The Emigration from Iceland to North America
Thursday 12 July 2007   Newsletter - Nr 61
Keeping in touch every now and then!
 From the desk of yours truly

"The number of subscribers to my mailing list has been slowly but steadily increasing and has now exceeded the number of 600. Great! But I would welcome more - many more and active members! Because sometimes I wonder - are all these six hundred or so, "active" members? I mean, are all the email addresses still valid? Do all the subcribers really receive my Newsletters? From alot of subscribers I never hear a word and I find that a great pity. What can I do if anything? Any suggestions?

Recently we (my wife and I) came home from a vacation to the Greek island of Crete. What a beautiful island! We staied at a very comfortable apartment hotel on Apostoli Beach just a few kilometers west of the former capital city, Chania, with it's 65.000 inhabitants, a little more than 10% of the island's total.
Agii Apostoli. Agii=Beach

During our stay the countries and regions of south east Europa and eastern Medite-ranian were struck by a long lasting heat wave with almost a dayly temperature of up to 40°C (104°F) and even more.
I like it hot, but this was really too much for me. Fortunately, and as a alternative to the hotel's chilling swimming pool, there were just a few minutes walk to the beach and the deep blue, calm and cristal clear water with small multicolored fishes you usually only see in aqua-riums. Our daughter, her husband and their two kids, 10 and 13 were thrilled - especially the childen - snorkling day in and day out. During the hottest time of the day a parasol shade by the pool was my favourite retrete, reading - believe it or not - genealogy. Yes, the genealogy of the ancient Greek Gods with all their interesting and incestuous complexity. Already as a youngster I became interested in the Greek gods and this was an exellent time to refresh my memory of this fascinating family.
The Creteans are extremely friendly and the service wherever you need it is exellent. If you remember to say "efcharristo" in stead of "thank you" you are met with a broad smile and even more hospitality. Other words worth knowing are "kalimera" (good morning), "kalispera" (good afternoon) and "kalinichta" (good evening or good night). That's all you have to know :-)
I highly recommend the island of Crete.

 Searching for Emigrants
Halldór Jónsson b. 7 Nov 1830,emigrated in 1876 from the farm Litlibakki in Múlasýsla north, East Iceland, with his wife Sigurbjörg Jónsdóttir, b. 1839, and their three children, Margrét b. 1867, Helga b. 1874 and Rustikus b. 1876. Along with them came also Halldór Jónsson's daughter from his first marriage, Þórunn b. 1855. One daughter was born to them 6 Aug 1880 in Grafton, N.-Dakota, Halldóra Petrína Halldórsdóttir. She married Guðmundur Matthías Bjarnason, b. 5 Jul 1871. They had 8 children and lived in Winnipeg where Guðmundur Matthías worked as a house painter. Does anyone have a knowledge of Halldór Jónsson's family?

 Interesting Books
Ferne Gudnason in Lacombe Alberta, was kind enough to send me two booklets, which I have already read and find very interesting. One is "From Fire & Ice" with a subtitle "A Markerville History".
"Markerville today is a picturesque and peaceful hamlet. Its quiet main street is flanked by the Medicine River on the south and a few turn-of-the century buildings on the north. On first impression, it looks like just another sleepy settlement in rural Alberta. The river in summer moves slowly, and large stands of trees crowd around buildings. Birds sing and flit about, but you will not see many of Markerville's fiftyfive residents on such an uneventful day. Though the quiet scene does not reveal the importance of Markerville's history to Alberta's development or the community's successful efforts to bring its history back to life, a pleasant walk through town quickly shows how deceiving first impressions can be."
This picturesque description makes me want to visit the peacefully Markerville, the home town of the great Icelandic-Canadian poet Stephan G. Stephansson who at the age of 19 emigrated with his parents and settled down at first in Wisconsin (Read more about Stephan G. Stephansson in my Newsletter #3). This book gives a splendid view on the history of Markerville and not the least the life of Stephan G. Stephansson, "who played an integral role in settling the area and brought it international recognition, through his writings".
The book is written for the Stephan G. Stephansson Icelandic Society by Carolyn Dearden and Laurel Anderson. No ISBN number given.

The other book I received is "Errand boy in the Mooseland Hills" by Jóhann Magnús Bjarnason (1866-1945), who along with his sister Anna (1874-1895), emigrated with their parents Bjarni Andrésson (1832-1899) and Kristbjörg Magnúsdóttir (1832-1893) as early as in 1875. The family settled at first in Nova Scotia in an area known as Mooseland Hills in Halifax county.
Jóhann Magnús, or Magnus Bjarnason as he was usually called, became an avid writer of both novels and short stories.
(I remember especially the novels Brasilíufararnir (The Brasil emigrants), a fiction about Icelanders who emigrated to Brasil in the 1860's, and Í Rauðárdalnum (In the Red River Valley) which takes place in Winnipeg, mostly), which I read "in the old days".
The book Errand boy in the Mooseland Hills is a selections of short stories originally contributed to Icelandic Journals in Winnipeg in the early part of the 20th century. These stories of harsh rural life in the nineteenth century have been unknown to English-language readers. The stories, originally writtem in Icelandic, have now been translated to English by the Manitoba author Borga Jakobson.
On his seventieth birthday, the Parlament of Iceland conferred on Magnus its highest honour, the Order of the Falcon. He was also named Honorary Member of the Icelandic National League of North America in recognition of his work.
Borga Jakobson who translated the book is of Icelandic origin, as can be seen by her name. Her parents were Kristjón Sigurðsson (1890-1964) farmer at Fagradal in Geysir, and his wife Indiana Sveinsdottir (1891-??), an Icelandic immigrant from Sauðárkrókur, North Iceland. Borga married Bödvar Jakobsson, medical doctor in Whitewood, Sask. and Neepawa, Manitoba.
The book (ISBN 0-88780-541-8) is available (I think) through

 Beautiful Iceland
Hekla mountain with a height of 1,488 m (4,881 ft). Hekla is Iceland's most active volcano; over 20 outbreaks have occurred in and around the volcano since 874. During the Middle Ages, Icelanders called the volcano the "Gateway to Hell." .
Photo courtesy: Mats Wibe Lund

 My Online Database
Just click the GenWeb-logo below and check on your Icelandic ancestors. The database is locked, so you need a password for your search. Right now the database holds 520.572 names and is constantly growing. Get a password,, and check your family tree. Also I'm sure you can help me with some additions to the database!
Remember: When you apply for passwords, you must inform me of your Icelandic ties with names of your ancestors, when they were born (at least approximately), when they emigrated, where from, where to, their children and whatever you may know about them. That will help me to prepare for your visit if necessary.

 Pictures from Iceland - Your ancestors homeplace!
Mats Wibe
Click on Mats Íslandsmyndasafn 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.