The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 22
October 19, 2003  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 A Letter to a Friend
Old letters always catch my eyes and I sure would love to see more of them. It's probably due to my interest for Philately and Postal history.
In 1883 Björn Jónasson (1846-1936) emigrated from Narfastadir in Thingeyjarsýsla, North Iceland, with his wife Guđrún Kristjánsdóttir (1860-1939) and settled down in North Dakota.
Letter from Björn Jónasson in Eyford, N-Dakota
to his friend Sigtryggur Helgason, farmer at
Hallbjarnarstađir in Thingeyjarsysla, North Iceland
I don't know about Björn and Guđrún's life in N-Dakota. Don't know if they had any children, but Björn tells his friend in the letter, which is written June 12th 1887, that they are living next to, or together with Guđrún's father Kristján Jónsson (1831-??) from Thingeyjarsýsla, and his family. Besides Guđrún, Kristján had with his wife Sesselja Sigurđardóttir (1833-1906) six children. Two of them died in childhood, but the others emigrated with their parents. They were: Kristjana Sesselja (1863-1942) married Einar Sigurđsson from Hróarstunga in Múlasýsla, she was his second wife; Jón (1868-1943), farmer in Mountain, Sigurdur (1875-??), also farmer in Mountain, and Sigurdur's twin sister, Anna Gudny (1875-??). It would be intersting to know more about this family.
And now to the letter - or to be more precise - to the cover and some postal history :-) As you can see, the letter is cancelled in EYFORD, Pembina Co. D.T. (Dakota Territory), Jun 16 1887 and sent via Granton, Scotland to Iceland. On back of the cover is a New York postmark 20 Jun. and also a Copenhagen (Denmark) postmark 7 July. On front is a Seyđisfjörđur postmark 25 July. When the letter was received by Sigtryggur Helgason is not known. It could have been in early September.
Pembina was an Icelandic settlement in Dakota Terriroty, U.S. at this time (now in North Dakota). The name Eyford comes from the postmaster Jakob Sigurđsson, who took the name EYFORD, after his home county in Iceland, Eyjafjörđur. In Pembina a postoffice was opened in 1881 and called Conlee, but in the year 1883 Conlee was moved to the postoffice Hallson, which was the name of the county. Unfortunately the two U.S. stamps originally on the cover have been removed.
A bit more about icelandic settlers. Sigtryggur Helgason (the addressee) came from a big family, had nine siblings. One of his brothers, Jakob Helgason (1859-1888), emigrated in 1884 with his wife Kristjana Kristjánsdóttir (1860-1946) and their one year old daughter Kristín Jakobsdóttir (1883-1945) and settled in Argyle, Manitoba. Jakob and Kristín had three other children, Helgi, Kristján and Jakobína. At least Kristín, Kristján and Jakobína have descendants and two of Kristjáns grand-daughters are on this Mail list. Hi Angie and Penny!

 Icelanders in North America
Every now and then I tell you about some book in my bookcase. Recently I got myself the book Icelanders in North America: the first settlers. The book is written in english by the historian Jónas Thor, who studied at the University of Iceland and the University of Manitoba. To give you a small insight of what the book is about, I simply quote the book's back cover:
"Using letters, Icelandic and English perio-dicals and newspapers, census reports, and archival sources, historian Jonas Thor ex-pands the general view of Icelandic immi-gration by describing this mass movement from a continent-wide perspective. He looks in detail not onty at New Iceland, but also at the Icelandic communities in the rest of Canada, and in Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Each of these communities had its own unique character, and all had their own methods of dealing with the vexing questions of assimilation and exclusivity. Jónas Thor provides a vivid portrait of the people and places that set the foundation for the Icelandic experience in North America."
If you do want to get a solid knowledge about the history of your forefathers, this is the book for you. Just click the cover of the book to find where to get it.

 Good idea for a Christmasgift
In my last letter you could see a photo of the now abandoned farm Fagridalur in Vopnafjörđur, East Iceland. Clicking the picture you got a bigger one which gave you a better insight of the surroundings. Wouldn´t it be facinating to have a picture like that, let's say 12"x16" big, hanging on the wall in your home. Visitors to your home may come up with the question during conversation: "Where did your ancestors come from" and you point at the picture and tell: "Here, in this faraway valley" or "On this faraway shore, are my roots".
Mats Wibe Lund
All icelandic homesteads on the Web is Mats Wibe Lund's huge task. His photofiles contains nearly 300.000 photos from Iceland and he is now scanning and building up new website which will contain photos of towns, villages and each and every farm beeing settled the last hundred years.
Looking for your ancestors' former homestead in Iceland, you simply click on the english flag and enter as guest. If you do not find what you are looking for, just drop him a line on and he will scan the particular photo(s) for you. Building up this hughe website takes time and hence not all photos can be scanned and entered on day one.
Mats ask me to send his best greetings looking forward to serve you all.

 Our Family Tree
We are all related, in one way or another, as you know. Therefore we should be able to browse the same Family Tree, and see how we connect to each other. Such a tree would of course grow very slowly and be of immence dimension. Anyway, such a tree is already budding and if you want to be in that tree or at least be able to find your nearest ancestors in it, just let me know.
I think you should browse the tree a bit, find the names Ingólfur Arnarson (the first settler of Iceland), Snorri Sturluson the great historian and Jón Vigfússon (Snuff-Boxes' John) and browse their descendants.

Search our Family Tree :

First name Surname
Copy either a first name or a surname of these guys to the name field of the form and click the GO button.

Our Ancestor

Our Ancestor? Who is that guy?

Well, allow me to present -

King Sancho I of Portugal

Yes he is our ancestor.
His daughter, Dona Berengária (1195-1221) became the queen of Denmark in 1214 when she married King Valdemar II (1170-1241). Their son, Eric (1216-1250), became king of Denmark after his father, he married Judidt, daughter of Albert I, duke of Saxonia (in Germany). Eric was imprisoned and beheaded in 1250. His and Judidt's daughter, Ingeborg (abt 1244-1287) married Magnus Hakonarson king of Norway (direct line to Harald the fairhair (abt 870-933), the first king of the whole of Norway). Their son was Hákon "háleggur" Magnusson, king of Norway, his daughter was Agnes, married to Hafthor Jonsson, Knight in Norway, - well, I shouldn't be writing this all down here. You find it all in Our Family Tree. Just go there and type in one of the names here and you'll see it all. Well, most of it.

The Distribution

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Reykjavík, Iceland.

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