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I Belong to Icelandic Roots Because…

Leona Mae Gudmundson Johnson


My parents raised my brother and I in a very Icelandic community where everybody was related to everybody.... except us. We were just related to our immediate family and my grandparents, Ragnar Emil Jakobsson \ Gudmundson and Rannveig Adalheidur Bjornasson. Both of their parents homesteaded for the last time in Vidir, Manitoba. They both only had one sibling each. Ragnar a sister, who was fostered with another family, and Rannveig, a sister who was quite a bit older. In all my Afi and Amma had five children of which four grew into adulthood. They had 12 grandchildren, me included. That was our family.

I honestly never knew anything about my long Afi and Amma Gudmundson. I knew they came from Iceland, lived in Duluth Minnesota, traveled to Arborg, and homesteaded there. They moved back to Duluth and then came back to Canada and lived in Vidir. I didn’t know if my Afi had any aunts or uncles, cousins, He never talked about it.

My Amma Rannveig was born in Gimli; her parents lived and worked there. Her dad was a great carpenter and built many of the homes in Gimli in the 1900’s and three are still standing. When I was little, she would show me pictures and tell me her auntie’s names and tell me some stories but I was too young and stupid to ask more questions.

I did know that we had relatives in Saskatchewan on my Amma Rannveig’s side but no idea how to connect any dots. So let’s fast forward. Last January 2018, I did an ancestry DNA kit. There were no huge surprises but the names on the DNA connections were surprising. There were names of people I grew up with, and we shared DNA. I would ask my mom what the connections would be and she was just as surprised by the names as I was.

Then around the same time, I saw Icelandic Roots and I sent in a Cousins form. The person that replied back said that we were 7th cousins which blew me away. It took me awhile but I decided to join and it has been a game changer! It filled in a lot of the blanks and gave me an insight into my heritage.

I found out that my long Afi Jakob Gudmundson had a twin sister and an older sister who stayed in Iceland. His twin sister’s family has connections to Gimli. I have found stories about my Amma Rannveig’s Amma, and how her family settled in Pembina and Cavalier North Dakota. And thanks to the cousin finder, I have found out that I have many, many, many cousins in Iceland and in the United States, and yes even in the communities I grew up in.

I have only scratched the surface as I am of 100 percent Icelandic descent. I cannot wait to find out more about my Afi Vilifred Tryggvi Hjörleifsson and Amma Elinborg Thordarson connections.

I have communicated with some relatives and it has become very emotional. Thank you Icelandic Roots and all your volunteers. You have made my small family bigger and more complete.

This is my family. The picture was taken in December of 1984. It’s an oldie, but the only one we have. Growing up, these were the only cousins I knew. I didn’t know any of my Afi Ragnar or Amma Rannveig’s family history. So much was not known. Starting at the back we have: Kevin Jonasson, Dale Gudmundson, Glen Jonasson, Dexter Roche, Emily Jonasson, Warren Gudmundson, Johanna Gudmundson, Donna Gudmundson with Ashley, Marvin Gudmundson, Violet Sveinson, Benita Sveinson, Leona Gudmundson, Debbie Jónasson, Merrilyn Gudmundson, Wendy Roche, Bjossi Jónasson, Lyle Jonasson, Ragnar Gudmundson, Rannveig Gudmundson, Keith Sveinson, Wesley Jonasson and Kerry and Kent Gudmundson.

Now to plan a trip to Iceland to find the homesteads!

Leona Johnson


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