Charles Taylor Stanton (1811 - 1847)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Pompey, Onondaga, NY
Death: Died in Sierra Nevada, CA
Managed by: Steven Kelley
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About Charles Taylor Stanton

Charles Tyler Stanton

A bachelor traveling with the Donners.

Age: 35

Perished.

Parents: Isaac Stanton (b. 8 Jan 1770 in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, d.28 Aug 1832 in Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY) m. 23 Jun 1795 to Elizabeth Smith (b. 23 Apr 1775 in Warinick, Orange Co., NY, d. 17 Mar 1835 in Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY)

b. 1 Mar 1811 in Pompey, Onondaga Co., NY

d. abt 23 Dec 1847, Sierra Nevada, California

    Stanton's family were among the earliest settlers of the Syracuse, New York, area. His father, Isaac, was a stonecutter; he had ten children, of whom Charles was the sixth. Although he was small -- only five feet five inches -- Stanton was strong and had a constitution to match, according to his brother. He had brown eyes and hair, and, at the time of the Donner Party, wore a full beard.
    In his early years Stanton worked as a clerk in a store. Despite his limited formal schooling, he read diligently to improve his mind and acquired a considerable knowledge of botany and geology.
    A devoted son, he took care of his widowed mother until her death in 1835, after which he moved to Chicago where he engaged in the commission business. He did well at first, but his business failed a few years before he left for California. Hastings’ glowing description of that region in his Emigrants Guide induced Stanton to leave his "dull and monotonous life."
     Between Independence and the Bear River Stanton sent home lengthy letters which were published in the New York Herald under the initials "S.T.C." These letters, which provide the only detailed contemporary description of the Donner Party’s journey, are reprinted in Dale Morgan’s Overland in 1846. Unfortunately Stanton’s letters do not describe how he came to join the Donner Party. On May 12, 1846, he wrote from Independence, Missouri, "I am going to start for California tomorrow I met with a good opportunity ... When I left C[hicago] – I had not this design in view." The "good opportunity" must have been the chance to travel with the Donners, though in what capacity is unclear. Many years later Elitha Donner Wilder remembered that he helped drive her family’s wagons, but his letters reveal that he spent a good deal of his time away from the emigrant train exploring and enjoying the scenery.
    Stanton is remembered as a hero of the Donner Party. He and William McCutchen left the emigrants at Donner Spring on the Utah-Nevada border and rode ahead to Sutter’s Fort for supplies. Although he had no personal obligation toward anyone in the Donner Party, it was the bachelor Stanton, accompanied by Luis and Salvador, who returned with seven mules loaded with provisions that helped keep many of the emigrants alive.
     After being trapped at the lake, the three men stayed with the Reeds until in mid-December when, as the only emigrant familiar with the route to the settlements, Stanton attempted to lead a party over the mountains on snowshoes. After several days, however, he became snowblind and exhausted, and could hardly keep up with the others. One morning he remained seated at the previous night’s camp while the rest continued. He never rejoined them. His corpse was discovered by members of the rescue parties and identified by his clothing and pistol. Some of his personal effects were recovered and sent to his family in New York.

______

Charles Tyler Stanton was born in Pompey, Onondaga County, on 11th March, 1811. He worked as a store clerk but took a keen interest in botany and geology. Stanton moved to Chicago in 1835 where he established his own business.

In 1846 he joined the Donner Party wagon train in its journey from Independence, Missouri, to Sutter's Fort in California. The party followed the Oregon Trail until they reached Fort Bridger on 28th July.

At the fort the party met Lansford Hastings. He was busy attempting to persuade Oregon-bound emigrants to go to California by way of what became known as the Hastings Cutoff. Hastings claimed that his route would remove 300 miles from the distance to Sutter's Fort. His cut-off involved crossing the Wasatch Mountains, round the Great Salt Lake to the south, then due west to the Humboldt River in Nevada, before returning to the main trail from Fort Hall.

Hastings told people that the desert was only 40 miles across and that they would find water after 24 hours. It was in fact 82 miles wide and water was only to be found after 48 hours of travelling. Hastings told George Donner and James Reed that three wagon trains had already opted for this route.

The Donner Party had made poor time so far and was already some way behind most of the other wagon trains travelling from Independence to Sutter's Fort. They knew they had to cross the Sierra Nevada before the snowfalls that would their path to Sutter's Fort. This usually happened in early November. Although they were on schedule to reach the mountains by late summer they were worried about other delays that could mean being blocked by the winter weather. They therefore made the decision to take the advice of Lansford Hastings and take the proposed short-cut.

On 31st July the Donner Party left Fort Bridger. They did not come out of the Echo Canyon until the 6th August. What they expected to take them four days had actually taken them seven days. They found a letter from Lansford Hastings advising them to camp at the Weber River and to send a man ahead to find him so he could show them a new route to California. Stanton and James Reed went off in pursuit of Hastings. When they found him he refused the offer of becoming the personal guide to the Donner wagon train. Instead he drew a rough map of the new route.

The Donner Party entered the Wasatch Mountains on 12th August. They soon discovered they had to chop their way through aspen, cottonwood and tangled undergrowth to make a route for the wagons. Over the next few days they had to dislodge boulders and build causeways across swamps in order to reach the valley of the Great Salt Lake. The twenty-three wagons of the Donner Party was now joined by the Graves family and their three wagons. As Virginia Reed later recorded the new group consisted "of W.F. Graves, his wife and eight children, his son-in-law Jay Fosdick, and a young man by the name of John Snyder."

It was now the 27th August and they still had to cross the Salt Desert. Members of the party now realised they were in serious trouble and now had only a small chance of crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains before the winter snows blocked their route. The faster wagons pushed on ahead and the slow, heavily laden wagons of the Reeds and Donners were by now falling further and further behind.

The Donner Party reached Pilot Peak on 8th September. To enable them to keep up, the Reeds and Donners had to abandon some of the heavy goods they were carrying. They also abandoned three wagons and increased the number of oxen pulling the remaining wagons. Members of the party were also having doubts about whether they had enough food to last them before they reached California. It was therefore decided to send two men, Stanton and William McCutcheon ahead to Sutter's Fort in order to purchase provisions for the wagon train.

The Donner Party now started out towards the Humboldt River. On the 30th September they reached the main trail from Fort Hall to Sutter's Fort. However, by this time the rest of the 1846 wagon trains had long gone and were already in California. The Donner Party now had trouble from the Paiute. They stole two oxen and two horses. They also fired several arrows at the wagon train and wounded some of the animals.

On 5th October, 1846, another disaster struck the Donner Party. James Reed and John Snyder had an argument about one of the wagons. Snyder lost his temper and hit him over the head with a bullwhip. Reed drew his knife and stuck it into Snyder's body. Snyder mumbled: "Uncle Patrick, I am dead." His prediction was correct and Lewis Keseberg immediately began to set up a wagon tongue as a makeshift gallows. William Eddy used his gun to insist that Reed would not be lynched. The others agreed and after much discussion it was decided that Reed should be banished from the wagon train. He was forced to make his way to Sutter's Fort on horseback without weapons. To many in the party this was equivalent to sentencing Reed to death.

Soon afterwards Lewis Keseberg ejected one of his employees, Hardkoop, from his wagon. He was never seen again and it is not known whether he died of starvation or was killed by local Native American tribes. This was followed by the disappearance of another German named Wolfinger. Joseph Reinhardt and Augustus Spitzer later confessed they had robbed and murdered Wolfinger.

The Donner Party now had to cross a 40 mile desert. Over the next three days the wagon train suffered repeated attacks from groups of warriors. During this time they stole 18 oxen, killed another 21 and wounded many others. Since most of their animals were now dead or stolen, the party was forced to abandon their wagons. The party reached the Truckee Lake at the end of October.

On 19th October Stanton arrived back from Sutter's Fort with seven mules loaded with food. William McCutcheon had been taken ill and had been forced to stay at the fort. However, Stanton had brought back with him two Indian guides to help them get to California. Stanton also brought news that James Reed had successfully reached California. On 20th October William Foster killed his brother-in-law in a shooting accident.

The Donner Party now began its attempt to cross the the Sierra Nevada mountains. A few snow flurries made them realise they were in a desperate race for time. In the distance they could see that the peaks were covered in snow. On 25th October a Paiute warrior opened fire on what was left of the animals. He hit nineteen oxen before being killed by William Eddy.

The migrants ploughed on but when they got to within three miles of the summit they found their way blocked by five-foot snowdrifts. They were now forced to turn back and seek cover in a cabin they had passed at the foot of the mountain. Meanwhile James Reed and William McCutcheon had set out with enough food to keep the Donner Party alive for the winter. However, they had found their path blocked and had to return with their pack mules to Sutter's Fort.

The surviving members of the wagon train now set about constructing a camp next to what later became known as Donner Lake. Patrick Dolan, Patrick Breen and his family moved into the abandoned cabin whereas Lewis Keseberg built a lean-to against one of the walls. William Eddy and William Foster built a log cabin. So also did Stanton. His cabin was to house the Graves family and Margaret Reed and her children. George Donner managed to construct a primitive shelter for his family.

The Donner Party was desperately short of food. The remaining animals were killed and eaten. Attempts to catch fish in the river was unsuccessful. Some of the men went hunting but during the next two weeks they were only able to kill one bear, a coyote, an owl and a grey squirrel. It was clear that if they stayed in the camp they would all die of starvation and on 12th November thirteen men and two women made another attempt to get to Sutter's Fort. However, they found their way blocked by a 10 foot snow drift and returned to camp.

The party rested for a few days and then a party led by Stanton and William Eddy made another attempt to reach safety. On 21st November they returned to camp defeated. Soon afterwards Baylis Williams died. This motivated the stronger members of the party to make one last attempt to cross the mountains.

On 16th December fifteen members of the party left the camp and headed for the summit. This became known as the Forlorn Hope group. Aided by better weather, this time they managed to cross the mountain pass. On 20th December they had reached a place called Yuba Bottoms. The following morning Stanton was not strong enough to leave the camp. The rest were forced to leave him to die. -------------------- A bachelor traveling with the Donners. Age: 35 Perished.

http://user.xmission.com/~octa/DonnerParty/Teamsters.htm

Parents: Isaac Stanton (b. 8 Jan 1770 in Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, d.28 Aug 1832 in Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY) m. 23 Jun 1795 to Elizabeth Smith (b. 23 Apr 1775 in Warinick, Orange Co., NY, d. 17 Mar 1835 in Syracuse, Onondaga Co., NY)

 Stanton's family were among the earliest settlers of the Syracuse, New York, area. His father, Isaac, was a stonecutter; he had ten children, of whom Charles was the sixth. Although he was small -- only five feet five inches -- Stanton was strong and had a constitution to match, according to his brother. He had brown eyes and hair, and, at the time of the Donner Party, wore a full beard.
    In his early years Stanton worked as a clerk in a store. Despite his limited formal schooling, he read diligently to improve his mind and acquired a considerable knowledge of botany and geology.
    A devoted son, he took care of his widowed mother until her death in 1835, after which he moved to Chicago where he engaged in the commission business. He did well at first, but his business failed a few years before he left for California. Hastings’ glowing description of that region in his Emigrants Guide induced Stanton to leave his "dull and monotonous life."
     Between Independence and the Bear River Stanton sent home lengthy letters which were published in the New York Herald under the initials "S.T.C." These letters, which provide the only detailed contemporary description of the Donner Party’s journey, are reprinted in Dale Morgan’s Overland in 1846. Unfortunately Stanton’s letters do not describe how he came to join the Donner Party. On May 12, 1846, he wrote from Independence, Missouri, "I am going to start for California tomorrow I met with a good opportunity ... When I left C[hicago] – I had not this design in view." The "good opportunity" must have been the chance to travel with the Donners, though in what capacity is unclear. Many years later Elitha Donner Wilder remembered that he helped drive her family’s wagons, but his letters reveal that he spent a good deal of his time away from the emigrant train exploring and enjoying the scenery.
    Stanton is remembered as a hero of the Donner Party. He and William McCutchen left the emigrants at Donner Spring on the Utah-Nevada border and rode ahead to Sutter’s Fort for supplies. Although he had no personal obligation toward anyone in the Donner Party, it was the bachelor Stanton, accompanied by Luis and Salvador, who returned with seven mules loaded with provisions that helped keep many of the emigrants alive.
     After being trapped at the lake, the three men stayed with the Reeds until in mid-December when, as the only emigrant familiar with the route to the settlements, Stanton attempted to lead a party over the mountains on snowshoes. After several days, however, he became snowblind and exhausted, and could hardly keep up with the others. One morning he remained seated at the previous night’s camp while the rest continued. He never rejoined them. His corpse was discovered by members of the rescue parties and identified by his clothing and pistol. Some of his personal effects were recovered and sent to his family in New York.
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Charles T. Stanton's Timeline

1811
March 1, 1811
Pompey, Onondaga, NY
1847
December 23, 1847
Age 36
Sierra Nevada, CA
1887
July 2, 1887
Age 36
1908
January 23, 1908
Age 36
1948
January 14, 1948
Age 36
????