A Brief History of Eyjolfur Gudmundsson & Valgurdur Bjornsdotter And their Children and Grandchildren (where known) Compiled by Ray Anderson
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A Brief History of Eyjolfur Gudmundsson & Valgurdur Bjornsdotter And their Children and Grandchildren (where known)
Compiled by Ray Anderson
Eyjolfur and Valgurdur had 12 children. They are listed numerically and the grandchildren are listed alphabetically under their parents.
All of Eyjolfur and Valgurdur’s children were born in Iceland, so we have called them Eyjolfsson or Eyjolfsdottir. After their arrival in America, the family changed their name to Jameson.
August 12, 1989
It has been a great and rewarding experience to write this history. With the little knowledge I had of Great-Grandfather Eyjolfur and Great-Grandmother Valgurdur, I thought it unfortunate that their descendants knew so little about them.
Now that the history is written, I have much more appreciation for these great people and their children. It took great courage and determination to come to this new land with all its foreboding challenges without giving up. They sacrificed everything; and because they did, we enjoy so much.
Their simple honesty and integrity has been inspiring. Their word was their bond. They knew nothing else.
I am grateful for having had this opportunity to get to know them better. I can better appreciate the heritage they left and hope you also might appreciate it more because you know more about them.
I am grateful for all those who took the time and made an effort to give me what information they had about the family.
I am also grateful for all those who trusted me with their priceless pictures so that we can all enjoy them.
I realize my inadequacies in trying to write this and know, of course, that it is far from complete and probably contains some errors, but I wrote it to the best of my knowledge.
We their descendants should be forever grateful to them for their willingness to dare, for their visions and dreams and for their examples of hard work and industry.
1436 E. 1300 So.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
P.S. I hope you keep in touch with me and that this will help us all know each other better.
Eyjolfur’s grandfather, Ketil Eyjolfsson, had a dream; and, as a believer in dreams, he believed it was a vision or a foretelling of the future. In the dream he was told that twin sons were to be born to him and his wife...one boy was to be named Natan, and the other, Satan. Ketil said he would never name a child of his Satan! When the twins were born, one died shortly after birth and so was not named. The other was named Natan.
Natan became a doctor, and a good one. He had received his training in Germany. It was said he could cure cancer by rubbing the sore with herbs he had gathered in the meadows and mountains. He charged the rich for his services, but not the poor.
Natan was a handsome man and had a number of girl friends. One of them was called Poet Rosa because she could recite poetry while talking as we talk to one another. Rosa was a friendly girl and was noted for her goodness to people. She was also a beautiful, small, dainty woman. So we can see why Natan loved her so much. They planned on being married. Another girlfriend, Agness, also loved Natan and was very jealous of Rosa. “If she couldn’t have him--no one else would either.” She enlisted the aid of a young friend, Fredrick, (a patient of Natan’s), and they killed Natan by stabbing him 18 times. His body was left in the house which they burned. All his books and papers were burned except 1 book. This was the first murder in Iceland for about 1,000 years.
Being under Danish rule, Agness and Fredrick were tried under Danish law and sentenced to death at the Icelandic Althing. Eyjolfur’s father, Gudmundur, who was Natan’s brother, was so enraged, he asked the Danish King if he could be the executioner. He wanted to stab each of the murderers 18 times. Instead, the King sent an execution axe. Only one swing was permitted per person, but apparently that’s all Gudmundur needed. This story is true and is recorded as “Natan’s Saga.” The axe used in these executions is still in the museum in Reykjavik. The blade is about 18-20 inches long.
Gudmundur’s wife, Audbjorg, was a good artist and did beautiful embroidery work. She and Gudmundur were Lutherans by faith and were very religious. The bible was read every night while the entire family would be working. One would read while the others worked--often they would be preparing wool to make clothing. They had their own sheep which they would shear themselves. The wool would be washed, pulled apart, corded, spun into thread, woven into cloth and made into clothing. The yarn was dyed different colors, but the natural colors of the wool were used most of the time. The different colors would be used to make the pattern or design they wanted. Audbjorg was very talented. She even knitted bedspreads--one had the Lord’s prayer knitted into it.
Gudmundur was a director of the poor law parish or district. He was also a very good singer and poet.
On October 11, 1829, Eyolfur was born at Illugastadir, Tjorn, Vestur-Hunavatunssysla, Iceland to Gudmundur and Audbjorg. He was the oldest of five children. When Eyolfur was 24 years old, he married Valgurdur Bjornsdottir on November 12, 1853.
Valgurdur was born January 1, 1828 at Kirkjuhvammur, Vestur-Hunavatussysla, Iceland to Bjorn Sveinsson and Rosa Bjarnadottir. Valgurdur was supposedly the only survivor of the volcanic eruption that destroyed the entire village where she lived. She came to Eyjarbakki to live in the Parish House with other orphaned children.
In those days in Iceland, the parents were the first, and often the only, teachers the children had. The long winter nights afforded them time to spend together in the family unit when the basic principles of living were taught. They learned and worked together. The children were taught to read at their mother’s knee. The bible was a main text, and many of the passages were memorized.
In places where there was a parish, the pastor would double as teacher. In small communities --too small to support a pastor--there would be a traveling pastor that would come periodically and hold services for the people.
Eyjolfur was a farmer, so the children all had to learn to work early in life. Farm work in Iceland in those days was mostly done by hand, so it took everyone working together to get the work done so they could survive. For most people it was just an existence. With the harsh climatic conditions and very little tillable land, farming, at the best, was very difficult. It consisted mostly of raising sheep and a few horses. With abundant rainfall, the grass grows very well and provides pasture for the animals. They would be pastured mostly in the mountains during the summer. In the valleys the grass would be cut for feed for the winter. This was difficult and time-consuming, but necessary for survival. Getting the grass dry enough to store was often very difficult with so much rain. Sometimes wooden racks were built to put the grass on so it would dry.
Their diet consisted mostly of what they could raise and what they could obtain off the land in their area. Eyjulfur raised his own sheep, so mutton was probably used a great deal. If they lived close to the ocean, and most people did then, they could supplement it with fish which is of the best quality. The rivers and streams were also well stocked with wonderful salmon and trout. Horses were also used for food. In fact, Scandinavian people prefer it to beef which was in very short supply in those days.
Iceland abounded in birds (more so than now). At certain seasons, these would be used to supplement their diet. Also, during the nesting season, the bird eggs were, and still are, a welcome addition.
It was hard for them to export and import goods at good prices because of a terrible trade monopoly imposed on them by Danish companies which caused them starvation and misery as goods were expensive and short in supply. Some of their livestock and fish was probably sold or traded to people in the villages or sent to Reykjavik to obtain foodstuffs or materials which they needed.
In 1854, when Eyjolfur was 25 years old and just a year after his marriage, the trade restrictions were ended and a free press was established. This was good news to the young couple. However, survival still required a wise use of all resources. Some of the things Icelanders had to do to stretch their food budget seem strange to us, but were necessary.
The heads of the animals were cooked and the meat was taken off. Other parts of the animal, along with herbs and spices were added and mixed together. Onions were a special addition to this mixture which was all put in a cloth sack or wrapped in material. A heavy weight (rocks maybe) was place on the sack which would press out the excess fat. After a curing time, this conglomeration - or head cheese - would be eaten. As I worked as a boy, our sandwiches were often made out of head cheese. I recall helping to cook the heads, taking the meat off the bones, turning the grinder and mixing it all together.
Even the blood of the animals was used. Herbs and spices, along with the other ingredients, were all mixed together. The mixture would be formed and sliced into paddies or meat balls and cooked. This was called blood “pulsa.”
The liver was used fresh. It was also used to make a spicy sausage or “pulsa” which was used as cold meat or in sandwiches. The liver was mixed with the mutton heart and some meat. Herbs and spices were added. The sheep’s intestines were cleaned, and the mixture was packed in them. It was all cooked in a broiler and refrigerated or cooled as well as they could. It could then be sliced and used as cold meat or in sandwiches.
Old Geeta who lived across the street from Aunt Sarah and Kelly’s house and the little church used to make this for our family. The older members of the family will remember eating these different meats that would help stretch the food budget.
Sometimes the meat was cured by smoking it. The meat would hang in a smoke-filled room for a period of time until the smoke would penetrate, flavor, and preserve it. Certain kinds of wood were used to give the right flavor. This was common in preparing “Hanka Kjot” or hanging meat. A leg of lamb, for example, would be cured and be left hanging in some convenient place (back porch or in a corner) where at any time, slices could be cut off for a quick meal or sandwich.
Most of the people at that time lived off the land and were farmers and thus the family was a very close-knit unit. Their homes were on their land--scattered over the countryside.
During the winter, other than taking care of the animals, the work could be done on the farm, so the family had time to do such things as make and repair tools. The family was mainly a self-sustaining unit so that most of what they needed on the farm and in the home they made themselves. Lumber or any kind of metal was of very short supply and was very expensive, so it was necessary to improvise and take care of everything.
With rocks so plentiful and all other building materials in such short supply, the rocks were sometimes piled up to make fences, walls, and enclosures to contain the animals. Such jobs could be done in winter because many of the days were rainy, and not snowy all the time.
It was said that one of the last things Grandpa Eyjolfur did was build a rock wall on his farm. When Aunt Beck visited the farm, the wall was still being used.
With the rocks cleared away, the ground would be more productive and harvesting of the grass easier.
The hides of the animals were cured and could be used in many ways. Coats and other outerwear of leather were probably common. They would be warm, durable and water repellant. Many people, especially those in the country, probably made their own shoes or some kind of footwear. Leather would be the most adaptable and practical. By Eyjolfur’s time, there was a lot of specializing in the trades and some were very skilled. Very good shoemakers were found among the Icelandic people who immigrated here.
Skins would be hung on the walls to help provide warmth for the animals as well as for the people. Leather or skins would be very useful on the farm for such things as hinges for doors and gates; harnesses for horses; leather strips to tie up hay; control animals; hang food or tools, etc. from rafters; tie rafters together; water buckets; and many other uses.
Hides also were undoubtedly a practical source of cash or barter. They could easily be transported to the villages and on to foreign lands.
Although a farmer by trade, Eyjolfur had other interests. He must have been a very ingenious person. He was awarded a medal by the King of Denmark for improving the living standards of the people. He was the first agriculturist in Iceland for which he received a gold trophy and cover from the king. We understand it is still in the little church close to his old home in Eyjarbakki. It was offered to Aunt Beck, but she refused saying it belonged to Iceland and should stay there.
However, she did accept a gift of Eyjolfur’s “stamp” that was given by the King of Denmark which he used with hot wax to seal envelopes and legalize papers. We understand that one of Aunt Becks’ children has this now. Eyjolfur owned an island that had a stream running through it. Many eider ducks would come to the island to nest. He began an eider duck down business which flourished and brought him a lot of recognition and made him quite wealthy by Icelandic standards. He built a long rock building (about 75 to 100 feet) over the stream. The building had doors in the front that would open wide. As the ducks would swim into the shed, they would trip bell stings and the bell would ring. Also at night when the ducks came to nest, the family would shoo the ducks into the shed.
The ducks would be caught, killed, and plucked of their down. It would be put in a large vat to be washed. It was hard work keeping the down under the water and stirred until it was washed just right. It would then be dried and used in pillows and down comforters which were and still are very popular among people in cold climates. The down is very warm and comfortable. It would be expensive, and so out of reach for most people unless they did all the work themselves. Most of Eyjolfur’s was sold to well-to-do people or exported to Denmark, and then on to other countries. The quality of his down brought fame and fortune and commendations from the King of Denmark.
Eyjolfur received the whalebone carving because of his efforts to help the people of Iceland to survive during the famine. He taught them the parts of the duck that were edible and then showed them how warm the down was. The oil was used for light and fuel. The breast of the duck was eaten fresh or smoked so it could be preserved and eaten later. The backs, legs, necks, and wings were placed on a rack and dried for fuel. Oil would drip from the trying duck into the vat and later sold to be used to produce light. A wick could be placed in a bowl of oil and be lighted. This was probably the only source of light for many people. Some of the oil was mixed with manure or placed on manure bricks and sold for fuel.
When the family came to America, the brought their down comforters and pillows. The dust from the down was very fine and was blamed for the blindness of Eyjolfur’s daughters--Rosa and Ogn. Ogn remained in Iceland because she was married and had a family there when the family immigrated. Medical doctors now say this is not factual. The blindness resulted from Glaucoma, a weakness characteristic to the families in Northern Iceland. Aunt Beck also said there was another sister, Eygerdur, who also went blind. She is thought to have emigrated to Utah and she and family settled in Mercur, a mining settlement.
Eyjolfur invented a machine similar to a cotton gin to separate the down from the grass and straw or other foreign material, all of which would be mixed with wings, feathers, and manure and oil for fuel. He wrote a pamphlet about the ducks and their down and the many ways to use the by-products. It was issued by the government and brought him more fame and fortune.
Iceland has no coal resources or trees to provide fuel, so even though the burning of manure for fuel sounds strange and repulsive to us-- that’s all they had. Some pieces of wood from wrecked ships might wash ashore, but any that was large enough would be treasured and used for lumber on buildings or to make tools.
Eyjolfur was also a trapper and hunter of grey fox and seals. Most of these were sent to European countries to be made into coats and other articles of clothing. When the family emigrated, they brought seal skin coats with them. These would probably be very expensive and out of reach for most people.
Eyjolfur had a beautiful tenor voice and was the chorister in the church near his home. He was called the “For singery.” Music must have been an important part of their family life for his descendants. Almost without exception, all of them love music and love to sing. Among his children and grandchildren, there were many fine musicians--some exceptionally good. As the chorister in their local parish, he was considered to be next to the priest.
Eyjolfur was not a licensed doctor, but much have acquired a lot of practical experience for he was considered a good doctor. This knowledge and experience was to be very helpful to him later on in his life. He believed that if one would “rowa” (rock the body vigorously) they would not have troubles with their bowels or circulation. Maybe this is in harmony with the running, jogging, walking, aerobics program of today. He lived in the “Bildur,” or bleeding era. He invented some kind of an instrument which he would use on his child-bearing patients when in hard labor to lessen the pain. There was not anesthetics in those days, so any lessening of the pain was a great help.
He knew a lot about the circulation in the body and what helped the veins and arteries to be healthy and function as they should.
It is said that he never lost a patient, but I don’t know how that is to be interpreted. Maybe it meant certain types of patients for surely he would have had some losses.
This is a typical of the houses in Iceland. Many of the old homes had sod roofs and small windows because of the extreme cold weather.
Eyjolfur and Valgurdur were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). The missionaries were Haldor Jonson and Einar Erickson. As the story goes, Eyjolfur and Valgurdur were promised by the missionaries that if they joined the church and immigrated to Utah, their two ailing children (Rosa’s blindness and Avey’s hunchback) and son-in-law, Hjalmur Bjornson, who was crippled would all be healed by their handicaps. They had heard of the miraculous healings of the Mormon elders and felt it imperative to go to Utah where the power of healing might be experienced by their crippled loved ones.
They sold their farm and obtained passage on the ship “Cumous.” Eyjolfur and Valgurdur had been blessed with twelve children. The first six were girls and then came six boys. Three of the children died in infancy: Sigurbjort born June 28, 1858 lived almost 18 months and died December 12, 1859. Frodi was born July 16, 1864 and lived until October 26, 1964. Numi was born June 28, 1867 and lived only 10 days to July 7, 1867. Their daughter, Ogn, had married Gudmann Arnasson by this time and had established her home so she did not immigrate with her family.
So in June of 1883 Eyjolfur and Valgurdur left their beloved home for the new world paying the passage for their eight children. Their daughter, Eygerdur, had married Hjalmur Bjornson,and they had one child who made the journey with them. A few other family members made the journey with them.
He was probably the only doctor on the ship; so he would have kept busy helping people, although he was reported to have been very seasick himself. There were approximately 200 emigrants on the shop so there would have been ample opportunities for many to be sick from many different diseases in addition to the sea sickness of most of them. Several babies were born during the 14 day voyage to Ellis Island. The first day out of Reykjavik began very calmly and pleasant, but before it was over they were in a bad storm.
After leaving Ellis Island, they headed west stopping first in Pempina, North Dakota. We don’t know for sure their means of transportation, but they reportedly walked the last 20 miles to Pempina in a snow storm. There was a settlement of Icelandic people there. While in Pempina, a lot of their woolen clothing was stolen from the clotheslines where it was drying. They saved their sealskin coats and some of their woolen things which they needed in the cold weather of North Dakota. They many have traveled part of the way on the railroad trains or by stage coach.
Among the Icelandic people they met there was a woman who became the mother of Valhalmar Stephenson, the arctic explorer. They were good friends of this family for many years.
After about a year in Pempina, their son, Bjorn who was 12 years old, was drowned in quicksand near the Red River. Valgurdur was heart-broken and asked that they move on.
They moved on to Helena, Montana where they worked in the mines and the community. Most of the family moved on to Spanish Fork, Utah leaving Jim, his wife, Ingeborg, and Gudmunda in Helena. Gudmunda was working in a hotel there but soon joined her family in Spanish Fork. Jim and Ingeborg also moved there shortly after.
They had heard glowing reports on conditions in Utah. Unfortunately they had a rude awakening, for Utah was still largely unsettled. The economy was entirely agricultural with practically no industry in the Spanish Fork area where they settled. There were very few jobs other than those related to farming or ranching.
Aunt Beck said that some of the family lived in a dirt cellar (for vegetables) in Provo for the first three or four years until they built a home in Spanish Fork.
I have never heard and now we can’t find out how they managed upon arrival in Spanish Fork. We don’t know for sure what kind of work they were able to find or where they lived in the beginning, but without question it was a difficult time. Some Icelandic families had been there for some time and undoubtedly assisted them, but we don’t know the details. Other immigrants were digging caves in hillsides to live in until they had the means and time to build something better. We know some Icelandic families did this.
This story of Grandma Legga (Bjornlaug) might give us some indication of the difficult time they had during the first years over here. It was written to my by Josephine B. Cutler (Rozelle’s daughter). She was staying with Aunt Beck and went up to see Grandma. “Come here, Josephine,” she said. “Closer so I can see you.” She hugged me. “I want to tell you something. When I was a little girl, I came from a palace to a new country and a new life.” She paused and looked out into space for a while. Then she said, “One hour of freedom is worth any price you might ever have to pay.” (Iceland was under very repressive Danish rule at this time). She continued, “It was so hard in this, our new country, I never wrote back to our people in Iceland-- I didn’t want them ever to know. My hands are so rough from the hard work. They wouldn’t understand.”
They probably accepted any employment they could find until they could get established in the trade. They were willing and hard workers; so undoubtedly, they were able to find employment on farms in the area. Through the summer there was usually work to be done so they could provide for themselves. But in the winter, work would be very scarce. It was necessary that they plan ahead and prepare for the winter months by storing food and fuel.
Most of the small communities had a sugar factory that provided some employment for part of the winter months and some of the early Icelandic people worked there.
The coal mining camps in Carbon County were operating at this time and many of the Icelandic men went there to find employment. Some of them moved their families up there while others left their families in Spanish Fork and traveled back and forth as often as they could. Some of our people found employment in the silver, lead , and gold mines in Eureka and Mercur.
The Icelanders were poor and understood very little about the new land. They congregated in the southeast corner of town where the soil was the poorest and the water was the scarcest. The environmental conditions were so different than those in their native land that it was a difficult time. The climatic conditions have been tempered since those days. We don’t have the terrible harsh winters that existed during the 1800’s. Aunt Beck told us of 35 food drifts. Sometimes the upstairs windows were the only way to get in and out of some houses. She told of Kelly’s clothes freezing so hard, he needed help to get them off and how Siggie, Jake and Outny would walk up the canyon and back to Mapleton every day to work -- summer and winter -- with that canyon wind blowing like it does. With no money even for horses, and their need for jobs, they had to do things that we wouldn’t think of doing today.
The Iceland winter is tempered by the gulf stream so the extreme cold and deep snow were factors they had not reckoned with. At times there was considerable snow in some areas of Iceland, but usually deep snow and extreme cold were not problems.
Utah, like many places in the United States, was a new land--mostly unsettled and untamed. Most people had just the bare necessities to live on. Everyone had to work hard and there was little time to worry about immigrants moving into town with their strange language.
It was difficult for the Icelandic people (especially the older ones) to assimilate with other people. They were a close-knit group and traditionally somewhat reserved with strangers. However, among themselves there was no reservations--a lively, friendly, fun-loving people. Once they go to know someone, there was no limit to what they would do for them. This is still a characteristic of people in Iceland today. Their hospitality is unsurpassed once they get to know you.
Those early settlers provided most of their own entertainment and social life. Traditionally, they loved music. Singing alone or in groups was a great source of encouragement and hope as well as joy and relaxation. There were many different singing groups among them--the most well-known being the Jameson quartet comprising of Uncle Jim, his son, Ton, and his daughters Rose and Ellen. They sang a great deal throughout the valley and went on singing tours into different parts of the country. We can all think of many fine musicians among the family members. Sometimes along the way there was an Icelandic choir. It is said it rivaled the Welch choir in quality.
As mentioned before, Eyjolfur had a great tenor voice, so we presume it is from him that so many of his descendants have been blessed with good voices. All through the years his family has been well represented on Iceland Day programs and musical productions in the communities wherever they lived.
Many of their social gatherings were in their homes, but in 1892 they did build the Icelandic Social Hall. It was located on 7th east between 2nd and 3rd south. It served as their dance hall and social gathering place.
Iceland Day was the big social activity of the entire year and was indicative of their love of music, fun and each other. The first Iceland Day was held in the Icelandic Social Hall in 1897. A bowery had been built on the north side of the social hall which helped to handle the crowd. It was an all-day affair with sessions being held in the morning and afternoon and the grand ball in the evening. The old timers still among us will remember the Iceland Day held at the “diversion Dam” and Castella Springs Resort. Later some were held at the Geneva Park and at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon.
Eyjolfur was the doctor of the Icelandic people. He was not licensed to practice medicine and so was not acceptable to the American Medical Association. He could cure some diseases and had a lot of medical knowledge and experience. He had brought quite a number of medical books from Iceland. Some of these he burned when he was spurned and rejected by the American Medical Association. He became bitter and disillusioned and destroyed when a fire destroyed the home of Legga and Boas (partially). We don’t know how many medical books he had or what they contained. Paul Jameson remembers seeing some of them, but one source said there was a large number.
Grandpa Eyjolfur must have been an unusually intelligent and talented person to be so proficient in so many areas. In addition to his musical and medical abilities, he wa also a poet. A book of poems of his was published in Iceland prior to his coming to America and is in the Library in Reykjavik. He also composed poems of good quality over here until disappointments and problems embittered him. Paul said he had seen the book of poems and was impressed with the quality.
His skillful hands allowed him to be a good wood carver and carpenter. In his later years he made a clothes closet, a number of small chests and a jewelry box for Aunt Beck. Loyal still has the box. I remember seeing the clothes closet. It was about 6 ft. tall and 4 or 5 ft. wide. The top had a scalloped design. It has since been discarded.
Both Eyjolfur and Valgurdur deeply loved Rozelle. She was the oldest great-grandchild in America and lived with them part of the time. He made her a rocking chair just like he had made for old “Uma” (great-grandmother in Icelandic). Rozelle said he also made her a doll house -- large enough for her to go inside -- with small handmade or carved furniture. When Valgurdur got sick, it was necessary to sell the doll house to get money to purchase medicine for her. He felt very bad that he had to do it.
Eyjolfur could knit very well. Characteristic of most Icelanders at the time, their hands had to be busy even when sitting down. He knit some house slippers for Rozelle. They were grey and white with little deer on either side. She wore them completely out and then after keeping them for a long time, she buried them in a secret hiding place along the fence.
He would help Avery in his repair shop which was in the back of their cottage located on Boas & Legga's lot. The cottage has been gone for many years, but the address would have been about 870 East 100 South.
He was also an experienced clock maker. One of the clocks he made was in the possession of Aunt Ada who gave it to Blanche Anderson Flint many years ago. It is still in her possession but it is not running right now.
Valgurdur must have been a very patient and loving person. She had worked hard along side of Eyjolfur to establish their home and farm in Iceland. She, along with Eyjolfur wanted only the best for their family. They were willing to leave their comfortable home and surrounding for the uncertainties of the new land if it would help their children.
Valgurder taught her daughters well for they were all good homemakers. They all knew the value and necessity of industriousness and hard work. She helped them with their own families after they were established in Spanish Fork. When they were working, or had to be gone from the home, Valgurdur would tend the children. She was very good with the grandchildren and they all loved her dearly. She would brush Rozelle’s hair until it shone and would then braid it.
She was a great storyteller, and passed the art on to her daughters. Grandma Legga and Aunt Beck were good at it. Rozelle spent a lot of time with Valgurdur. “Uma,” as she was called, would tell her stories of Iceland and of the “old ones.” These were old stories passed down from one generation to the next. One of them was of the “ancient ones.” It was of our people being a persecuted tribe in the Jerusalem area. A few at a time had moved near Turkey. They were tent makers and had some animals. A neighboring chieftain wanted their beautiful stallion. He was overheard ordering all of our people killed, so they fled in the night. They traveled around the Mediterranean Sea and worked their way northward into Scandinavia. They settled first in Norway and later on went to Iceland.
Before leaving Iceland, Valgurdur and her daughters made and donated to the church a large amount of hairpin lace. When Aunt Beck was visiting the old church, the people gave her this lace to bring back to America. She refused saying, “This is our heritage. Leave it here for our people.” They did insist she accept a beautiful sweater made of Icelandic wool which she dearly loved.
Valgurdur was very much afraid of the indians who would visit or pass through occasionally. The indians had stolen several children, so Valgurdur didn’t trust them. She would not open the door until she knew who it was who came calling.
Few people today know anything about Iceland and her people, and during Eyjolfur’s and Valgurdur’s time the ignorance was more profound. The Icelandic immigrants were ridiculed and maligned because of their peculiar habits, customs and dress by those who had already established themselves in the area. Also their poverty and slowness in adjusting to the language and the prevailing customs may have singled them out for derision. This narrow-mindedness and prejudice was a bitter pill for the Icelandic people. Such discrimination by some people had a great influence on the Icelanders and their associations in the community. They became an even more closely-knit group.
With all the rejection and disappointment that they felt, Eyjolfur and Valgurdur became disenchanted with the Mormon church. They and all of their children, except Audrosa, left the church and joined the local Lutheran congregation.
The Lutheran church was located about 870 East Center Street. It was built on the property donated by Kelly and Sarah Jameson. It served that congregation for many years, and was the gathering place and social center for the Icelandic people, whether Lutheran church members or not. Many people have fond memories of that little Icelandic church upon the hill and the great times they had there. The building was torn down years ago, but the memories of it still exist.
Eyjolfur and Valgurdur were very compassionate and good people --truly great Christians. They were kind to everyone and people who knew them loved and appreciated them. They were deeply religious and their love and respect for God and his creations was reflected in their lives. The bible and its teachings played an important part. They read it a great deal and knew it so well they could recite much of it by memory.
It was a catastrophe (and we’ll never realize how great) for their descendants and other people that their knowledge and wisdom and good example could not have been used to better advantage and bless the lives of more people.
They have left us a great family -- one we can be proud of. Almost without exception, their descendants have been honorable men and women. They have been hard working and an industrious people who have used their skills and talents to bless the lives of countless other people. Many of them have been very skilled in various trades and businesses. Many others have distinguished themselves in professional fields. They have been law abiding and patriotic and have loved the land that has been so good to them. Many have served in the armed forces and have served well -- some at great sacrifice.
It took a lot of love, courage and sacrifice for Grandfather Eyjolfur and Grandmother Valgurbur to leave their comfortable life in Iceland for the harshness of the new land, but we can all be thankful what they did.
How grateful we should be for the heritage they have passed on to us -- for their examples of honesty, industry, reverence for life, and their determination to brave whatever was necessary to bless their family. May we always remember the sacrifices made for us so that we could enjoy the blessings of freedom and abundance.
The children of Eyjolfur and Valfurdur were all born in Iceland in Vestur-Hunavatnssysla.
1. Ogn was born July 4, 1854. She married Gudman Arnasson September 20, 1878. They had seven children. In 1883 when her parents left Iceland, she did not leave with them. She had worked with the other family members in the eider-duck-down enterprise. It was thought that she became blinded by the down like Audrosa and Eygurdur. However, when I visited Iceland in 1896, a cousin, Jakob Jakobsson, who had actually lived on their farm, said that the families in the North of Iceland had a problem with Glaucoma and that is what blinded the girls rather than the down. He was very positive about this. He said that still, today, the families from the North come to Reykjavik regularly for eye examinations.
Ogn died in 1944. She has many descendants in Iceland. In 1930 when Beatny, Inga, Jim and Ellen Jameson, Dorothy and Jim Parcell, Paul Jameson and his mother were in Iceland, they visited with Ogn and her family. The accompanying picture was taken this time. On my visit to Iceland in 1929, I stayed a few days with Ogn’s daughter, Laura, and her family. They are good people and were very hospitable to me.
2. Eygerdur was born August 10, 1855 in Illugastadir, Vestur-Hunavatnssysla, Iceland. She married Hjalmer Bjornson. Their son, Agnor, was born Dec. 1, 1879. A daughter, Valgurdur was born May 31, 1880 and died Dec. 12, 1880.
Hjalmer was an expert shoemaker. His leg or foot had been injured in an accident, and he was left crippled.
This family left Iceland with Eyjolfur’s family and came to America, hoping that Hjalmer would be healed in Utah.
Eygerdur died March 14, 1885, shortly after the family’s arrival in Spanish Fork, Utah. Their son, Agnor married and had 2 children, Clifford Agnor and Thelma Eygerdur. He left Spanish Fork. It is not known what happened to Hjalmer or his descendants. If anyone has any information about them, please let us know.
3. Audrosa was born May 2, 1857. When she was young, she was small like her sister. Her hair was coal black which would lend some support to her mother’s story that her family had come from the Mediterranean Sea area. She would wash it every day.
On board the shop coming to America, she met Jon Bjarnson. They fell in love and were married January 29, 1885 shortly after their arrival in Spanish Fork.
John was born August 24, 1843 in Bjarnarnesi, Kaldronnes, Strand, Iceland. He was a farmer by trade and had a good business head. Many people sought his advice on business matters and his judgment was well respected. He was a kind, considerate person and had a good sense of humor. He loved to tell the stories of Iceland and her people and would tell them over and over to anyone who would listen. He died April 13, 1909.
When the family was in Montana, one of the jobs that Rosa and the other girls was to do washing for the miners. It was hard work for it was done on an old washboard. The clothes would be very dirty, so it was a tough job. Another hard job she had at that time was cooking for the miners. Rosa would talk about the hard times they had, but she would also laugh about them.
She and John were farmers. They had cows and other animals. After she would make the butter, John would walk to Springville to sell it for he could get cash there. If they sold it in Spanish Fork, they would have to trade it for something else.
Rosa’s eyesight was bad for many years. One day while attempting to light an oil lamp, she dropped the lighted match into an oil container. The oil exploded and her clothes caught fire. To protect the house and children she ran outside and across the street where she knew there was a ditch with water in it. She was badly burned over all of her body and left completely blind. This accident was in 1899 so Rosa was blind for about 42 years until her death March 22, 1941.
She and John had 10 children -- five of them died in infancy.
Even with all the tragedy and heartache she had been through, she remained cheerful. When we would visit, she always seemed to be humming a tune, and she always had a treat of some kind for us children. She was usually sitting in her rocking chair busily knitting. Her hands were never still.
She was very religious and knew the bible very well. She still loved to have John, or anyone else, read the Icelandic bible and any other book to her over and over. He would tease her by stopping in the middle of a sentence. She would say the words he had presumable stumbled over and finish the sentence.
She was also a great storyteller, and the children all loved to hear the stories.
How she loved her neighbors! Those old Icelanders were more like brothers and sisters. Topa always came by weekly with her soup make out of mutton, fresh vegetables and barley. Hannah and Siggie Johnson were very attentive to her also.
She kept her belongings in a box that had been made in Iceland. It was her “Kofat.”
The children of Rosa and John were:
A. Eygerdur Adrois born September 12, 1885 and died June 11, 1896.
B. Bjarnveig Christine was born April 15, 1888. After Rosa’s accident--the fire--and being the oldest living child, great were the responsibilities placed on young shoulders. She was the interpreter for her parents and learned to bargain for the best prices.
In addition to caring for the younger children and the home, she worked as a dressmaker to help support the family. She became an expert seamstress and won prizes for what she produced with her treadle machine.
Like many Icelanders, Christine went to schofield to work where she met Fred Hirst. They were married December 22, 1910 in Clear Creek. For a while he managed the general store and the post office. They later moved to Provo where Fred worked in retail stores and real estate and eventually moved to Orem where they purchased a farm.
Christine was deeply religious and very active in the Christian Science church where she was elected to be a reader. She was a tower of spiritual strength to her family and friends.
She inherited her love of poetry from her grandparents. She could memorize and remember it. When she was 87 years old she recited the following poem:
I look to Thee in every need
And never look in vain.
I feel thy touch, eternal love,
And all is well again.
The thoughts of Thee are mightier far
Than sin and pain and sorrow are.
Thou leadeth me in unsought ways
And turn my mourning into praise.
Emblossomed deep in Thy dear love,
Held in Thy law I stand.
Thy hand in all things I behold,
And all things in thy hand.
Her cheerful and optimistic attitude towards life undoubtedly contributed to her long life. She died March 8, 1976.
Their children were Sheldon; Willard, Josephine, (who died in 1921); Mark Frank; and Faun.
C. Jonina (Aunt Nene) was born October 5, 1890. She and JOhannah were the first of three sets of twins born to Audrosa and John Bjarnson. She married Richard Eugene Harrison on August 9, 1913 at Provo, Utah. They had 5 children: John; Doris; and Douglas...A set of twins born to Aunt Nene but died soon after birth.
Richard was drowned on the 11th day of July, 1915 at Green River, Utah. Jonine was a proud mother and did every kind of work she could find to provide for her family. But even with her best effort, there were times when Nene didn’t eat with her children because there wasn’t enough for her and them; so she would go without.
In addition to taking care of her own place with the gardens to care for, cows to milk, animals to feed, bottling fruit and vegetables and many other things to be done; she still found time to work for others, cleaning, nursing sick people, and doing washing and whatever she could find to do. She often helped the farmers in the fields where she would work alongside the men. To supplement her income, she would glean grain after the threshers, picked up coal along the railroad tracks and cut hay with a sickle.
Even with all she had to do, she still found time for her children. She would read a lot to the children and teach and play games with them. She loved to see children playing.
Nene was very considerate of her mother and spent as much time as she could with her. She would read to her for hours at a time. She knew the importance of a good relationship with her children and frequently did things with them to strengthen that relationship. She was a very caring person and was concerned about others. I remember going there many times and was always received kindly. She usually had something for us --a cookie or a mint or something.
Aunt Nene was always appreciative of things that were done for her, and in turn was always helping someone else. These were difficult times but the burdens were lightened by the love and cooperation of those around her.
She was a great fortune teller--either with coffee cups (Spau) or with cards, but never for money. She could sense things that were going to happen in the future.
After being widowed for thirteen long hard years, she married Hyrum Smith Littlefield on the 18th of October 1928 at Provo, Utah. He was a very good companion to her and they had a good life together. Hy was just a real good hard-working man who fit into the Icelandic Bench community very well. He was always friendly and would do anything to help his neighbor. He was the only father the children ever knew, and earned the right by his love and concern for them. They will always remember his helpfulness to their mother when she was so sick for so many years.
Aunt Nene passed away January 20, 1957 after a long illness and much suffering. At her funeral it was said that she was a graduate of the school of sorrow and pain; and one who endures such sorrow and pain learns lessons that result in kindness, patience, fortitude, courage and faith.
Here is a picture of her daughter, doris, and her husband, Merrill Havlerson. A picture of her son, John and his wife, Florence is on page 13 with their grandmother Rosa.
D. Johannah was born October 5, 1890 and died August 10, 1891. She was Jonina’s twin.
E. and F. Sarah and Serenna (twins) were born November 25, 1892 and died the same year.
G. Martha Margaret Bjarnson was born January 25, 1895 in Spanish Fork, Utah. She and her twin, Margaret Mary Bjarnson were the third set of twins born to Rosa and John.
Martha was a very hard worker. Since their mother was partially blind, it was necessary for them to do most of the housework...Martha was an excellent cook. She got lots of practice early in her life. She, at one time, worked for a bishop and his family. She had to bake bread daily, and on weekends, triple the quantity of bread she baked so the older boys could take it to Provo where they were attending BYU.
Family and friends and neighbors all brought their troubles and problems to Martha because she was such a sympathetic person. Her first thought was always for their comfort and happiness. She was always ready to “fix a bite to eat” for any and all who dropped in or came to visit.
Martha married Frank Stubbs Taylor of Provo, Utah on August 9, 1920 in Farmington, Utah. Frank and Martha lived a short time in Spanish Fork, but most of their married life they lived in Provo where Frank was a fireman for the Provo City Fire Department.
When Martha and Frank would be visiting in our home or other places in Spanish Fork, they always seemed like such a happy couple. Martha was always so interested in knowing what was going on in the family and loved to visit her mother and family.
Like her mother, Martha was never idle. She was always doing hard work. She loved to crochet, knit and was well known for her braided rugs. She made hundreds of these rugs in sizes large and small. She also made many beautiful quilts. She left a legacy to her children and grandchildren of patience, perseverance, and love.
Frank died at age 74, of a heart attack in 1963, after 16 years of retirement. Martha passed away in Oregon at Ada’s home, of a stroke and heart failure in January of 1975 at the age of 79.
They had three children: Frank B. Taylor, Ada, and Rose.
This picture to the right is of Martha when she was younger.
H. Margaret Mary (Martha’s twin) was born January 25, 1895. She was a school teacher. She taught in Spanish Fork. She was also very kind to her mother and did much to support her. John Harrison said she was like a mother to him. During the flu epidemic of World War I, she would put on her mask and go into many homes to help nurse the sick.
In 1921 she married Frank Fieldstead. He was killed in the Castle Gate mine disaster,
She contracted pneumonia and died April 28, 1928.
I. Elmer (Hjalmer), Rosa and John’s first boy, was born September 30, 1898. As he was 11 years old when his father died, we can believe that work and responsibility was a great part of his life. His mother had been blind for a number of years. He worked before and after school to help support the family. He had a good business head like his father and worked hard. Much of his schooling was sacrificed so he could work.
Hjalmer and his mother were very close. He spoke Icelandic frequently and read to her a great deal. She also taught him to be clean in mind and body which did much to mold character.
After he was older, he worked at the Castle Gate coal mine as timekeeper and payroll man. One day Rosa sent him a message to come home from the mine. She had had a dream that disturbed her. He returned home and while he was gone from the mine, the great Castle Cate coal mine disaster took place. He returned to the mine to find over 200 men--friends and relatives among them--had been killed.
On the 16th of January 1926, Hjalmer married Fauntella Adams. She was born in Teasdale, Utah, the daughter of Andrew P. and Harriet Burr Adams.
El, as he was called, had many different business ventures and occupations. Some of them were auto mechanic and garage owner, pipefitter, motel owner and operator, restaurant owner and operator. He also had mining interests.
He was an ardent church worker and taught in the various organizations.
Hjalmer and Fauntella had four children: Reeda B. Markham; John Gerald Bjarnson; Hazel Bjarnson who died in 1933 (Hazel Marie); and Sharlene B. Hays.
J. John E. Bjarnson was born April 20, 1900 and died as a child. He was just nine years old.
4. Sigurbjort Eyolfsdottir was born June 28, 1858 and only lived 17 months and died on December 12, 1859.
5. Gudmunda (Minnie) Eyjolfsdottir was born November 6, 1859. She was very tiny and attractive with her red hair. She had a very sweet personality and everyone liked her. Being a very shy and reserved child, her personality and talents weren’t known as well as they should have been.
She married Bjarni Johnson. Their home was on 2nd North and 950 East. He was a successful house painter and provided well for his family. Bjarni also had a sand and gravel business which supplemented his income. It was good gravel and was used by many people in the Spanish Fork area for construction, homes and other buildings. It was also used in the building of roads in the community.
Minnie was a good mother and homemaker. She taught her children well. They were inspired and motivated to work hard and develop their abilities.
Everyone loved Minnie. She was known as a very kind, gentle person and hospitable to everyone.
Minnie died July 29, 1929. Bjarni lived with Enga in her home in Los Angeles, California for a while after he got older. He passed away in Los Angeles. Never returned to Spanish Fork. He died February 15, 1953.
Minnie and Bjarni had four children:
A. Susan was born September 6, 1894 in Spanish Fork. She attended schools there and graduated from Spanish Fork High School. She then attended Westminister College in Salt Lake, the Western College for women and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She taught school in Salt Lake, Wellington, Price and Spanish Fork.
She married Harry D. Fletcher in Spanish Fork and lived there the rest of her life.
“Mumma” as all of the family called her was a beautiful, generous, loving person who loved her children and grandchildren and all the children in the neighborhood. Part of her teaching experience was teaching the handicapped to read and write. She always went the second mile in her preparation to teach and made numerous little things to help children learn.
Susan was very intelligent and could have been a great mathematician if conditions would have been right. She could figure algebra and other problems in her head in seconds.
She was also talented musically. She played the piano well.
Poetry was loved, and still is by many Icelandic people...and it was one of Susan’s loves. She read it well and would read it to her children.
Susan loved to write letters and cards and send gifts to people. She corresponded with many including her relatives in Iceland. She could read and write Icelandic fairly well.
She made scrapbooks in which she saved cards, valentine's, death notices, pictures, etc. and everything else she thought important. Antique buttons was another treasure she saved.
Sh would use things to teach and entertain her children and grandchildren. As an indication of her love for the beautiful, Ted, one of her boys, had long ringlets which Susan loved, but Ted didn’t. One day, Ted had the ringlets cut off without Susan’s consent. Upon seeing the catastrophe, Susan screamed and hurried to the barber shop where she gathered up the ringlets to save for Ted’s baby book. The books are still used and enjoyed by Susan’s grandchildren.
With her large family and limited means, it was necessary that Susan use and reuse everything she could. She sewed a great deal and could mend about anything. Going without was a way of life for many of us through those difficult years, but maybe in Susan’s case it was a little more so. She worked hard and accomplished much. To supplement the family income and have a little money of her own, she would tend the neighbor’s children.
One of the tragedies of those difficult times was that many people, like Susan, never had the opportunity to reach their potential.
Susan was loved by all who knew her and was remembered for her kindness. As a boy, I had a paper route in the area where the family lived. Whenever we would meet she was always friendly and asked how everyone was. I knew we were related some way but never figured out how until years later.
Susan took care of her dad for fifteen or twenty years. She walked up every day, fixed his meals and washed his clothes and straightened his home the best she could. She made her boys go up and stay at night with him.
She had beautiful hair and teeth until near her death at age 77. She got sick and within a month it had turned completely white.
She passed away April 22, 1972 in Provo, Utah and is buried in Spanish Fork Cemetery.
Children born to Susan and Henry are: H. Donald; Wendell W.; Minnie Carole; Theodore R.; Harry D.; Susan Eunice; James Edward; Enga Louise.
This picture is of Susan’s and Harry’s family. Susan had already passed away at the time this picture was taken. (Picture in Familysearch Photos)
Top Row: Orville Neuinchwander, Beulah and Harry Fletcher, Lou and Don Fletcher, Evalyn and Ted Fletcher, Norma and Wendall Fletcher.
Front Row: Enga Fletcher Neuinchwander, Carole Fletcher Wood, Harry D. Fletcher, Eunice Fletcher Ewing, Curtis Ewing, Edward Fletcher.
B. Dorothy (Vigdis Dortha) was born the 2nd of August 1897 in Spanish Fork where she attended school. She later went to the University of California in Berkeley for her higher education. She graduated from there. Dorothy had a great interest in music. She played the piano beautifully. While in Berkeley, she met and married James Parcell of San Francisco, California. Dorothy and Jim lived in Russia for several years where he represented the Del Monte Company of California. Upon their return, they lived in San Francisco where Jim worked for the Curtis Publishing Company. He was later transferred to Southern California.
Dorothy and Jim went to Iceland with other local Icelanders to attend the 1000 year celebration. They visited her Aunt (Minnie’s sister) Ogn and her family. See picture on page 12.
Dorothy and Jim had two children, Jessemine and Charles.
C. Enga was born in Spanish Fork. She attended local schools and was a good student. She received a B.A. degree from Washington State University in education and taught school in Salt Lake in 1917.
Most of her teaching years were spent in California in the Los Angeles area. She taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District where she became the superintendent of the 1st Nursery Schools. She was a good teacher and an inspiration to her students.
Enga married Edward B. Bench June 22, 1932. He was a very good man and they had a good life together. He worked for Arden Farms for many years. He was very kind to Bjarni while Bjarni was living with them.
Enga and Edward were avid fishermen. They had a cabin at Strawberry and spent many hours there enjoying themselves.
Enga was deeply religious and was a good Bible student. She was still taking Bible classes when she passed away March 23, 1987. She had met many people after moving back to Spanish Fork and was loved by all. She and Edward had no children, but she was loved by her nieces and nephews.
D. Bjarni Johnson, Jr. married June Ballinger Johnson from Price, Utah in 1924 and they lived in Salt Lake City until 1938 when they moved to Los Angeles, California.
He worked as a Telegrapher and later a shoe salesman. During the Great Depression he worked at the Cloverleaf Dairy.
Their children are Robert, Dorothy Louise Johnson Anderson, and George Johnson.
6. Bjornlaug (Legga) Eyjolfsdottir was born July 13, 1861. We know very little of her life when she was young other than she worked on the family farm and eider duck down enterprise.
Like her sisters, she was small in stature--only about 4 ft. 9 in. tall. She was a pleasant, sweet person and liked by all who knew her.
Somewhere in the family’s travels, she must have met Boas Arnbjornson; for they arrived together in Spanish Fork in August of 1885 and were married shortly after on September 6th.
Boas was from Ytri-Kleif, Sudar Mulassysla (the southeastern part of Iceland). He was the 9th of 11 children of Arnbjorn Sigmundsson and Gudney Erlendsdottir.
Boas and several of his brothers had gone to Denmark to learn the carpenter trade. He learned his lessons well, for he was good at his trade. Aunt Beck said he could make anything that could be made out of wood.
As carpentry work is seasonal, and uncertain, it was necessary that he be versatile and work at different jobs. Like many Icelanders, he sheared sheep in the spring. They would travel all over the mountain states and up into Canada shearing. He also farmed and worked for farmers. Gil Bearnson said he was the best teamster he had ever seen. Aunt Rose said he had a team of large Clydesdale horses.
Although he had no medical training, he had skillful hands and knowledge that would help people with health problems. A niece in Iceland said as a young girl, she had a large boil on her arm. Boas lanced the boil and shortly after left for America. She never saw him again.
It was necessary that he be gone from home a great deal of the time with his jobs. Legga would remain home most of the time to take are of the children and the house. They had built a home of 9th East and 1st South. They had a large lot with plenty of room for gardens, fruit trees and animals. Boas had built a real nice barn and chicken coop.
It was a big job for Bjornlaug to take care of everything; but in addition, she would also work in the fields with the men to help provide for the family. Her mother, Valgurdur, would take care of her children while she worked.
Legga was a very conscientious mother. She taught her children to be industrious and responsible. They were all hard-working, ambitious people. Integrity and honesty was a way of life with them.
She was fun-loving and always had a sense of humor. Like the rest of the family, she loved music and would sing to the children. She was a great tease. One day Blanche was to go to Grandma Legga’s house to be tended. When she knocked on the door, Grandma took out her false teeth. When the door opened, all Blanche could see were these false teeth clicking. Poor Blanche ran all the way home.
Grandpa Boas died March 28, 1908 of Pneumonia. On September 16, 1921, Grandma married Runolfur Runolfson. He died in 1929 so grandma Legga was a widow again for 13 years.
Many of the Icelanders were superstitious, and Grandma Legga was no exception. She had a large leghorn rooster that she believed would come to the kitchen door and crow when someone would be coming for coffee and “spou.” With so many visiting, many superstition had nothing to do with it; for no matter when the rooster crowed, someone was probably on their way to Grandma Legga’s house for coffee. Anyway it was a signal for her to check the coffee pot and make sure there was plenty of coffee in it.
After Runolfur died, Grandma Legga lived with my mother and father, Kate and Bruce Anderson, and us kids...when she wasn’t visiting her family in California. She was such a quaint, quiet little figure, we usually hardly knew she was around. She was always humming a tune and usually busy with her hands--darning socks or something. She helped mom a lot with the mending and light housework.
Mom and Grandma had a great relationship. They would visit for hours at a time. Mom could talk Icelandic real well so they usually spoke it. There seemed to be a real strong bond between them.
Grandma Legga had a back injury many years before. This seemed to be a problem for her now that she was older. Her circulation must have been bad. Duke Jameson would visit her often and ask how she was...as we also did. Often she would answer, “A letla bit dizzy.” Her stroke later on would maybe indicate a circulation problem.
Mom always let her use the downstairs bedroom, so she wouldn’t be climbing the stairs. Mom would have one of the girls sleep with her in case she had trouble in the night. The girls weren’t overjoyed with the assignment. They all loved grandma Legga; but with her poor circulation, she was always cold. She wanted the bedroom so warm, and would use so many covers, that the girls would almost smother. They were amused and amazed at how many blouses, skirts, petticoats, and sweaters she would take off to get ready for bed...and then how many night clothes she would put back on.
She never complained except when she thought one of us had taken her government check. She had always hidden it some place and had forgotten where. Mother would find it for her. She knew all the hiding places, for it happened regularly.
Ken was the apple of Grandma Legga’s eye. When Ken and Alice got married, Grandma would get upset when Alice would call Ken, “Honey.” The very idea--calling him something that was put on bread! How disrespectful!
Grandma loved America and the blessings the family enjoyed after they were once established here. She had lived through and knew the results of the oppressive trade restrictions that the Danish had imposed upon Iceland. She loved the freedom of her adopted homeland. When George was born on the 4th of July, he had to be named George Washington Anderson. Also the family changed their name from Arnbjarnson to Anderson as it was more easily pronounced in this new country.
Although she suffered much with her back, arthritis, and poor circulation, she didn’t complain. We have only pleasant memories of her and the time she spent with us.
She died November 23, 1942 at the age of 81.
The children of Boas and Bjornlaug were:
A. Bjorn Nul was born September 24, 1884 and died when he was only 13 months old on October 26, 1885.
B. Thurren Gudrunbjorg (Rebecca) was born September 28, 1886 in Spanish Fork. She was a beautiful girl and had long thick brown hair that came down below her waist. She would braid it and tie it in a bun.
With her mother’s back injury, Rebecca had a lot of responsibility being the oldest of the children. Sometimes her mother would be working away from home, so Rebecca had a lot of opportunity to learn work and responsibility.
She attended Schools in Spanish Fork until the last three years of high school. Those she spent at Hungerford Academy in Springville, Utah.
She worked for a Dr. Allison in Clearcreek. In addition to the household chores, she learned some nursing skills. Clear Creek was in the mining fields of Carbon County. All the girls loved to work up there where at the dances there would be 10 men to every girl.
On July 31, 1908 she married Andrew Runolfson. He was the son of Ronolfur Runolfson. (the Lutheran Minister and later became her step-father) and Valgurdur Nielson. (See family picture on FS)
Andrew worked in the mine at Mammoth, Juab County.
In about 1918, she and Andrew, along with other Icelandic families went to Desert Lake in Emery County to homestead. It appeared to be a good venture, and they all had high hopes for a bright future. They endured many privations and hardships. They first had good crops and were really encouraged; but then the alkali in the water ruined the land, so they lost everything.
The men returned to the mines and soon they all moved back to Spanish Fork.
During the time in Desert Lake, Rebecca put her nursing skills to good use in helping the people.
Aunt Beck was a great storyteller. She could captivate and hold the interests of children. She could take them to Fairyland for a visit with the “candy spider.” The children would search in vain for the spider with no success; but, lo and behold, somehow he had left a treat in Aunt Beck’s hand or pocket.
Like most in the family, Aunt Beck had a good voice. She would use it to teach her children through music. She would sing in choirs wherever she lived.
She and Andy had a large lot where they had fruit trees and gardens. They usually had a milk cow which Aunt Beck usually milked. With the gardens and animals and all the canning and preserving that goes with them, she kept busy.
Andrew and the boys were good hunters and the meat was usually frozen.
Andrew worked at the Tintic Standard Mine in Eureka where he was a supervisor.
On December 19, 1944, Andrew passed away due to complications from an operation.
On March 11, 1952, Aunt Beck married LeRoy Purser of Rigby, Idaho. They lived in Ririe, Idaho. They both liked the mountains, fishing and hunting; so they had a good life together. LeRoy died in November 1965.
In 1970, Rebecca went to Iceland--the crowning point of her life. She could speak the language, so she had a fantastic time getting acquainted with her relatives there. She visited her grandfather, Eyjolfur’s old farm which she really enjoyed very much.
She always enjoyed good health almost up until her death July 7, 1975.
Rebecca and Andrew had the following children:
Loyal, Kenneth, Frank, Rosezelle (Nebeker), Ada (Tevis), Sarah (Wood), and DArline (Ivie). We understand that she also had two more babies who were either stillborn or died shortly after birth.
C. Eygerdur Elinbjorg (Ellen) was born November 16, 1888 in Spanish Fork, Utah. She was born into and raised in a loving home; and a lot of that love rubbed off onto her, for she loved everyone. A more kindly and even-tempered person would be hard to find.
She was named after her father’s only sister--he had nine brothers.
She attended Spanish Fork schools and graduated from Hungerford Academy of Springville, Utah.
She would accompany her grandfather, Eyjolfur, on sick calls. Working with him gave her valuable experience as she was growing up and developed her gift of love for others. For a while she worked for Dr. Hughes in Spanish Fork, but left to accept a position in the Clear Creek hospital.
While working in the hospital, she met Matthew Kari--a handsome, blond immigrant from Finland.
As I remember the story--he couldn’t speak English, and she couldn’t speak Finnish. But that didn’t matter. She would have nobody else, and they were married soon after.
For a while Ellen ran a boarding house in Clear Creek or Schofield. She was a hard worker and a great cook.
She was very involved with the community of Schofield. She delivered babies, nursed the sick, took care of the dead and comforted the discouraged and lonely. She was a “good samaritan” and her home was always open to relatives and friends who would come with problems and needed comforting.
With many hundreds of men from many different countries, one can imagine that there were many who needed a friend or a helping hand.
Like her mother’s, Ellen’s coffee pot was always on the stove and hot “Klaners” ready for whoever should drop in. “Klaners” are a special Icelandic treat similar to doughnuts.
Ellen would “spou” for anyone. It wa a source of comfort and therapy.
She was always the first to volunteer in times of trouble; and in mining communities there is often trouble. She helped in numerous mine disasters; and in 1927 when the Schofield dam was breaking, she worked night and day to feed the men trying to save the dam. On one occasion, she and a Schofield doctor took a railroad handcart through a snow storm to the Price hospital trying to save the life of a young Finnish woman and her baby.
Aunt Ellen loved her family and looked forward to their annual trip to Spanish Fork to see her mother and other family members.
Matthew was a very quiet person, but very sincere and friendly. I used to like to hear his Finnish dialect. He died in 1941. The family moved to California many years before.
Nothing was too much trouble if Ellen could help someone. One time, during the war, I was going through Los Angeles on my way home for a 2-weeks leave from the Navy, and I called Aunt Ellen to tell her hello. Like the greenhorn I was, I left my wallet in the phone booth. It contained my money, ticket, and travel papers. She dropped whatever she was doing and brought me money to get home on. It was a long way from her home, but that didn’t stop her.
She was active in a number of volunteer organizations, including Van Nuys Mother’s Club, Hollywood U.S. O., Carpenters’ Auxillary, and the Veterans Hospital. She was happiest when she was helping.
She was one of the first women to ever receive radiation treatments at the University of California in San Francisco.
She died March 10, 1966.
Ellen and Matthew’s children are:
Mary Lucille Kari who died when she was 13 years old. Her death was a deep tragedy in Ellen and Matt’s lives and they never got over it; Selma Ellen Kari (Macari); John Boas Kari; Grace Margaret Kari (Young); and George Matthew Kari.
D. Boas Eyjolfur (Bruce) was born February 5, 1891. He weighed 15 lbs when he was born and was a real fat baby.
He was educated in the public schools of Spanish Fork.
As a young boy growing up, Boas worked for the farmers in the fields. He learned to shear sheep and was known as a fast sheep shearer with the hand blades. It was hard work; but there wasn’t much work, so they were always glad to have the job.
Bruce had a good voice. He sang in groups, at Iceland days, and in church choirs. He had a good sense of humor and seemed to have many friends.
On May 17, 1916, he married Catherine Ann (Kate) Christianson, a daughter of Edward and Setta Jonson Christianson. Her father operated shearing corrals, so Bruce probably worked for him.
At different times, Boas worked in the mines in Carbon County and Eureka. He also operated a farm east of Spanish Fork. Bruce could handle horses. Gil Bearnson said that next to Bruce’s dad, Bruce was the best teamster he had ever seen.
After Bruce and Kate’s first child was born, they went to Desert Lake to farm. The soil was good, but the water contained too much alkali and ruined the ground. After a few years and many hardships, they had to give up their land and dreams and return to Spanish Fork.
Bruce was a gentle, easy-going person. He was often taken advantage of because he was so good-natured. For a number of years prior to his death, he was very sick with stomach ulcers. Little could be done for them in those days, so he suffered greatly. His family was living in Kate’s father’s home. There were many fruit trees and berry bushes on the place. Bruce would give a lot of the fruit and produce away to needy people...and there were always plenty of those.
I remember a pretty little Indian woman treating dad (Bruce( for his ulcers. She had been sent by some friend to see if she could help him. Her medicine was helping him; but she was not a licensed doctor, so she couldn’t practise. We understood that she was an Indian Princess.
During the winter of 1937, Bruce wanted to go to California to see his mother, (Legga), and his sisters and brother. Grandma Legga was living with Aunt Ellen at that time. Dad had been feeling better and though the trip would help him.
He was staying at the home of Dorothy and Jim Parcell when he had an ulcer attack. He died there on March 23, 1937.
The children of Bruce and Kate are:
Rosetta and Helen who have passed away; Blanche; Kathryn; Edward; Ray; Ruby; Mary; and Margaret.
E. Valgerdur Audbjorg (Ada) was born April 2, 1893. She was a beautiful girl and had many talents. She inherited a lot of musical ability. She composed music and played both the piano and saxophone. At one time she played in an all-girl band.
After growing up, Ada spent all her time in California, and loved it. She worked in many restaurants and became a master chef--good enough to write several cook books. She became a private chef for some important people and movie personnel- among them--Richard Barth and Edward G. Robinson.
She moved to San Diego where she was chef at the famous Grant Hotel and Hotel del Coronado.
Ada married Russell Richter. They didn’t have any children, but she loved her nieces and nephews.
When I was in Navy Boot Training, I would go out to their place in Old Town every chance I got. They were very hospitable and treated me very well. It was nice to have a place to go and relax and get away from the crowds and military influence.
Ada and Russell later divorced. She died January 24, 1959 and is buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.
F. Valdemar George Washington was born July 4, 1895. He was mild and gentle and had a good sense of humor.
Uncle George joined the army at the beginning of World War I. He was action in France and in the ARgonne Forest battles. He was reported “missing in action” by mistake. Another George Washington was missing.
His war experiences were very hard on him. After his release from the Army, he returned to Spanish Fork to his family. One of his cousins--and maybe others--asked him about how many Germans he had killed. These experiences he wanted to forget and wouldn’t be able to while he lived in Spanish Fork.
He moved to California where few people would know of his army service. He never returned until about 1976 when he moved back to Salt Lake for a short while.
He was a carpenter like his father and a good one. I remember Aunt Ellen telling me about him and his reputation of being a very good craftsman. He was always able to find work when others couldn’t.
George married a girl from California, but the marriage lasted a very short time. He later married Gertrude Young. She was a lot like George and they had a good life together. They had no children. Gertrude had had a son, George (Duke) Young in a previous marriage.
I visited them in San Pedro during the Second World War-- in 1945. I appreciated the opportunity to meet them and get better acquainted. He still had a good sense of humor and was easy to talk to. He seemed so easy-going. Aunt Rose was there at the time, and we had a good visit.
In 1976 when he moved back to Salt Lake, he was beaten up and robbed. Maybe this experience prompted him to return to California where he was more familiar with his surroundings. Selma and Mac looked after him during this time until he died in 1979.
G. Rose was born Sept. 26, 1897. She was very beautiful--a classic beauty, some said. Maybe this, and being the youngest contributed to her being loved and pampered by the rest of the family.
She lived in Schofield with Ellen and Matt and worked there for a while until she moved to the Los Angeles, California area.
She married Henry N. Smith. They owned a number of businesses and much property which was mostly all lost. They had no children and later divorced.
In 1946 she returned to Utah and lived in Salt Lake. She had previously married Pete Schneider. After his death, she moved to Spanish Fork and lived in the home where she had been raised.
Aunt Rosa didn’t have any children, but she loved her family. We always were happy when she visited, and enjoyed having her back in Spanish Fork.
Rose died February 23, 1969.
I would like to insert a page here of Boas and Bjornlaug’s family record as was recorded in the Icelandic language, feeling it would be of interest to all of you.
The Icelandic people were great record keepers and are still proud of their heritage and families.
The record on the next page lists all the children of Boas and Bjornlaug. (Copied in documents on Familysearch.)
7. James E. (Gudmund) was born August 15, 1862 in Northwestern Iceland. When the family immigrated to America, they settled in Montana where the men worked in the mines. When the family left for Spanish Fork, Gudmund stayed for a while and later joined the family. He married Ingeborg Margaret Jonatansson.
Jim was a kind person, as was Ingeborg. I remember going there often to take things or to get something. I remember the “Klaners” she always seemed to have on hand.
Jim was a good worker and fine craftsman. He made a good living for his family. He was known as a very good brick mason and carpenter.
One day he came to Aunt Beck and Uncle Andy’s place to repair some cement. They had a large ram that the children had teased He had become very mean and would chase anyone that came into the yard. Aunt Beck warned Jim, but he insisted on seeing the ram. There was a farm wagon in the yard. Jim didn’t watch the ram close enough, and the ram got behind him. The ram charged and knocked Jim up into the wagon. He hit his head on the side of the wagon and was knocked unconscious. He had a few choice words for the ram. The kids got a good laugh out of it.
Jim built a home in the northwest corner of 9th East and 3rd South. It was a large home and very well made. I remember the beautiful wood inside and the big upstairs. Jim said that he had made it earthquake proof because he built such a deep foundation and reinforced the walls. Many well-built homes in the Utah Valley area testify of his fine craftsmanship. He was also a fine carpenter and cement man. He built the Central School which was recently torn down...two other bricklayers helped him.
When Jim retired, he and Ingeborg moved to California. They were sorely missed when they moved because they were very helpful and congenial people.
Their son, Paul, was a doctor there, and he took care of them. Jim died March 20, 1955.
Ingeborg and Jim had the following children:
A. Jonaton “Tony” was born in 1884 in Helena, Montana. He died May 24, 1950.
B. Ellen was born in 1886 in Helena, Montana. She never married. She had a fantastic singing voice...could have been an opera star. She would sing alone or in the Jameson quartet consisting of Uncle Jim, Walter, Ellen and Rose. They were very popular. They went on tours to different parts of the country. Ellen sang at over 2,000 funerals. She was a kind and gracious person and always willing to help when asked.
C. Albert was born October 12, 1888 in Helena, Montana. He never married and died March 30, 1916.
D. Walter Rosamund was born in 1891 in Helena, Montana. He never married. He joined the U.S. Army during World War I and was killed September 11, 1917.
E. Ingebjorg Sigurros was born in 1894 in Spanish Fork. In 1919 she married Earnest Funk. They have lived in California all the time since their marriage. They have 3 children.
F. Paul Vidalin was born May 21, 1898 in Spanish Fork. He became a doctor and practised in California.
In 1930 Paul and his father in company with others of the family visited Iceland on the 1,000 year anniversary of the government. They visited Jim’s sister, Ogn and her family. (See picture on page 12)
Paul married Beula Petty in 1933. They took care of his parents until they died. They later moved to Salt Lake City where he became an eye-ear-nose specialist.
They adopted two boys.
8. Frodi Eyjolfsson was born July 16, 1864 and died 10 days after his birth in Iceland.
9. Ketill (Kelly) Eyjolfson (Jameson) was born October 9, 1865 in Eyjarbkki, Tjarnar, Iceland. He married Sigridur (Sarah) Runolfson, daughter of Runolfur Runolfson. Her family arrived in Spanish Fork in 1882. She was born in Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland on Nov. 16, 1878.
Kelly was a well-built man, capable of a lot of hard work which he did. In the spring of each year, he sheared sheep along with many other Icelanders. Coming home one time from a shearing trip, he and another man were going to get a haircut and shave while the train made a stop. The barber was just starting to shave Kelly when they heard the conductor yell “all aboard.” Kelly grabbed a towel and ran to catch the train, wiping his face as he ran. As he grabbed the handle of the moving train, he slipped and fell under the wheels. His leg was cut off at the top of his shoe. He was rushed to the old St. Mark’s hospital in Salt Lake where he remained for 9 months before he could return to his family. The bone would keep splitting each time it was operated on until it was taken off above the knee. Before coming home, he was fitted with an artificial leg and crutches. It was hard for him to get around for several years. Finally he didn’t need the crutches, but limped badly. He was not able to do any hard work after that.
An Icelandic couple named Erickson started a dry goods store in Spanish Fork and Kelly worked for them. He bought a horse and buggy so he could get around better. In 1910 Kelly and Sarah moved to California to work in a store there for the Erickson couple. The dampness down there made Sarah very sick with rheumatism, and it was necessary that they move back here where the climate was drier.
Soon after returning, they purchased a large lot on the southwest corner of 9th East and Center street from Boas and Legga for $2. They built a beautiful 2-story home there that was and still is a monument to their industry and ambition. I remember how well-kept the yard was and the house always look it had just been painted.
These were difficult years, but they were all industrious, hard-working people. They had gardens, fruit trees and animals to supplement their income. Much of the time in summer and fall was spent bottling and canning the fruits and vegetables.
Aunt Sarah was a very capable and hard-working wife and mother who was able to make a little go a long way. She must have been a great organizer and motivator to accomplish all she did. She realized the importance of education and was able to instill the desire for it in her children. I remember her as a great lady who took a lot of pride in everything she did. She was a fine seamstress. She made most of the clothing the children wore.
The boys were avid and capable hunters providing a lot of the family meet. Aunt Sarah herself was no stranger to milking cows and caring for animals which she did when the boys were away hunting or working.
Kelly died September 28, 1917 leaving Sarah a widow which was to last for 43 years. It was necessary that Lilly and Jim quit school to help provide for the family. Hard work was a way of life for most of the people in those days and this family was certainly no exception. They worked together and helped each other so that 5 of them were able to graduate from college with teaching degrees at a time when very few people could do it.
The Lutheran church was built on their property west of the home. It was the meeting place for Lutherans for many years. The non-Lutheran Icelanders were always welcome also and spent a lot of time there for meetings, funerals and socials. Many great Christmas and Easter celebrations were held there. All the Icelanders had many happy memories of many different activities in that little church.
A souvenir which was an indication of the difficult and challenging era these people lived in was the scars on Sarah’s legs. She received them from an Indian brave when but a little girl. Her mother had given food to the brave and told him not to come back, but he did. She wouldn’t open the door for him. Sarah came home right at that time. The brave whipped her legs with the leather whip. When she screamed, her mother opened the door. She had the scars the rest of her life.
Five boys and five girls were born to Kelly and Sarah and were all raised in the family home. They all attended schools in Spanish Fork. They were all blessed with musical ability and had good voices.
A. Lilly was born May 6, 1897. Being the oldest child, much responsibility for the home and younger children was placed on her. She was a very hard worker and worked at many jobs. Like many in those days, she would walk along the railroad tracks and pick up the small pieces of coal that had fallen off the trains. This would be used for fuel in the winter. Because of family conditions, her schooling had to be stopped to help support the family. One of her jobs was to do housework for anyone needing help. She worked a lot for Reverend and Mrs. Lee.
She had a very nice voice. She and Val sang in the old Motion Picture Theater before the advent of sound.
Lilly married Arthur Johnson. His parents were Icelandic immigrants. Arthur was a farmer and had ground east of Spanish Fork. He was an ambitious and good man, and they had a good life together. Their home was on 4th East between 2nd and 3rd South. They had a large lot with room for gardens and fruit trees, barns and corrals. When our cows were dry, I remember walking many times down to their place to get the milk. The price was 5¢ per gallon. I never remember any money changing hands so maybe they didn’t get paid. Like most families at that time, we bartered, traded and shared whatever we had.
In 1987 on her 90th birthday, an open house was held honoring Lilly. The huge crowd was an indication of her many friends. She continued to care for herself and her home. In the spring of 1989, she suffered a fall which seemed to affect ehr a great deal. She was 92 at the time and still very independent. Soon, however, she could not take care of her place and lived with her son, Arthur and family. She died in July of 1989.
The children of Lilly and Art are:
Mae, Olive, Arthur, Kelly, Dawn, Margaret, Fred, Clark, Shirl, and Scott.
B. Valgerd (Val) was born January 23, 1889. She was a very kind and considerate person. She never married. She graduated from the University of Utah and obtained a teaching certificate. She taught in the Salt Lake School District for many years and is remembered as an excellent teacher. She did a great deal in helping to support the family and encouraging the others to obtain educations. Val died June 17th 1970.
C. James B. was born February 17, 1900. He’s a kind and gentle person with a good sense of humor.
Jim has always been a very hard worker. He added a lot of strength to the family. Undoubtedly his mother relied greatly on him to provide stability to the family. He did all kinds of work that was available at that time. He was known as the fastest beet topper around. It was necessary that he quit school to help support the family.
He was a fine musician. He could play musical instruments and he had a good voice. Just recently, here in 1989, Paul Jameson remembered with joy how Jim would come to visit him, and they would sing all the old songs they sang when they were young.
He married Vera Hall from Texas. They have 4 children: Betty, Vera Joyce, Vina, and James...all of whom live in California. Jim and Vera live in California also...close to their children.
D. Olivia was born May 23, 1902. She was a very sweet kind person and small in stature. She was also a graduate of the University of Utah with a teaching certificate. She taught in the Spanish Fork school district...an excellent teacher. Unfortunately, she had health problems and passed away March 15, 1935 at 32 years of age.
E. Oliver Kelly was born December 26, 1904. He was a very good musician and has a good singing voice. He plays banjo, guitar, and mandolin. He graduated from the University of Utah. He taught music in California schools. He has been a real estate agent in California for many years and still resides there. He married Gertrude Johnson. They have no children.
F. Bringolf G. (Brig) was born December 12, 1907. He was a kind, good person with a good sense of humor. He wa full of fun and always livened up the party. He had a very good voice. There was always music when Brig was around. As I remember, he played the mandolin very well as well as other instruments.
He married Lenore Shepherd. They have 3 children: Jack, Lois, and Dickie. Dickie was killed in an accident when he was very young.
G. Sarah was born December 5, 1910. She was a kind, gentle person. She graduated from the University of Utah in Education. She has spent most of her time since college in California where she has taught school. She married LaMar Hill. She still resides in California. They have one daughter, Patti.
H. Ellen was born May 7, 1912. She is very musical and plays the organ. She graduated from the University of Utah. Most of her school teaching was done in California where she still resides with her husband, Roger Sturgis. Ellen does a lot of volunteer work for the Emblem Club. Volunteer work is a natural with her kind, sweet disposition. Ellen and Roger lived in Russia for a number of years while he worked for the government there.
I. Dewey (Duke) was born October 27, 1915. He was tall and well built and was a very good athlete. He played a lot of baseball and softball. He was one of the best athletes to ever come out of Spanish Fork. He loved to hunt and was good at it. He was very close to Uncle Andy and his boys, and they would hunt together.
Duke married Clara Fuller. They have two children: Kelli and Fawn. They still live in Spanish Fork on the same lot as the old family home. He worked at the Geneva Steel plant in Orem, Utah from which he retired.
Duke was also a fine singer. He sang in quartets. He was exceptionally good in baseball and softball. He was always a favorite of we younger boys.
J. Andrew H. was born April 8, 1917. A real likeable, compassionate person whom everyone liked. He had a birth injury and was left with a crippled arm. As a teenager, he began to have seizures which necessitated his taking strong medication the rest of his life. With these health problems, he was unable to do all kinds of work. His good arm was extra strong so that whatever could be done with one arm, he could do it well. He was a willing worker and was always helping someone.
At different times he had several model A Ford coupes with rumble seats. He could drive very well. Most families on the bench didn’t have automobiles when Andy got his first car, so he often ran errands for them--taking people to the doctor, getting medicine, or hauling groceries home from town. We kids enjoyed his car. A ride in that rumble seat was almost as exciting as the 4th of July celebration.
On several occasions when I was a teenager, Andy and I picked peaches in Mapleton. I enjoyed my association with him. He was a good worker and tried hard with his good arm.
Andy was quite a deep and serious thinker. Maybe the pain and problems he had known had tempered him. Andy died November 29, 1963.
10. Numi Eyjolfson was born the 28th of June 1867 and died July 7, 1867, just a week old.
11. Eyjolfur E. (Avey) Eyjolfson was born April 13, 1870. When he was a young child he was riding on the back of an older boy. He fell over backwards and injured his back. His abdomen swelled up first, but eventually went back to normal. Then his back swelled up. His injured back never did heal properly but developed into a hunchback.
Avey never did marry. He remained with his parents until they passed away. They had built their cottage on Boas and Legga’s lot, the number being about 870 East 1st South.
Avey had a workshop in one of the rooms of the cottage. Here he carried on his bicycle repair business and repaired anything else that he was asked to. It was said that he was a mechanical genius who could repair about anything.
He also had a clock and watch repair business. Eventually he had a shop down on the east side of Main Street in Spanish Fork.. about 170 North Main. He had living quarters in the back of the shop. Avey’s niece, Susan Johnson (Minnie’s daughter) married Harry Fletcher. He was a jeweler and repaired clocks. I don’t know the details of their business arrangements, but Harry eventually took over the shop and carried on his business there.
Avey was also a gifted locksmith. On several occasions in Spanish Fork and Provo, he was called upon to open bank vaults when everything else failed. At the Walker Bank he had to make a master key. By inserting a piece of metal into the keyhole, and working it around, he could gradually tell where the indentations should be on the key.
He was also an inventor. Blanche tells of being in a particular education class one day when the instructor was discussing talents and abilities. He said that other than Philo Farnsworth (who invented the television), Avery was the greatest inventor in Utah. He invented the automatic coupling device for railroad cars which replace the hand operated coupler used at that time. He went to Salt Lake to patent it. Unfortunately Avey was a heavy drinker and someone got him drunk and beat him up. His invention was stolen from him and he was left for dead. His father went looking and found him. It was thought that people in the patent office were responsible, but nothing could be proven. At least nothing was ever done about it. Those early Icelanders were so very honest. To them their word was their bond, and no other guarantee was needed. They respected other people’s rights and thought everybody was the same. Their plain simple honesty and trusting nature made them very gullible to people who wanted to take advantage of others whenever they could. Some of the people who knew Avey said he had had other inventions stolen from him.
Avey was a gifted musician and could have accomplished much if circumstances would have been different. People have mentioned how he could play classical music on the piano after hearing them only once. He played the organ for services in the Lutheran Church and played for parties and dances. He also played the mouth organ and accordion. He was happy to play for the children. Ada mentioned that he would visit them often and play his instruments for them. He also would read the comic strips to the children. Maggie and Jiggs was his favorite.
Avey was probably a lonely and disappointed person--often rejected and seldom appreciated. It wa unfortunate that the talents and abilities of Avey were not realized and appreciated by the general public. He had so much to offer society. We wonder what heights he could have reached if conditions had been different and he would have had the opportunities to develop his talents. Avey died April 30, 1934.
12. Bjorn Eyjolfsson (Jameson) was born November 20, 1872. While the family was living in North Dakota in 1884 he was drowned near the Red River. He was showing signs of becoming an artist at the time of his death. He was about 12 years old at the time when he died in the quicksand.
Eyjolfur and Valgurdur changed their name from Gudmundsson to Jameson after arriving in America.
They had much sorrow and disappointment in their lives but also had much joy and happiness watching their numerous posterity grow and mature in America.