History of the Donner Party, a Tragedy of the Sierra by Charles Fayette McGlashanHistory of the Donner Party, a Tragedy of the Sierra by Charles Fayette McGlashan was originally published in 1880. This is what I found out about the author who Ive never heard of before and most of this was from his rather long obituary:
No one man was more prominent in the development of Truckee and Eastern Nevada County in California than Charles Fayette McGlashan. He was born in Beaver Dam, Wis., August 12, 1847, the one son of a family of eight children. His mother died in 1849 and five years later the father took his children to Healdsburg, Cal., where the boy received his early schooling, supplemented by a course at Williston academy in Massachusetts. Returning to California he taught school at Placerville, where he married Miss Jennie Munson, his first wife. In the early seventies he removed to Truckee, where he was principal of the grammar school, studied law, was admitted to practice and became editor of the Truckee Republican, into whose editorial columns he injected a vigor that made it one of the most widely quoted papers in the state. In 1879 he married Miss Leonora Keiser as his second wife, and two years later went to Santa Barbara as editor of the Press there, but returned to Truckee in 1883 to reside there until his death.
He was elected to the State Assembly in 1885 and was active in fraternal societies, having been grand chancellor of the Knights of Pythias and prominent in Freemasonry, of which he had been a member for more than fifty years. Truckee lodge recently presented him with a gold button to commemorate this. As an author, he wrote for the Sacramento Record-Union in 1877 the history of the Mountain Meadow massacre. In 1878, while editor of the Truckee Republican, a subscription to the Republican from a survivor of the Donner Party led to McGlashans writing several articles on the subject. These he published serially as a history of the Donner Party and they resulted in correspondence and interviews with survivors and in 1879, the publication of his book History of the Donner Party, A Tragedy of the Sierra which is regarded as the final authority on the subject.
He organized the McGlashan Water Company, established the winter sports carnival at Truckee with the first Ice palace, was a leader in forming the Meadow Lake high school district and engaged in other civic and business activities. As private interests, he took up entomology and astronomy. In the former he created a butterfly farm with the aid of his daughter Ximens, where rare specimens were propagated for collectors and where a new specimen was discovered now known to science as Meletea mcglashanae. In astronomy he started a course of lectures and published a series of seasonal star and planet charts. He presented to Truckee high school a telescope and other astronomical apparatus. Geology and topography also interested him. Adjoining his home he build the noted rocking-stone museum, where there is a large collection of California historical relics, ancient native weapons and the like and which is especially notable for its Donner party remains.
Im not sure if I mentioned it in all of this, but he was also a lawyer and a teacher. And I never would have come up with Meletea mcglashanae on my own. He also had unusual names for his children, some of them anyway. We have Undine, Nonette, Lotus, Zimena Bliss, and Ximena. There are others but they have names like Elizabeth and George. So on to the book he wrote and the things I learned from it.
Heres the quick part of the story, the Donner party is called that because a whole group of people followed George Donner and James Reed from Springfield, Illinois and a few other places to California. So in the spring of 1846 90 people (more or less) headed to California and since it was only 1846 they had a lot of wagons and horses and oxen and things like that with them, so it was called a wagon train. The journey usually took about 4 months up to 6 months, but not this time. Most wagon trains followed the Oregon Trail route from Independence, Missouri to the Continental Divide, traveling at about 15 miles a day. The trail generally followed rivers to South Pass, a mountain pass in Wyoming, which was relatively easy for wagons to pass through and from there, wagon trains had a choice of routes to their destination. There was an increase in people going to California and Oregon in these years and they all took the regular route, except the Donner party that is.
There were things that went wrong with the Donners, broken wagon, stolen horses (by Indians I think) and it was taking them longer than they thought it would to get to the west coast. Unfortunately they heard about Lansford W. Hastings, and his short cut. Hastings went to California in 1842 and saw the promise of the undeveloped country. To encourage settlers, he published The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California and in it described a direct route across the Great Basin which would save them 300 miles, or something like that. However, Hastings had not traveled any part of his proposed shortcut until early 1846 on a trip from California to Fort Bridger. And as of 1846, Hastings was one of only two men documented to have crossed the southern part of the Great Salt Lake Desert, but neither had been accompanied by wagons. It went different when you were accompanied by wagons. Were told that it is crucial to cross the vast wilderness of the Sierra Nevada at a certain time to ensure that wagon trains would not be bogged down by mud created by spring rains, or by massive snowdrifts in the mountains from September and onwards. They didnt make it, well, at least they missed the mud. And now Im skipping the rest of the story to tell you of the things Ive learned reading the History of the Donner Party.
1. Dont take the shortcut. Ever.
2. If you are going across the country with a horse and wagon instead of a car, train, or plane; take food, lots of food. More than you would ever need. Just in case you will need it.
3. And lots of clothing, warm clothing. Sweaters, jackets, coats, boots, gloves, take them all.
4. Fill another wagon with nothing but wood, big logs, little sticks, take them all, dont forget matches either.
5. If you get really tired of carrying blankets out to the wagon before you go, too bad, keep carrying.
I think that may get you there, but just in case, stop at all the Wal-Marts and grocery stores you see on the way before you get to the desert, spending the upcoming months in the upcoming mountains in the upcoming blizzards wont be fun without food. Unless theres a hotel there by now. Im not sure I could bring myself to go check and see whats there this book was so creepy. And true.
One more thing, Im not sure if I should tell you to make sure you dont die stuck out there in the snow or youll get eaten, and not by wolves and bears; or if I should tell you to die so you wont have to be one of the people who were starving and had to eat to live. Everything else had already been eaten. And I mean everything. Animal hides, ground up bones, whatever you can think of. It was so sad, they tried so hard to stay alive.
I was thinking about giving the book four stars, but I wont read it again and it seems like four stars should be for something I would want to read again some day, although I found more books about this story that I would like to read. Three stars for now though.
I just thought of what you should do, take your car and a cell phone with you and you should be fine. And lots of books. Happy reading.
Why Did Stranded Settlers Do Something So Horrible? (The Donner Party)
Donner Party timeline
Delayed by a series of mishaps, they spent the winter of —47 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada. Some of the migrants resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating the bodies of those who had succumbed to starvation and sickness. The Donner Party departed Missouri on the Oregon Trail in the spring of , behind many other pioneer families who were attempting to make the same overland trip. The journey west usually took between four and six months, but the Donner Party was slowed after electing to follow a new route called the Hastings Cutoff , which bypassed established trails and instead crossed Utah 's Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake Desert. The desolate and rugged terrain, and the difficulties they later encountered while traveling along the Humboldt River in present-day Nevada , resulted in the loss of many cattle and wagons, and divisions soon formed within the group. By early November, the migrants had reached the Sierra Nevada but became trapped by an early, heavy snowfall near Truckee Lake now Donner Lake high in the mountains. Their food supplies ran dangerously low, and in mid-December some of the group set out on foot to obtain help.
One hundred and seventy-two years ago, the first rescue crew arrived at Donner Lake , encountering a scene of carnage that still shocks all this time later. Of the 89 men, women and children who entered the Sierra Nevada Mountains in October , only 49 made it out the other side to safety. Reed, were victims of bad luck and bad leadership. Their worst mistake was taking a new "shortcut" called the Hastings Cutoff, which led them through Utah and across the Great Salt Lake. Crossing the Great Salt Lake took its toll on the cattle and supplies; the party was three weeks behind schedule and low on supplies as they approached the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It might still be out there.
In May , the last wagon train of the season left Independence, Missouri for the Mexican territory of Alta California. Reed , the Donner Party followed the well-established California Trail as far as the Little Sandy River in Wyoming, where they made the fateful decision to take a new, more direct route over the Wasatch Mountains and across the Great Salt Lake Desert. Promoted by adventurer and guidebook author Lansford Hastings, the Hastings Cutoff was meant to save time by shortening the journey more than miles. But the rugged terrain, lack of natural water sources, and extreme weather conditions proved disastrous for the pioneers. Delayed by three weeks, with most of their cattle stolen or killed in raids by Paiute Indians, the Donner Party finally began to climb the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in early November. Instead, an early snowfall trapped 81 men, women, and children in makeshift tents and cabins at Truckee now Donner Lake and in the Alder Creek Valley some seven miles to the east.
The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers who migrated to California in a wagon .. Their cattle and oxen were now exhausted and lean, but the Donner Party crossed the next stretch of desert relatively unscathed. The journey .
can t remember to forget you meaning
This park was created by the state of California in to honor the pioneering spirit of the Donner Party, as well as to commemorate the tragic events that occurred in this Sierra Nevada valley during the winter of Alder Creek, California. The Breen family camped closer to present-day Donner Lake, occupying a cabin built by a migrant party that came through the area a few years earlier. Camped close to them were the Murphys, Fosters, and Pikes. The Graves and Reed families camped in the mountains above Donner Lake, at the present-day site of Interstate It contains an article entitled, "Donner Party Survivor Dies.
James Reed, one of the two leaders of the Donner party, with his wife Margret. Both were among the relatively few lucky survivors. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons. While most everybody has certainly heard of the harrowing tale of failed western migration or is at least familiar with the name — the details of the expedition are a little less known. The premise is quite simple: around 90 emigrants banded together to leave Springfield, Illinois in the spring of to take an untested, and supposedly shorter route to California.