The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 37
April 19 2004  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 More than a year ....
More than a year has now passed since I published my first (almost) Weekly Newsletter. It was 28th of February 2003 and since then the number of subscribers have reach to 500. Not bad.
I have been thinking about this "weekly" in the header. Maybe I should drop it since I managed only with 36 numbers this first year and it's obvious already that the numbers this year may be even fewer. Well, I'll keep it at least for the next future.
Anyway, there are so many of you that have been with me from the first number, even for many years prior to that, which I'm so greatful for. And I'm of course greatful to any new subscriber whenever he/she joins the list.
This number should have left the "press" almost a month ago, but as so often, "unnecessary" things (full time job etc.) mess up all my intentions. What is good with such a delay is that so many of you write to ask if I'm still around. And, - yes, that makes me feel good. So there will be more delays in the future :-)
Thoug I must tell that a part of the delay is because a lot of time has been spent on a project which I find very interesting, a searchable database on the Icelandic settlers and their families. In fact I was hoping to be able to show you how it looks right now, but it may take some more time. Programmers sure know their prices so therefore I have to learn as much as possible myself :-)

 Vilhjálmur Stefánsson
I'm sure that most of you know the name of Vilhjálmur Stefánsson, the world famous artic explorer. His parents were Jóhann Stefánsson (11 Jan 1830-31 Dec 1891) and Ingibjörg Jóhannes- dóttir (1 Sep 1842-29 Jan 1925) who emigrated in 1876 from Eyjafjarđarsýsla county in North Iceland.
A great deal has been written about Vilhjálmur Stefánsson and his adventures in the Artic regions and a lot of it can be read from the Net. He has been admired by many but also got a great deal of criticism.
Vilhjálmur Stefánsson had six siblings. One brother died as a small child but when his parents emigrated, these were their children: Inga, Jóhannes, Stefanía Rósa and Lárus. In N-Dakota they had the daughter Sigurrós, b. 1876 and Vilhjálmur was born 3 Nov 1879 in New Iceland, Manitoba.
I'm sure that many of you know these families, many are related and it would be interesting to hear from those or know more about Vilhjálmur's siblings and their descendants.
My wife's grandfather and Vilhjálmur were third cousins :-)

 The peaceful invasion
A long time ago (Newsletter #21) I told you about my intention to - as I called it - peacefully invade N-America this coming summer. The time goes and in these days I don't count the months to the day of departure from Iceland, now I count weeks. The trip will be arranged by the Icelandic National League in Iceland and the group (about 30 persons) will be guided by the historian Jónas Thor (Remember his book: Icelanders in North America - The first settlers ?)
The agenda is as follows:
11 June: A flight to Minneapolis.
12 June: We take a look at Wisconsin. Among other things, Stephan G. Stephenson's settlement will be visited.
13 June: A visit to Washington Island. To lunch we will have "fishboil" - what's that?
14 June: A long bus drive, from Green Bay to Duluth, Minnesota.
15 June: To Grand Forks, N-Dakota, through the city (village?) of Fisher (Fisher's landing). Have been told that the settlers on their way north to Winnipeg took the ferry or boat there.
16 June: The Icelandic settlements in N-Dakota visited. Hope to see some of my correspondents through the years. To Winnipeg in the evening where we will stay at Delta Winnipeg for the next four nights.
17 June: The Icelandic National day. The University library, Jón Sigurđsson's statue, reception in the afternoon.
18 June: Touring New Iceland. Gimli, Riverton, Heckla Island.
19 June: Whatever in Winnipeg!! Free at last :-)
20 June: A long bus drive, all the way from Winnipeg to Montevideo, ups! - ok, Montevideo in Minnesota.
21 June: The first Icelandic settler in SW Minnesota was Gunnlaugur Petursson from Hakonarstadir on Jökuldalur in Múlasýsla North, East Iceland. He came here in 1875. We will see if there is anything left from his settlement and take a look at the countryside.
22 June: Minneapolis. The Mall?
23 June: The group returns to Iceland. But not me. I have still a week for an adventure. I'll tell you about it in my next letter.

 Can you help?
Long time ago I received from one of my numerous correspondants through the years, the following quotation from the newspaper Kamloops Inland Sentinel, Kamloops, B.C.:
"Mr. R. Samuelson, an Icelander, fell off the Revelstoke railway bridge, 30 March, 1892 and drowned. He was aged 30 years. He was a member of Mr. J. Foley's C.P.R. section gang. His body was not received from the river."
May 28th 1892 the paper informs that "His body was found in the river 25 miles from Revelstone."

It would be interesting to know who this man was. Any idea?

 Not of Icelandic origin!
I'm lucky to be on G. Stephenson's undisclosed list and occasionally I receive both interesting and funny messages. I'm sure he doesn't mind me repeting a resent one. The headline is mine :-)

The only cow in a small town in Alberta stopped giving milk. The people did some research and found they could buy a cow up in Manitoba for $200.00.
They bought the cow from Manitoba and the cow was wonderful. It produced lots of milk all of the time, and the people were pleased and very happy. They decided to acquire a bull to mate with the cow and produce more cows like it. They would never have to worry about their milk supply again.
They bought a bull and put it in the pasture with their beloved cow. However, whenever the bull came close to the cow, the cow would move away. No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull and he could not succeed in his quest. The people were very upset and decided to ask the Vet, who was very wise, what to do. They told the Vet what was happening.
"Whenever the bull approaches our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she backs off. An approach from the side and she walks away to the other side."
The Vet thinks about this for a minute and asked, "Did you buy this cow in Manitoba?"
The people were dumbfounded, since they had never mentioned where they bought the cow. "You are truly a wise Vet," they said. "How did you know we got the cow in Manitoba?"
The Vet replied with a distant look in his eye, "My wife is from Manitoba".

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Settler of the Week
Metúsalem Vigfússon and Borghildur Sigmundsdottir

Metúsalem was born 20 June 1855 at the farm Háreksstadir in Vopnafjordur, Múlasýsla north, son of Vigfús Pétursson (1830-1872) and Anna Sigríđur Jónsdóttir (1832-1865). At the age of 10 Metúsalem lost his mother and shortly after, or at the age of 15 he was already working as a farmer's hand, never to see his father again. In 1876 Vigfús emigrated to Canada, along with Árni Thorkelsson Scheving's family who settled in New Iceland. For a year or two he worked at various places to earn money enough to pay the loan he took from Árni for the trip to Canada. About 1888 Vigfús followed in Árni's footstep and moved to N-Dakota and a year later he married Borghildur Sigmundsdottir Long.

Borghildur was born 1872, daughter to Sigmundur Matthíasson Long (1841-1924) and Guđrún Einarsdóttir (1841-1880). In 1896 Metúsalem and Borghildur moved to Roseau, Minnesota, where Metúsalem, among other jobs became postmaster. Eleven years later the family moved to Blaine, Wash. From there the family moved to Yakima, Wash. where they lived for the rest of their live. Metúsalem and Borghildur had eight children: Anna Sigrún Foss, Lovisa Vilborg Womack, Vilhelmína Friđrika, Vigfús Pétur, Páll Vilhjálmur, Guđmundur Kristinn, Stillborn, Haraldur Björgvin.

If anyone know about this family it would be interesting to know more about the descendants.

If anyone has better pictures ....

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