The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 6
April 5, 2003   Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 The Icelandic Coat of Arms
I know, I know, I know, this has nothing to do with the Emigration
and certainly not with Genealogy. Anyway, I just want to tell you a little bit about the Icelandic Coat of Arms.
The Coat of Arms is a silver cross in a sky-blue field with a fiery red cross in the silver one. There are four shield bearers, Iceland's old guardian spirits mentioned in Heimskringla (A History of the Kings of Norway) by Snorri Sturluson: a bull on the left of the shield, a giant to the right, a bird of prey on the top left and a dragon on the top right. The shield rests on a slab of basalt.
In Heimskringla, Snorri Sturluson wrote about the time that Haraldur Gormsson (also called Haraldur bluetooth, abt 930-abt 985), then King of Denmark, harboured serious intensions of invading Iceland. He recruited a magician to reconoitre, who transformed himself into a whale and swam to Iceland.
First attemted landfall was Vopnafjörđur on the northeast coast, but down from the hills to the sea charged the local dragon, accompanied by serpents and lizards, to repulse the intruder. Similar hostile encounters were experienced elsewhere: a big bird, with a fjord-width wingspan, protected Eyjafjörđur in the north; a snorting, raging bull and assorted spirits guarded Breiđafjörđur in the west; and a giant at Reykjanes in the southwest proved to be the clincher. Needless to say, the shattered scout swam back to Denmark and advised King Harald to lay off.
Read further about King Harald's attempt to invade Iceland in Heimskringla, chapter 36 and 37.

 Íslendingabók - The Book of Icelanders
Many of you may have heard or read about Íslendingabók or The Book of Icelanders. Well, the real one was written about 1100 by Ari Ţorgilsson "the Learned" (1067-1148), a priest and indeed the first Icelandic writer and historian.
The Book of Icelanders consists of many scripts, among them the story of the settlement and what is so very important for us, the genealogy of the settlers and where they came from.
I said "the real one" because recently we got another Íslendingabók. This "book" is a hugh database compiled through many years by a team of 10 to 15 persons, lead by the the well known computer specialist and genealogist Friđrik Skúlason (Frisk). All this was/is done in close cowork with DeCode Genetics, which actually pays for the work.
The compilation of the database was done by "scanning" all available sorces, Census through all years, church records, old manuscripts and not the least the great number of genealogy books published through many years here in Iceland. The database consist of roughly 700.000 names and has been open and accessable on the Net since 18 Jan this year. Open and accessable for those with an Icelandic ID number and you can only see your own family tree and records and in addition to that, all individuals born before the year 1700. But the database is fantastic and a great help for all of us interested in genealogy. And the interest for this hobby is great now here in Iceland. More than 100.000 Icelanders (we are about 285.000) have now got their password to this new Íslendingabók. I believe that Friđrik Skúlason has said that in some months the database will be accessable to descendants of the Icelandic settlers wherever they are. Let's hope so. To show you how informations from Íslendingabók looks like I have generated an ancestral tree for one of my great grandfathers, Pétur Pálmason (1819-1892), farmer in Skagafjörđur. It's possible that you recognize some names in his ancestry. On the same page is an information sheet made for Bishop Jón Arason, the one we mentioned in Newsletter Nr. 2.

Ari "the Learned" is in your family tree! Well, not as your ancestor, because his descendants are not known except for few generations, but Húnbogi Ţorgilsson (1070-1148), who lived at the historical site Skarđ, is strongly believed to be his brother and he is your ancestor.
Want to see how I am related to Húnbogi?

 A Book of interest
Last week I received an interesting book, The Icelanders of Utah. The book gives you the story of the Icelanders who were babtized to the LDS Church and emigrated to Utah. Though the people came from many places in Iceland, a great majority came from The Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), a group of 14 small islands about 12 miles off the southern coast of Iceland, only one of them, Heimaey, is and has been inhabited.
The book tells you about the Land of Fire and Ice and various aspects of life in Iceland, the Emigration to North America with the main emphasis of course on the more than 400 Icelandic Mormons who emigrated to Utah and their biographical sketches. A valuable and indeed an interesting book which is available through The Icelandic Association of Utah, P.O.Box 874, Spanish Fork, Utah 84660, USA. Cost is $15.00 plus shipping.

 INL convention in Edmonton
Icelandic National League was mentioned in the Newsletter Nr 4. This year, Norđurljós (Northern Lights), the Icelandic Society of Edmonton, Canada, one of INL's member chapters, invites "Icelanders from North America and Iceland" to INL's 84th annual convention which will be held May 1-4 2003 in West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton. The convention's "motto" is: "Unity and Communication between the Icelandic Communities". A worthy goal which you can support by beeing a member in one of INL's chapters.
You can read all about the upcomming event on Norđurljós' homepage where you also can enlist online. Take the chance and meet up in Edmonton! I wish I could be there too - but, well - who knows, maybe I see you some other time!

Want to see "Icelandic" Norđurljós?

 The Database
Far to many of you neglect my database. The main purpose with that database is to make it easier for me to connect you to your Icelandic ancestors amongst the settlers in North America. By browsing the database you may even find relatives you didn't know of or lost contact with long time ago. Don't be concerned about my privacy policy. The information asked for are for me and you and not at all too personal I think, such information are actually not asked for and not needed.

Settler of the Week

Kristján R.S. Casper
Kristján's parents were Steingrímur Jóhannsson and Katrín Ţorsteinsdóttir, farmers in Dalasýsla, West Iceland. He emigrated to Canada in 1882 from Reykjavík onboard ss Camoens. For about 20 years he was warking around in Manitoba, N-Dakota and Minnesota. In 1902 he moved west to Blaine, Washington where he lived for the rest of his life. He took the family name Casper which was his grandfather's second name. Kristján's first wife was Kristbjörg Jónasdóttir. She died after a short marriage. Their daughter was Kristín, Frímann K. Sigfússon's first wife, they lived in Blaine and later in Bellingham, Wash. Kristján's second wife was Rósa Magnúsdóttir, born in Dalasýsla 1882. Their children were: Steingrímur, Jósef, Magnús, Kristján Rósmann and Lárus Frímann.

Is Kristján Rósmann Steingrímsson Casper and his family in your family tree?

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Newsletter Nr 1
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A fine US genealogist with devoted passion for the history of Icelandic settlers in North Dakota and their descendants is the List member Arlan Steinolfson. Take a look at his pages:
The Icelanders of Dakota and Thingvalla Township - an Icelandic Settlement
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The pictures in this and previous Newsletters are not mine. They have been taken off the Net and will be removed from here if the right owner claims so.
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