The Emigration from Iceland to North America
1 Jan 2006   Newsletter - Nr 51
Keeping in touch as often as possible!
 A new year - 2006
New Year's Eve from my window. Must apologize for the poor quality of the picture.
So it's a new year. Hopefully a good one for us and everybody. Well, we know that too many are living in misery, lack of food, lack of shelter, lack of friendship, care and love, lack of human rights. Lack of everything. Is there anything we can do about it?
I know that if I had the real answere, I wouldn't be sitting here just feeling happy for my so well earned retire- ment. But we can do something and most likely we are doing it in one way or another without knowing it or thinking about it. But I feel this is worth thinking of.
Many many thanks for the Christmas greetings from all over in Canada and US. And nice comments and congratulations on my retirement. To be remembered makes me warm inside! I promise, I remember you too!
This new year will be truly new to me. Don't have ever more to wake up early in the morning and go to work. Maybe I need some time to get used to it, but I'm sure I will manage :-) I think I'll wake up early in the morning also in the future - something installed to my body clock through the years. Now I will have more time to manage and add to my online database which is constantly growing. I have another database, locally, with the names of hundreds, maybe thousands of emigrants which I have now more time to move over to the online database.
So a database of - let's say 600.000 Icelanders and descendants of Icelandic emigrants may be a reality in the future. Not bad - or what do you think?

"My interest is in the future, because that's where I'll be spending the rest of my life" said the actor, movie director and writer Woody Allen.
Well, my interest is more or less in the past, because that's where I have spent my life.
A time of joy and happiness with family and friends. A time with interest in many things, outdoor activities like sport and travelling, an indoor activity like philately and that funny kind of curiousity for other people (mainly long gone people), called Genealogy. The interest in the past. And the interest is not only for my own family and ancestors. I think I know by now what I want to know about it and as I have mentioned many times before, my main genealogical interest is for the Icelandic settlers in NA. Why? Because I share that interest with so many. Sharing hobbies gives acquaintances and friends. My interest for the genealogy of the Icelandic settlers has given me many acquaintances and many friends throughout North America. Unfortunately I have only seen very few of them. The Internet was a fantastic invention and this possibilities with stampless, fast mail is something you don't want to be without. Many of my numerous list members keep a close email contact with me, althoug I must confess that I have not always been there to reply - lack of time untill now - knock on wood! Others write more occationally and from too many list members I have never heard. Maybe they will write to me someday. I do hope so.
Many on my list have been on a visit here in Iceland, tracing the footsteps of their ancestors and I have had the great pleasure to meet some of them here. One for instance is Bob Zimmerman, who was on a visit to the land of his amma, together with his family last fall. His grandmother Sigrun Þorvaldsdóttir, daughter to Þorvaldur Gunnarsson and Jóhanna Jóhannesdóttir, farmers at Borgarlækur in Skagafjörður county, was born January 4th 1894, and left Iceland in 1900 with her parents and sisters, for Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada. The family took the name Thorwald and ultimately settled in Stillwater, Minnesota, USA.
Bob sent me his synopsis of his trip to Iceland, which you'll find further below.

 The Pacific Coast
Early last year I received as a gift from the west coast, the book Icelanders on the Pacific Coast, publiced in 2004 by the Icelandic Club of Greater Seattle.
The content of the book is really interesting. Numerous small chapters on Icelandic people who settled in the nineteenth century on Point Roberts, in Blaine, Bellingham and Marietta in Washington state. Surely we have seen these chapters before, published in the period from 1925 to 1943 in Ólafur S. Thorgeirsson's Almanak (Winnipeg). Nota bene - in Icelandic. Those chapters were recorded by Margrét J. Benedictson, who had moved to Blaine, Washington in 1912. Now her work has been translated to English, giving those who don't read the Icelandic language a chance to get acquainted with many, many Iclanders who settled on the West Coast before and around year 1900.
Margrét Jónsdóttir Benedictson was born in 1866 in the county of Húnavatnssýsla, Northern Iceland. Her parents were Kristjana Ebenesersdóttir (1830-1919) and Jón Jónsson farmer in Víðidalur, Húnavatnssýsla county. Kristjana had been married to Jóhannes Benediktsson (1834-1880) and had with him at least five children before they divorced. On the other hand, Jón Jónsson was amarried farmer at Hrappsstaðir in Víðidalur when Margrét was born. One of Kristjana and Johannes' daughter, Kristín, emigrated in 1889 and married Daníel Jónsson (1856-1942) from Strandasýsla county. They lived in Hallson, N-Dakota and had several children. Their daughter Herdís married Gudmundur Dalsted.
Margrét J. Benedictson married Sigfús Benediktsson in 1892, later a well-known writer and publisher in the Icelandic community. Margrét became an outstanding suffrage leader in the Icelandic community and in her campaign for woman suffrage in Manitoba she had an active support of her husband. Sigfús Benediksson set up a printing press in Selkirk in 1898, and together they commenced the publication of Freyja, the only woman suffrage paper published in Canada. Thanks to Margrét and Sigfús and many others who joined the campaign Manitoba was the first province in the Dominion to grant the franchise to women in 1916. So I believe that women in Canada today has a good reason to thank Margrét J. Benedictson for her great work in the beginning of the twentieth century. Margrét died at age 90 in Blaine, Dec 13th 1956.

 Grounding the Icelandic heritage
The following was sent by Robert Zimmerman, who in the fall 2005 visited Iceland with his family. Thank you so much Bob.

In an attempt to establish some grounding in our Icelandic heritage, my wife Sally, our son Ethan, my brother John and his son Brian, and I set out on for an 8 day sojourn to the land of our ancestors. We found that, and more.
On Friday, September 2, 2005, we arrived in Iceland to mist and cool weather. This was our first trip to our Grandmother’s homeland. She had always told us how beautiful it was, but we had to see it for ourselves to believe it. As the mist cleared and the sun came out, we beheld the beautiful vistas of sea and mountains around Reykjavik. The air was clean, fresh and brisk. A tour with a distant cousin, Skúli Karlsson, on Saturday took us into the interior of the country around Reykjavik. The beauty of the country exceeded all our expectations.
The Zimmermans: John, Brian, Sally, Bob and Ethan.
Leifur Eiríksson, the discoverer of America, in the background. In bronce.
We saw Gullfoss, volcanic craters, desert, geysers, and walked on the Langjökull glacier, and spent time at Þingvellir, the site of the first parliament, all within 150 km of Reykjavik. This is such a land of contrasts all in close proximity, and each so beautiful in its own way. After the long day of touring, we spent a lovely evening with Skúli and his wife, Bergrós Hauksdóttir, in their home. A tour on Sunday to the southern coast showed us another side of Iceland. We viewed the farmland of the south coast, saw the sheep in the lush green hills, watched the birds which nest in the cliffs on the edge of the plains, and climbed up to and/or behind some spectacular waterfalls. We found the “Three Trolls” and “Three Masted Schooner” rock formations and the black sand beaches near Vik to be singularly impressive. On our return trip, we stopped to watch as the local farmers brought their sheep in from summer pasture.
One of the secondary purposes of our trip was to deliver copies of our Great-Grandmother’s journals to the National and University Library of Iceland. Hólmfríður Tómasdóttir at the Library is currently working on a project “Icelandic Heritage in the New World” to document how the Icelandic culture was continued by the Icelandic immigrants to the US and Canada. On Monday, we delivered the copies and visited with Hólmfríður. It was fascinating to hear about the Icelandic settlement in the US and Canada, and, as we have found, people of Icelandic descent remain very connected to their homeland.
Tuesday it was off to the National Museum. Oh, there was so much history stored there. We spent all day in the museum, and were unable to cover half of it. It will take more trips to absorb what and how our ancestors lived and survived. We also had the joy of meeting and dining with Hálfdan Helgason on Tuesday evening.
A walking tour of Reykjavik gave us more understanding of the history of the city. We were fascinated with the houses sided with corrugated steel, the decorative windows, and of course, the flowers that seem to appear in each small space throughout the city. Our hotel was at perhaps the highest point in Reykjavik, and looking down the streets toward the water and the mountains beyond, seeing the vivid colors of the houses, roofs and flowers showed so much life and appreciation of color.
On our remaining days, we relaxed, read, and walked (Reykjavik proper is compact enough that you can walk most anywhere). On Friday, we toured the barren but spectacular Reykjanes Peninsula with picturesque rock formations, hot springs, the meeting place of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and, of course, the Blue Lagoon. We had lovely, crisp sunny weather during our entire trip save for one rainy day.
This was our first trip to Iceland, and we expect that it was only the first of many more. We have now had our “overview”, and would like to explore the depths of the history, the culture, the society, and the beauty of the country on future trips.

 My view
The view from my window in September last, when the Zimmermans were on visit in Reykjavík

 My online database
Just click in the GenWeb-logo below and check on your Icelandic ancestors. As I have told before, the database is partly locked, so if you see a lot of Xs it means that you need a password to search further. Right now the database holds 518.406 names and it's constantly growing. I'm sure you can help me!

 Pictures from Iceland
Mats Wibe
Click on 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.