The Donner Party: List of Members

Photograph courtesy of Frank Mullen.

The Donner Party monument at the Donner Memorial State Park. This park was created by the state of California in 1927 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 1846-47.

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Chronicling America Project.

Image from The San Francisco Call, Wednesday, May 18, 1904.  It contains an article entitled, "Donner Party Survivor Dies."

Photograph courtesy of Frank Mullen

Alder Creek, California. This is the site of the Donner family’s Sierra Nevada camp, where they spent the winter of 1846-47. 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 80.

 Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Chronicling America Project.

Image from The San Francisco Call, Sunday, January 23, 1898.  It contains an article entitled, "Terrible Experience of the Ill-Fated Donner Party."

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Chronicling America Project.

Image from The Salt Lake Herald, Sunday, May 24, 1885.  The two left columns contain an article written by W. M. Boggs regarding the Donner Party tragedy.

(With ages, or approximate ages at the time of rescue or death, in parentheses, including how they died or escaped. S, survived; D, died)

The Breen Family from Ireland by way of Keokuk, Iowa

Patrick Breen (51), father of seven, husband of Margaret, brought out by Second Relief but left at Starved Camp and rescued by the Third Relief, S.
Margaret Bulger Breen (40), S.
John Breen (14), S.
Edward Breen (13), S.
Patrick Breen Jr. (9), S.
Simon Preston Breen (8), S.
James Frederick Breen (5), S.
Peter Breen (3), S.
Isabella (Margaret the younger) Breen (1), S.

The Reed Family from Springfield, Illinois

James Frazier Reed, father of four, husband of Margaret, banished from the party in October 1846, and member of the Second Relief, S.
Margaret Keyes (Backenstoe) Reed (32), S.
Virginia Backenstoe Reed (13), S.
Martha Jane “Patty” Reed (8), S.
James F. Reed Jr. (6), S.
Thomas Keyes Reed (4), S.
Sarah (Handley) Keyes (70), mother of Margaret Keyes Reed, died in Kansas on May 29, 1846, D.

The George Donner Family from Sangamon County, Illinois

George Donner (60/62), husband of Tamsen Donner, died at Alder Creek camp in April 1847, D.
Tamsen (also spelled Tamzene) Donner (44), wife of George, died at the lake camp in April 1847, D.
Elitha Donner (13), First Relief, S.
Frances Donner (6), Third Relief, S.
Georgia Ann Donner (4), Third Relief, S.
Eliza Poor Donner (3), Third Relief, S.
Leanna Charity Donner (11), First Relief, S.

The Jacob Donner Family from Sangamon County, Illinois

Jacob Donner (56), a farmer from Springfield, Illinois, brother of George and husband of Elizabeth, died at Alder Creek camp, D.
Elizabeth Blue Hook Donner (40), wife of Jacob Donner, died at Alder Creek camp, D.
Solomon Elijah Hook (14), Second Relief, S.
William Hook (12), died during the First Relief, D.
George Donner (the younger) (9), Second Relief, S.
Mary Martha Donner (7), Second Relief, S.
Isaac Donner (5), Second Relief, died at Starved Camp, D.
Samuel Donner (4), died at Alder Creek camp in March 1847, D.
Lewis Donner (3), died at Alder Creek camp in March 1847, D.

The Eddy Family from Belleville, Illinois

William Henry Eddy (30), husband of Eleanor Eddy, survivor of the Forlorn Hope Party, later assisted in the Third Relief, S.
Eleanor P. Eddy (25), wife of William Eddy and mother of their two children, died in the Murphy cabin at the lake on February 7, 1847, D.
James Eddy (3), died at the Murphy cabin in March 1847, D.
Margaret Eddy (1), died at the lake camp on Feb. 4, 1847, D.

The Graves Family from Marshall County, Illinois

Franklin Ward Graves (57), husband of Elizabeth, died with the Forlorn Hope Party in December 1847, D.
Elizabeth Cooper Graves (45), Second Relief, died at Starved Camp, D.
Mary Ann Graves (19), surviving member of the Forlorn Hope Party, S.
William Cooper Graves (17), First Relief, S.
Eleanor Graves (14), Second Relief, S.
Lovina Graves (12), Second Relief, S.
Nancy Graves (9), Second Relief, S.
Jonathan Graves (7), Second Relief, S.
Elizabeth Graves (the younger) (1), Second Relief, S.
Franklin W. Graves Jr. (5), Second Relief, died at Starved Camp, D.
Sarah Graves Fosdick (21), wife of Jay Fosdick, surviving member of the Forlorn Hope Party, S.
Jay Fosdick (23), died with the Forlorn Hope Party on January 6, 1847, D.

The Murphy Family (Murphys, Fosters, and Pikes were an extended family)

Levinah Jackson Murphy (36), a widow traveling with her family, died at the lake camp in March 1847, D.
Sarah Ann Murphy (19), surviving member of the Forlorn Hope Party, S.
Simon Peter Murphy (8), Third Relief, S.
John Landrum Murphy (16), died at the lake camp on January 31, 1847, D.
Lemuel B. Murphy (12), died with the Forlorn Hope Party in December 1846, D.
William Green Murphy (10), First Relief, S.

The Foster Family

Sarah Ann (Murphy) Foster (19), daughter of Levinah Murphy and wife of William Foster, surviving member of the Forlorn Hope Party, S.
William McFadden Foster (30), surviving member of the Forlorn Hope Party, S.
Jeremiah Foster (1), died in March 1847 at the Murphy cabin, D.

The Pike Family

William M. Pike (32), husband of Harriet Murphy Pike and father of Naomi and Catherine, died in a firearms accident in October 1846, D.
Harriet Frances Murphy (18), daughter of Levinah Murphy and wife of William Pike, escaped with the Forlorn Hope Party, S.
Naomi Levina Pike (2), First Relief, S.
Catherine Pike (1), died at the lake camp, D.

The McCutchen Family

William “Big Bill” McCutchen (30), a farmer from Missouri, husband of Amanda and father of Harriet, went ahead to Sutter's Fort for supplies with Charles Stanton, returned with James Reed in the Second Relief, S.
Amanda Henderson McCutchen (23), wife of Bill McCutchen and mother of Harriet, surviving member of the Forlorn Hope Party, S.
Harriet McCutchen (1), cared for by the Graves family when Harriet left the camps with the Forlorn Hope Party, died in February 1847, D.

The Wolfinger Family

Jacob Wolfinger (age unknown), a German emigrant killed in October 1846 at the Humboldt Sink. Augustus Spitzer and Joseph Reinhardt stayed behind to help him cache (bury) his wagon and then killed him, D.
Doris (Dorothea) Wolfinger (20), wife of Jacob Wolfinger, First Relief, S.

The Keseberg Family

Lewis (Johann Ludwig) Keseberg (32), a German immigrant, husband of Philippine and father of Lewis Jr. and Ada, Fourth Relief in April 1847, S.
Philippine (Elisabeth Zimmermann) Keseberg (23), wife of Lewis, Second Relief, S.
Lewis Keseberg Jr. (1), born in June on the trail and died in January 1847 at the Murphy cabin, D.
Ada (Juliane Karoline) Keseberg (3), died with the First Relief in February 1847, D.

Individuals, including employees of the families

Antonio (last name unknown) (23), a Mexican cattle herder who joined the wagon train at Fort Laramie, died at the Camp of Death, D.
Augustus Spitzer (30), a teamster for the Donners, died at the lake camp in February 1847, D.
Baylis Williams (25), an employee of the Reeds, the first to die at the lake camp on December 14, 1846, D.
Charles “Dutch Charlie” Burger (30), a German teamster for the George Donner family, died in camp around Decemeber 29, 1847, D.
Charles Tyler Stanton (35), a single man traveling with the Donners, went ahead for supplies at the Utah-California border and returned to the party in October, died while leading the Forlorn Hope Party in December 1846, D.
Eliza Williams (31), sister of Baylis Williams, First Relief, S.
Mr. Hardcoop (60), a Belgian emigrant who possibly drove wagons for the Kesebergs, abandoned on the trail in October 1846 in Nevada, D.
Hiram Owens Miller (29), a teamster for the Donners, left the party at Fort Laramie, S.
James Smith (25), a teamster for the Reeds, died at Alder Creek camp in December 1846, D.
Jean Baptiste Trudeau (16), joined the Donners at Fort Bridger, First Relief, S.
John Denton (30), an Englishman who traveled with the Donners, died with the First Relief, D.
John Snyder (25), a teamster for the Graves family, killed by James Reed near what is now Golconda, Nevada, D.
Joseph Reinhardt (30), a companion of Jacob Wolfinger, died at Alder Creek camp, D.
Luke Halloran (25), joined the Donner Party at Fort Bridger, died of tuberculosis two months later, D.
Luis (19), a Miwok Indian, one of Captain Sutter's vaqueros, killed by William Foster during the Forlorn Hope escape, D.
Milt Elliot (28), teamster for the Reeds, died on February 9, 1847, in the Murphy cabin, D.
Noah James (16), a teamster for the Donners, First Relief, S.
Patrick Dolan (35), an Irishman who traveled with the Breens, died at the Camp of Death, D.
Walter Herron (27), a teamster for the Reeds, accompanied James Reed to California in October 1846, S.
Salvador (19), a Miwok Indian, one of Captain Sutter's vaqueros, killed by William Foster during the Forlorn Hope escape, D.
Samuel Shoemaker (25), a teamster for the Donners, died at Alder Creek camp in December 1846, D.

Further Reading

Frank X. Mullen. The Donner Party Chronicles. Reno, NV: Nevada Humanities, 1997.

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