Sarah Graves Fosdick, Donner Party

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Sarah Fosdick (Graves)

Also Known As: "Richey", "Fosdick"
Birthplace: Dearborn Co., IN
Death: Died in Corralitos, Santa Cruz Co., CA
Place of Burial: Pioneer Cemetery, Watsonville, CA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Frank Graves, Donner Party and Elizabeth Cooper Graves, Donner Party
Wife of Samuel Spires; Jay Fosdick, Donner Party and William Dill Ritchie, JR Auxillary Rescue
Mother of Lloyd Spires; Elinor Anna Lehnherr and Alice Barton
Sister of Melissa Graves; Mary Ann Clarke, Donner Party survivor; W. C. Graves, Donner Party; Eleanor Graves, Donner Party; Nancy Graves, Donner Party and 4 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sarah Graves Fosdick, Donner Party

Survived, age 25.

  Sarah had not intended to accompany her family to California but at almost the last minute realized she couldn't bear to be separated from them. She and her fiancé Jay Fosdick tied the knot just before the Graveses' departure and left with them. The Fosdicks spent their honeymoon crossing the plains; according to family tradition, Sarah would stay up with Jay when it was his turn to stand guard at night.
    Jay did not survive the journey to California. His widow settled in the upper Napa Valley, where she taught the area’s first school under a brush shelter.
    In 1848 Sarah married William Dill Ritchie, who like his father, Col. Matthew D. Ritchie, had assisted with the Donner relief. Six years later Ritchie was caught in possession of stolen mules and lynched near Sonoma, despite his protestations of innocence. Once again Sarah was left a widow, this time with two little boys to care for.
    Her third marriage, to Samuel Spires, was happy, but relatively brief. Sarah died suddenly of heart disease at the age of 46, leaving six children.

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Sarah Graves Fosdick, Donner Party's Timeline

Dearborn Co., IN
Age 21
Lacon, Marshall Co., I
Age 32
Age 37
Age 40
Age 46
Corralitos, Santa Cruz Co., CA
Pioneer Cemetery, Watsonville, CA