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Midwife & Nurse Karolina Soffia Snydal



Karolina Soffia Snydal and her husband Eyolfur first emigrated to Canada from Jukuidal in Iceland in 1876.

Her mother had been a midwife in their homeland and Karolina told of helping bathe a new born infant when she herself was only ten years of age.

It seemed only fitting that after moving to a farm in Argyle, and being widowed only a few years later, Karolina should support her seven children, doing what she knew best, helping expectant mothers.

Karolina rented her homestead in the Grund district north of Baldur and taking with her a cow, a few chickens and some sheep, the family moved to Baldur in 1899.

Word soon spread that 'Nurse Snydal' as she was called was available and she became a very busy person. Over a span of nearly fifty years Karolina, often without the help of a Doctor, was called to help expectant mothers. Her task also included taking over all the household duties as well as caring for
the mother and new infant.

One story comes to mind at this time. On a very stormy night in March when the snow was deep and the roads almost obliterated, Karolina and Dr. Cleghorn started north in a cutter and a team of horses. Their destination was Paul Frederickson's
farm home. Enroute the cutter upset. Karolina was slightly injured. Someone had to go on horseback to seek help from a neighbor, Mrs. Bardarson. The new born baby arrived and was named Ellen, later Mrs. Ellen Magnusson.

Today many in Argyle will tell you that Mrs. Snydal brought all members of their family into the world. She also took expectant mothers into her own home when it was more convenient for all concerned.

Karolina Snydal delivered her last baby when
she was seventy-five years old. The infant was Caroline, daughter of Mrs. and Mr. Walter Frederickson, born June 1st 1934.

Mrs. Snydal lived to the age of ninety-one years having been predeceased by all her children. She died February 24, 1947.

What a service this noble and courageous woman offered to her community, under some of the most adverse and trying conditions.

Adapted from, “For Those We Serve”

Midwife Valgerdur Bjornsdottir

Valgerdur Bjornsdottir was born in Iceland and trained midwife ... a much respected profession in Iceland at that time; when it was not advocated that girls need be educated. She delivered numerous babies and to cared for mothers and their newborns in the Bru district . It had been related that she took her daughter, Halldora, to assist at the delivery, when Halldora was only fourteen years of age. And thus Halldora learned the profession and carried on to serve her community likewise.

Halldora Sigvaldadottir (Valgerdur's daughter by her first husband) came to the Argyle district in 1883 to SE 28 6-13. Soon After the birth of her last childbirth, Halldora began helping people who were ill; or tending as a midwife; and
went out day or night.

Valgerdur Bjornsdottir and Haldora Gunnlaugson

During the influenza epidemic of 1918, she went from home to home never becoming ill herself. At one time she came to nurse the Isberg family in Baldur, where all eight were down with the 'flu' . . . the mother being the exception. She nursed them all back to good health and  moved on.

Haldora died March 24, 1941 and is buried in Bru Cemetery beside her husband, Brynjolfur Gunnlaugson (1847-1914) whom she married in 1878 while still in Iceland.

Adapted from For Those We Serve, Page 8

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