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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Thorvald Ericsson

THORVALD Ericsson, Scandinavian navigator, died in Massachusetts in 1004. He was the brother of Leif, the son of Eric the Red, who persuaded him to visit Vinland, giving him the ship that he had bought from Biarn Heriulfson, and many wise directions as to his course. Thorvald selected thirty men, and sailed westward in 1002. He reached what has been thought to be the coast of Rhode Island, and passed the winter in Leifsbudir (Leif's house), some wooden huts which Leif is supposed to have built at the mouth of Pocasset river, near the present site of Providence. In the spring of 1003 he went on a voyage of discovery along the southern coast. His men saw a lovely country covered with forests, which were separated from the shore only by a thin border of white sand. The sea was enamelled with little islands, in one of which they discovered a wooden barn. The others appeared without any trace of men or animals. After obtaining a glimpse of an island that lay toward the west, supposed to be Long Island, they returned in the autumn to Leifsbudir. In the following summer Thorvald determined to explore the northern coast, but a violent storm damaged the keel of his ship. He stopped for some time, refitting in the neighborhood, and when about to put to sea, tie said to his companions: "Let us raise on this point of land the keel of a ship, and let us call it Kialarnes" (Keel cape). Rafn, Kohl, and other scholars that are interested in the ante-Columbian discovery of the American continent, think that the Kialarnes of Thorvald is Cape Cod. Then Thorvald sailed westward and anchored near a promontory, which has been supposed to be Gurnet point or Cape Alderton. The country appeared so beautiful that after landing he said: "This country is very fine; I would like to build my house here." After returning to the vessel, the Northmen saw three dark points on the beach that looked like hillocks. They were three "carabos" (canoes of wickerwork, covered with skins), each containing three men. The Northmen seized and killed eight of the savages, but the ninth escaped. Thorvald then landed, explored the promontory, and discovered elevations, which tie took for human habitations. The Northmen returned to their vessel at nightfall, but they were soon awakened from their sleep by cries of vengeance. The vessel was surrounded by a crowd of canoes that came to exact reparation for the assassinations of the morning. They were manned by the Skraellings, or Esquimaux, who appear to have dwelt at that time farther south than they did in the 16th century. These savages discharged a shower of arrows on the Northmen, and fled. Thorvald asked his companions if they were wounded, and all replied in the negative. "But I am," he said; "this arrow, after rebounding from my buckler, entered under the armpit. I advise you to depart quickly from this land and leave me on the promontory where I wished to build my house. I have prophesied my destiny, for there shall I dwell. You shall bury me in this place, and put two crosses on my tomb, one at my head and the other at my feet, so that henceforward this promontory shall be called Krossarnes" (Promontory of the Crosses). A skeleton was discovered late in the 18th century on Rainsford island, and with it the hilt of an iron sword. Some antiquarians have concluded that the skeleton was that of an ancient Scandinavian, and that the workmanship of the hilt proved it to be not later than the 15th century. After the burial of Thorvald, the Northmen returned to Leifsbudir, and in 1005 sailed for Greenland. See " Decouverte de l'Amerique par les Normands au Xe siecle," by Gabriel Gravier (Paris, 1874); "Antiquitates Americanae," by Carl Christian Rafn (Copenhagen, 1837); "Denkmaler Gronlands," by the same (3 vols., 1838-'45) ; '" Etude sur les rapports de l'Amerique et de l'ancien continent avant Christophe Colomb," by M. Gaffarel (Paris, 1869); " Historia Vinlandiae Antiquae," by Th. Torfaeus (Copenhagen, 1711) ; "The Heimskringla of Snorre Sturlesons, or Chronicles of the Kings of Norway," translated into English by Samuel Laing (London, 1844); and "Discovery of America by Northmen," by Eben N. Horsford (Boston, 1888).

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