The Emigration from Iceland to North America
15 December 2006   Newsletter - Nr 56
Keeping in touch as often as possible!

My good old Christmas decoration!
Merry Christmas
to all my friends!
For almost a year I have done nothing. Except what I want to do - or what my wife wants me to do. Most often that is not what I really want to do - but it has to be done. And I realize - even while I'm working on it - those things are the most important things to do at that moment.
Anyway, during this first year of retirement, though caused by my old age, I have never actually thought of me as an old man. Never really thought of me getting older and older, probably because my health is good - maybe also because the longevity of Icelanders are amongst the best in the world and therefore I'm expecting many good years ahead - Knock on Wood! Well, "many" is here a relative expression.
Recently, Sólveig Pálsdóttir, a lady of 109 years and 69 days, died here in Iceland, then the oldest living Icelandic person and also the one who has lived the longest. Born 20 Aug 1897, d. 28 Oct 2006. Icelandic record? Well - not really. Surely the oldest living person in Iceland, but another Icelandic lady has lived the longest of them all and she lived almost all her life in Canada. Guðrún Björg Björnsdóttir, maybe better known as Runa Arnason, who died in Canada in 1998 became 109 years and 310 days old. See Table below. Guðrún Björg emigrated only 4 years old with her parents, Björn Jónsson and Guðrún Grímsdóttir, in 1892. In 1915 she married Jóhann Vilhjálmur Árnason (1885-1964) in Gimli, Manitoba, and they had nine children and of course many many descendants. I presume at least some of the readers know this family.
Below is a list of Icelandic emigrants who reached to be 100 years old or more in the new country. Of course this list is just a beginning of a bigger list which I hope you will help me to compile. If you know of any Icelandic immigrant who reached to be 100 years old or more please let me know with all the information necessary, which is above all, exact day of birth and death.

Icelanders (i.e. born in Iceland) in North America who lived to be 100 years or more
Name Home Date of Birth Date of Death Age at Death
Steinunn Hjálmarsdóttir Víðir-settlement, Manitoba, Canada 30.05.1817 01.11.1917 100 yrs
Kristján Hallsson Hallson, North Dakota, U.S. 08.09.1817 22.11.1917 100 yrs
Einar Guðmundsson Hensel, North Dakota, U.S. 29.01.1835 22.10.1939 104 yrs
Sveinbjörn Björnsson Walhalla, North Dakota, U.S. 08.12.1843 02.05.1945 101 yrs
Páll Jónsson Geysir-settlement, Manitoba, Canada 20.08.1848 13.02.1951 102 yrs
Kristján G. Kristjánsson Eyford, North Dakota, U.S. 07.06.1850 31.03.1953 102 yrs
Guðrún Nordal Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. 06.11.1852 15.04.1953 100 yrs
Björg Jónsdóttir Minneota, Minnesota, U.S. 26.01.1853 04.04.1953 100 yrs
Margrét Þorbjarnardóttir Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada 17.09.1853 01.05.1959 105 yrs
Kristín Jónsdóttir Mountain, North Dakota, U.S. 08.12.1853 14.07.1956 102 yrs
Elísabet Eyjólfsdóttir Churchbridge, Sask., Canada 13.04.1854 07.09.1954 100 yrs
Vigdís Bjarnadóttir Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 17.08.1855 25.11.1957 102 yrs
Guðjón Vilhjálmsson Minneota, Minnesota, U.S. 19.10.1858 19.03.1960 101 yrs
Ingiríður Guðmundsdóttir
Ingiríður Johnson
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 21.07.1859 11.05.1962 102 yrs
Sigrún Guðmundsdóttir
Sigrun Smith
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 05.03.1861 09.05.1962 101 yrs
Guðríður Guðmundsdóttir
Gudridur Thorfinnsson
Hensel, North Dakota, U.S. 01.05.1863 00.00.1964 101 yrs
Rósa Teitsdóttir
Rosa Hannesson
Pembina, North Dakota, U.S. 07.06.1863 11.04.1967 103 yrs
Sigurður Sölvason Wynyard, Sask., Canada 10.10.1865 00.12.1966 101 yrs
Auðbjörg Guðnadóttir Glendora, California, U.S. 23.06.1871 08.10.1972 101 yrs
Ásmundur Sæmundsson Grand Forks, North Dakota, U.S. 26.05.1872 15.04.1974 101 yrs
Guðbjörg Júlíana Jónsdóttir Vancouver, B. C., Canada 17.07.1872 05.07.1974 101 yrs
Jóhanna Stefándsdóttir
Johanna Solvason
Wynyard, Sask., Canada 04.12.1873 26.07.1981 107 yrs
Steinunn Jónsdóttir Foam Lake, Sask., Canada 01.04.1874 28.04.1974 100 yrs
Guðrún Einarsdóttir Mozart, Sask., Canada 18.03.1877 27.01.1983 105 yrs
Dómhildur Jóhannsdóttir
Domhildur Johnson
Wynyard, Sask., Canada 13.10.1878 00.00.1981 103 yrs
Málfríður Friðriksdóttir Swan River, Manitoba, Canada 19.06.1879 08.05.1984 104 yrs
Guðrún Björg Björnsdóttir
Runa Arnason
Betel, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada 20.10.1888 26.08.1998 109 yrs
Eiríkur Sigfússon
Eiríkur Einarson
Betel, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada 13.10.1890 25.05.1996 105 yrs
Guðrún Guðjónsdóttir Betel, Gimli, Manitoba, Canada 13.05.1895 29.08.1996 101 yrs
Salbjörg Sigurðardóttir
Salbjorg Solvason Mercer
Theodore, Sask., Canada 07.06.1895 23.07.1997 102 yrs
Pálína Brynjólfsdóttir
Pauline Johnson
Lundar, Manitoba, Canada 14.11.1895 23.04.2000 104 yrs
Sveinbjörg Jónsdóttir Wiarton, Ontario, Canada 18.10.1896 23.10.1998 102 yrs
Margrét Sveinsdóttir Calgary, Alberta, Canada 08.07.1905 00.12.2005 100 yrs
This list is compiled by Jónas Ragnarsson ( and Hálfdan Helgason (

This is a list of 33 persons, 11 in Manitoba, 8 in North Dakota, 7 in Saskatchewan, 3 in Minnesota, 1 in Br. Columbia, 1 in Alberta, 1 in Ontario and 1 in California. Of course there must me more. For instance, a great number of Icelanders settled down in Washington state and I'm convinced that amongst them must have been some or someone who reached the age of one hundred. Please help me to find them.

Longevity in the Genes
It's interesting to notice that three sisters on my list of Icelandic immigrants reached the age of 100 years or more. Sigrun Smith who reached the age of 101, Gudridur Thorfinnsson became also 101 yrs and Ingiríður Johnson became 102 years old. Their brothers, Bardi and Skuli became 93 and 67 respectively. An average of 93 years. Their mother, Gudridur Gudmundsdottir Skulason, became 92 yrs old.
Johanna Solvason (107 yrs) was Sigurdur Sölvason's (101 yrs) wife. Their daughter was Salbjorg Solvason Mercer who became 102 years old. Jóhanna's brother Ólafur became 93 yrs and their mother Lilja Jónsdóttir became 99 years old.
Auðbjörg Guðnadóttir´s (101 yrs) brother, Sigurbjarni Guðnason reached only to be 36 years old. Died from the Spanish flue in 1918. His two daughters are still living, 97 and 91 years old.

 For you to read closely
This notice is for you who did not read my last Newsletter (#53). Well - for you too who did read it which was mainly about Nelson Gerrard's project Silent Flashes. So pick up the newsletter here - takes only a second - and read about Nelson's huge and very interesting task.

 From my window
December afternoon 2006

 My online database
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