Erik the Red
Erik lived in western Iceland with his father Thorvald because Thorvald had been banned from Norway for manslaughter. Erik was similarily banned from Iceland about 980 and decided to explore Greenland. Erik sailed in 982 with his household and livestock but was unable to land on Greenland due to drift ice. So he sailed around the the southern tip and settled there. During Erik's 3 year stay he nor his party encountered any other people. Erik returned to Iceland in 986 to gather more colonists for his settlement in Greenland. Out of 25 ships only 14 and 350 men landed safely on Greenland. By the year 1000 there were about 1000 settlers in Greenland, but an epidemic wiped out a considerable amount. Erik's colony eventually died off, but other settlements continued and maintained contact with Norway until the 15th century, where communication was lost for over 100 years.
The second of three sons of Erik the Red sailed from Greenland to Norway in year 1000 and was converted to Christianity by the king Olaf I Trygsuasion. The next year Oloaf recruited Leif to spread Christianity to Greenland. He got lost on his return trip and ended up in North America. He called the spot where he landed Vinland. Another saga (story) tells that Leif heard about Vinland from Bjarni Herjulfsson who had been there 14 years earlier. It also says Leif visited Helluland, Markland, and Vinland. Further expeditions to Vinland were made by Thorvald, Leif Eriksson's brother and Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni.
Thorfinn Karlsefni was an Icelander who supposedly took trips to Vinland after Leif Eriksson. Thorfinn means "promising boy". Thorfinn's grandfather in 900 led Norwagians to colonize Iceland. Thorfinn married Gudrid, who was the widow of Erik the Red's son Thorsein.