Jay Fosdick, Donner Party

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Jay Fosdick

Birthplace: New York State
Death: Died in Forlorn Hope, California
Cause of death: starvation, exposure
Immediate Family:

Son of Levi Fosdick and Roxena Fosdick
Husband of Sarah Graves Fosdick, Donner Party
Brother of Janet Owen; John Fosdick; Susan Fosdick and Ann Haselton

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Immediate Family

About Jay Fosdick, Donner Party

Age 23, perished.

Not much is known about Sarah Graves’ young husband. He was a native of New York State and moved with his family to Marshall County, Illinois, about 1836. He had been courting Sarah and decided to emigrate with her to California; they were married shortly before setting out. The only personal detail known about him is that he played the violin.

    Jay and Sarah left the Lake Camp with the Forlorn Hope on December 15, 1846. By January 3, 1847, five of the fifteen snowshoers had died and Jay Fosdick was failing. The next day he lagged behind the others, except for Sarah, who stayed with him. J. Quinn Thornton reported
   Jay Fosdick, who, it will be remembered, was expected to die, was about a mile back. He had lain down, unable to proceed any further; and his wife was with him. Upon hearing Mr. Eddy’s rifle crack, at the time of his killing the deer, he exclaimed, in a feeble voice—"There! Eddy has killed a deer. Now, if I can only get to him, I shall live."
     As Sarah described it, "On the night of the 6th of January, my husband gave out and could not reach the camp;– I staid with him without fire; I had a blanket and wrapped him in it sat down beside him, and he died about midnight, as near as I could tell." She lay beside him, hoping to freeze to death, but her wish was not granted. 


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Jay Fosdick, Donner Party's Timeline

New York State
Age 23
Lacon, Marshall Co., I
Age 24
Forlorn Hope, California