Skapti Sæmundur Halldórsson & Júliana Jóhanna Böðvarsdóttir

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Taken from the Icelandic Appeal website, circa 2000.
Halldórsson, Skapti Sæmundur & Júliana Jóhanna Böðvarsdóttir

Skapti Sæmundur Halldórsson was an integral part of the pioneer community in the Sandy Hook and Arnes districts of New Iceland. He was long remembered by his neighbours for sharing the medical knowledge he gained as a young man in Iceland to ease the suffering of those around him.

Skapti was born on February 20th, 1871 in Reykjavík, Iceland, son of Halldór Jón Halldórsson and Jóhanna Kristjana Skaftadóttir. When Skapti was only two years old, Jóhanna left Iceland for the United States. She left young Skapti in the care of relatives who raised and educated at home in the Icelandic tradition. Many of Skapti’s descendants believe that he was raised in the household of his uncle where he received a classical education that included Latin, Greek, and Homeopathic Medicine. It is known for certain that in 1880 he was living in the house of his paternal grandmother, Katrín Guðmundsdóttir.

In 1887, at the age of 16, young Skapti left Straumur in Álftaneshreppur in Gullbringusýsla and sailed aboard the emigrant ship Camoens. According to shipping records, his final destination was Winnipeg, but he appears to have made his way to the Vík (Mountain) Settlement in Dakota Territory to join his mother, Jóhanna Kristjana Skaftadóttir, shortly after arriving from Iceland.

Skapti stayed in the vicinity of Mountain for 10 years, after which he returned to Iceland. He came back to Mountain following one year in his native land, this time settling in North America permanently. He seems to have stayed in Mountain until his mother’s death in 1900.


During his time at Mountain, Skapti married Júliana Jóhanna Böðvarsdóttir from Eínholt in Borgarfjarðarsýsla, the daughter of Böðvar Guðmundsson and Jóhanna Jónsdóttir. Júliana also came to North America in 1887, accompanied by her sister, Þorbjörg Böðvarsdóttir, and her husband Eggert Sigurðsson. Skapti and Júliana’s first two children, Skapti (1896) and Böðvar (1899), were born at Mountain.

Skapti and Júliana, along with their two young sons, made the journey north to New Iceland around 1900. They first settled in the south end of the colony in what is now Sandy Hook at the adjacent farms of Brautarholt and Oddsstaðir. The family then moved north to the Arnes district where they farmed at Sólheimar (1904-1916), Heggstaðir (1916-1922), Brimnes (1921-1936), and Nes (1926-1937).

Skapti drew on the Homeopathic medical training he had received as a young man in Iceland to assist his pioneer neighbours with their medical ailments. He was fondly remembered for this service after he passed away on February 15, 1937. His obituary from the May 4, 1937 issue of Lögberg tells us that he had suffered from a lung illness for 18 years. The funeral service was held at his old home in Sandy Hook, and Skapti was laid to rest at the “Lundi” Cemetery.

Following Skapti’s death, Júliana relocated to Winnipeg where she resided until her death on October 8, 1955 at the age of 83.