From: Jacob Kruse <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: [The Icelandic Association of Chicago]
To the Icelandic Association of Chicago:
Hello, my name is Jacob Kruse and I am excited to share with you that I have been chosen as a 2014 Snorri participant!
I am a second year student at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa; studying Music Education. Even though I attend college in Iowa, my home town is Marshfield, Wisconsin. Because the Snorri program encourages the students to reach out to their local Icelandic organizations for financial assistance, I have chosen to contact you because Chicago is connected to my family story.
I have quite an interesting story to share of my Icelandic heritage. My Icelandic ancestors have been lost to my family for over three generations due to the tragedies that occurred when my ancestors arrived in America in 1891. My Great-Great Grandmother was a little girl under the age of six when she lost her entire family. Her birth mother died a few years before in Iceland in 1887, a week after the youngest brother was born. Her father remarried in 1890 and on their journey to America in 1891, her new step-mother died and was buried at sea. After arriving in Chicago, Illinois with her three other siblings, her father died from a fatal gunshot wound to the head on the streets of Chicago in May of the same year. She was placed in Chicago’s Half Orphan Asylum with her sister and two younger brothers.
Her relatives in Iceland tried desperately to retrieve the children but it became a legal court battle involving the Governor of Illinois, a questionable guardian, a Governor of Iceland, and a corrupt lawyer who was later disbarred. My Great-Great Grandmother, Hrefna Pállsdottir Eggerz, was adopted into an American family before someone from Iceland could return her to Iceland. Her sister was adopted into a different American family and her oldest brother died at the age of four in the orphanage in September of 1891. The youngest brother was the only one to be returned to family in Iceland. The youngest brother returned to America when he was a young man to find his sisters. He traveled to San Francisco and was there only one week when he died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of twenty-two.
This information was only recently uncovered over the past four years by my mother because when Hrefna was adopted, her name was changed to Edna Crozier. We did not know her Icelandic name and her Icelandic family could not locate her because they did not know her American name. She died in Iowa as a young mother and none of our family knew of her past except that she had come from Iceland and was adopted into the Crozier family. The name Eggerz was found on a piece of paper in an old book that was found after my Great-Grandmother died. It was one of the keys to unlock the door to the mystery of our Icelandic past.
In the past four years, my mother has reconnected our family with my Great-Great Grandmother’s long lost sister’s descendants, also in the United States. They, too, were unaware of their Icelandic family. It has been quite a journey for all of us. I spent a day at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois on a very hot summer day in 2010 helping my parents and siblings dig for underground grave markers to find the right gravesite for the little brother, Sigurður Sivertsen Pállsson Eggerz, who had died in Chicago’s Half Orphan Asylum over one hundred years earlier. We also found the unmarked grave of the father, Páll Eggerz, who was shot. Many members of my family came together to buy headstones to mark their graves so they could be known and claimed by our family.
I don’t believe my Icelandic family ever intended to leave Iceland permanently. They were people who loved their families and their country. Genealogy was also very important to my Great-Great Grandmother’s maternal grandfather, Sigurður Brynjolfsson Sivertsen, the clergyman who served at Utskalar for fifty years. The discovery of our Icelandic past is even more significant on the Sivertsen side due to the fact that my Great-Great Grandmother’s offspring and the line of her sister are the only surviving family line of Sigurður Brynjolfsson Sivertsen and his wife Helga Helgadottir through their daughter Ragnheiður, who was the only one of their children to have children. Ragnheiður was the mother of my Great-Great Grandmother, the one who died a week after giving birth to the youngest brother.
I am so honored to be chosen as a 2014 Snorri participant. My only concern is that I won’t be able to come up with all of the money needed by the April deadline. All of the money I make each summer goes to help pay my tuition at Luther College where I have an Academic Presidential Scholarship that covers only half of the yearly price. I also work in the student cafeteria during the school year but cannot save near the amount I need by April. I have maxed out my student loans for this year. I have a full load of classes this spring semester in addition to music activities so a second job is not possible at this time. I would appreciate any assistance your organization could offer- monetarily or informational.
Thank you for your time in reading about my story. I look forward to having the opportunity to travel to Iceland and learn about the culture and history of my family.
Bless, Bless, Jacob Kruse Great-Great-Great-Great Grandson of Petur Friðriksson Eggerz and Sigurður Brynjolfsson Sivertsen
Your email and family story have preceded you to Iceland. We hope that in sharing them with our readers, perhaps some generous souls will get in touch with you and contribute to your cause. Gangi þér vel! We hope to see you in Iceland soon.
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