The Emigration from Iceland to North America

Saturday 4 August 2007   Newsletter - Nr 62
 From the desk of yours truly

This weekend a celebration is held in Mountain, North Dakota. It's the annual August the Deuce, now for the 108th time, celebrated by the descendants of the Icelandic settlers in the area. It started already yesterdy, 3 August, with Thingvalla Church Memorial Dedication Ceremony and a Stree Dance. Browsing the Event Schedule you´ll see that there are a lot of interesting events going on these days. Today (August 4th) and to morrow a Genealogy center will be open! I wish I was there.

 Strange Census records

Sometimes I browse Canadian or US Census records online in my search for Icelandic immigrants. It is very convenient to do and I will never stop praising this wonderful invention called Internet. Anyway, the search for Icelanders in these records is quite often very frustrating due to either very unclear handwriting in the original records or the transcriber's unability to read and understand Icelandic names. Or maybe both.
Recently I was browsing 1906 census records on and came upon the very strange name Cir??on Daniel.
Daníel Grímsson (1843-1935)
Obviously Icelandic, since the other family members in Daniel's household were his wife Sigridur and their children: Hallgrimur (M), Gudrun (F), Jon (M), Waldimar (M), ??ilberg (M) and Valgurtin (F). But Cir??on does not look like any Icelandic name so what could it be? Any guesses?
The book Vesturfaraskrá 1870-1914 (Emigration records) is great when it comes to a search for Icelandic emigrants. And thanks to our Icelandic custom to order by the given name it was relatively easy to find that Cir??on Daniel was in fact Daníel Grímsson (you see the similarity!) who emigrated in 1885 with his wife Sigríður Þorsteinsdóttir, the sons Guðmundur and Hallgrímur and the daughter Stefanía.
The family settled at first in Gardar, N.-Dakota, where the children Guðrún, Jón Helgi, Valdimar, Vilberg and Valgerður were born. When the 1906 census was taken the family was obviously on their way to Elfros, Sask. where they settled in 1906 or 1907.
Tiny family genealogy:
1) Guðmundur Þorsteinn (1878-??) farmer in Mozart, Sask., married Sigríður Jakobína Lárusdóttir (Lárus Gunnarsson and Anna Helgadóttir). They had two children.
2) Hallgrímur Berg (1880-??) farmer at Mountain, N.-Dak., married Anna Árnadóttir (Árni Friðbjörnsson and Guðrún Magnúsdóttir). They had two children.
3) Stefanía (1884-??) in Mozart, Sask., married Stefán Björnsson Núpdal (Björn Guðmundsson Núpdal and Agnes Teitsdóttir). They had eight children.
4) Guðrún (1887-1934) in Sask.?, married Stefán Björnsson (need information on parents) They had two children.
5) Jón Helgi (1891-1954) in South Bend, Indiana, later in Blaine, Wash. Single.
6) Valdimar (1892-??) in Blaine, Wash., married Björg Jörundsdóttir (Jörundur Sigmundsson and Auður Grímsdóttir). Need information.
7)Vilberg (1897-??) in South Bend, Indiana. Married, three children. Need further information.
8) Valgerður (1900-??) in Blaine, Wash., married Raymond Antony. Had two children. Need further information.
The genealogy from my Database.

 A Master Spy
My name is Bond - James Bond. This simple introduction has become one of the most recognizable lines in cinema history. William Stephenson I'm sure you all know this fabulous but fictious master spy, already the main character in more than 20 official Bond movies spanning almost 40 years and accurately reflecting the changing times during which they are set.
The creator of this character, the English author Ian Flemming, had been a soldier and a spy himself in the second world war. He has been quoted as saying "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is …William Stephenson." What an adventurous life William Stephenson must have lived and who was he?
Born William Samuel Clouston Stanger, January 23, 1897 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to William Hunter Stanger of Irish/Scottish descent and his wife, Sarah Gudfinna Johnston, her real name being Guðfinna Jónsdóttir, actually an Icelandic immigrant to Canada. Unfortunately, little is known about William S.C. Stanger's mother or where she came from in Iceland but having emigrated about 1885 she married William Hunter 1894 in Winnipeg. Shortly after 1901 William S.C. Stanger's father died and his mother then had to take care of three young children alone. To ease her burden the son was taken in foster by the Icelandic couple Vigfús Stefánsson (Stephenson) and Kristín Guðlaugsdóttir Stephenson. From then on he was known as William S.C. Stephenson. William joined the RCE in 1915, went to England in 1916 where he joined the RAF and became a Sergeant in the Canadian Engineer. He was badly wounded during a gas attack but in 1917 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and managed to shoot down 12 planes before he was shot down himself and captured by the Germans on 28 July 1918. Finishing the war at the rank of Captain we has awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Military Cross, the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d'Honneur.
Known by the code name Intrepid, Sir William Stephenson started off as a poor Winnipeg hardware salesman and ended up a Second World War spy legend and the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s martini-swilling hero, James Bond.
William Stephenson managed to developed a process to send pictures over radio waves, the first of its kind. An invention that made him a millionaire by the time he was 31 years old with electronic patents and business contacts in many countries. In 1924 he married American tobacco heiress, Mary French Simmons, of Springfield, Tennessee. The marriage left no children. Business interests took Stephenson to Germany frequently and he soon acquired industrial information proving German re-armament, in clear violation of the Treaty of Versailles of June 28 1919, which officially ended World War I. He passed along this information to Winston Churchill, then still in the political "wilderness." Upon Churchill's appointment as prime minister in May of 1940 Stephenson, "the quiet Canadian", was made head of the British Security Co-Ordination Service (BSC), effectively in charge of British intelligence and propaganda efforts in the western hemisphere. It was in this capacity that Stephenson founded Camp X, a super secretive training and communications center near Whitby, Ontario. Among his students there was the above mentioned James Bond creator, Ian Fleming.
Churchill, recommending Stephenson for a knighthood in 1945, wrote: "This one is dear to my heart." Sir William Stephenson also received the Presidential Medal for Merit from the United States for his counter-intelligence work during World War II, the first non-American to receive this award. Sir William retired to Bermuda where he died, largely forgotten, on January 31st, 1989.
A detailed account of Stephenson's life and exploits can be found in a book titled The true Intrepid.
Ref. on Sir William's life: Various Webpages.

As previously mentioned, Sir William's mother, Guðfinna Jónsdóttir, was an Icelandic immigrant to Canada and very little, if nothing, is known about her Icelandic background, her parents or where she came from. According to Winnipeg census records, she was born 10 August 1873 but a thorough search in Icelandic birth records does not give any satisfying result so there must be some error regarding the date or year of her birth.
The Icelandic couple, Vigfús (Stefánsson) Stephenson (1857-1937) and Kristín (Guðlaugsdóttir) Stephenson (1858-1940) who, fostered her son after his father died and gave him their name came to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1883 from the farm Klungurbrekka on Skógarströnd in the county of Snæfellsnes, West Iceland. Emigrating with them was their two year old son, Guðlaugur, of whom I have no information in Canada. In 1888 they had another son, Guðmundur Kristján, who in due time married Jónína Lilja Jónsdóttir, b. 1892 in Argyle, Manitoba, the daughter of Jón Friðfinnsson (1865-1936) a composer in Winnipeg and his wife Anna Sigríður Jónsdóttir (1867-1940). Guðmundur Kristján Stephenson and Jónína Lilja had, to my knowledge, one son in 1924, Gerald Keith who lived with his wife Edith Joan Darnell in Scarboro, Ontario.
To add some more genealogy to this, Jónína Lilja Jónsdóttir had at least seven siblings:
1) Friðfinnur J. Friðfinnsson in Winnipeg, b. 1888, married to Stefanía Andrésdóttir Skagfeld (Andrés Jónsson Skagfeld and Steinunn Þórarinsdóttir), b. 1890, they had seven children.
2) William J. Friðfinnsson in Winnipeg, (1890-1941), member of the famous Falcon icehockey team, married to Guðbjörg Kristín Jónatansdóttir (parents: Jónatan Árnason and Ingibjörg Bjarnadóttir), they had two children.
3) Halldóra J. Friðfinnsson in Winnipeg, b. 1893.
4) Emilía J. Friðfinnsson in Winnipeg, b. 1894, married to Halldór B. Baldwin (parents: Baldvin Benediktsson and Guðný Antoníusdóttir), they had two children.
5) Friðsteinn J. Friðfinnsson in Winnipeg, (1896-1927), married to Clara Sigríður Friðfinnsson.
6) Kristján J. Friðfinnsson in Winnipeg, (1898-1938), member of the famous Falcon icehockey team.
7) Wolfgang J. Friðfinnsson in Ontario, (1902-1956), married to Doreen McCrae Friðfinnsson. They had two children.
The genealogy from my Database.

 Beautiful Iceland
The Seljaland waterfall.
An unique waterfall in the river Seljalandsá, 40 meters high (120 ft), with a foot path behind it so you can look
out through the waterfall - you might be a bit wet though. A popular tourist attraction in Southern Iceland.
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 520.654 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, 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.