1872 when Carl was barely 8 months old, the family emigrated from Gothenburg and arrived in New York City on July 11, 1872. They settled in Jamestown, New York where two more children, Maria Gustafva and Alma Rosiett, were born. The family changed its name from Löfgren to Lefgren. Johan Alfred became John Alfred. He was a soldier in the militia in Jamestown. It is thought that he was able to attain citizenship sooner because of this military service.

In this 1890 photo of the Lefgren family, the firstborn, Carl August is 19. This is the last record of Carl that is known. He does not appear with the family in any census after 1885 and is not mentioned in his father’s obituary.

After four years, in 1876, the family moved to Essex, Iowa. For a few years they may have rented farmland until they took possession of the farm owned by Lena Sofia’s brother, Charles J. (Carl Johan) Kampe. John Alfred and Lena Sofia’s son, Carl August, never appeared on any more censuses after 1885. He is seen in a photo that would have been taken when he was 18 or 19. Otherwise, there is no more record of him.

John Alfred and Lena Sofia’s son, Melvin David Ardorth Lefgren (1883-1946), lived with them until his marriage to Ellen Caroline Johnson on March 17, 1915. Melvin was 32 and Ellen was 24. Following a head injury sustained due to a fall from a horse, Melvin was afflicted with severe seizures and spent several years in a Lutheran care home. Ellen worked much of her adult life as a practical nurse. They had two children, Ellis and Louise. Louise Lefgren married Chester Hallquist and they were Daryl’s parents.

Lena Sofia died on July 22, 1923. She died in their farm home of possible heat stroke. She is buried beside John Alfred in the Essex municipal cemetery. Buried beside them is their daughter Ellen who spent most of her life in the Clarinda, Iowa hospital for the mentally ill.