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.
10 Things You Should Know About the Donner Party
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.
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.
how do you say beloved
One hundred and sixty-plus years ago in April, the saga of the Donner Party was over. Of the 81 pioneers who were trapped in the Sierra during the winter of , nearly half had died of cold and starvation. The rest had made it to central California. The riveting story remains popular today because it chronicles how humans cope with severe hardship and seemingly insurmountable odds. Gold Rush Storms The Donner tragedy was not lost on California's civilian population or on its government. Three years after the Donner survivors were rescued, early winter storms once again battered the Sierra. They came in October and November , the first year of the gold rush.
James F. Travel on the California Trail followed a tight schedule. Emigrants needed to head west late enough in the spring for there to be grass available for their pack animals, but also early enough so they could cross the treacherous western mountain passes before winter. They were the last major pioneer train of , and their late start left them with very little margin for error. After reaching Wyoming, most California-bound pioneers followed a route that swooped north through Idaho before turning south and moving across Nevada. In , however, a dishonest guidebook author named Lansford Hastings was promoting a straighter and supposedly quicker path that cut through the Wasatch Mountains and across the Salt Lake Desert.