The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 21
October 12, 2003  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 From the early past
Many on this list are History minded and repeditly I receive questions about the early past in Icelandic history. How we Icelanders, and consequently the descendants of the Icelandic settlers in N-America, connect to the old ages. When did people come to Iceland, from where and who were they?
Ingólfur Arnarson
the first settler in Iceland
Statue by Einar Jónsson

Various things seem to show that navigators were acquainted with Iceland and its situation with regard to neighboring countries as early as the fourth century before the birth of Christ (according early Greek historians) or even earlier, but permanent human habitation is not known to have been in the island until about 800 A.D., when some Irish hermits made their temporary homes there in a few places. Little is, however, known about these first settlers. Old writers have it that these Irish anchorites left the country when heathen colonization began, for they would have no intercourse with the pagans.
Ingólfur Arnarson, from western Norway, arrived in Iceland with his attendants 874 A. D., intending to settle here permanently. He built his home where Reykjavík now stands, the capital of Iceland. That is the beginning of the colonization period which ends in 930. It has been estimated that 10 to 20 thousand people came to Iceland in this period. The settlement of the country is recorded in a book called the Landnámabók or Book of Settlement, compiled in the 12th and 13th centuries, where some 400 of the principal settlers are enumerated, their settlements described as well as their origin, the districts mentioned from which they came and the families descended from them. Many of these settlers, who were of noble birth, came from Norway, Ireland, Scotland, The Hebrides, Shetland and the Orkney Islands, but as regards their nationality many points are still obscure. Many of them seem to have belonged to an upper class who for some time ruled ín these regions, but the old writers tell us that many of them were driven from their native country by the tyrannical rule of Haraldur the Fair-haired, who was the first absolute King of Norway.
As mentioned, The Book of Settlement gives interesting information regarding the settlers' genealogy which makes it possible to link them to modern time.
To the right you can see how the first settler in Iceland connects to the historian Snorri Sturluson. Many of you will find him in your Ancestry tree. Let me know if you do. Or don't.

 The die is cast
You may remember from the history books back in school, about the Emperor Julius Cesar when he rebelled against the Senate of Rome.
On January 7, 49 BC, the Senate demanded Julius Caesar to hand over his ten well-trained legions to a new governor. Caesar heard the news out in the provinces, and knew that he had to make a choice between prosecution and rebellion. Preferring the dignity of war over the humiliation of a process, Caesar chose to rebel, quoting his favorite poet Menander, "the die is cast". On January 10 or 11, his army advanced to Rimini, where Caesar could control the passes across the Apennines: in doing so,
Oh No, no! This is Caesar!
he crossed the river Rubico, thereby invading Italy and provoking the Second Civil War. We all know how that ended.
I'm not quite in the same position as the becoming emperor was in his time :-)
Anyway, I quoted him and said: "the die is cast" when I took the descicion, the other day, to cross the Atlantic and peacefully invade North America next summer. I know that by doing it peacefully I will not be remembered in history like Cesar but I have decided to live with that. The trip will be arranged by the Icelandic National League in Iceland. It's always best to make decisions in good time if possible and I'm already looking forward to the trip. I like the people "over there". At least the great number of good people who have corresponded with me, some for many years, and I hope I will be lucky enough to see at least few of them face to face, somewhere on my road, during some 10 days or so in June, from Minneapolis, through Washington Island, Shawano County, North Dakota, Winnipeg, Gimli, Árborg(?), north to Icelandic River (Riverton) and Hecla Island. And from there back through Lyon County to Minneapolis from where I'll fly back to Iceland.

 You told me what you do
One of the headlines in my Newsletter #20 was: Tell me what you do. The readers were given four different questions regarding their reaction when the message of a new Newsletter appeared on their screen. Well, this morning, 85 of the list members had during the last week, replied to one of the four questions raised. 85 out of 380 members. That's about 22%.
What the nearly 80% did is of course not easy to say. Maybe I should put up a vote casting on that :-)

The first Settler's descendants

Ingólfur Arnarson
Snorri Sturluson

Ingólfur Arnarson
Ţorsteinn Ingólfsson
Ţorkell "máni" Ţorsteinsson
Ţorsteinn "gođi" Ţorkelsson
Bjarni "spaki" Ţorsteinsson
Skeggi Bjarnason
Markús Skeggjason
Valgerđur Markúsdóttir
Böđvar Ţórđarson
Guđný Böđvarsdóttir
Snorri Sturluson

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