The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 33
January 25 2004  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 Faith and religion
Most of the settlers who came to Iceland were heathens of the Asa-faith also known as Heithni or Heiđni as it is written in Icelandic. The heathen gods
Odin (at left) wise-bearded and one-eyed. Thor (at right), the most important of the Norse gods, with his hammer Mjollnir.
were usually strong and mighty. The highest one was the one eyed Odin (Óđinn), to him the wisdom and magick are all-important. Odin sacrificed an eye to obtain wisdom, hanged himself in a tree for nine days to learn the magical use of runes and become the wisest of all. With Earth - yes, the Earth, he had the son Thor (Ţór), the mightiest one amongst the gods. Thor, the Thunderer, controlled weather during the brief growing season, hence he was the most important of the Norse gods. He holds his hammer Mjollnir, which created lightening and thunder. Thor gave his name to Thursday.
When Christianity began to spread in Norway towards the close of the l0th century, several attempts were made at Christianizing Iceland, but for various reasons they met with little success, the fact was that the organization of the state was in form based on these heathen customs and practices and had in reality grown up round the pagan temples, under the influence of their priests or gođar (sing. gođi). It was clear that this organization would break up, if a new religion was adopted by a part of the population who would then be divided into two camps, one heathen, the other Christian, fighting for the supremacy of the country. In the year 1000 this struggle ended in such a way, that the population agreed to follow the advice and decision of the lawspeaker Thorgeir Ljósvetningagođi, that Christianity should henceforward be the official religion in Iceland. Behind this unique arrangement when a whole nation changes its religious faith by a simple decree, looms the fear of the disruption of the state caused by conflicting systems of faith and of the Christian Kings of Norway's interferenee in Icelandic affairs, who always desired to get Iceland under their sway.
It would be rather far-fetched to trace our ancestry back to the heathen gods, although some may find it amusing to do so. In the year 1056 the first Icelandic bishop, Ísleifur Gissurarson was consecrated. After the cecemony which was accomplished in Bremen, Germany, Ísleifur Gissurarson went to Rome to have the Pope's blessing. After Ísleifur, his son Gissur became bishop in Skálholt. Among other things he played the cards well for the church by introducing a tithe; every landowner should pay 1% tax to the church. Thath was the beginning of the church's evergrowing wealth until the last catholic bishop Jón Arason, was beheaded in Skálholt in 1550 and the Reformation was forced by the Danish crown upon the Icelandic population. After that the church's wealth was more or less seized upon by the Danish kings.
These first Icelandic bishops are indeed our forefathers. For example, Ísleifur Gissurarson is my 29th grandfather :-)
As I know that many of you trace their ancestry to Jón Arason (1484-1550) I show you in this page's right column the connection between the first and the last catholic bishops in Iceland.

 Otto Icelandic Cemetery
Judy in Lundar, Manitoba, sent the picture below, a frame with some Icelandic names from Otto Church Cemetery. Icelandic Pioneers interred in the cemetery 1890-1953. It's interesting to see if we recognize these names.

What do we know about these people?
Well, you have to help me, but it seems to me that they are in many cases related to each others.
In the left column we find these names:
1) Jörundur Guđbrandsson, born 1820, from Hólmlátur on Skógarströnd, Snćfellsnessýsla, West Iceland. Died in Otto, Manitoba 1894. His wife was Herdís Guđbrandsdóttir (1822-1887). They had many children. Their daughter was Kristjana Jörundsdóttir, she married Daníel Sigurdsson (1845-1940) and had many children. One of their sons was Ţórđur (Thord) Kristján Daníelsson, farmer and carpenter in the Shoal Lake district.
2) Víglundur T. Daníelsson (1903-??), son to Ţórđur (Thord) Kristján Daníelsson and Kristjana Sigrídur Jörundson.
3) Jón Hannesson (1841-1913) emigrated from Skagafjörđur in 1883 and was in Seaforth, Ontario, until 1886 and in Winnipeg 1886-1891 when he homesteaded in Shoal Lake settlement in Manitoba. He was amongst the first Icelandic settlers there.
4) Ósk Hannesson is Jón Hannesson´s wife Ósk Ţorleifsdóttir (1844-1897), their children were Thorleifur, Málfridur, married Finnbogi Thorgilsson, Bjarnrún and Sigridur.
5) Ragnhildur Snidal, or Ragnhildur Einarsdóttir was born 1862. Her parents were Einar Jónsson and Sigurbjörg Ólafsdóttir, they farmed at Pétursborg in Seydisfjordur, East Iceland. Ragnhildur was wife to Nikulás Thorarinsson who 23 yrs old emigrated from the east of Iceland in 1883 with his mother Jóhanna Nikulásdóttir. He took the name Snćdal which altered to Snidal. Ragnhildur was Thorarin's first wife and together they had six children: Daughter who died young, Johann, married Nybjorg Jonasdottir Halldorsson at Oak Point, Man., Thordur Wilfred, Valdimar Stanley, Fridthjofur Edward, married Kristjana Fjeldsted at Steep Rock, and Ragnhildur, married Elmer Nelson in Duluth, Minn. Nikulás' second wife was Kristín Erlendsdóttir (1865-1942).
6) Jóhanna Snidal, or Jóhanna Nikulásdóttir was born 1832. She died 1897.
7) Ţórarinn Snidal is most likely Ţórarinn Sigbjörnsson, born 1881. His parents were Steinunn Ţórarinsdóttir, Nikulás Snidal's sister and Sigbjörn Eyjólfsson. They emigrated in 1882. Sigbjörn must have died soon after because in 1883 Steinunn married Andres Jónsson Skagfeld (1855-1938) who in 1883 had lost his first wife, Kristín Ingveldur Jónsdóttir (1854-1883), just months after their emigration.
8) Ţorlákur Eiríksson.
9) Katrín Eiríksson.
10) Einar Eiríksson.
11) Kristín Guđmundsson.
12) Jón Guđmundsson.

In the right column we find these names:
1) Jón Jónatansson (1835-1897) emigrated in 1886 from Thingeyjasysla, North Iceland with his wife and two children.
2) Guđrún Sveinungadóttir (1833-1927), Jón Jónatansson's wife. Their children were: Guđleif, married Ísleifur Johnson, Sigridur, married Ögmundur Bildfell in Winnipeg, Björg Thorkelson, the first Icelandic teacher in Canada.
3) Jónatan Jónsson, emigrated from Iceland in 1886 with his parents Jón Jónatansson and Guđrún Sveinungadóttir.
4) Björg J. Thorkelsson, daughter to Jón Jónatansson and Guđrún Sveinungadóttir.
5) Ísleifur Johnson (Ísleifur Guđjónsson, 1857-1941), emigrated 1883 from Sandfellshagi in North Iceland.
6) Guđleif Johnson (Guđleif Jónsdóttir), born 1864, emigrated in 1883, daughter to Jón Jónatansson and Guđrún Sveinungadóttir. Ísleifur Johnson's wife. Their children: Hermann, married Valgerdur Skagfeld, Kristrún, married Steini Skagfeld in Oak Point, Sigurbjörg, a school teacher, Jónatan, married Aurora Hordal in Salsona, B.C., Unnur Sigurlaug, married Hjortur Josephson in Winnipeg.
7) Kristín Bjarnadóttir, Ísleifur Johnson's mother. Emigrated with Ísleifur.
8) Sigurbjörg Ísleifsdóttir, daughter to Ísleifur and Guđleif Johnson.
9) Thorsteinn Hördal (Ţorsteinn Jónsson 1840-1911) emigrated in 1876 from Hóll in Hördudalur, Dalasysla county. Took the name Hördal.
10) Ragnhildur Hördal (Ragnhildur Jónsdóttir 1836-??), Thorsteinn Hördal's wife. Their children: Björn, married Sigridur Halldorson, Lundar, Ingibjorg, married Bjorn Magnusson, Keewatin, Ont., Thora, married Mr. Kellogg, Nelson, B.C.
11) Kristín Einarsson ??
12) Anna Kristmannsson, (1893-1910). Emigrated in 1903 with her parents Fridrik Ágúst Kristmannsson (1871-1950) and Elín Jónasdóttir (1872-??). Her siblings were: Jóhanna Sesselja, did not emigrate, Hjörtur Rósmann in Prince Rupert, B.C., Snćbjörn Skarphédinn in Prince Rupert, B.C., Valdimar Daníel, in Prince Rupert, B.C., Jónas Júlíus in Vancouver.

If you recognize these names, please let me know.
Our Ancestors

Ísleifur Gissurarson
The first Icelandic bishop
Teitur "mikilláti" Ísleifsson
Priest in Haukadalur. Head of the powerful kin of Haukadalur.
Hallur Teitsson
Priest in Haukadalur. Supposed to be a bishop but died in Holland on his way from the Pope in Rome.
Gissur Hallsson
A lawsayer at the Althing and a priest in Haukadalur.
Ţuríđur Gissurardóttir
Wife to Tumi Kolbeinsson, Godi at Ás.
Halldóra Tumadóttir
Wife to Sighvatur Sturluson, Chief at Grund in Eyjafjördur. Snorri Sturluson's brother. Was killed in the battle at Örlygsstađir.
Sturla Sighvatsson
Godi at Saudafell, Chief at Grund. Was killed in the battle at Örlygsstađir.
Ţuríđur Sturludóttir
Wife to Hrafn Oddsson, Godi and a Governor of the whole country.
Jón "korpur" Hrafnsson
His nickname "korpur" means Raven. In his sigillum the sign was a Raven.
Hrafn Jónsson
A great Chief in Glaumbćr in Skagafjörđur.
Steindór Oddnýjarson
Not much known about him :-)
Oddný Steindórsdóttir
Nicknamed Oddný "skyrkerling" :-)
Elín Oddnýardóttir
Not much known about her :-)
Ţóra "brók" Ísleifsdóttir
Not much known about her :-)
Elín "bláhosa" Magnúsdóttir
Her husband was Ari Jónsson, farmer at Laugaland and Grýta. They were very poor.
Jón Arason
Bishop at Hólar. The last Catholic bishop, beheaded in Skálholt 7 Nov. 1550.

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