Olof Thorum Jonsdottir and her mother Vilborg Thordardottir
compiled by Lin Floyd from interview with Emma Morbey, Vilborg's granddaughter

Vilborg Thordardotter (photo on right) was born Feb 4, 1831 in Hyaleigusondum in Staradal, a small village east of Siljalond near Eyjafjalliem in Iceland. Here dwelt her parents Thordar Sveinsson and Olof Thorbjarnardotter on a small farm. Vilborg was confirmed in the Lutheran church in the Stardahl village by the Rev. Bjarne Jonsson, with honor, being a diligent student, calm and gracious in manner.

In the year 1855, Vilborg at age 24 moved to the Westman Islands where she worked for Peter Jonsson and his wife Gudrum Eyolfsdotter. Here she met John Petursson whom she married Oct 12, 1861 at the age of 30 years. Four children blessed this union. They were Gudrum Soffia born 1863, Olof Thorum born 1864, Johann Peter born 1866 and Villjalmur born 1868. July 15, 1868 at the age of 39 years, her husband died. She, however, maintained the farm, supporting her children until she was 41 years of age, when she married Sigurdar Arnason, age 30 with whom she came to Spanish Fork, Utah in the year 1874, bringing with them her four children.

According to Emma Morby, Olof's only daughter, the missionaries who converted the Johnsson/Arnasson family, encouraged them to gather to Utah and took money from them to purchase land in Utah. After the family had immigrated to Spanish Fork, Utah, and had been baptized, they could not find the missionaries and became disillusioned with the Mormon Church and returned to their former Lutheran faith.

In the book "Iceland Mission History", it says that Icelandic born missionaries Loptur Johnson and Magnus Bjarnason were sent from Spanish Fork, Utah to Iceland in 1873. It lists the names of the emigrants they returned with as follows: "...Sigurdur Arnason, his wife (Wilborg) and four children (Johan, Sophia, Olof and Wilhjalmar)." Vilborg Thordarsdottir is the wife listed as Wilborg and it lists her children from a first marriage to Jon Petursson who died in 1868. It also says they sailed on the ship "Hermine" from Westman Islands May 29, 1874 with the two missionaries and 11 persons (of whom only one was a member of the Church, but the other 10 were baptized soon after their arrival in Spanish Fork, Utah.) Vilborg and her two oldest daughters Gudrum and Olof were baptized into the Mormon faith Aug 30, 1874. John Peter was baptized when he reached 8 on 13 Sep 1875. His brother William didn't join the Mormon faith, died at age 14 of a fall from a horse and was buried in Spanish Fork, Utah..

They reached England June 18, 1874, then sailed on a steamship "Nevada" for New York, arriving July 21st then by railroad all the way to Salt Lake City arriving July 2nd and on to Spanish Fork where was a large settlement of Icelandic emigrants lived in the southeast portion of town. Olive married Wm. Marion Johnson Sr. Olive's sister Gudrum Sofia became the second wife of Peter Valgardsson and settled in Spanish Fork. Their brother Jon Peter Johnson moved to Taber, Alberta, Canada with the Mormon colonists in 1900 and gathered his Icelandic genealogy and submitted it for temple work.

Olof Thorum (photo on left) or Olive Theresia Annie, as she was later called in America, married William Marion Johnson Sr. (See-Wm M. Johnson and Olive Theresia Johnson history.) She was born Nov 6 1864 in the Westman Islands of Iceland and emigrated at age 10 to America with her stepfather Sigurdur Arnasson age 32, her widowed mother Vilborg Thordarsdottir ) age 43, her older sister Gudrum Sophia age 11, and two younger brothers Jon Peter age 9 and Vilhjamar W. age 6 in 1874. Her daughter Emma Morby recalls that Olive was a tiny woman only 5'1", easy to get along with and made friends easily. She was a good cook and baked bread-eight loaves at a time, a couple of times a week and buns with raisins. She liked to walk up the railroad track and go fishing, also liked to ride the train and go to school programs. She died in Coalville, Utah where she lived from 1900 to 5 Aug 1937. She was taking over strawberries to a neighbor, slipped and broke her hip. She had to have a hip to foot cast and was in the hospital in SLC in bed for a long time and that cut off circulation in her legs. After that she got around on crutches and on a chair with casters. She died of water around the heart at age 72.

There are some very interesting records Olive's mother Vilborg brought with her from Iceland. One is a little notebook containing her direct line genealogy going back to 800 AD in Iceland and also some minutes of early LDS Church meetings in Iceland. I have copies of these if any one is interested and I also have a PAF gedcom computer file of their ancestry back to 800 AD available. Every year in Spanish Fork, Utah there is an Icelandic festival held in June with programs, entertainment and speakers. See <groups.msn.com/IcelandicAssociationofUtah> to learn more of the Icelandic heritage.

Other sources:

Allred, LaNora. The Icelanders of Utah. Spanish Fork, Utah: Icelandic Association of Utah, 1990, p. 61
Ashby, David. Iceland Mission History. Spanish Fork, Utah: Icelandic Association of Utah, 2001, p. 12


Iceland Monument-Spanish Fork, Utah


The Icelandic Monument, located at the corner of third south and eighth east
in Spanish Fork, Utah, was erected in 1938. The monument was built in honor
of the first permanent Icelandic settlement in the United States. It is
appropriately built in the shape of a lighthouse, reflecting the seafaring
background of the Icelanders.

The Icelandic association of Spanish Fork, Utah and the Daughters of the
Utah Pioneers, Mount Flonette Camp at Spanish Fork, Utah jointly built the
monument. Kate B. Carter, then vice-president of the National Association
Daughters of Utah Pioneers and an Icelander had a lot to with the planning
and organizing the monument committee.
J. Victor Leifson and Elner B. Jarvis
were co-chairman. GisliBearnson donated the ground located in the vicinity of
the first settlement in Spanish Fork, Utah. John K. Johnson designed the monument.
Andrew Jensen, Historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,
offered the prayer of dedication. The dedication of the monument was part of the annual
Iceland Day on August 2, 1938.

On June 14, 1997 two-flag poles and flags were placed at the monument. The United States flag, and the Icelandic flag will remind all of our heritage. From website <www.nebo.edu/sfms/monument.htm>

© 2003 Lin Floyd, to contact me for more information, sign my guest book on my
Main page.