Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fréttir August 2012


The first weekend in August is what the Icelanders call Verslunarmannahelgi”, (merchants weekend). This is a tradition in Iceland and has been for many years. In 1887 the Icelanders in Spanish Fork held their first Iceland Days on August 3rd. Iceland Days has been held in Spanish Fork since that first celebration. The date was changed in 2002 to the third weekend in June to be closer to Iceland’s Independence Celebration June 17th. It was later chnged to the fourth weekend in June as to not conflict with Father’s Day.

Visitor from Vestmannaeyjar

Kári Bjarnason from Vestmannaeyjar will be visiting Utah again, August 5-15. Kári and Fred E. Woods would like to meet with the descendants of Icelanders in Utah during this block of time. Please let me know if you would be willing to meet with Fred and Kári. If you met with Fred and Kári before you may have something else to share with them. Please let me know the days as well as your phone number and address.
Those that live outside the State of Utah maybe we could arrange a phone interview.
You will be happy to know that Fred and Kári‘s first joint publication came out last month as well as an article on the opening of the Vestmannaeyjar exhibit on the Latter-day Saints last July.
Go to the MHSF website to purchase it. You can just Google MHSF for the website.
Here is the bibliographic information:
Fred E. Woods and Kári Bjarnason, “Jon Jonsson: Icelandic Mormon Poet and Translator,“ Mormon Historical Studies vol. 12, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 49-61.
In this same issue is this article:
Steven L. Olsen, “LDS Exhibit in the Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland Folk Museum,“ Mormon Historical Studies vol. 12, no. 2 (Fall 2011):161-165.

David Ashby

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson sworn in President for record 5th term

Utah Emigrant of the Month


Gísli Einarsson was born 24 November 1849 at Hrifunes, Asar i Skaftartunga, Vestur Skaftafell. His parents are Einar Bjarnason, born 4 March 1809, died 25 November 1890; and Gudrun Jonsdottir, born 14 August 1816, died 4 December 1878 in Spanish Fork, Utah. Gisli’s parents sent him to Reykjavik, where he studied to become a Lutheran minister. He mastered Latin and English and learned to read Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. At the age of twenty-four he went to Vestmannaeyjar to learn the fishing trade. It was here that he first learned of Mormonism from his mother’s brother, Loftur Jonsson, who had immigrated to Utah in 1857 and then returned to Iceland in 1873 as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1874 his mother and two sisters, Helga and Thorgerdur, immigrated to Utah with Loftur when he returned to Utah from his missionary service. Gisli remained with his father, hoping to convince him that he should accept the counsel of the Mormon elders.
In September of 1874, Loftur Jonsson was accidentally killed. Einar sent his son Gisli to Utah in the spring of 1875 with instructions to bring his wife and daughters back to Iceland. Upon arriving in Utah, Gisli found his mother too ill to travel. Torn in his conception of duty between his ailing mother, an adamant father, and his own desire to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and remain in Utah, he wrote his father, explaining his plight. The answer was slow in coming. In the fall of 1875, it was known that Einar Bjarnason had disinherited his wife, their two daughters, and his son, Gisli. He was a local magistrate and probably fairly well-to-do. He later married Hildur Magnusdottir.
After the death of Loftur Jonsson, Gisli fell in love with his widow, Halldora Arnadottir, born 22 August 1844. Her parents are Arni Asgrimsson, born 23 August 1802 at Leidveollur, Asar i Skaftartunga, Vestur Skaftafell, died 7 July 1846 in Undirhraun, Medalladsthing, Vestur Skaftafell; and Halldora Olafsdottir, born 3 November 1808 in Undirhraun, Medalladsthing, Vestur Skaftafell, died 1 June 1873 at Efri-Ey. Halldora was kind and good to all, especially to Gisli’s ailing mother. Halldora was attracted to this tall man, who was five years younger than she. They were married 17 April 1876 in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Utah. Halldora was sealed to her first husband, Loftur Jonsson, on this same day. The daughter of Loftur Jonson’s first wife continued to live with them, as Halldora felt she must give the girl a home as long as she lived. Gisli and Halldora had four children: Helga Maria 1876-1967, Loftur 1879-1939, Gudrun Dena 1881-1976, and Elin Ormena 1885-1887.
In the spring of 1881, Halldora became worried about her younger half-sister, Maren Halldorsdottir, who had been left alone in Iceland when their mother, Halldora Olafsdottir, died. Halldora sent Maren money to come to Spanish Fork, and when she arrived made her welcome in her home. Gisli took Maren as a plural wife; they were married 24 November 1881 in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Utah. Halldora was not happy about this marriage; she was disappointed in her sister, but she accepted it as part of her life. Halldora suffered a stroke in 1920 and was helpless for nine years. Halldora died 27 March 1929. Gisli and Maren had three children: Magnus Christian Bjarnason 1885-1916, Halldora Bjarnason 1886-1887, and Gisli 1888-1888.
Gisli was faithful in performing his church duties. He studied the principles of the gospel daily and became well informed. In the spring of 1882 he was called to serve in Iceland as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His companion was Petur Valgardsson.; they arrived in Denmark 3 June 1882 and then went on to Iceland, where Gisli was called to lead the branch in Iceland.
Gisli soon made his way to see his father, where he was well received, but he was made to understand that he must never mention Mormonism. Before he left, he explained to his family the facts concerning his mother’s illness and death. Gisli was stricken with typhoid fever while in Iceland and became seriously ill. When his health returned he found that he had lost his hearing. The doctor advised him to return to Utah, so he and Petur Valgardsson left Iceland. Upon returning home he was given an honorable release from his missionary services by Church authorities.
Gisli planted a large garden and raised splendid crops of vegetables. In 1909, on his sixtieth birthday, his Icelandic friends and neighbors held a testimonial in his honor and presented him with a gold watch and chain. Gisli died 17 August 1934 and is buried in the Spanish Fork City Cemetery. Gisli was known in Utah as Gisli E. Bjarnason and Gisli E. Bearnson.

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