The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 3
March 15, 2003   Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 Cyber community
Ain't this great? We are already more than 100 - one hundred! And still going strong - I hope :)
I take it for granted that you have joined the list because of your ties to Iceland in one way or another. All together, we are already a small icelandic community on the Web. Well, I know, 97% of the list members are non-icelandic, but you show so much interest for your icelandic roots and heritage that I allow myself to call this group an Icelandic Cyber community. Or would you rather accept the IceCanAm Cyber community? :) :)
Anyway, community or not, we can do alot together. We can for instance make some kind of a database including all the List members, with the names of your icelandic ancestors who settled in N-America.
Doing that we can also see where they came from in Iceland and where your interest lies. We can include what we are searching for, we can raise questions and give answers . . . . hey! you can all together charter a plane for a trip to Iceland, that would be a nice group! What a fun for us that would be, and a big stuff for the Icelandic Media :)
Well, let me hear what you think and give me some bright ideas.
P.s. Please give your "icelandic" friends a hint about this Newsletter through "Tell A Friend".
 Your Ancestor
One of your Mediaval Ages' ancestor was Jón Loftsson (1124-1197), a lawman and the most powerfull chief in Iceland in his time, living at Oddi, the noted seat of learning in the Rangárvalla County in South Iceland. Jón Loftsson fostered the great historiographer Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) and may have inspired Snorri to write Heimskringla, the story of the Norwegian kings because Jón Loftsson is our key to the Royal fame and families in Norway. His mother was Ţóra Magnúsdóttir, an illegitime daughter to king Magnús Ólafsson of Norway (Magnus the barefoot). Well, who were not illegitime at that time :)
Jón's father, a priest and a powerful man with the name Loftur Sćmundsson (1090-1163), married Ţóra in Norway. In spite of the two gentlemen's nobility, Loftur's father and Jón's grandfather is probably the best known of them. His name was Sćmundur Sigfússon (1056-1133), called Sćmundur fróđi (Sćmundur the Learned), a priest and a historical personage, who had learned in France, in some mysterious school called the Black School (actually the school of Sorbonne). He was so wise and clever that people thought he mastered some supernatural powers. Many stories have been told through the centuries, and are still today, of his dealing with the Devil himself where he alway came better off.
The church at Oddi
When Sćmundur and two other icelandic students were about to leave that spooky school, the Black School, where the headmaster was believed to be Old Nick himself, the benefice of Oddi was vacant, and they all applied to the Danish king for it. The king knew full well with whom he was dealing and told them that whoever could get there first would have Oddi.
Sćmundur immediately went to summon Old Nick, saying, "Swim with me on your back out to Iceland, and if you can get me ashore without wetting my coattails, my soul is yours."
Old Nick agreed to this, quickly changed into a seal, and set off with Sćmundur on his back. On the way, Sćmundur continuously read in his Psalter. In a short time they were close to land in Iceland. Then Sćmundur struck the seal over the head with the Psalter so the creature sank; Sćmundur was temporarily submerged but swam ashore.
And that's how the Devil lost his bargain and Sćmundur got the Oddi.
This is how the story goes. But in reality, in Sćmundur's days, Iceland was a commonwealth with no king. In any case, the king would have nothing to do with the granting of church offices until after the Reformation. See about Jón Arason in last Newsletter.
Ref.: Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales. Icelandic Review 1987,. Translation by May and Hallberg Hallmundsson.

If you have been to Reykjavík, Iceland, you may have noticed a statue in front of the University of Iceland of a man raising a book high above the head of a seal. That's your ancestor Sćmundur the Learned.

 Are you learning Icelandic?
Probably not. I'm told that it's a very difficult language to learn. Anyway, some of my foreign friends have been asking how to say or write this or that and the meanings of some short sentences. Please take a look at some few pages I have made for these friends of mine and let me know what you think, I F you are interested. But be aware, I'm not a teacher so I don't know how to teach this or that and there is no system in or between the pages. But I think this is fun and if it is of any help, it's good enough for me ;-)
For further pages any hint is appreaciated.
Maybe you should take a look at this page. It gives you the icelandic alphabet. Here in Iceland we have some "odd" characters as you may know :)
Well, my Tiny Gen Dictionary is limitted to genealogy, mostly. Maybe I should add some non-genealogy words to it.

 Where did they come from?
From the three counties in the North west of Iceland, the county of Barđaströnd, Ísafjörđur county and Strandir county, emigrated alltogether 811 individuals, according to the Emigration records. In 1901 the population in these counties was 12497. So a little more than 6% left in the period of 1870-1914. But as we know, the records are far from accurate and in fact a large number of emigrants from all over the country were not registered for some unknown reasons. Unfortunately, because that makes it so difficult to trace some of the Icelandic settlers in North America back to Iceland.
Emigration port in the Westfjords or North West Iceland was Ísafjörđur,
Take a look at my page The Shires and Townships in Iceland before and during the years of Emigration. Clicking in the counties names you find the name of parishes in each county and the name of the farms in each parish as given in the 1880 census.

Westfjords, The North west of Iceland.

A click in the picture leads you to some links regarding this part of Iceland, the Westfjords. Unfortunately it's all in icelandic but to have something to read in english, here is at least something for you.

 The Newsletter's Forum
We have a Forum! For all our thoughts, questions and answers and not to forget the comments you may have on this Newsletter, we have a Forum. The forum is only for the list members so therefore it's Password Protected. The Password is: cyber. Be a frequent visitor to the Forum and use it!

Settler of the Week

Stephan G Stephansson
emigrated with his parents and sister in 1873 from Akureyri onboard ss Queen and headed for Quebec, Canada. His parent were Guđmundur Stefánsson (1818-1881) and Guđbjörg Hannesdóttir (1830-1911) and his sister was Sigurlaug Einara (1860-1936). Stephan's parents had been farming in both Skagafjörđur and Ţingeyjarsýsla counties before the emigration. Ss Queen took the family to Scotland where they boarded Ss Manitoban which took them to Quebec. From there they went by train to Wiscounsin where they settled in Shawano county. In 1880 Stephan moved to N-Dakota and settled near Gardar in Pembina Coounty where he farmed for the next nine years. In 1889 Stephan moved to Alberta, Canada and settled down east of Medicine river not far from Markerville where he lived ever after. Stephan's wife was Helga Sigríđur Jónsdóttir (1850-1940). They married in 1889 and had eight children: Baldur, married Sigurlín Benediktsdóttir Bardal, Guđmundur, married Regina Jónsdóttir Strong, Jón, died young, Jakob Kristinn, Stephany Guđbjörg Fanny, married Árni Baldvin Benediktsson Bardal, Jóný Sigurbjörg, married Sigurđur Kristjánsson Sigurđsson and Gestur Cecil, died young.
In Iceland, Stephan G Stephansson is probably best known of all the thousands of Icelandic emigrants, because of his poetry which is full of love to Iceland and his icelandic heritage.

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This Newsletter is sent to you by
Hálfdan Helgason
Reykjavík, Iceland.

Next number:
22 March 2003

Previous numbers
to read:

Newsletter Nr 1
Newsletter Nr 2

A fine US genealogist with devoted passion for the history of Icelandic settlers in North Dakota and their descendants is the List member Arlan Steinolfson. Take a look at his pages:
The Icelanders of Dakota and Thingvalla Township - an Icelandic Settlement

The pictures in this and previous Newsletters are not mine. They have been taken off the Net and will be removed from here if the right owner claims so.