Friday, May 11, 2012

History of the Donner Party, a Tragedy of the Sierra - by C. F. McGlashan

If you visit Springfield Illinois, you will see a plaque marking the spot from which the Donner party set out for California.  It is an odd sort of commemorative plaque, because as the inscription says, it was an "ill-fated trip."  Growing up hearing tales of the Donner party and jokes about the "Alferd G. Packer Memorial Grill" at the University of Colorado (yes, it is for real), it is hard for me to appreciate that people may not have heard of the Donner expedition.

So I offer you, a free book that has never been out of print,  History of the Donner Party, a Tragedy of the Sierra C. F. McGlashan  (US Edition)  (UK Edition

Whether you know the story or not, this book is a great find.  As one UK Amazon reviewer says, "I agree with the other reviewer, this is unbelievable. Having finished it I looked it up and, yes, it really did happen.  For you lucky Kindle users, it has to be one of the most amazing free books available."

Go West, young man!  It seemed everyone in the States was moving west, some moved only a state away and others sought further destinations.  There was a great restlessness before and after the Civil War.  The Donner's and fellow travelers gathered in Springfield in 1846 and started for California.

One of the party sent a sadly UN-prophetic letter home:
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 than I have yet done, I shall say the trouble is all in getting started. 
And of course one of the problems was a late start as well as dithering and poor decisions.  It might well be called a perfect storm . . .

Those who know the story know the wagon train was held up for the winter by snow and many starved.  Some of the party were accused of surviving by cannibalism.   

But did you know that prior to being snowbound, the caravan had already been witness to deaths and some were murders?
There were no signs of Indians, but Wolfinger was not to be found. At the time it was strongly conjectured that Keseberg had murdered Wolfinger for his money, and had concealed the body. This was doubtless unjust, for when Joseph Rhinehart was dying, some weeks later, in George Donner's tent, he confessed that he (Rhinehart) had something to do with the murder of Wolfinger.
So, download this book and as you read, think what you might do to stay alive and save your family . .

I'm reading: History of the Donner Party, a Tragedy of the Sierra - by C. F. McGlashanTweet this!

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