Member Spotlight: Susan Atwood

Updated: Jul 17

Welcome to our new monthly feature where we can learn about the wonderful members of our Icelandic Roots database.

Susan May Atwood - IR #526586

I was born and raised in the Ballard area of Seattle Washington. I grew up in an Icelandic community and I spent my summers with my mother and sisters in the Icelandic Community of Mountain, North Dakota. We would stay with my grandparents, Kristjan "Chris" Gudmundson and Kristine "Stina" Sigurdson Gudmundson. I now live in Kent, Washington, which is south of the Seattle area in the State of Washington

I found out about Icelandic Roots (IR) through Sunna Olafson Furstenau. I was in touch with her about Ancestry back when she was working on her "Roots to Trees" and before Icelandic Roots was even in existence. I have been a member of Icelandic Roots since it's beginning and plan to stay a member for life! I find it invaluable. I used it daily and learn so much from it!

portrait of Gary and Susan Atwood at the black sand beach in Vík, Iceland
Gary and Susan Atwood at Vík, Iceland

My favorite feature is the Relationship Calculator. I love "connecting the dots". I love seeing how I am related to other Icelanders and Western Icelanders!

I have researched all of the branches of my family on IR as I am of 100 percent Icelandic descent. It has been the most fun researching information about my Amma Stina as I grew close to her during my summer visits to Mountain and the fact that she had an interesting childhood.

Portrait of Amma Stina wearing  a fur collar and black brimmed hat.
Amma Stina

Amma Stina is in IR as Kristín Sæmundsdóttir\Sigurdson #I 215988. I regret that I did not ask my Amma questions about her childhood. Back in the 1950's and 60's, I was a child myself. I was more interested in going out to play with my friends. Thankfully, I have been able to find out some information from Icelandic Roots to help me learn a little more about her. My family was good at saving stories and photos. I knew that Amma had been left in Iceland when her parents and 4 of her siblings left Iceland in 1893. My Amma and two of her brothers were left in Iceland in the care of their grandparents, and later with Aunts and Uncles. I always wondered how Amma Stina got from Iceland to Mountain, ND. She was not listed on any ship records from 1899 when she left Iceland and came to Mountain. One of the IR volunteers (Kristy) was able to find her name on the passenger list of the SS Tainui on Oct 15, 1899. That ship took Amma Stina from Glasgow, Scotland, to Quebec, Canada. I still do not know how she traveled from Iceland to Scotland, but perhaps she could have traveled on a freighter.

I love the IR feature that shows information and photos of the ships that Icelanders traveled on to America. I had been told by friends of my Amma that she had traveled to Mountain with Rev. Friðrik Bergmann. IR was able to confirm that his name was on the same passenger list on the ship that left Scotland and went to Quebec. It was so exciting to see this proof! Amma Stina did indeed travel in the care of Rev. Bergmann.

I am still busy at work trying to scan, identify and send photos to IR, not only of my ancestors and family, but of friends of theirs who appear in group photos. I get excited to see photos appear on pages of people in the database. I thank all of the IR team for all that they are doing to help preserve our ancestry for future generations! I will continue to send photos and articles that were saved by my grandparents and great grandparents.

My ancestors originate from many different areas of Iceland. I have been fortunate to travel to Iceland (on 12 different occasions since 2007) and to have been able to visit the farms or land of some of my ancestors.

Amma Stina wearing her mother's dress for August the Deuce, Mountain ND