Saturday, March 11, 2017

Who Was Lena Burg?

As noted in past newspaper articles Lena Berg was one of the founders of the Scappoose Public Library in 1929. She worked with Rose Watts and Caroline Dorris in establishing the library in the second floor of the Price/Watts store. There they managed to collect hundreds of books and provided hours of service making those available to the community. They were involved in the rescue of the books from that building before it was destroyed by fire in 1932. The books were moved to the Watts house where they were open to the public until a formal public library was opened in 1959, at the then fire station building. That move occurred shortly after the death of Rose Watts, who was quoted as saying, “there were four to five thousand books at that time.”

While the other two founders remained a force in the community in providing this public service and their history is better preserved, little was known about Lena Berg. In one handwritten paper describing the donation of pictures of the other two founders it is noted, “Little is known of the third founder of the library, Lena Berg. No picture has been located and no mention of her and/or her family has been found in the archives.”

Upon reading this information a search was made to find more about Lena, but an additional piece was needed to solve the puzzle. Last week the information was located in one of the old books stored in the basement of the library. It is a lovely gold covered book titled, “Sunset Flower Arrangement Book.” This book published in 1942, was presented to the Scappoose Library by Mrs. W. D. Berg in 1950. On the facing page are the words, “Mrs. Lena Berg.” That discovery lead to further research on Lena and documentation of her life was located.

In the 1940 census she is found living in Scappoose with her husband D. W. Burg and her name is indexed as Leona. He is age 72 born in Indiana and she is age 50 born in Minnesota and neither show an occupation. Lena attended elementary school through the 8th grade. They lived in the same house in 1935.

In the 1930 census they are found living in Scappoose on the paved highway. He is listed as W. D. Burg and she is listed as Lena L. Burg. There is a daughter living with them, Ellen A. Burg, age 20, born in Indiana, with parents born in Indiana and Minnesota. Ellen is working as a grade school teacher. Lena’s parents are both shown as born in Norway. She worked as a Doctor in the Chiropractor Industry. Her age at first marriage is 18, so she could be Ellen’s mother.

In the 1920 census William D. Burg is living in Scappoose and is listed as single. He lives on Scappoose Streets next door to the Watts and Price families. William is working as a salesman in a general store, possibly employed at the Price/Watts store.

Nothing has been found for a marriage record for William and Lena. There is a death record for William indicating he died in Columbia County, Oregon on 29 May 1946 and is buried in Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery in Portland. No death or burial information was found for Lena under the last name Burg, but she may have remarried following William’s death.

Additional records of William and Lena are found in the Scappoose Water Rate books at the Scappoose Historical Society. They are listed from 1941 to 1946. This brief summary of Lena Burg’s life is a beginning to knowing more about her. Lena Burg was the third member of the founders of the Scappoose Public Library in 1929. 

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