I don’t believe any of us knows what we are capable of doing if put in the same situation and circumstances? From September 10th through the 25th, the party followed the trail into Nevada around the Ruby Mountains, finally reaching the Humboldt River on September 26th. Meanwhile, Reed and McCutchen had headed back up into the mountains attempting to rescue their stranded companions. The majority of the Donner Party emigrants were children. Also along with them were two teamsters, Noah James and Samuel Shoemaker, as well as a friend named John Denton. He never rejoined the group. Mistakes, trouble, evil and bad luck followed along with them so that when they arrived, at what They reached the Humboldt River on September 26th. Omissions? Antonio, Patrick Dolan, Franklin Graves, and Lemuel Murphy soon died and in desperation, the others resorted to cannibalism. It is a story of American families The first relief party soon left with 23 refugees, but during the party’s travels back to Sutter’s Fort, two more children died. Eight of the men died, and the bodies of some of these were eaten by the others. The party was trapped by exceptionally heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada, and, when food ran out, some members of the group reportedly resorted to cannibalism of those already dead. The Donner Party, then, presents both a great opportunity to examine where this human-animal intersection might occur, and also an Icarian tale of human pride in the face of nature’s cold nihilism. The historic dates and facts, along with the knowledge of what the property looks like in terms of elevation and winter conditions, clearly depicts the strength of these people. Donner Pass, with Donner Lake in the distance, near Truckee, Calif. Donner party, also called Donner-Reed party, group of American pioneers—named for the expedition’s captain, George Donner—who became stranded en route to California in late 1846. The group preferring the Hastings route elected George Donner as their captain and soon began the southerly route, reaching Fort Bridger on July 28th. It took two months and four relief parties to rescue the entire surviving Donner Party. The Donner Party soon reached the junction with the California Trail, about seven miles west of present-day Elko, Nevada and spent the next two weeks traveling along the Humboldt River. The party elected George Donner to serve as its leader, and at its peak the Donner party would number some 87 people—29 men, 15 women, and 43 children—in a column of 23 ox-drawn wagons. Only two of the ten men survived, including William Eddy and William Foster, but all five women lived through the journey. Our cookies are delicious. On August 11th, the wagon train began the arduous journey through the Wasatch Mountains, clearing trees and other obstructions along the new path of their journey. Miraculously, just three days later on October 19th, one of the men the party had sent on to Fort Sutter — Charles Stanton, returned laden with seven mules loaded with beef and flour, two Indian guides, and news of a clear, but difficult path through the Sierra Nevada. However, what was not known by Reed was that the Hastings Route had never been tested, written by Hastings who had visions of building an empire at Sutter’s Fort (now Sacramento.) The settlers of California organized a relief party which left Fort Sutter (Sacramento) on January 31, 1847. The 22 people with the Donners were about six miles behind at Alder Creek. If it had worked out differently, the group of settlers that came to be known as the Donner Party would have slipped over the Sierra Nevada into California —and obscurity. When it cleared, Isaac Donner had died and most of the refugees were too weak to travel. As the disillusionment of the party increased, tempers began to flare in the group. Updates? See actions taken by the people who manage and post On the sixth day, their food ran out and for the next three days, no one ate while they traveled through grueling high winds and freezing weather. Though he strongly suggested that the party take the regular wagon trail rather than this new false route, Reed would later ignore his warning in an attempt to reach their destination more quickly. In the meantime, the Graves family caught up with the Donner Party, which now numbered 87 people in 23 wagons. As the rest of the party continued to what is now known as Donner’s Lake, snow began to fall. By the time the Donner party reached the Humboldt River, where Hastings Cutoff rejoined the main California Trail, it was late September. Two days after the Snyder killing, on October 7th, Lewis Keseberg turned out a Belgian man named Hardcoop, who had been traveling with him. The Donners, whose progress was delayed by a wagon accident, made a similar camp a few miles farther east on the trail near Alder Creek. At Fort Laramie, James Reed ran into an old friend from Illinois by the name of James Clyman, who had just traveled the new route eastwardly with Lansford Hastings. Jim Bridger and his partner Louis Vasquez assured the Donner Party that the Hastings Cutoff was a good route. Tales and Trails of the American Frontier. On August 25th, the caravan lost another member, one Luke Halloran, who died of consumption, near present-day Grantsville, Utah. Mama was overcome with grief. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Donner-party, EyeWitness to History.com - The Tragic Fate of the Donner Party, 1847, Online Nevada Encyclopedia - Donner Party, Donner party - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Although they were warned partway through the trip not to go that way, I still put the blame on him for lying about it in the first place. Their third album, quirkily titled "The Donner Party" was recorded in 1989 but not released until 2000 on the anthology The Donner Party: Complete Recordings 1987-1989 which contains all three albums plus some live tracks. In the end, five had died before reaching the mountains, thirty-five perished either at the mountain camps or trying to cross the mountains, and one died just after reaching the valley. Ironically, on the very day that the Illinois party headed west from Springfield, Lansford Hastings prepared to head east from California, to see what the shortcut he had written about was really like. Many of those who survived lost toes to frostbite. Eliza Donner’s Story At just four years old, Eliza Donner was one of the last survivors of the Donner Party to be rescued from Donner Lake. Though Sarah Keyes was so sick with consumption that she could barely walk, she was unwilling to be separated from her only daughter. Obviously adventurous, the brothers decided to make one last trip to California, which unfortunately would be their last. Breen’s account of the winter of 1846–47 would provide the only contemporary written record of the Donner party’s ordeal. The terrible ordeals of the caravan continued to mount when on October 12th, their oxen were attacked by Piute Indians, killing 21 one of them with poison-tipped arrows, further depleting their draft animals. Some blamed the power-hungry Lansford W. Hastings for the tragedy, while others blamed James Reed for not heeding Clyman’s warning about the deadly route. Then, in January 1848, gold was discovered in at John Sutter’s Mill in Coloma and gold-hungry travelers began to rush out West once again. After the publicity, emigration to California fell off sharply and Hastings’ cutoff was all but abandoned. 1 talking about this. Five days later, on August 30th, the group began to cross the Great Salt Lake Desert, believing the trek would take only two days, according to Hastings. Reed had recently read the book The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California, by Landsford W. Hastings, who advertised a new shortcut across the Great Basin. Liven Rising 2. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. At last, we were all in the wagons. On February 5, the first relief party of seven men left Johnson’s ranch, and the second, headed by James Reed, left two days later. When John L. O’Sullivan coined the term “manifest destiny” in the New York Post , he hypothesized that God in Heaven, the Sky-Man Himself, wanted Anglo-Americans to take the West. Donner Party Map, courtesy Donner Party Diary. His wife Tamzene, though in comparatively good health, refused to leave him; sending her three little girls on without her. This book, whose discrete treatment make it appropriate for older pre-teens, covers the party's travels from St. Louis along their intended rout to California and a … Jacob Donner, and his wife Elizabeth, brought their five children, George, Mary, Isaac, Samuel, and Lewis, as well as Mrs. Donner’s two children from a previous marriage, Solomon and William Hook. The next day, they arrived at the lake camp to find that both of their sons had died. The letter stated that Hastings would meet the emigrants at Fort Bridger and lead them on his cutoff, which passed south of the Great Salt Lake instead of detouring northwest via Fort Hall (present-day Pocatello, Idaho.). To my knowledge there has never been substantial proof of cannibalism. Doomed attempt to get to California in 1846. Tri-state kings of crossover thrash Facebook is showing information to help you better understand the purpose of a Page. Not knowing how many cattle the emigrants had lost, the men believed the party would have enough meat to last them several months. The story of the Donner tragedy quickly spread across the country. On July 31st, the party left Fort Bridger, joined by the McCutchen family. While the Donner Party has a reputation due to the gruesome acts that were committed during their trip, there are some things that many don't know about this ill-fated trip. About this time, fear began to set in as provisions were running low and time was against them. It was this falsified information that would lead to the doom of the Donner Party. The surviving members had differing viewpoints, biases and recollections so what actually happened was never extremely clear. As the elevation increased, the rain turned to snow and twelve miles from the summit the pair could go no further. Stanton and the two Indians who were traveling ahead made it as far as the summit but could go no further. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... James Frazier Reed and Margaret Keyes Reed, survivors of the Donner party. The Donner Party - Scott R. Welvaert - 洋書の購入は楽天ブックスで。全品送料無料!購入毎に「楽天ポイント」が貯まってお得!みんなのレビュー・感想も満載。 This decision to delay their departure was yet one more of many that would lead to their tragedy. Donner and her surviving sisters raised each other in the San Francisco Bay Area until 1861 when she married Sherman Otis Houghton, the widower of another Donner Party survivor. and brush to protect themselves from the harsh conditions. The Reeds, the Donners, and a number of others chose to head southwest toward Fort Bridger. With James and Margaret Reed were their four children, Virginia, Patty, James, and Thomas, as well as Margaret’s 70-year-old mother, Sarah Keyes, and two hired servants. The letter successfully allayed any fears that the party might have had regarding the Hastings cutoff. The group now numbered 74 people in twenty wagons and for the first week made good progress at 10-12 miles per day. Two days after they started out it began to rain. There, on May 12, they became a part of a main wagon train headed west. Along the entire journey, others would join the group until its size numbered 87. More small cabins were constructed, many of which were shared by more than one family. On July 31 the Donner party entered Hastings Cutoff, which would take the group south of the Great Salt Lake in what is now Utah. The party lost dozens of cattle in the desert, and several wagons had to be abandoned. En route down the mountains, the first relief party met the second relief party coming the opposite way and the Reed family was reunited after five months. Reed soon found others seeking adventure and fortune in the vast West, including the Donner family, Graves, Breens, Murphys, Eddys, McCutcheons, Kesebergs, and the Wolfingers, as well as seven teamsters and a number of bachelors. The Donner party stranded in the Sierra Nevada Range, 1847. From the Unknown 8. Hastings had claimed that his route would shave more than 300 miles (480 km) from the journey to California. After dogs and cowhides had been devoured, many deaths occurred, and the survivors were forced to resort to cannibalism of the dead bodies. Keseberg was the last member of the Donner Party to arrive at Sutter’s Fort on April 29th. To spare the animals, everyone who could, walked. First, some background. With George were his third wife, Tamzene, their three children, Frances, Georgia, and Eliza, and George’s two daughters from a previous marriage, Elitha and Leanna. In the twenty-one days since reaching the Weber River they had moved just 36 miles. The migrants began the ascent of the Sierra foothills low on food, and Paiute warriors killed several of the remaining oxen. The Donner Party soon reached the junction with the California Trail, about seven miles west of present-day Elko, Nevada and spent the next two weeks traveling along the Humboldt River. The group made good progress all the way to Fort Laramie (in what is now southeastern Wyoming), covering roughly 650 miles (1,050 km) in six weeks. Taking a vote among the party members, the group decided to try the new trail rather than backtracking to Fort Bridger. We use cookies. Their first destination was Independence, Missouri, the main jumping-off point for the Oregon and California Trails. [1] The band consisted of Melanie Clarin on drums and accordion, Sam Coomes on guitar, violin, and banjo, and Reinhold Johnson on bass. Ominously, snow powdered the mountain peaks that very night. Of … Had Lansford Hastings never lied about a trail that did not in his book An Emigrant’s Guide, none of this would have ever happened to begin with. Like most immigrant trains, the Donner Party was an eclectic, American slice of life: rich and poor, men and woman, old and young, immigrant and fifth generation, white and Native American, illiterate and scholar, families and Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, California, 1847. Satisfied, the emigrants rested for a few days at the fort, making repairs to their wagons and preparing for the rest of what they thought would be a seven-week journey. A fourth rescue party set out in late March but were soon stranded in a blinding snowstorm for several days. Donner Party Route - Google My Maps This map shows the route taken by the Donner Party, a group of pioneers who set out in covered wagons to create a new life in California in 1846. After examining remains from the Alder Creek campsite, researchers in 2010 announced that they had been unable to find any human bones or other physical evidence of cannibalism. However, upon their arrival at Fort Bridger, of Lansford Hastings, there was no sign, only a note left with other emigrants resting at the fort. With the Sierra pass just 12 miles beyond, the wagon train, after attempting to make the pass through the heavy snow, finally retreated to the eastern end of the lake, where level ground and timber was abundant. The fertile farmlands of central California drew a steady stream of settlers in the 1840s, and in the spring of 1846 several families from Springfield, Illinois, joined the westward migration. (Last Privacy Policy Update July 2020), Byways & Historic Trails – Great Drives in America, Soldiers and Officers in American History, Alva Gould – Discoverer of the Famous Gould and Curry Mine, Honest Miner To a Poker-Playing Politician, Old Tom – A Typical Mining Camp Character, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado. The next day, on May 12, 1846, they headed west again in the middle of a thunderstorm. On March 3rd, Reed left the camp with 17 of the starving emigrants but just two days later they are caught in another blizzard. Twelve of the emigrants were dead and of the forty-eight remaining, many had gone crazy or were barely clinging to life. Donner Lake and Donner Pass, California, are named for the party. The individual that wrote this story is a good writer. On December 15 Baylis Williams, an employee of the Reed family, died of malnutrition at the lake camp; his was the first recorded death in the camps, although many others would soon follow. The Donner Party was a group of California-bound American settlers caught up in the western expansion of the 1840s. Civilian Casualties 3. Cannon, Timothy Hutton, Gene Jones. Most of the party thereupon built crude cabins near what is now known as Donner Lake. While the party camped near modern-day Henefer, Utah, James Reed, along with two other men forged ahead on horses to catch up with Hastings. Chain Reaction 5. On March 1st the second relief party finally arrived at the lake, finding grisly evidence of cannibalism. Hastings, who had promised to lead migrants along the trail, left Fort Bridger with a different company of wagons, and it fell to Reed to act as the company’s guide. The wagon train reached Independence, Missouri about three weeks later, where they re-supplied. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Harbingers of Death 4. On February 19th, the first party reached the lake finding what appeared to be a deserted camp until the ghostly figure of a woman appeared. The rest of the pioneers stayed at what would become known as “Starved Camp.”. The Donner party stranded in the Sierra Nevada Range, 1847 A few days later their last few cattle were slaughtered for food and party began eating boiled hides, twigs, bones and bark. Immediately messages were dispatched to neighboring settlements as area residents rallied to save the rest of the Donner Party. The Donner Party is a 2009 American period Western drama film written and directed by Terrence Martin (credited as T.J. Martin), and starring Crispin Glover, Clayne Crawford, Michele Santopietro, Mark Boone Junior, and Christian Kane. The Donner Camp has been the site of recent archeological excavations. Illustration depicting the arrival of a relief party during an attempted rescue of the Donner party, February 1847. It was an excellent read. On December 16 a party of 10 men and 5 women set out to cross the mountains on improvised snowshoes. At Donner Lake, two more attempts were made to get over the pass in twenty feet of snow, until they finally realized they were snowbound for the winter. It was here that the “new” trail met up with Hasting’s original path. Donner Party timeline provides an almost day-to-day basic description of events directly associated with the 1840s Donner Party pioneers, covering the journey from Illinois to California—2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers), over the Great Plains, two mountain ranges, and the deserts of the Great Basin. Twenty-two people, consisting of the Donner family and their hired men, stayed behind while the wagon was repaired. On the far side of the desert, an inventory of food was taken and found to be less than adequate for the 600-mile trek still ahead. All the other migrants of 1846 had completed their journey to California, and the Donner party was racing the weather to clear the passes in the Sierra Nevada. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? Unfortunately, while cutting timber for a new axle, a chisel slipped and Donner cut his hand badly, causing the group to fall further behind. Green Abyss 7. Eight days of almost continuous snow followed, during which time many of the oxen, the chief reserve of food, wandered off and were lost. While at Fort Laramie, Reed had been warned against attempting the route by an old friend from Illinois who had just completed the west-to-east journey through “Hastings Cutoff,” but the group chose to press ahead. Inhuman Voices 9. In reality, Hastings Cutoff was 125 miles (200 km) longer than the established trail, which ran north of the Great Salt Lake, and it would take the pioneers through some of the most inhospitable country in the entire Great Basin. They then took 23 of the starving emigrants, including 17 children, back to the settlements; several deaths occurred on the way. A note left by Hastings had assured the party that they would be able to cross the desert in just two days, but the journey took five. For James Reed, the party might have had regarding the Hastings.... 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