The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate

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A.C. McClurg & Company, 1911 - Agriculture - 374 pages
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Eliza Houghton (b. 1843) was the youngest child of George Donner, one of two Springfield, Illinois, brothers who organized the ill-fated California-bound emigrant party that bore their name. Eliza and her older sisters were rescued by relief parties that made their way to the stranded travellers at Donner Lake, but their parents perished, and the girls were left to make their way alone in the West. The expedition of the Donner party and its tragic fate (1911) begins with Mrs. Houghton's account of her childhood and the family's tragic overland journey, and rescue. She continues with her life as an orphan, first at Fort Sutter, and then with a family in Sonoma and with her older half-sister in Sacramento. She describes the impact of the gold rush and new immigration on the area, farm work and domestic work, and her own education in public schools and St. Catherine's Convent in Benicia. She writes at length of the emotional scars caused by contemporary rumors of cannibalism among the Donner Party and offers full accounts of Donner family history as well as the background of her husband, Samuel Houghton. An appendix contains several documentary sources for the history of the Donner Party.

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User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

Yet another Donner book, The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate is by Eliza Donner Houghton, an authentic survivor of the party. However, Ms. Houghton was four years old when she was ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tess_schoolmarm - LibraryThing

I purchased [The Expedition of the Donner Party and its Tragic Fate] because I wanted to learn the actual cause of and fate of the well known attempt by the Donner’s to cross the Sierra Nevadas ... Read full review

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Page 334 - Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.
Page 25 - Everything was new and pleasing; the Indians frequently come to see us, and the chiefs of a tribe breakfasted at our tent this morning. All are so friendly that I can not help feeling sympathy and friendship for them. But on one sheet what can I say? Since we have been on the Platte, we have had the river on one side and the ever varying mounds on the other, and have traveled through the bottom lands from one to two miles wide, with little or no timber. The soil is sandy, and last year, on account...
Page 24 - We laid in 150 pounds of flour and 75 pounds of meat for each individual, and I fear bread will be scarce. Meat is abundant. Rice and beans are good articles on the road;' cornmeal, too, is acceptable. Linsey dresses are the most suitable for children. Indeed, if I had one, it would be acceptable. There is so cool a breeze at all times on the plains that the sun does not feel so hot as one would suppose. We are now four hundred and fifty miles from Independence. Our route at first was rough, and...
Page 336 - After the first few deaths, but the one all-absorbing thought of individual self-preservation prevailed. The fountains of natural affection were dried up. The cords that once vibrated with connubial, parental, and filial affection, were rent asunder, and each one seemed resolved, without regard to the fate of others, to escape from the impending calamity.
Page 24 - PLATTE, June 16, 1846. MY OLD FRIEND: We are now on the Platte, two hundred miles from Fort Laramie. Our journey so far has been pleasant, the roads have been good, and food plentiful. The water for part of the way has been indifferent, but at no time have our cattle suffered for it. Wood is now very scarce, but "buffalo chips" are excellent; they kindle quickly and retain heat surprisingly. We had this morning buffalo steaks broiled upon them that had the same flavor they would have had upon hickory...
Page 79 - ... other's face for answer to the question their lips durst not frame. Fathers who had left their families, and mothers who had left their babes, wanted to go back and die with them, if die they must ; but Mr. Eddy and the Indians — those who had crossed the range with Stanton — declared that they would push on to the settlement. Then Mary Graves, in whose young heart were still whisperings of hope, courageously said: ' ' I, too, will go on, for to go back and hear the cries of hunger from my...
Page 353 - Donners' camp, eight miles distant over the mountains. After traveling about halfway, we came upon a track in the snow which excited our suspicion, and we determined to pursue it. It brought us to the camp of Jacob Donner, where it had evidently left that morning. There we found property of every description, books, calicoes, tea, coffee, shoes, percussion caps, household and kitchen furniture, scattered in every direction, and mostly in the water. At the mouth of the tent stood...
Page 25 - Chain up, boys! - chain up!" with as much authority as though he was "something in particular." - John Denton is still with us we find him a useful man in camp. Hiram Miller and Noah James are in good health and doing well. We have of the best of people in our company, and some, too, that are not so good. Buffalo show themselves frequently.
Page 336 - ... wretched and pitiable beings. Those who but one month before would have shuddered and sickened at the thought of eating human flesh, or of killing their companions and relatives to preserve their own lives, now looked upon the opportunity these acts afforded them of escaping the most dreadful of deaths, as a providential interference in their behalf.
Page 24 - ' buffalo chips ' ' are excellent; they kindle quickly and retain heat surprisingly. We had this morning buffalo steaks broiled upon them that had the same flavor they would have had upon hickory coals. We feel no fear of Indians, our cattle graze quietly around our encampment unmolested. Two or three men will go hunting twenty miles from camp ; and last night two of our men lay out in the wilderness rather than ride their horses after a hard chase. Indeed, if I do not experience something far worse...

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