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The Icelanders of Utah by LaNora Allred
In 1854 the first LDS converts left Iceland for Utah. They were Samuel Bjarnason and his wife, Margaret, and their friend, Helga Jonsdottir. The three sailed from Liverpool, England, .on January 7, 1855, on the ship, James Nesmith, and arrived in New Orleans on February 23. From New Orleans they sailed up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri, and then proceeded to Mormon Grove. On June 13, 1855, they left by wagon train for Utah and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 7.
In Salt Lake City the three inquired of church authorities as to where they should settle and were directed to Spanish Fork in Utah County. There was quite a large number of Danish immigrants living in Spanish Fork, and it was thought the three Icelanders would feel more at home among those who had a somewhat common culture, although the language was not the same. Thus it was that by a strange chance of fate all of the Icelanders who came to Utah before 1900 came to Spanish Fork initially. The only one who did not come to Spanish Fork was Gudmundur Gudmundsson, who settled in Salt Lake City before moving on to other localities. He came with Thordur Didriksson in 1856.
In 1857 eleven more members had been added to the church in Vestmannaeyjar, and they were encouraged to emigrate. The following is taken from LDS Church records:
"There are now eleven Mormons on the island and all secured passage on the schooner Adolfina and sailed for England June 7th 1857. After a voyage of three weeks they arrived in Liverpool, England, where they remained another three weeks, but on the l8th of July, 1857, they sailed from Liverpool, by the freight ship, Wyoming, and after spending seven weeks on the Atlantic Ocean, arrived in Philadelphia, U.S.A., whence the traveled by railroad to St. Louis, Mo. After spending three days in that city, they boarded a river steamer and sailed up the Mississippi River to Burlington, Iowa, whence they traveled fifty miles inland to the little town of Fairfield, where some of them lived one and a half years, during which time preparations were made to journey to Utah. They left Fairfield May l6th, 1859, and arrived in Salt Lake City Aug. 29, 1859. They spent about three months in the city after which they moved to Spanish Fork, Utah, where they became permanent settlers."
The eleven immigrants were: Magnus Bjarnasson and his wife, Thuridur; Vigdis Bjornsdottir; Thordur Magnusson; Jon Jonsson and his wife, Anna Gudlaugsdottir, whom he married on board ship; Gudny Haflidasson; Loftur Jonsson and his wife, Gudrun Hallsdorsdottir, and his stepdaughter, Gudrun Jonsdottir. The eleventh person was probably Kristine Magnusdottir.
This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Spanish Fork and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.
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