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