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Sebastian Keyser, 4th Relief (c.1812 - 1850)

Age: [36] Fourth Relief A native of Austria, Keyser was trapper who had gone overland to Oregon with Sutter in 1838 and later joined him at New Helvetia. In 1845 he settled on Bear River as a half-...

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CDR Selim E. Woodworth (USN) (c.1815 - c.1871)

From Woodworth was born in New York City, the second son of poet and dramatist Samuel Woodworth. He was a descendant of colonial settler Walter Woodworth. At age twelve he set out with a rifle to cro...

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John Turner, 2nd Relief (c.1808 - c.1848)

Age: 40? Second Relief John Turner had a long history on the frontier before his involvement with the Donner relief. He had come to California in 1826 as a member of Jedediah Smith's historic first...

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Reason P. Tucker, 1st & 4th Reliefs (c.1807 - 1888)

Age: [40] First and Fourth Reliefs b. abt 1807 in Culpepper, VA m1. 08 Jan 1828 to Delia Compton m2. abt 1840 to Mary Coleman m3. 1856 to Elizabeth Newman m4. 1875 to Mary Thompson d. 02 May 1888 in ...

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George W. Tucker, Auxillary (1831 - 1907)

Age: 15 Auxiliary b. 15 Dec 1831, Zanesville, OH m. 01 Jan 1858, to Angeline Elizabeth Kellogg (b. 01 Oct 1838, Plum River, IL, d. 19 Aug 1881, Calistoga, CA) George Tucker and his father Reason ...

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Lt. Edward Meyer Kern, Sutter's Fort (c.1822 - 1863)

Age: 23 Auxiliary Draftsman with Fremont's 1845 expedition. After the Bear Flag Revolt (June 1846) Kern commanded the garrison at Sutter's Fort with the rank of lieutenant in the California Battalion...

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William Johnson, Host, Supplier (c.1818 - 1863)

Age: [28/32] Host, supplier Surprisingly little is known for certain about William Johnson. He was an English sailor out of Boston who first came to California about 1840 as the mate of the Alciope...

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John Sutter of Sutter's Mill MP (1803 - 1880)

John Augustus Sutter (1803 – 1880) was a Swiss-American pioneer of California known for his association with the California Gold Rush, and for establishing Sutter's Fort in the area that would e...

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John S. Stark, 3rd Relief Party (1817 - 1874)

A son-in-law of Matthew D. Ritchie, Stark single-handedly rescued members of the Breen, Graves, and Jacob Donner families from Starved Camp. He was a large, strong man who weighed 220 pounds. John Br...

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John Sinclair, Host to Survivors (b. - 1849)

A Scot by birth, Sinclair had worked for the Hudson's Bay Company in Oregon and had been the editor of a Hawaiian newspaper before his arrival in California in 1839. He lived on the Rancho del Paso two...

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William Dill Ritchie, JR Auxillary Rescue (1828 - 1854)

Age: 19 Auxiliary b. 22 Feb 1828 Warren Co., Indiana m. Oct 1848 to Sarah Graves Fosdick d. 30 May 1854 near Sonoma, Sonoma Co., California An overland emigrant of 1846 and son of Matthew Ritchie, ...

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Matthew Dill Ritchie, SR, Auxiliary Rescue (1805 - 1874)

Age: 40 Auxiliary b. 19 April 1805 in Pennsylvania m. 23 Sept 1823 to Caroline Matilda Allen d. 20 August 1874 in Napa Co., California The family name is also spelled "Ritchey," but it's unclear ...

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John P. Rhoads, 1st & 4th Relief (1818 - 1866)

Age: 28 First and Fourth Reliefs b. 5 Oct 1818 m1. 5 March 1837 to Matilda J. Fanning m2. abt 1852 to Mary Murray d. 20 Dec 1866 Son of Thomas Foster and Elizabeth Forster Rhoads and overland emigr...

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Patrick H. Dunn, 2nd Relief Party (deceased)

Age: ? Second Relief According to H. H. Bancroft, Dunn was a native of Maine who arrived in California on a whaler in 1846 and went to the Sonoma area, where he was recruited for the Second Relief. A...

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Daniel Rhoads, 1st Relief Party (1821 - 1895)

Age: 25 First Relief b.7 Dec 1821 m. 8 Oct 1843 to Amanda Esery d. 4 Dec 1895 Overland emigrant of 1846 and son of Thomas Foster and Elizabeth Forster Rhoads. Daniel and his brother John were liv...

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Matthew Dofar, 2nd Relief (deceased)

Age: ? Second Relief Mountain man about whom little else is known.

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William Coon, Auxiliary Relief (deceased)

Age: ? First Relief auxiliary Overland emigrant of 1846 about whom virtually nothing is known. Coon stayed in the base camp in the foothills with George Tucker, who remembered him as a half-wit who...

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Edward Coffeemeyer, 1st & 4th Relief (c.1811 - d.)

Age: [36] First and Fourth Reliefs Sailor. After returning with the Fourth Relief, Coffeemeyer told such gruesome stories about Louis Keseberg's cannibalism that Keseberg sued him for slander, and ...

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Edward Gantt Pyle, Jr., Auxiliary Relief (1824 - 1848)

Overland emigrant of 1846. Like his father, Edward Jr. was hired to carry supplies to meet the First Relief. He was helping to escort the survivors out of the foothills when he proposed to Virginia Ree...

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Edward Gantt Pyle, Auxiliary Relief (1785 - 1875)

Ed Pile led wagon trains from St. Joseph, MO to Sacremento. He led the Donner party, who decided to take a shortcut separated from his party through the Sierras. They got stuck in the mountains for the...

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Nicholas Clark, 2nd Relief Party (1816 - d.)

Nicholas Clark Age: 30 Second Relief Parents: William Clark and Rachel Ward b. August 10, 1816 in Petersham, Worcester Co., MA m1. abt 1834; wife died in childbirth m2. 1841 A shoemaker by tr...

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Howard Oakley, 2nd Relief Party (deceased)

Age: ? Second Relief According to one source, Oakley was a Mormon who sailed from New York with Sam Brannan in the Brooklyn; this is probably an error, however, as his name is absent from other Brook...

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Charles L. Cady, 2nd Relief Party (1824 - d.)

Age: 23 Second Relief Charles L. Cady was born in Buffalo, New York, on 19 Sept 1824. James F. Reed refers to Cady, Nicholas Clark, and Charles Stone as "the boys"-- young, active men who arrived a...

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Riley S. Moutrey, 1st Relief Party (c.1824 - 1910)

Age: [22] First Relief b. abt 1824 m. 14 Jun 1846 to Mary Lucy Lard (b. abt 1830, d. July 1923) d. 7 Dec 1910 in Santa Clara Co., CA Overland emigrant of 1846, a teamster for Fielding Lard, whose...

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Adolph Bruheim, 1st Relief Party (c.1821 - d.)

Adolph Bruheim or Brueheim was 21 when he came to California in 1842. In 1845-46 he was recorded as working for Theodor Cordua at Neu Mecklenburg near the present site of Marysville. A document in th...

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Eliza Williams, Donner Party (c.1814 - 1875)

The Reed family’s "hired girl." Age: [31] Survived. Baylis's sister or half-sister, universally referred to as Eliza by the Reed family, appears as "Elizabeth" in a few records. She was very...

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Charles T. Stanton (1811 - 1847)

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, Ono...

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Noah James, Donner Party (1830 - 1851)

Teamster for the Donner's. Age 16 and survived. Noah’s mother Frances (known as Fanna) was a sister of Archer G. Herndon, making her the aunt, and Noah the first cousin, of William H. Herndo...

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Walter Herron, Donner Party (1819 - 1853)

Teamster for the Reed Family. Survived. When James F. Reed was banished in October his teamster Walter Herron accompanied him to California. After arriving at Sutter’s Fort, Reed attempted t...

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James Eddy, Donner Party (1843 - 1847)

Age: [3] Perished. James Eddy was tended by Levinah Murphy after his mother died. When J. F. Reed arrived with the Second Relief on March 1, James was still alive, though in bad shape. He died before...

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Margaret Eddy, Donner Party (1846 - 1847)

Age: [1] Perished Margaret died on February 4, 1847, her mother died three days later. They were buried together in the snow.

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James F. Reed, Donner Party (c.1800 - 1874)

The most successful of the Donner Party travelers. His entire family survived. They ate no flesh. James F. Reed dominates the story of the Donner Party. He was a man of strong personality, described ...

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Levinah Murphy, Donner Party (1809 - d.)

She is often called "old Mrs. Murphy" in the literature of the Donner Party, but Levinah Jackson Murphy was a 36 year old widow when she set out for California. She had been born to a prosperous family...

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Lemuel Murphy, Donner Party (c.1833 - 1846)

A boy about thirteen years old, Lemuel was dearly loved by his sisters, and, full of courage, had endeavored to accompany them on the fearful journey. He was feeble when he started from the cabins, and...

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Landrum Murphy, Donner Party (1829 - 1847)

Landrum Murphy was a large and somewhat overgrown young man. The hides and burnt bones did not contain sufficient nourishment to keep him alive. For some hours before he died, he lay in a semi-deliriou...

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"George" Foster, Donner Party (1844 - 1847)

Perished Sarah and William Foster left George behind with his grandmother when they departed with the Forlorn Hope in mid-December. Levinah did the best she could for him during the dreary winter, bu...

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Sarah Foster, Donner Party (1826 - 1906)

Sarah Murphy Foster was one of the five young women who joined the Forlorn Hope snowshoe party, leaving her son behind. She and her husband never saw him again. 04 Nov 1826 Union County, SC m. 29 Dec...

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Catherine Pike, Donner Party (1846 - 1847)

Daughter of William M. Pike and Harriet Frances Murphy Age: [1] Perished. Catherine Pike was evidently named after her father’s sister, who had died in 1843 at the age of 22. Catherine’...

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William Pike, Donner Party (1814 - 1846)

William M. Pike, the illegitimate son of James Brown Pike and a Mrs. Wolfries, was a grandson of a Revolutionary War officer, Zebulon Pike, and a nephew of the explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike, after w...

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Sarah Keyes, Donner Party (c.1776 - 1846)

Two reasons have been given as to why the ailing70 year old Mrs. Keyes decided to emigrate to California. According to diarists Edwin Bryant and George McKinstry, Mrs. Keyes was hoping to meet her youn...

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William Murphy, Donner Party, returned to TN (c.1836 - c.1904)

Survived, and later returned to Tennessee with his brother. b. 15 Jan 1836 Weakley Co., TN m. 03 Dec 1861 Weakley Co., TN to Damaris Kathleen Cochran Ch: Tullulah "Lulie" T., Kate Nye, William Gr...

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Harriett Murphy, Donner Party (1828 - 1870)

Survived, but Harriet lost her husband in a shooting accident along the Truckee River at the end of October 1846. Levinah Jackson Murphy’s second daughter was only 14 when she married William ...

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Margaret Reed, Donner Party (c.1811 - d.)

Survived, the Reeds were one of only two families to survive without loss. Of the 83 members of the Donner Party who were trapped in the mountains, only 45 survived to reach California. He marrie...

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Thomas Reed, Donner Party (c.1843 - 1915)

Tommy Reed seems to have been particularly close to his sister Patty. On May 25, 1846, J. Quinn Thornton recorded an incident in which Patty’s enthusiastic affection nearly bowled Tommy over. T...

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James Reed, Donner Party (c.1841 - 1901)

Margret, Virginia, and James F. Reed, Jr. were rescued by the First Relief. Five-year-old Jimmy found it hard to struggle through the snow. His mother enticed him to continue with promises that when he...

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Patty Reed, Donner Party (c.1838 - 1923)

Patty Reed was only a child of eight when her family left Springfield, but she too retained many memories which she shared with various writers. She also preserved a wealth of family documents and arti...

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Louis Keseberg, Donner Party (c.1814 - 1895)

Only he and his wife survived. Their two small children and three teamsters all died. Lewis Keseberg was born in Germany on 22nd May, 1814. He was married on 22nd June, 1842, and two years later emig...

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Eliza Donner, Donner Party (1843 - 1922)

Survived, age 4 Eliza and Georgia, the two youngest children of George and Tamzene Donner, were very close. Although Hiram O. Miller had been appointed their legal guardian, they were taken in by a...

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Georgia Donner, Donner Party (1841 - 1911)

George and Tamzene Donner's two youngest children, Georgia and Eliza, were very close. Although Hiram O. Miller had been appointed their legal guardian, they were taken in by an elderly Swiss couple,...

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Frankie Donner, Donner Party (1840 - 1921)

After the disaster Frances, sometimes called Frankie, was taken in and raised by James F. Reed’s family in San Jose until 1852, when Leanna married John App. Then Frances went to take Leanna's p...

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William Hook, Donner Party (1834 - 1847)

Perished. Young William Hook was taken out by the First Relief and reached camp in Bear Valley safely. Tormented by hunger, he sneaked out at night, gorged on the supplies, and became extremely ill. ...

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Elitha Donner, Donner Party (deceased)

Survived. Just a few months after her ordeal in the mountains, fourteen-year-old Elitha Donner married Perry McCoon, who had assisted the Donner relief by ferrying men and supplies across the swollen S...

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Leanna Donner, Donner Party (1834 - 1930)

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 Sang...

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George Donner, s/o Jacob, Donner Party (c.1836 - 1874)

Survived. "Young George" was the only Donner Party survivor to bear the Donner name very long; the other surviving Donners, his sister and cousins, were all girls who married and changed theirs. He rar...

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George Donner, The Donner Party (1786 - 1847)

The Donner Party was the worst disaster in wagon train history. Forty-two emigrants and two Indian guides had died. However, the remaining forty-seven travellers survived. George and Jacob were repai...

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Isaac, Donner Party (1842 - 1847)

At Starved Camp Isaac Donner "perished during one of the stormy nights. He was lying on the bed of pine boughs between his sister Mary and Patty Reed, and died so quietly that neither of the sleeping g...

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Samuel, Donner Party (1843 - 1847)

There are at least two references from the spring of 1847 referring to a living Donner child left behind by the Third Relief; apparently this was Samuel. Eliza Donner Houghton claimed that her mother t...

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Lewis, Donner Party (1844 - 1847)

On March 3, 1847, the Second Relief set out from the camps, leaving rescuer Nicholas Clark behind at the Alder Creek to assist the Donners. He was staying in Jacob Donner’s tent a few days later...

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Lewis Keseberg, Donner Party (1846 - d.)

This baby was presumably given his father’s full name, but he is always referred to as "Louis (or Lewis), Jr." He was apparently born on the overland journey. On June 3, 1846, diarist Edwin Brya...

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Ada Keseberg, Donner Party (1843 - 1847)

Ada had a twin sister who died after the Kesebergs arrived in the United States from Germany -- see "The Missing Keseberg Child" in Donner Party Bulletin 14. When the First Relief left the lake cam...

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Phillipine Keseberg, Donner Party (c.1823 - c.1877)

Virginia Reed Murphy recalled, "She was a pretty little woman, humble and unassuming proud of her husband and afeered of him... she made excuses for him." Philippine was pitied as a battered wife. Hei...

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Mary Donner, Donner Party (1839 - 1860)

Survived. Mary’s feet were badly injured from frostbite and fire during her rescue. She lost four toes from her left foot; William G. Murphy remembered his sister Mary sitting at Johnson’...

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"Sol" Hook, Donner Party (c.1832 - 1878)

Survived. Of the nine members of Jacob Donner’s family, only three children survived. Much of Jacob’s property had been salvaged and sold at auction for the benefit of his children George...

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Naomi Pike, Donner Party (1843 - 1934)

Her sister Catherine died the day after the relief arrived, but Naomi was still alive. Rhoads carried her slung on his back in a blanket to her mother. b. 13 Nov 1843 in St. Louis, MO m1. 8 Sep 186...

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Patrick Breen MP (1795 - 1868)

Patrick Breen - The Donner Party From November 20, 1846 to March 1, 1847, Irish immigrant Patrick Breen, a Donner party member, kept a diary of his ordeal in the mountains. Clinging to survival with ...

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Margaret Breen, Donner Party (c.1806 - 1874)

The characterization of Margaret Breen in Donner Party writings has been unfortunate. It appears that because of her husband’s ill-health, she assumed a more prominent role in the family than ...

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John Breen, Donner Party (1832 - 1903)

Survived, age 14 John went to the diggings in 1849 and returned with $12,000 worth of gold, a fortune in those days. His father used it to purchase the Castro Adobe and other property. John’s ...

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Edward Breen, Donner Party (1833 - 1890)

Survived, age 13. Not long after leaving Fort Bridger on the Plaines, Edward was out riding with one of the Reed girls when his horse fell. Edward was knocked out and his leg was broken. His parents ...

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Margaret Breen, Donner Party (1845 - 1935)

Of the six infants in the Donner Party (age 1), Isabella Breen was the only one to survive to adulthood. She had no personal memories of the tragedy. When her parents and older brothers would talk abou...

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James F. Breen, Donner Party (1841 - 1899)

Survived, age four. James graduated from Santa Clara College and became an attorney. He established his practice in San Juan Bautista about 1863 and was a prominent local citizen. He served as distri...

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Patrick Breen, Donner Party (1837 - 1899)

Survived, age nine. Patrick Breen, Jr., became a rancher in the San Juan and Salinas valleys, where he owned considerable property. He raised cattle and sheep, and also grew wheat and fruit.

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William Henry Eddy, Donner Party (c.1816 - c.1859)

Sole survivor in his family. Eddy’s background is mysterious. He told J. Quinn Thornton that he was a from Belleville, Illinois, but apparently he had lived there only a few years before setti...

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Frank Graves, Donner Party (c.1789 - c.1846)

The Graves family from Illinois has not been as well represented in the history of the Donner Party as have the Donners and the Reeds. Both parents, a son-in-law, and a son died in the disaster; two mo...

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Jay Fosdick, Donner Party (1823 - c.1847)

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 courtin...

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W. C. Graves, Donner Party (c.1829 - 1907)

Survived, age 17 Most of author C. F. McGlashan’s informants had been small children during the Donner disaster, but W.C. Graves was one the few who had been adults, or nearly adults, at the t...

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Nancy Graves, Donner Party (1838 - 1907)

Survived, age 8 In a brief but firm note Nancy Graves tendered her refusal to correspond with historian C. F. McGlashan. The subject of the Donner Party was very painful for her; as a schoolgirl in S...

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Eleanor Graves, Donner Party (1832 - 1894)

Survived, age 14 Eleanor (Ellen) Graves was born July 28, 1832, in Marshall County, Illinois, the fourth surviving child of Franklin Ward and Elizabeth Cooper Graves. Little is known of her childhood...

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Jonathan Graves, Donner Party (c.1840 - 1847)

Survived, age 7, but not for long Jonathan Graves was one of those left behind at Starved Camp by the Second Relief and rescued by John S. Stark. James F. Breen recalled, "I distinctly remember that ...

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Elizabeth Graves "JR", Donner Party (1845 - 1847)

Survived, age 1. But not for long Elizabeth is sometimes referred to as "Elizabeth Graves, Jr." to distinguish her from her mother, Elizabeth Cooper Graves. There is some question about how old Eli...

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Lovina Graves, Donner Party (1834 - 1906)

Survived, age 12 After her rescue Lovina lived sometimes in the Napa Valley and sometimes in Santa Clara County, living with her older married sisters. She attended school in San Jose, but spent her ...

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Amanda McCutchen, Donner Party (c.1822 - 1857)

Survived, age 23 Amanda was one of the hardy young women who survived the Forlorn Hope. On December 16, 1846, she left her daughter Harriet with the Graves family and set out for help. While living...

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William McCutchen, Donner Party (c.1816 - 1895)

In the Spring of 1846 the McCutchens loaded their valuables into a wagon and headed west for California. They made it as far as Fort Bridger in Wyoming when either their wagon or oxen gave out. Several...

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Harriett McCutchen, Donner Party (c.1845 - 1847)

Perished, age 1. Harriet’s exact age is not known, but she was probably between one and two years old. Historian and author, McGlashan lists her as one of the nursing infants of the Donner Par...

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Mary Murphy, Donner Party (1831 - 1867)

Daughter of Jeremiah Burns Murphy and Levinah W. Jackson Age: 14 Survived b. 15 Nov 1831 Union Co., SC m1. 24 Jun 1847 Sutter’s Fort, Sacramento Co., CA to William Johnson; divorced m2. 25 Dec...

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Simon Murphy, Donner Party (1838 - 1873)

Survived, but after reaching California decided to return to Tennessee via the Isthmus of Panama. Simon was rescued with the three little Donner girls by the Third Relief. Georgia Donner Babcock refe...

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Mr. Wolfinger, Donner Party (b. - 1846)

Murdered. Nothing is known for certain about Mr. Wolfinger except that he was from Germany. In October 1846, as the Donner Party was traveling along the Truckee, he stopped to cache his wagon. August...

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Jean-Baptiste, Donner Party (c.1830 - 1910)

Generally called "John Baptiste" or simply "Baptiste," he was the son of a French trapper who had been killed in an Indian skirmish when Baptiste was just a child. What became of him during the interve...

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Hiram O. Miller, Donner Party (c.1817 - 1867)

Age, 29 Survived. Although Miller is not generally included in rosters of the Donner Party, he was a member of the original Springfield group. He was a friend of James F. Reed’s, but worked fo...

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Jacob Donner, Donner Party (c.1790 - c.1846)

Jacob Donner went west with his wife, six children, and two stepchildren. Of those nine people, only three survived the winter. Jacob Donner's body was found with his heart and liver removed and his li...

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Elizabeth Donner, Donner Party (c.1807 - 1847)

Little is known of Elizabeth Donner, but she was remembered affectionately Elizabeth Blue Hook was a sister of Mary Blue Tennant, George Donner’s second wife. Jacob Donner’s children ...

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Elizabeth Cooper Graves, Donner Party (c.1800 - 1847)

Died, Age 47 Spencer Ellsworth describes Elizabeth Graves as " tall and thin, her good natured sunburnt face wreathed in smiles. She wore a blue calico frock, an old sun-bonnet and a faded shawl, on ...

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Mary Graves, Donner Party (1826 - 1891)

Survived, age 19 Mary has been called the belle of the Donner Party: She was a very beautiful girl, of tall and slender build, and exceptionally graceful carriage. Her features, in their regularity...

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