The Emigration from Iceland to North America

29 May 2008   Newsletter - Nr 66

 From the desk of yours truly

Sometimes I have wondered how it would be, having Left the Stage for good, if I could read my own obituary. -
Of course no one would have written bad words, I'm not that kind of a guy, but - you know - how nice would people really write?
Leaving the stage alive and in a pretty good health, I didn't expect much. Of course I was secretely hoping at least for some reaction to my intention of giving up my editorial status, but now, only few days after I sent you the dramatic announcement in Newsletter #65, I have received more e-mails than in months before and the funny things are: They are all pretty much alike. And what is strange, while reading through all the e-mails, it all becomes a bit diffuse. "Smoke gets in my eyes". I have to rub my eyes to get it all clear. Maybe it's my old age but I realize when I read all your nice words - this is the kind of an obituary I would like to be able to read from the heaven above.
Well, having wiped my eyes and reread many of your letters, I realize deep inside me that I really don't like to stop writing these Newsletters. So, the question to myself is: Should I be steadfast (stubborn) in my determination or take into consideration the suggestion from many of you to leave it open and write you a letter every now and then when I'm in the mood? A comeback would be a bit silly when people have said so nicely farewell to me, wouldn't it? Well, whatever, my website, my newsletters and my database will of course be there for your research. If you don't find your folks in the database, drop me a line.
Below are just very few précises from the bunch of e-mails I have received these last few days. You don't have to read it but I do want you to know how much I appreciate your thoughts.
Thank you all very much.

Dear Halfdan,
I just want to say THANK YOU!!! for the fine work that you have done and the legacy you leave. I wish you health and happiness. I have marveled at your many talents and I know that whatever you do with the rest of your life it will be worthwhile. Always in your debt, Norma.
I am so sorry to hear you are packing it in. What a tremendous contribution you have made to the genealogical research effort of us second and third generation Icelanders who have been fumbling along trying to find records of our ancestors. Not only have you provided invaluable help but you have made the project fun and personalized the contact with folks back in Iceland. (Noel)
Thank you for all the wonderful things you and your newsletter's provided. You were and are truly appreciated. (Sandra)
So sorry to see that your newsletter is ending. I really enjoyed it. I hope you will reconsider. Perhaps bi monthly or twice a year. (Jaimee)
Hello Halfdan, I want to thank you for the newsletters that you sent over the years. There is some very interesting and valuable information in them, and there are very few books in english that cover that. They are also very usefull since they have a search engine, I have used it often to find names when I tell people about their family tree's. (NJ)
Thank you for all you have done for so many of us. Your newsletter and database have been instrumental for me in finding my family roots and I appreciate that greatly. (Alan)
You mentioned that this is your last newsletter. Oh, my!!! I have read most of your newsletters and enjoyed them greatly. Your readers do like your stuff! (S.L.)
I am very sorry to hear that your "newsletters" have come to an end. Every time they arrived in my mail box I looked forward to reading them. You gave such wonderful information on Iceland, the land of my father and ancestors, and I eagerly read every word and learned allot about Iceland! I only wrote to you a few times because I knew that you likely received dozens of requests from your readers and I didn't want to burden you with more. (Marilyn)
Thank you for all your very interesting newsletters. I admire your efforts and will miss reading your newsletters. (SandraM)
You created quite a nice "newsletter" that is far beyond the standard. I have enjoyed the newsletter from many thousands of miles away . . . (David)
While I will miss your News Letters, I do appreciate the amount of time you committed to connect Icelanders world wide. Thank-You. (Jona)
Thank you so much for the time you have spent in writing these newsletters. I will certainly miss hearing from my homeland. (Karen)
Sorry to hear that there will be no more of you newsletters. I will miss the interesting things you have to say and the beautiful pictures you have sent over the years. Thanks so much for the help you have given me with my Iceland ancestors. (Joan)
Re lack of interest....... that certainly doesn't pertain to me. I looked forward to your newsletters & have looked back thru old issues numerous times. . . . I can't tell you how thankful I am for all the work you have done. (Doreen)
I read each issue as it came out and enjoyed it very much. You did a good job. (Gary)
I am sorry that you will no longer be sending the newsletter. I have enjoyed it. (Jeff)
I just received Newsletter # 65, May 23 2009 and was saddened to read it would be your last. My interest did not wan and I looked forward to receiving it, regardless of its frequency. However, I understand you are very busy and a constant, nagging need to produce yet another newsletter must have been burdensome. Thank you for being so curious, for taking such a great interest in those who left Iceland for North America and for helping us, the descendants, to better understand the country from which they came, why they left and what they did upon arrival in their new land. Your efforts in this regard, as reflected by the newsletter and the genealogical database, are much appreciated. Thank you, for everything. (Brian)
Too bad you're quitting the newsletters. I enjoyed reading them. You did a good job. (Thorunn)
I'm sad to hear you're not going to do the newsletter anymore, . . . do think about putting out an occasional, random, perhaps yearly, piece just when you feel the urge. You do have an appreciative audience. (Gery)
Thanks for the wonderful website and newsletter. I will miss seeing it. . . (Rick)
I want you to know that I have greatly appreciated being on your mailing list and reading the Newsletters, all of which I shall be saving. (Christine)
Thanks Halfdan for all those newsletters that you did send out. They were newsworthy and entertaining. I gleaned some information on my husband's family that we may never have known otherwise and increased my granddaughter's knowledge of their gr gr gr grandfather's homeland. (Glenice)
I have been waiting for your newsletter but NOT for the announcement you made today. (Ileen)
I'm very sorry to hear that you're letting go of the newsletter, but I do understand. (Teresa)
I noticed you have been "quiet" lately and wondered if you were finding more rewarding activities to occupy your time.
However, your announcement leaves many unanswered questions. Will you keep your archived newsletters on the web? Will you keep your related research sites on the web? And very importantly, will your database remain on the web?
I have to take exception to your belief that your work is no longer appreciated. It is very much appreciated and you have had an incalculable impact on the North American Icelandic community in my humble opinion. When I first began searching for my roots on the web a few years ago, I thought I had discovered a goldmine treasure trove when I landed on your newsletters and genealogical website.
I know interest can flag in the genealogy field, after all, most of the people that we study are dead and presumably will remain that way whether our interests wander elsewhere or not. But while you may feel a fatigue in continuing in this area--for the time being--I urge you to consider leaving all the hardwork you have posted on the web. Who knows, you may change your mind and want to pick up where you left off. (Brian)
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your amazing newsletter! I really have enjoyed all of the information you've shared, the pictures, and I've always watched for any potential heritage of mine. You featured my great-grandfather in your 36th newsletter. We were so very proud and excited! (Margaret)
I just wanted to thank you for providing your "news". My father,who passed away 18 months ago enjoyed every one of them. I went through the archives and printed all the early ones that he had missed. He then in turn would pass them on to his friends. (Darcy)
I hope we will hear from you again someday, and I will continue to visit your website seeking out my relatives. (Joyce)
Thanks for your years of writing the newsletter. I have enjoyed reading every single issue and appreciate that you have taken the time to keep us thinking about Iceland and the emigration. I hope this isn't the end of your genealogical expertise and commitment. You have helped a lot of us find our past. (Jason)
thank you sooooo much for providing us 'western Icelanders' with the wonderful descriptions, discussions, pictures etc. in your newsletter. I'm sorry you feel that perhaps no one was reading it, but rest assured there were a bunch of my relatives and friends who appreciated the content and especially your sense of humour! I can imagine it took much of your time and an abundance of effort to publish it even on a monthly basis. It will be missed!!! (Garry)
Thank you for the wonderful 65 newsletters. I enjoyed all the old and new "news" and the wonderful pictures of Iceland. I will dearly miss them . . . (Eunice)
I was very sorry to read that this is the final Newsletter that you will be sending out. You definitely did a great job. I, for one, will greatly miss your Newsletters. I have enjoyed every one of them, and sometimes go back and read previous issues, "just for the fun of it!!" I am still actively involved in researching my family background, but your excellent assistance several years ago resulted in my being able to get a very good handle on my Icelandic connections. I wish to thank you again very much for all your assistance. (Bill)
So sorry to see your newsletter go away. I have always been one of the silent readers out here that has enjoyed it over the years. (Steven)
I am sorry to see the ending of your newsletter. I have enjoyed it. I can understand all of the hard work it would take to put it all together. I just wanted you to know I was an avid reader and I wish I had told you earlier. (Carrie)
I am so sorry to read that this will be your last newsletter. I may not have written you very often, but I did eagerly await your newsletters and now I will miss them. I found your newsletters both interesting and informative. They also made me feel closer to my Icelandic ancestors and to Iceland itself. (Carolyn)
I am truly saddened to hear of the demise of your newsletter. I have always looked forward to your interesting anecdotes and dissertations on all things Icelandic. I am certain that I am not alone in my regret. I understand that one can become bored or run out of things to say, but I hope that you will change your mind and someday revive the publication, or at least reserve the option of publishing for special occasions. (Bob)
Thank you, Halfdan. I never said much, but I will miss the newsletters. (Charles)

 A search for some individuals
Thanks Fred and Jaimee for information regarding "some individuals" in my last newsletter. Now I'm searching for information about:
Kristin Bjarnadottir, born 15 June 1884, she emigrated 19 years old in 1903 (Vesturfaraskra page 110), married David Swanson, printer in Bellingham, Wash. Any information? When did she die? Who was David Swanson? Any descendants?
Gudrun Nikulasdottir, born 1862, emigrated in 1887 (Vesturfaraskra page 111) to Winnipeg, Man. What became of her?
Margret Snorradottir, b. 18 Sep 1867, emigrated 21 years old in 1888, destination New York (Vesturfaraskra page 117). It is not known what became of her.
Gudny Thorvaldsdottir, born 1872, emigrated 23 years old in 1897 with her one year old son, Valdimar Arsaell Helgason. Any information? The same year her brother Jon Thorvaldsson emigrated with his family. He died 1907 in or near Stony Mountain, Manitoba.
Gudmundur Jonsson born 3 May 1877 in Rangarvallasysla, Southern Iceland. Not known when he emigrated. Not listed in Vesturfaraskra (the emigration records). It's known that he lived in Vancouver, B.C., probably as a tailor. Would appreciate any information.

As I write this Newsletter #66 a strong earthquake had just an hour earlier shaken the south western part of Iceland. It's strength has been calculated to 6.3 on a Richter scale. I had just entered the house from doing some gardening when it struck and when I saw the ceiling lights swaying to and fro I thought: Shall I run outside? Then my wife called from the kitchen in an easy tone: "Did you notice the earthquake"? Women! Anyway, there were no damage done here in Reykjavik, but in the towns of Hveragerdi and Selfoss, east of Reykjavik, in the center of the earthquake, the damage on houses, furniture and table-service was in many cases considerable. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt.

 Beautiful Iceland
Drangaskord viewing south. Arneshreppur, The county of Strandasysla.
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 522.905 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 home place!
Mats Wibe
Click on Mats Islandsmyndasafn 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.