The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 48
January 16 2005  Keeping in touch as often as possible!

 The Phoenix bird
The Phoenix bird
Phoenix is not only the capital city of Arizona, US.  In ancient Egyptian mythology and in myths derived from it, the Phoenix is a mythical sacred firebird. Said to live for 500 years, the phoenix is a male bird with beautiful gold and red plumage. At the end of its life-cycle the phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new and fresh, young phoenix would arise.
I wish I was like the Phoenix bird, in a way at least. Not to go up in a smoke, but to be refreshed every now and then. My "work" on my weekly Newsletter may be like the life-cycle of the Phoenix, it runs for - not 500 years - but for some time, and then - it sort of fades away. Not because of lack of interest, mostly because of lack of time. More time will be available when I retire in a couple of years, I hope :-) I hope I will be like a new, fresh Phonix though I fear that when I look into the mirror, which I do quite often, I will see the same old crumpy guy as always.
Well, my Forfather Finding Facilities are still highly popular if I'm allowed to brag a bit. People search for their ancestors and it's obvious that they really want to find their roots in Iceland. Sometimes I wonder, how on earth can it be that people don't know about their Great-grandparents or even their grandparents. But when I recall from my trip to the Icelandic settlements last summer, the huge plains, the vast distances, I realize how difficult is may have been - even for Icelanders - to keep the families together.
Anyway, my Forefather Finding Facilities serve at least two purposes. It satisfies my general genealogical interest and very often - most of the time - I succede in connecting the seaching people to their ancestry, to Iceland, and I think it gives them as good feeling as it gives to me :-)
So keep on sending me your queries and do it again if or when you think this guy has had all the time in the world to answer.

By the way, can anyone tell me how the city Phonix got it's name?

 What I have been doing
Now it's about two months since my last Newsletter was released. List members might wonder what the heck I have been doing. Partly I have tried to explain the delay here above. Lack of time. Q: Lack of time to do what? A: Write the Newsletter. - But I have taken time - my spare time - to do many other things than that. One thing. I have been working in cooperation with the National Archives to transcribe the Icelandic census records. Many years ago I transcribed the 1816 census, which has been accessible on the Net for some years. I'm working now on the 1870 census and at the same time I'm working on the 1880 census. Secondly, I have added about three thousand names to my GeneaNet file and thirdly, I am building up a database on the Icelandic settlers in North America. And I need your help in doing that. Please click here to the Search page and type in the name of my Great grandmother's brother, Ţorvaldur Stefánsson Stephensen (it's enough to type Stephensen) and then click the view button, to see how I want the database to look like. You can also type in the name Reykdal to see the info on Jón Jónsson Reykdal. How can you help me? By sending me similar information on your Icelandic ancestors. Or just send me what you have. The more you write, the less I have to do :-) And a photo would be great.

 Travelling around
When travelling around you are bound to learn something new or stir up something you learned long time ago. Last November my wife invited me for some few days to Vienna, the capital of Austria. The city took me by surprice. Beautiful buildings, old and new, and the history is evident wherever you go. As you know, Vienna is a historical city, once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. I have always been a bit weak for women and the story of Maria Theresa (1717-1780), archduchess of Austria, Holy Roman Empress, and queen of Hungary and Bohemia, who began her rule in 1740, interest me. She was the only woman ruler in the 650 years history of the Habsburg dynasty. She was also
Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna, only 1400 rooms!
The humble home of Maria Theresa.
one of the most successful Habsburg rulers, male or female, while bearing sixteen children between 1738 and 1756. Her youngest and most beautiful daughter and probably the most famous of her children was Marie-Antoinette von Habsburg-Lothringen, who married Ludwig XVI, king of France. Unlucky for her she became a victim of the Parisan mob in the French revolution 1789 and met her destiny in October 1793 when lead to the guillotin as did her husband earlier the same year. Having been imprisoned and constantly humiliated the years in the prison, her last words to the crowd that surrounded the guillotin were: "Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it at the moment when my sufferings are to end?" - thus showing that she was the daughter of her strong mother.
Back to Maria Teresia, it's interesting to take a look at the genealogy of her family and her family tree. Her Great-great-great-grandson the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914) was assassinatet June 28 1914 in Sarajevo, then the capital of Bosnia. That started the World War I. The "research" of Maria Theresia's ancestry was an interesting quest for me. Reading through various sources, like encyclopedias, webpages etc., [ crosschecking, you know :-) ] lead me all the way back to Rollo, Duke of Normandy. Ganger-Hrolf, c.860 - c.932, known as Göngu-Hrólfur in Icelandic and as Rollo in French sources, was a Norwegian viking who invaded the area of northern France, now known as Normandy, and founded the Norman dynasty in France. He captured the city Rouen late in the ninth century and was eventually granted the dukedom of Normandy by King Charles the Simple of France in 911. His nickname, Ganger (the Walker), alludes to the fact that he was too huge and heavy for any horse to carry.
Rollo, or Göngu-Hrólfur, is a well known figure in the Icelandic Sagas. As a matter of fact he is one of our countless ancestors but also one of those we really like to see in our family tree :-) His father was Earl Rögnvaldur (Ragnvald) Eysteinsson of Mćri in Norway (Rögnvaldur Mćrajarl in Icelandic). When Göngu-Hrólfur went to pound on the Frenchmen he left a daughter in Norway. Her name was Kađlín Hrólfsdóttir - mother unknown. Kađlín's daughter, Niđbjörg, married Helgi Óttarsson, great-grandson of Ketil Flat-Nose, son of Lord Björn buna in Norway. Helgi's grandfather, Bjőrn the Easterner, was a settler in Iceland in the 9th century. Niđbjörg and Helgi´s son was Ósvífur, father of Guđrún Ósvífursdóttir one of the main caracters in the well known Laxdćla Saga (Paper back. ISBN 0-14-044218-9, read it!) and according to that Saga: "she was the loveliest woman in Iceland at that time, and also the most intelligent." She was "a woman of such courtliness that whatever finery other women wore, they seemed like mere trinkets beside hers. She was the shrewdest and best-spoken of all women; and she had a generous disposition." Oh, ho, ho! Not bad. No wonder that guys were fighting and killing each other to get her! I'm 26th generation descending from her and her fourth husband Ţorkell Eyjólfsson and through her a descendant of Göngu Hrólfur. If you click on the GenWeb icon below you will be brought to my GedCom family tree. It's your family tree also. Typing Maria Theresia von Habsburg in the name box, making sure you have the "first name surname or public name or alias" activated. When her page is loaded, you scroll down and click "Relationship computing". Then you type my name, Hálfdan Helgason, in the name box (if you don't have the Icelandic caracter "á", you can copy my name from here and paste it into the name box). Then click OK. Next, click the "upper" Hálfdan Helgason (the other one is my grandson) and then you'll see that I'm a "descendant of the 9th generation of a 20th cousin of Maria Theresia von Habsburg". Far-fetched? OK, we are not all so closely related.
Genealogy is fun!

Remember my Forum!

 Pictures from Iceland
Mats Wibe
On the web, you should point your browser to and browse through what is just a tiny bit of Mats Wibe Lund's huge picture gallery of places all over in Iceland. If you really want a fine picture of where your ancestors lived, just contact him.

You can read Lögberg-Heimskringla, The Icelandic weekly, online. The only thing you have to do is to go to Lögberg-Heimskringla and subscribe. Hit the link and see what you get for some small amount.

 Search the Newsletters
Just type the name or word you are searching in the search string below and you'll get the answer right away.