Last weekend we drove up to Akureyri to visit my wife's sisters, their families and her elderly mother. Akureyri is my wife's "hometown", beautifully situated in the county of Eyjafjörður, Northern Iceland. The population is about 16.000 in this thriving town,
a popular tourist goal with easy access to many interesting places, such as the Lake Myvatn
region with it's unusually rich birdlife, the Dettifoss
waterfall, the largest one in Europe, the village of Húsavík
, my old home town, more and more popular for the Whale watching boats going from there, the river Laxá
, one of the most popular and most expensive(!) salmon river in Iceland and I could ramble on and on. Don't miss Akureyri
next time you visit Iceland.
The trip to Akureyri from Reykjavík (where we live) takes about 4 to 4½ an hour by car and at the same time you drive and admire the landscape (we had unusually beautiful weather), your thoughts goes back more than 100 years when people left the countryside and flocked to the New World to start a new life. We drive through the county of Borgarfjarðarsýsla from where 299 people emigrated according to the Emigration records. Many of the farms from that time have vanished, others have not. On our way up north we pass the farm Leirá. In 1888 Gunnar Árnason emigrated from there with his wife Guðrún Einarsdóttir. What happened to them? Are they the couple that settled down in Sheverville, Indiana? Unusual destination at that time. Anybody related? A bit from the "highway", near the coast, is the farm Melar. In 1886 Siggeir Þórðarson (Thordarson) emigrated from there with his wife Anna Stefánsdóttir and their four children, Kolbeinn, Ólafur, Lárus and Stefán.
Well, in about 2 hours we are in Húnavatnssýsla county and just before we take a rest at "Stadarskáli"
, a small restaurant by the road, to have some coffee, we pass the abandoned farm Foss, from where Finnbogi Finnbogason and his wife Agnes Jónatansdóttir emigrated in 1883. We are up in Northern Iceland now and though the sun is shining from clear blue sky, we feel the chilly wind from north, from the Artic ocean. It's always windy in Hrútafjörður :-) Emigrants from Húnavatnssýsla were 1361 (Emigration records)and we think of them as we drive from "Staðarskáli". On the other side of the narrow fjord is Strandasýsla county and we see Borðeyri
, the emigration port, where many people from Húnavatnssýsla and nearby counties, Dalasýsla and Strandasýsla, others also, made their last footprints in Iceland. We see also across the fjord the farms Fagrabrekka and Kjörseyri, many emigrated from there, Oddur Jónsson and Ingveldur Samúelsdóttir, their sons Jón and Samúel and many others.
People emigrated from more than 260 farms in Húnavatnssýsla county and as we rush our way I mention only a handful we see: Vatnshorn (Þorsteinn Þorsteinsson and Sigríður Bjarnadóttir emigrated in 1888), Vatnsendi (Jason Þórðarson and Anna Jóhannesdóttir and four children in 1874, they eventually settled in North Dakota), Hnausar (Björn Stefán Jósefsson and Margrét Stefánsdóttir and their children in 1883) and as we leave Húnavatnssýsla we look into the Svartárdalur (Black river valley) to see the farm Skeggstaðir. Brynjólfur Brynjólfsson
and Þórunn Ólafsdóttir
and their many children emigrated from there in 1874 to eventually settle in N-Dakota.
And then we are in Skagafjörur county. Hey! what a sight! My father, now 92, grew up here and he is positive on one thing: this is the center of the universe, and at least in such a nice weather, I agree! Nevertheless, people emigrated from here. Not less than 1422. We are eager to get to Akureyri so we rush on and leaving Skagafjörður county we see Flatatunga not far from the road, eleven people emigrated from there in 1883, Jón Gíslason and Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir with many children and others. We climb the low mountains and on the other side is Eyjafjörður county. At least 1024 emigrated from this beautiful area. We pass the farm Bægisá, Gamalíel Þorleifsson and Katrín Tómasdóttir emigrated from there in 1891 and many others. Now we approach Akureyri and cannot dwell any more in the past.