The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 17
August 29, 2003  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 Well, I'm here again :-)
Yes, I'm here again, - are you still there? Well, I know you are and I thank you so much for your patience during my "absence". I really needed that break. I have been unusually lazy these last two months and I'm sorry to say - yes, I must admit - that I have not only neglected the Newsletter, but also too many of the queries I have received regarding your Icelandic forefathers. But on the other hand, I'm astonished by the number of queries I receive all the time, there must be thousands since I launced my website in the summer of 1995. It really is a steady flow. Unfortunately I'm not very organized person, if I were, I would now possess a hugh database with names of descendants of Icelandic settlers all around in North America connected in all directions, but of course mainly to their roots here in Iceland. On top of that I unfortunately(!) have to take care of my regular job so I can only give you my spare time :-)
Anyway, my database is pretty good, one of the best I think, but of course with gaps and holes waiting to be filled with the help of many good people.
So, those of you who have not received any reply to your queries, send me please a reminder and I might find a time to look it over to see if I can do anything about it. Cheers!

 Decollation Day
Decollation or Head Day (Höfuđdagur) is August 29, when the decapitation of John the Baptist is commemorated. Decollation Day features in the oldest sources under its Latin name Decollatio Johannis, while the Icelandic name Head Day apparently dates only from the 15th century.
Many Icelanders closely observed the weather on Head Day over the centuries, as they believed that the weather was likely to undergo a sudden change on this day, after which it would remain unchanged for some time. The first written evidence of this tradition occurs in the mid-17th century. Bishop Ţórđur Ţorláksson at Skálholt (1637-1697), noted on his almanac 15 August 1671: "At the end of this month, Arcturus rises with the sun and causes changes in the weather."
Bishop Ţórđur and his wife
Painting of Ţórđur Ţorláksson
and his wife Guđríđur Gísladóttir
Although the position of Arcturus can hardly be blamed, there is some truth in the belief that climatic changes may be expected around the end of August. Modern meteorology confirms that as the sun sinks in the northern hemisphere, strong westerly winds in the upper atmosphere can affect weather patterns for some weeks.
For Icelandic seamen and farmers, Head Day was an occasion to hope for three weeks of sustained good weather, or to fear the opposite.
Some weather seers preferred September 1, St. Egidius' Day, to Head Day, and various sources mention that the weather at sea on the one hand, and on land, on the other, were predicted on Head Day and St. Egidius' Day, but there was no clear consensus about which day applied to which.
St. Egidius was never one of Iceland's more popular saints, although one church was dedicated to him, and a fragment of a manuscript of the story of St. Egidius has survived in Icelandic.
Ref. (mainly): "High Days and Holidays in Iceland" by Dr. Árni Björnsson, published by Mál og menning 1995.

 Family History Workshop
Our energetic reporter in North Dakota has sent the following interesting information which I think you should read very carefully.

Family History Workshop Scheduled for October 11
Presented by the Heritage Education Commission at Minnesota State University Moorhead, the 23rd annual Family History Workshop, easily the most valuable forum of its type in the upper midwest, will be held from 8 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday, October 11, 2003, at the Comstock Memorial Union at MSUM.
Among the session topics are Beginning Genealogy, Military Resources on the Internet, Collecting & Recording Oral Histories, North Dakota & Cass County Resources, Minnesota & Clay County Resources, Scandinavian Church Records, Citing Sources and Copyright Issues, Using the LDS Family History Center, Using the LDS Computer Resources, Military Resources on the Internet, Successful Family History Interviews, and Photograph and Document Preservation. There are four workshop session of 70 minutes, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, each at six locations on different topics. Many of the more popular and inclusive sessions are offered more than one time, so people can schedule attendance to fit their needs.
In addition to the workshop, there are also a large variety of displays from genealogical and historical societies, local and regional booksellers who specialize in historical and genealogical publications, and other organizations with facilities that assist genealogists.
As for the past many years, the Icelandic community will be represented by Arlan Steinolfson of Fargo, ND. In addition to the normal display items, which include reference materials of many types, will be some of the preliminary results of the Dakota Icelanders Project. New printed material on display will include settlement books for Thingvalla, Gardar, Park, Cavalier, Avon/Advance, Beaulieu, and Park Townships in Pembina County, and other items prepared in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the settlement of the Icelanders in Dakota Territory this year, but not deemed appropriate for display at the annual 2nd of August celebration. Access will also be available to the genealogical database of the Icelandic settlement families in Dakota. Any people with Icelandic ties to Dakota are cordially invited to visit during the day, or, if unable to attend to the workshop, contact him by email at or telephone (701) 281 8824.
As a practising amateur genealogist and historian, Arlan assures that this is easily the most comprehensive, inexpensive method for the new family historian or genealogist to get started on the right track. Even those with considerable experience in the field always learn new and valuable methods and tools to assist them in their research.
Workshop cost is $27, and registration must be received by October 1 to guarantee that the luncheon is included. Registration is accepted at the workshop, but will not include the luncheon. For additional information visit the website at, email, write Heritage Education Commission, Box 82, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, MN 56563, or call (218) 477-2183.

Thanks Arlan, I only wish I could be there :-)

Your Ancestor

This Church at Skálholt was built when Brynjólfur Sveinsson becamne bishop in Skálholt in 1639. The church was replaced by a new one in 1850.

Ţórđur Ţorláksson
became Bishop at Skálholt in 1674 after Bishop Sveinsson who died in 1675. His parents were bishop Ţorlákur Skúlason and Kristín Gísladóttir. Ţórđur was Snuff-boxes John's first cousin, since Ţórđur's mother, Kristín Gísladóttir was sister to
Jón Vigfússon's (Snuff-boxes John) father, Vigfús Gíslason sheriff at Brćđratunga.
Ţórđur's family took the name Thorlacius, which is derived from the name Ţorlákur. Descendants of the Thorlacius family emigrated to North America and descendants of those are even members on this Mail list.

Some of you who have visited Iceland may have been to Skálholt and seen the church which was built in the years 1952 to 1963.

The Distribution

This Newsletter is sent to you and 372 other subscribers by
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Reykjavík, Iceland.

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