About Leanna Charity App (Donner)
Survived. Tamzene reportedly told Leanna and Elitha never to tell what they had experienced in the mountains. Leanna took this advice to heart and rarely spoke about the disaster.
b. 05 Dec 1834 Sangamon Co., IL m. 26 Sep 1852 to John App (b. 1821 Selinsgrove, Snyder Co., PA; d. 12 Aug 1898 Jamestown, Tuolumne Co., CA)
Ch: Rebecca E., Leonard, John Quincy, Lucy Eva
d. 29 May 1930 Jamestown, Tuolumne Co., CA
Leanna and Elitha were selected to leave with the First Relief. Leanna had a terrible time just reaching the lake camp.
"Never shall I forget the day when my sister Elitha and myself left our tent. Elitha was strong and in good health, while I was so poor and emaciated that I could scarcely walk. All we took with us were the clothes on our backs and one thin blanket, fastened with a string around our necks, answering the purpose of a shawl in the day-time, and which was all we had to cover us at night. We started early in the morning, and many a good cry I had before we reached the cabins, a distance of about eight miles. Many a time I sat down in the snow to die, and would have perished there if my sister had not urged me on, saying, ‘The cabins are just over the hill.’ Passing over the hill, and not seeing the cabins, I would give up, again sit down and have another cry, but my sister continued to help and encourage me until I saw the smoke rising from the cabins; then I took courage, and moved along as fast as I could. When we reached the Graves cabin it was all I could do to step down the snow-steps into the cabin. Such pain and misery as I endured that day is beyond description." (C. F. McGlashan)
Before their departure, Tamzene reportedly told Leanna and Elitha never to tell what they had experienced in the mountains. Leanna took this advice to heart and rarely spoke about the disaster. She did, however, communicate with C. F. McGlashan while he was gathering materials for his History of the Donner Party, her daughter Rebecca penning the actual letters for her.
After her rescue Leanna lived for the most part with Elitha and Benjamin Wilder until her own marriage to John App in 1852. The Apps settled in Jamestown, where they lived for the rest of their lives. Leanna lived in the house they built there for 78 years; it was still standing in 1993. In her old age she enjoyed sitting on the porch in her rocking chair. Western writer Ferol Egan, who grew up in Jamestown, relates how Leanna told him and a schoolmate about the Donner Party in his article, "The Donner Party Pooper," Westways 70:10 (October 1978).