The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 15
June 21, 2003  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival
From our correspondent in N-Dakota, Arlan Steinolfson, comes the following:
Hi Hálfdan, Don’t know how many subscribers you have in Dakota, Minnesota, and Manitoba (likely in the thousands) - (hey, Arlan, NO jokes about the number of my subscribers, it's not the quantity, it's the quality that matters! Anyway we are 322 right now! HH) but one or two may wish to know that there is a genealogy section at the annual Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival a few days down the road (27 through 29 Jun). This is the second year they have had a genealogy area set aside. They have one representative from each of the Nordic groups to answer questions and such and I will again be the Icelander. Note this is only on Friday and Saturday (unless they change the schedule). Note also that this festival is also considered the most authentic of all such types of festivals (both by such groups as the ABA (American Bus Association) and from private talks with many, many attendees and participants). I have taken part in the festival since I returned to Dakota and can assure that it is popular. Plus, the only place you can get authentic Icelandic food anymore.

Well Arlan, I think it would be really interesting to be able to attend! (HH)

 Women's Rights Day in Iceland
Icelandic women were among the first in the world to gain the vote, on June 19,1915. Women had been able to vote in local and parish elections since 1881, and in 1902 they became eligible for office in these bodies. The extension of the franchise to women was approved by Parliament in 1911, but was twice denied royal assent before finally being approved in 1915.
An Icelandic official, Klemenz Jónsson, was in Copenhagen on government business at the time. According to a tradition in his family, he arranged to have the document signed by the King on June 19, which was the birthday of his daughter, Anna Klemenzdóttir.
The Women's Rights Association, together with many women's societies in Reykjavík, arranged a celebration of this momentous step forward on July 7 that year.
Thousands of women in their finest clothes (probably most of them in the traditional Peysuföt) paraded through the streets of Reykjavík with a marching band to Parliament House, where a delegation of ladies was admitted to address the assembly, and was greeted with four cheers from the men of Parliament. Enfranchisement of women did not bring any immediate revolution on the political scene, but the first woman member was elected to Alţingi (parliament) in 1922.
Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason
Ingibjörg H. Bjarnason
the first woman to be
elected to the
Icelandic Parlament
June 19 was marked by the Women's Rights Association as a special festival each year from 1916. At this period, the Women's Rights Association was vigorously campaigning to raise money for a National Hospital, and June 19 was an occasion for fund-raising for this purpose. Thus the day was sometimes called Landspítalasjóđsdagurinn (National Hospital Fund Day) as an alternative to Women's Rights Day. In 1930, the National Hospital became a reality, and Women's Rights Day gradually lost prominence, for a time.
The Women's Rights Association's annual publication, 19. júní (June 19), was published each year from 1917 to 1929. Re-launched in 1951, it has appeared every year since.
The modern feminist movement, which developed in the 1970s and 80s, was disconnected from the old Women's Rights Association and more closely associated with radical politics. Women's groups upheld the importance of May 1 (Workers' Day) and of March 8, International Women's Day, rather than the specifically Icelandic Women's Rights Day. But in recent years, June 19 has been reestablished as an occasion for women's celebrations, and for debate on feminist issues.
Ref.: "High Days and Holidays in Iceland" by Dr. Árni Björnsson, published by Mál og menning 1995.

 Icelandic Place Names in North America
In Newsletter #13 I urged you to take part in the search for Icelandic Place names in North America and the following is the first respond on this interesting subject.

Brian Gudmundson writes:
Komdu Sćll Hálfdan,
In your newsletter #13, you asked about "towns like Árborg, Manitoba (who gave the town that name, and why Árborg?)."
The history is well documented in the book, "A Century Unfolds: History of Arborg and District - 1889 - 1987". This book [published in 1987] was researched and compiled by the Arborg Historical Society, Arborg, Manitoba, Canada. The first chapter of the book. entitled "Early Settlement" [of Arborg] (pages 10 - 19) describes the origin of the community.
Pétur Stefán Guđmundsson, my great grandfather, was one of the small number of Icelanders who relocated from the Mountain - Garđar area of Northeast North Dakota in 1901. These families all sought better farmland than they had found in North Dakota. Pétur named his farm, "Árdal" [River Valley] since the land was on the edge of the river [formerly White Mud River, which was changed to the Icelandic River]. Pétur served as the postmaster from 1902 to 1910 at Árdal until the town was established. The railway connection to the town was created in 1910 and the town was created. In 1910 it was decided to change the name to Árborg, [River City, HH] which seemed a better "fit" for a town.

Ruth Ann Larson informs about the name Árbakki, located in South-east of Manitoba, near Vita (what is Vita?)in Piney or Big Piney Icelandic settlement in Canada. The name appears on Postcards held in Ruth-Ann's family, written at Árbakka in 1908. "Árbakki" [River Bank] does appear on list of Canadian placenames. (is that name still in use? HH)

Judy Cooper tells about Tindastoll Creek, which is in central Alberta - south and west of Red Deer in Markerville, Alberta, Canada. This creek that flows into the Medicine River is named for the mountain Tindastóll in Skagafjarđarsýsla, North Iceland. Many Icelanders settled in this area and established themselves as efficient farmers, raising dairy cattle and sheep as well as growing crops. The Icelandic poet Stephan G. Stephansson lived in this area. His house is now an historic site - painted in his original colors of baby pink and lime green!

Erling Davidson informs about Peters Icelandic Lutheran Church in Svold, Pembina, N-Dakota, US. It's located North of Mountain, on the still gravel roads north of Hwy 5. [well, tell me about this Peter :-) HH]

Thank you Brian, Ruth Ann, Judy Cooper and Erling. I find this very interesting and hope that many more will be sending information regarding Icelandic Place names in N-America.

Settler of the Week

Kristjana Margrét Guđmundsdóttir

Kristjana Margrét Guđmundsdóttir
in the traditional Icelandic womens' costume, peysuföt.

Kristjana Margrét Guđmundsdóttir was born 29 Oct 1863. Her parents were Guđmundur Einarsson and Guđrún Klemensdóttir farmers in Húnavatnssýsla, North Iceland. Guđmundur Einarsson died in 1866 and few years later Guđrún Klemensdóttir emigrated to Canada with her two children, Kristjana Margrét and Klemens Jónas, probably in 1874 together with her brother-in-law Magnús Brynjólfsson and his family. Kristjana Margrét married Henry C. Howard and Klemens Jónas married Ósk Ingibjörg Jónsdóttir. They lived in Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada.

The Distribution

This Newsletter is sent to you and 321 other subscribers by
Hálfdan Helgason
Reykjavík, Iceland.

Next number:
Not quite sure
but it comes indeed.

Previous numbers
to read:
Index to the Newsletters

The Forum

Remember the Forum!
The Password is: cyber.
Be a frequent visitor!

Send me your comment on this number.
Send me "your" Settler of the Week, with picture, please!
Tell me also what you would like to see in future numbers of the Newsletter.

Some pictures in my Newsletters are not mine. They have been taken off the Net or from other sources and will be removed from here if the right owner claims so.
 You are obliged to visit my Emigration from Iceland to North America :-)