The Emigration from Iceland to North America

4 May 2009   Newsletter - Nr 70

 From the desk of yours truly
"Once a Scout, always a Scout". A well known phrase. As a young boy I was a Scout. It was fun and it was educating. I believe. We went camping and had fun, learned the names of flowers and birds in the spring and the heavenly stars in the wintertime. I learned to tie some funny knots which turned out to be very useful to me when as a 16 year old I spent one short summer as a seaman. Yes, catching herring in the waters north of Iceland. A lot of ropes had to be tied and spliced during that time. But I have forgot most of what we were expected to do as Scouts long time ago. Well, I still help old ladied to cross the street - if necessary. But you don't have to be a Scout to do that.
Once a stamp collector, always a stamp collector? No. Not always. A lot of people collect stamps in their young days and when they grow up they lay off such a "childish" thing. Anyway, some are bitten by the bug as a youngster and start again in later days and even becomes philatelists. As I did. Became a serious philatelist, earning the first gold medal for Iceland at an international stamp exhibition and - just to brag a bit more - so far the only Icelander accepted as a juror at international stamp exhibitions and have been around as such. But In 2002 I quit. And instead I became even more involved in Genealogy than ever. Hopefully some of you may have gained from it. I did for sure.
I quit philately - or I thought so. Last year I accepted to be on the managing teem for an Internordic stamp exhibition - Nordia 2009 - held in the end of May next in Hafnarfjörður town, just south of Reykjavík. Philatelists from all the Nordic countries will participate with their exhibits and collectors in USA (The Scandinavian Collectors Club) will send their exhibits in hope for a good valuation. All this job has taken a good part of my time so I may have neglected many a good friend when it comes to genealogy. Sorry for that.

 Letter from Iceland
I always make eyes for old letters. Especially Icelandic letters like this one, beautiful item, sent in October 1889 from Vopnafjörður to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It would be interesting to know about the addressee Miss Sigríður Sigurðardóttir at 188 Jemima Street in Winnipeg.
In Vesturfaraskrá there are listed 13 women with this name, Sigríður Sigurðardóttir, that emigrated in 1889 or earlier but only four from the Vopnafjörður region.

A letter sent from Vopnafjörður in 1889 to Winnipeg, Canada, franked with a pair of 10 aurar and cancelled 10/10 (October 10th) with Vopnafjörður Lapidar cancel, then transit cancelled with Edinburgh Octagon-boxed Ship Letter cancel.Finally arrival cancelled with a small Winnipeg cancel 4 Nov. 1889. Photo nicked from an auction catalog. Estimated value 300 to 400 USD.
To my mind the most likely to be the addressee is Sigríður Sigurðardóttir who left from Hvammsgerði in 1888. In Vesturfaraskrá the destination is given Minneapolis. Anyway she lived her life in Winnipeg, married to Guðjón Jónsson (Johnson). This Sigríður was born 23 Aug 1862 and died in Winnipeg 31 Dec 1944. She had nine siblings and some of them emigrated to Canada. Her sister Jakobina died in Argyle, Man. 12 Oct 1890. She was married to Guðni Jónsson (1840-1889) and had three children: 1) Guðný b. 1885, married to Magnús Jónsson Nordal, 2) Jónína, married to Haraldur Davíðsson (somewhere in Manitoba) and 3) Jónas Guðnason Johnson who died in Detroit 1956. One sister to Sigríður Sigurðardóttir was Þóra, b. 1856, d. 1897. She was married to Hernit Kristófersson (1850-1928). Their son was Pétur Hallgrímur Hernitsson, b. 1881, d. 1963.

As you may understand, I'm only speculating and hopefully someone can inform me about Sigríður at Jemima Street in Winnipeg in the year 1889.

 Your chance may come again
In my last letter I mentioned how to grab the chance to visit Iceland this summer and get the most out of it. Jónas Þór (or Jonas Thor if you prefer) runs the company Thortravels arranging travels from Iceland to North America as well as from North America to Iceland. In June next a group of more than 80 persons will visit their ancestors home-pastures in Iceland. Hopefully they will fully enjoy the trip.
For future trips to Iceland - contact Jónas Þór.

 The Gimli stamps

Have you ever seen stamps like these? My sources tell me that these stamps were issued in 1918 in Winnipeg by Þorsteinn Þ. Þorsteinsson b. 11 Nov 1879, d. 23 Dec 1955 in Gimli, a painter, poet, historian, essayist and short story writer. One of the most versatile of the Icelandic Canadian writers.
Nothing is known about the quantity of his stamps - undoubtedly he is the designer - but they were printed in seven different colors and given to old residents in Gimli (Betel?). Hence the nickname "Gimli-stamps". The sheets are rather well known but if you have ever seen - or what's even better - have in your possession such a stamp on an entire (envelope) please let me know. You may have a rarity there. Such an item is not known in Iceland as far as I know.
Just to fill in the little I know about Þorsteinsson´s family. His first wife was Rannveig Jónsdóttir, b. 13 Oct 1888, d. 15 Dec 1912 in Winnipeg. She emigrated with her parents and sisters in 1891. The family settled at first in Sayreville, New Jersey and eight years later they moved to Winnipeg. Þorsteinn and Rannveig had two sons, Jon and Thorsteinn (as far as I know). Þorsteinn Þ. Þorsteinsson's second wife was Godmunda Haraldsdóttir (1885-1944).

 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 524.200 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.