The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 4
March 22, 2003   Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 Icelandic societies
Can't stop bragging of this Mail list. In three weeks 150 people in North America with warm feelings for their Icelandic heritage have found it interesting enough to join, without actually knowing what the "membership" will bring them. Higher mathematic tells me that it's about 50 a week. Not bad at all! And with your help I hope there will be many more to join for a much bigger cyber community. Let the word spread - and - well, I was really hoping that you would use the Forum :-( Ain't there really anything on your mind regarding the Emigration or the site and Newsletter?

Great job is obviously done in many societies devoted to Iceland and icelandic heritage all over both in Canada and US. You can see that by browsing their homepages. Well, some few of the pages may need a little updating, but anyway, the societies are there and certainly offer a lot. If you are not a member of such a society, search for the one nearest to you and consider a membership. More members, a stronger society. Most of the societies are members of the Icelandic National League of North America. Read more about INL on it's homepage where you also find links to the many Iceland related societies' homepages.

 Your Ancestor
In our last Newsletter we mentioned one of our ancestors, Jón Loftsson, who for some time fostered the great historiographer Snorri Sturluson and who may have inspired Snorri to write Heimskringla, the magnificient story of the Norwegian kings from the very first beginning up to around 1100. Snorri also wrote Snorra Edda, a fabulous book on teaching poetry and it's also believed that he wrote the story of Egill Skallagrímsson, called Egils saga. More about Egill later (maybe).
Snorri Sturluson.
From a painting
by Haukur Stefánsson

In continuation of mentioning Snorri the following question has been raised by one of the Newsletter's reader: Did Snorri Sturluson have descendants? Oh Yes! he certainly had. And you are amongst them for sure!
Snorri (1178 - 23. Sept. 1241) had two children with his first wife. With his second wife he had children but they were not long-lived. Snorri had also illegitime children with at least three women and some of them are playing "the big roles" in the drama described in one of the Sagas called Sturlunga (has been translated to english) where you can read about that magnificient period in the icelandic history which lasted for many, many decades and was caracterized by disputes, deceit, killings and struggle for power in Snorri´s own family; his brothers, their children and Snorri's own children's families (it's your family!). All these families were heavily fighting against each other for power in the country, dragging other big clans into the fights which sadly enough "ended" with the "Old Convenant" in 1302 based on an agreement made by Snorri's former son-in-law, Gissur Ţorvaldsson (1208-1268) and Hákon Hákonarson (Hákon gamli or Hákon the Old) king of Norway in the years 1262-1264. Gissur Ţorvaldsson, who had some years previous become the king's representative and Earl of Iceland, strived very much for power and indipendency. He managed so well to secure certain Icelandic causes in his dealings with King Hákon, that when the indipendance movement started in Iceland in the 19th century, more than 500 years later, the "Old Convenant" including "Gissur's Convenant" was used in the dispute with the Danes with good success. Gissur must have been a very good lawyer!
See the family tree of Snorri Sturluson. All the notes are in Icelandic - Snorri's language :-) - and those of you who are able to read it should also take a look at a page describing the heavy battles fought in the period called "The Age of Sturlunga". Those pages were writter for my icelandic GenWeb site.

 The grievous year of 1876
In September 1876 an unfamiliar disease appeared among the settlers in the Icelandic settlements in Manitoba. Though mild at first it had a dreadful effect on the settler's life and future. Approximately one in three among the settlers caught the disease, and it killed more than 100 hundred of them, mostly young people and children. Those who recovered were disfigured for life and often broken in health and spirit.
From Árborg, Manitoba, we are reminded of this event by the following, sent by Joel Fridfinnsson.

The cemetery of Kirkjuból on Hecla Island, Manitoba is in need of a permanent marker. The farm of Kirkjuból was settled in 1876, and this farm was chosen as the site for the future church. When the smallpox epidemic hit the settlement in the fall of 1876, many of the pioneers became its casualties. They were than buried at Kirkjuból since it was the site of the future church. There are approximately 30 smallpox victims and others buried at Kirkjuból. A kearn is going to be made to honor the people buried there. We have compiled about 15 names and are trying to get as many as possible. If anybody has any information regarding the people in this cemetery please contact:
Joel Fridfinnson (204) 376-5456
or mail Box 564, Arborg, Manitoba ROC OAO
or Tryggvi Finnson at (204) 364-2324

 Where did they come from?
The counties in West Iceland are Dalasýsla, Snćfellsnessýsla, Mýrasýsla and Borgarfjarđarsýsla. From these counties emigrated alltogether 1787 individuals, according to the Emigration records. In 1901 the population in these counties was 9754. So approx.18% left in the period of 1870-1914. But as mentioned in our last Newsletter, 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 West Iceland was Stykkishólmur, but most of the emigrants went to Reykjavík to embark the emigration ships. Some went to Borđeyri, others even all the way to Ísafjörđur.

Click the "Dalir" button and browse an interesting site for Dalasýsla county. Read Leifur Eiríksson's Heritage of Discovery. In Leifur's wake to North America came Ţorfinnur karlsefni and Guđríđur Ţorbjarnardóttir. Their son Snorri was the first child of European descent to be born in North America, shortly after the year 1000. It should be relatively easy to trace you back to Ţorfinnur karlsefni and Guđríđur Ţorbjarnardóttir.

 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

Hávarđur Guđmundsson

emigrated with his wife Helga Jónsdóttir and three children in 1888 from Seyđisfjörđur onboard ss Copeland and headed for Winnipeg, Canada. The children were Margrét Ţórhildur, Jón, who took the name Howardson, he married María Bjarnadóttir Torfason and Guđmundur who probably died at young age.
Hávarđur's parents were Guđmundur Jónsson (1818-1881) and Gunnhildur Ólafsdóttir (1830-1911) from Múlasýsla south and Helga's parents were Jón Ţorsteinsson and Margrét Sveinsdóttir. Hávarđur and Helga settled in the Gimli district.
After Helga died, Hávarđur married again, to Kristrún Jónsdóttir. They had three daughters, Laufey, Helga and Gunnhildur.
Hávarđur married the third time, to Stefanía Guđný Sigurđardóttir (1872-1951). They had seven children, Soffía, Bjarni, Halldóra Sigrún, she married Reginbald Johnson, Hjálmur, Anna, she married Ţorvaldur Reykdal, Svava, married Kenneth Dory, and Málfríđur, married Grettir Ásmundsson Freeman. From Gimli Hávarđur moved with his family in 1899 to Lundar.

A Census of the Icelandic People in Winnipeg in March 1884
Single women
Single men
Children b. in Am.
Girls under 15
Boys under 15

The Distribution

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Next number:
29 March 2003

Previous numbers
to read:

Newsletter Nr 1
Newsletter Nr 2
Newsletter Nr 3

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.