Updated: May 27, 2020
Near the birthplace of our beloved poet, K.N. Júlíus, a replica memorial will be created. A committee of interested people has been formed and they are working on this project. Akureyri will celebrate their 150th birthday this summer during the last weekend of August. The unveiling for the project will occur during the weekend.
All interested are asked to kindly donate to make this memorial site a reality. Icelandic Roots has offered to accept donations in North America. Those who live in the USA will receive a tax donation as IR is a 501c3 organization. To make a donation, click the 'Donate' button on the top of this page. 100% of your donation will be spent on the K.N. Project if you designate this on the form. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Kristján Níels Jónsson Júlíus (1859-1936), a satirical poet, was born near Akureyri, Iceland to Jón Jónsson and Þórunn Kristjánsdóttir. His father was a blacksmith. K.N. or Káinn (pronounced like ‘Cow-En’) as he was known at the time, left Eyjafjörður in 1878. K.N's older brother, Jón Júlíus Jónsson, had left in 1876. Two of his younger sisters came to America in later years.
Their mother died when K.N. was 14 years and afterwards, he lived with his uncle, Davið Kristjásson. He lived there until he was eighteen. In 1878, he immigrated to the west. At first, he lived in Winnipeg and then moved on to Duluth. Finally, in 1893, he moved to the Thingvalla area of North Dakota. He never married and had no descendants. His education was mostly self-taught and he had very little formal education before leaving Iceland.
Káinn labored for most of his adult life in the northeast North Dakota rural community called Eyford, which is in Thingvalla Township. Many of the graves in the Thingvalla Cemetery were dug by him and he was the last grave-digger to live in the Eyford community. The following is taken from an old newspaper:
“He went at his task as if he were making up a bed for a tired friend, said his close friend, Dr. Rognvaldur Petursson, and most of those buried there were the poet’s personal friends. Here he, too, rests now on the grassy flat, with a small stone at his head. But at the side of the church stands a stately monument with his likeness carved into it. It was placed there by the friends and admirers of K.N. in the United States and Canada, but designed by the neighbors, who thankfully remember the poet whose gentle humor lightened their burdens and eased their struggles for half a century, brought sunshine into their homes, and was an ever active geysir of fun and easy, original wit. Poor as he was in terms of material possessions, K.N. enriched these communities and set their cultural atmosphere as no other man has.”
K. N. Julius was a unique, beloved poet and humorist. Some of his poems became published in two books. The original book, Kviðlingar, was published in 1920. Kviðlingar og Kvæði (Ditties and Poems) was published in 1945 and edited by Richard Beck. In 1937, a book in Iceland was published called Rabb um K. N. og kveðskap hans by Magnús Gíslason. In 1965, a book called Vísnabók Káins / Kristján Níels Jónsson (K. N.) was produced by Tómas Guðmundsson in Iceland.
In the 14 Aug 1946 edition of the Heimskringla, you can find an advertisement selling New Books by the Björnsson Book Store. K.N.'s book, Kviðlingar, is for sale at $15.85 and is one of the most expensive books listed. That would be over $210 in the 2017 value of the dollar.