List of Members Photograph courtesy of Frank Mullen.
Background[ edit ] An encampment of tents and covered wagons on the Humboldt River in Nevada, During the s, the United States saw a dramatic increase in pioneers, people who left their homes in the east to settle in the Oregon Territory and California.
Some, such as Patrick Breen, saw California as a place where they would be free to live in a fully Catholic culture,  but many were inspired by the idea of Manifest Destinya philosophy which asserted that the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans belonged to European Americans and they should settle it.
Hastingsan early immigrant from Ohio to the West, went to California in and saw the promise of the undeveloped country. Hastings stayed at the fort to persuade travelers to turn south on his route. The eastern side of the range is also extremely steep.
With him were his year-old wife Tamsen and their three daughters Frances 6Georgia 4and Eliza 3and George's daughters from a previous Donner party jonathan e Elitha 14 and Leanna George's younger brother Jacob 56 also joined the party with his wife Elizabeth 45teenaged stepsons Solomon Hook 14 and William Hook 12and five children: George 9Mary 7Isaac 6Lewis 4and Samuel 1.
Reeda year-old native of present-day Northern Ireland, had settled in Illinois in He was accompanied by his wife Margret 32step-daughter Virginia 13daughter Martha Jane "Patty" 8sons James and Thomas 5 and 3and Sarah Keyes, Margret Reed's year-old mother, who was in the advanced stages of consumption  and died on May 28; she was buried by the side of the trail.
Baylis Williams 24 went along as handyman and his sister Eliza 25 as the family's cook. They had been delayed by rain and a rising river, but Tamsen Donner wrote to a friend in Springfield, "indeed, if I do not experience something far worse than I have yet done, I shall say the trouble is all in getting started.
Levinah Murphy 37a widow from Tennessee, headed a family of thirteen. Levinah's two married daughters and their families also came along: Sarah Murphy Foster 19her husband William M.
William Eddy 28a carriage maker from Illinois, brought his wife Eleanor 25 and their two children James 3 and Margaret 1. The Breen family consisted of Patrick Breen 51a farmer from Iowa, his wife Margaret "Peggy", 40 and seven children: John 14Edward 13Patrick, Jr.
Their neighbor traveled with them, year-old bachelor Patrick Dolan. An older man named Hardkoop rode with them. Luke Halloran, a young man who seemed to get sicker with tuberculosis every day, was passed from family to family as none could spare the time or resources to care for him.
Hastings sent riders to deliver letters to traveling emigrants. On July 12, the Reeds and Donners were given one of these letters.
He also claimed to have "worked out a new and better road to California", and said that he would be waiting at Fort Bridger to guide the emigrants along the new cutoff. A smaller group opted to head for Fort Bridger and needed a leader.
Most of the younger males in the group were European immigrants and not considered to be ideal leaders.
Reed had been living in the U. He saw the first part of the trail, and was concerned that it would be difficult for the wagons in the Donner group, especially with so many women and children. He returned to Blacks Fork to leave letters warning several members of the group not to take the shortcut.
Reed was very impressed with this information, and advocated for the Hastings Cutoff. None of the party received Bryant's letters warning them to avoid Hastings' route at all costs; in his diary account, Bryant states his conviction that Bridger deliberately concealed the letters, a view shared by Reed in his later testimony.
Donner hired a replacement driver, and the company was joined by the McCutcheon family, consisting of year-old William, his year-old wife Amanda, two-year-old daughter Harriet, and a year-old named Jean Baptiste Trudeau from New Mexico, who claimed to have knowledge of the Native Americans and terrain on the way to California.
Within days, they found the terrain to be much more difficult than described, and the drivers were forced to lock the wheels of their wagons to prevent them from rolling down steep inclines. Several years of traffic on the main Oregon Trail had left an easy and obvious path, whereas the Cutoff was more difficult to find.
Hastings wrote directions and left letters stuck to trees. On August 6, the party found a letter from Hastings advising them to stop until he could show them an alternative route to that taken by the Harlan-Young Party.
They encountered exceedingly difficult canyons where boulders had to be moved and walls cut off precariously to a river below, a route likely to break wagons. Hastings had offered in his letter to guide the Donner Party around the more difficult areas, but he rode back only part way, indicating the general direction to follow.
Without the guide they had been promised, the group had to decide whether to turn back and rejoin the traditional trail, follow the tracks left by the Harlan-Young Party through the difficult terrain of Weber Canyonor forge their own trail in the direction that Hastings had recommended.* The Donner Party; joined the William Russell Train May 19 (story of Donner Party - as published in Overland In by Dale Morgan p) * Capt.
Gregg: started with 12 wagons on 04 May and 9 days later train consisted of 50 wagons. Issue No. 4. The Blaisdell Connection. Compared to some of the other mothers in the Donner Party — Tamzene Donner, Margret Reed, and Levinah Murphy — little is .
Donner Party Jonathan E Their plan was to move to California, acquire cheap land where e they could reap he benefits of rich soil and good climate that Springfield Illinois did not Provo De them.
The journey to California was the beginning of a new life for The Donned party and for many others. Donner Party Map, courtesy Donner Party Diary Reed soon found others seeking adventure and fortune in the vast West, including the Donner family, Graves, Breens, Murphys, Eddys, McCutcheons, Kesebergs, and the Wolfingers, as well as seven teamsters and a number of bachelors.
The Donner Party, led by George Donner and James F. Reed, were victims of bad luck and bad leadership. Their worst mistake was taking a new "shortcut" called the Hastings Cutoff, which led them. Donner Party Roster T he members of the Donner Party are listed both by family or group (first table) and by individual (second table) below.
For more information about Donner Party members, click on the individual or group names.