Thursday, January 1, 2009

Eiríkur Ólafsson

Eiríkur Ólafsson (Eirikur Olafsson) was born 14 November 1823 in Steinar, Rangarvalla. His parents are Olafur Sigurdsson, born 29 July 1793, died 25 October 1854; and Helga Eiriksdottir, born about 1791. Eirikur married Runhildur Runolfsdottir, born 17 May 1823 in Heidi, Reynir i Myrdal, Vestur Skaftafell. Her parents are Runolfur Sigurdsson, born in 1798 in Kross, Rangarvalla, died 19 June 1862; and Ingveldur Jonsdottir, born in 1798 in Dyrholar i Myrdal, Vestur Skaftafell, died 13 April 1868 at Skaganes, Reynir i Myrdal, Vestur Skaftafell. Eirikur and Runhildur had four children: Olafur, born 1852; Ingveldur 1854-1930; Skuli 1853-1907; and Sveinn born 1856.
Eirikur and Runhildur joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were baptized by Elder Jakob B. Jonsson on 30 April 1881. Eirikur, Runhildur and their daughter Ingveldur and her son Thorbjorn Thorvaldsson left Iceland 7 July 1881 with a group of 22 Icelandic Saints for America. Runhildur became ill and died while enroute to Spanish Fork, Utah; she is buried at North Platte, Nebraska. Eirikur remained behind to see the burial of his wife; however, his daughter and her son continued on to Utah. The group of Saints arrived in Salt Lake City 8 August 1881. They went directly to Spanish Fork, Utah. Ingveldur and her son stayed with Thordur Didriksson until Eirikur arrived in Spanish Fork 28 August 1881.
Eirikur Olafsson went to Iceland to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint in 1882. His service as a missionary was not the same as that of others who had served as missionaries in Iceland. In 1882 Eirikur reported that his name was called as a missionary in the spring conference in 1882. When he arrived in Salt Lake City he received no letter of appointment and was not set apart like other missionaries, nor did he receive the priesthood, which is given to missionaries before they depart. He felt impressed to go to Iceland and do missionary work without the proper authority.
Eirikur Olafsson went to Iceland with missionaries Elders Gisli Einasson (Bjarnason) and Peter Valgardsson. Eirikur was ordained an elder by Elder Gisli Einasson 7 June 1883, according to instructions received from the president of the Scandinavian Mission. He later apostatized.
Eirikur had written a book before returning to Iceland with the missionaries. The book served as a witness for truth and explained the errors of men by means of quotations from the Bible. Eirikur had one thousand copies of his book printed in Copenhagen, Denmark at his own expense of sixty dollars. He sold his books in districts in Iceland that had not been previously visited by Mormon missionaries. When he arrived in Reykjavik he had problems with the local authorities. He conversed with many priests in Iceland about religious topics. They differed much in their conception, and some became very angry with him, while others acknowledged that the Mormon doctrine was right and said they would be baptized as soon as the bishop would. He visited with hundreds of families and conversed with thousands of people concerning the truth and the commandments of God. Many acknowledged that the Mormon doctrines were true, but at the same time believed that their doctrines were good enough to save them.
He returned to Spanish Fork, Utah in 1883, where he remained for ten years. He then sold his home and went to visit his son Sveinn, in Independence, Missouri. Eirikur lived with him for a year and then went to Canada. He returned to Iceland and married Gudfinna Saemundsdottir, born 2 October 1865; her parents are Saemundur Jonsson, born 13 June 1829, died 13 November 1906; and Gudfinna Jonsdottir, born 8 June 1824, died 8 August 1878. It is said that when Eirikur married Gudfinna, he wanted a Mormon marriage, as he held the highest office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Iceland at that time. He performed his own marriage ceremony before three witnesses. There was such uproar over it, he wrote to the King of Denmark, telling him of the circumstance. The King sent back his approval of the marriage. A circular was printed with this sanction on it and delivered with the morning paper.
Eirikur later apostiziesed from the Mormon Faith and published another book, tearing to pieces all that he had written and published the first time. The books written by Eirikur were used as research by Halldor Laxness when he wrote Paradise Reclaimed in 1960. Eirikur was one of the characters the novel.
Eirikur was generally known as Eirikur from Brunum. Eirikur died in Iceland 14 October 1900 in Reykjavik. He is number 291 in Icelanders of Utah.

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