The Donner Party by Daniel Lewis
General Roster


The Year of 1846
The Story: Part I
Part II: The Journey
Part III: Snowbound
Part IV: Eating of the Dead
Epilogue: Journey's End
General Roster
Names for Research
Route of the Donner Party
Forensics of the Donner Party
Forensics II
The Donner Party and Native Americans
Religion of the Donner Party
Links and Sources
Contact Me

(Ages are taken from Jul. 31, 1846, the date the Donner Party began the Hasting's Cut-off. Deaths marked with a ? indicate unknown reason. Deaths at Truckee Lake will be marked with a TL and the cabin.)

(AC) Alder Creek
(TL) Truckee Lake
(CD) Forlorn Hope's Camp of Death
(SC) Starved Camp
(SF) Sutter's Fort
(George's children were born of Mary Blue Tennant, George's second wife, not Tamzene.)
George Donner; 60 or 62. A Farmer from Springfield, IL, captain of the Donner Party. DIED: at AC Mar. 27, 1846, from hand infection at Alder Creek.

Tamzene Eustis Donner; 44. Wife of George Donner. DIED: Mar. 28, 1846, from ? at Breen/Keseberg Cabin.

Elitha Cumi Donner; 13. RESCUED by 1st Relief.

Leanna Charita Donner; 11. RESCUED by 1st Relief.

Frances Eustis Donner; 6. RESCUED by 3rd Relief.

Georgia Ann Donner; 4. RESCUED by 3rd Relief.

Eliza Poor Donner; 3. RESCUED by 3rd Relief.

Jacob "Jake" Donner; 56. A farmer from Springfield, IL; brother of George Donner. DIED in Mid-December, 1846, from starvation at AC

Elizabeth "Betsy" Donner; 45 Wife of Jacob Donner. DIED March-early April from starvation.

Solomon Elijah Hook; 14. RESCUED by 2nd Relief.

William Hook, Jr.; 12. RESCUED by 1st Relief but DIED, at SC, March 1847, from overeating.

George Donner, "Jr." 9. RESCUED by 1st Relief.

Mary Donner; 7. RESCUED by 3rd Relief.

Isaac Donner; 5. RESCUED by 2nd Relief but DIED at SC from starvation.

Samuel Donner; 4. DIED in March, 1847, ABANDONED at AC.

Lewis Donner; 3. DIED Mar. 3, 1847, from starvation at AC.

Noah James, 16. Son of Farmer who lived near the Donners. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Samuel Shoemaker; 25. DIED Dec. 16, 1846 from starvation at AC.

John Denton; 28. An Englishman; Friend of the the Donners. RESCUED by the 1st Relief, but ABANDONED; DIED Feb. 24, 1847 near SC.

(Virginia was the daughter of Margret Reed's previous marriage to Lloyd Backenstoe)
James Frazier Reed, 45. A Businessman from Springfield, IL; originally from Ireland. BANISHED, after stabbing John Snyder to death. He later began the 2nd Relief.

Margaret "Margret" Reed; 32. Wife of James Frazier Reed. RESCUED by 1st Relief.

Virginia Elizabeth Backenstoe Reed; 13. Wrote many accounts of her experiences on the Trail. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Martha "Patti" Reed; 8. RESCUED by her father & the 2nd Relief.

James Frazier Reed, Jr, "Jimmy"; 5. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Thomas "Tommy" Reed; 3. RESCUED by the 2nd Relief.

Sarah Keyes; 70? DIED from tuberculosis at Alcove Springs, in Missouri or Kansas in May, 1846.

Baylis Williams; 25. A hired hand of the Reeds. DIED from starvation Dec. 15, 1847, at TL, at Graves/Reed cabin.

E"Liza" Williams; 31. A cook and servant for the Reeds; Baylis' sister. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Milford "Milt" Elliot; 25. A good friend of the Reeds. DIED on Feb. 9, 1847, from starvation at TL; Murphy/Eddy Cabin.

Walter Herron; 25. LEFT EARLY, travelling with banished Mr. Reed. In California, he joined the army.

James Smith; 25. DIED in mid-December, from starvation at TL at Graves/Reed Cabin.

Hiram Owens Miller; Aged 29. LEFT EARLY, but returned with 2nd & 3rd Reliefs.

Franklin Ward Graves; 57. A Farmer from Illinois. DIED Dec. 25, 1847, from starvation at CD.

Elizabeth Cooper Graves; 45. Wife of Franklin Ward Graves. RESCUED by 2nd Relief, but later ABANDONED & DIED at SC during early March 1847.

Sarah Graves; 21. Wife of Jay Fosdick. SURVIVED the Forlorn Hope.

Jay Fosdick; 23. A Farmer from Illinois; husband of Sarah Graves. DIED Jan. 4, 1847 with the Forlorn Hope.

Mary Graves; 19. SURVIVED the Forlorn Hope.

William Cooper Graves; 17. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Eleanor Graves; 14. RESCUED by 1st Relief.

Lovina Graves; 12. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Nancy Blaisdell Graves; 8. RESCUED by 2nd Relief, ABANDONED at SC; RESCUED by 3rd Relief.

Johnathon B. (Blaisedell?) Graves; 7. RESCUED by 2nd Relief, ABANDONED at SC; RESCUED by 3rd Relief but DIED in Late Spring, 1847, from mountain fever at SF.

Franklin Ward Graves, Jr; 5. RESCUED by 2nd Relief, but ABANDONED & DIED at SC on Mar. 11, 1847.

Elizabeth Graves; 1. RESCUED by 2nd Relief, but ABANDONED at SC; RESCUED by 3rd Relief, but DIED after arriving at SF from mountain fever during March, 1847.

John Snyder; 25. Teamster for the Graves Family. KILLED by stabbing in a fight with James Reed at Pauta Pass.

William H. Eddy; 28. A carraige-maker from Belleville, IL, though he was born on the east coast. SURVIVED the Forlorn Hope, and worked with the 1st Relief, and later the 3rd Relief, to rescue his family. Both attempts failed.

Eleanor Priscilla Eddy; 25. Wife of William Eddy. DIED on Feb. 7, 1847, from starvation at Eddy/Murphy Cabin. Cabin.

James Eddy; 3. DIED in early March, 1847, from starvation at Eddy/Murphy Cabin.

Margaret Eddy; 1. DIED Feb. 4, 1847, from starvation at Eddy/Murphy Cabin.

Lavina Jackson Murphy, 36. A wealthy mormon "sister" from Union Co., SC; widow to Jeremiah Burns Murphy. DIED in late March at or near Eddy/Murphy or Breen/Keseberg Cabin from starvation or murder. At the time of death, Mrs. Murphy was deranged.

John Landrum Murphy, 16. DIED from starvation Jan. 30, 1847.

Meriam "Mary" Murphy, 14. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Lemuel Murphy, 12. DIED on Dec. 27, 1846, with the Forlorn Hope at the Camp of Death.

William Green Murphy, 10. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Simon Peter Murphy, 8. RESCUED by the 3rd Relief.

William McFadden Foster, 28. Son in-law of Lavinah Murphy. He SURVIVED the Forlorn Hope, and returned with the 3rd Relief to save his son, but George Foster died. He returned once more with the 4th Relief.

Sarah Ann Charlotte Murphy, (-Foster) 19. Wife of Wm. Foster. SURVIVED the Forlorn Hope.

Jeremy George Foster, aged 3? Known as George. DIED in Mid-March at the Eddy/Murphy Cabin.

William Montgomery Pike. Wm. Pike and brother in-law Foster were going to journey to Sutter's Fort for suplies in Late October when Foster accidentally shot Pike, and he DIED, near Truckee Lake.

Harriet Frances Murphy, (-Pike) aged 18. Wife of Wm. Pike. After her husband's death, she left her children with their grandmother, and journeyed with the Forlorn Hope, and SURVIVED.

Naomi Levina Pike, 12. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Catherine Pike, 1. DIED Feb. 20.

(Except Edward and Simon Breen, all the Breens were left behind at Starved Camp and rescued by the 3rd Relief.)

Patrick Breen, Sr., 51. Born in Ireland, emigrated to Canada, and then Keokuk, Iowa. A farmer, boatsman and devout Roman Catholic, also kept the infamous diary of the Donner Party. RESCUED by the 2nd Relief, but the Breens (excluding those rescued by the 1st Relief) were ABANDONED at Starved Camp, and RESCUED by the 3rd Relief.

Margaret "Peggy" Bulgar Breen, 40. Wife of Partick Breen, Sr. RESCUED.

John Breen, 14. Infamous for being the gravedigger for the dead at Truckee Lake. RESCUED.

Edward Breen, 13. RESCUED.

Patrick Breen, Jr., 8. RESCUED.

Simon Preston Breen, 8. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

James Frederick Breen, 5. RESCUED.

Peter Breen, 3. RESCUED.

Margaret Isabella Breen, 1. RESCUED. The only surviving infant of the Donner Party, and the last survivor to die, in 1935.

Patrick Doolan, 35. A teamster for the Breens; also an Irishman/Roman Catholic. DIED on Dec. 25, 1846, at the Camp of Death with the Forlorn Hope.

Johann Ludwig Christian Keseberg, called "Lewis," born on May 22, 1814. Aged 32. He was RESCUED by the 4th Relief, and he reunited with his wife in California, though he lost his two children.

Elisabeth Phillipine Christian Keseberg, called "Phillipine," born May 16, 1823. Aged 23. RESCUED by the 1st Relief.

Ada Keseberg, aged 3. RESCUED with her mother by the 1st Relief, but died, somewhere in the area of the Yuba Bottoms.

Lewis Keseberg, Jr, aged 1. It is unlikely this was his real name, but he probably was named after his father. Born on the trail, but DIED, Jan. 24, 1847, in the Kesebergs' lean-to

Mr. Hardkoop, aged 60?, originally from Belgium?. Supposedly had a family back in Europe but became a farmer all by himself in Cincinnati, Ohio. A weak old man, Hardkoop rode in the back of the Kesebergs' wagon. As the party was passing through an area of quicksand and needed to keep the wagons light, Keseberg decided to turn Hardkoop out of his wagon. Hardkoop "gave out", and was left behind by the others, and presumably DIED, not long after.


The Donners were a prominent farming clan of Springfield, Illinois. George and Jacob Donner were brothers. George was tall and strong, with a large appitite and a very bright personality. He was considered "genial" and "adventuous", according to McGlashan, and local farmers often consulted him for advice. Jacob was remembered as more quiet and less cheerful, but the brothers were good friends. George's wife Mary Blue had died not long before the trip, leaving five daughters motherless. George remarried to Tamzene Wheelwright, a shrewd and intelligent schoolmistress. Jacob had married Elizabeth "Betsy" Blue, who was a quiet and very generous woman. Betsy was, by the way, Mary Blue's (George Donner's first wife) sister. Jake had married Betsy several years before, and had five children with her. Jacob also adopted two sons from Betsy's first marriage, William and Solomon Hook. On the trip, many admired George, while "Jake" was thought of being unhealthy and "sickly," and few spoke much with him or Betsy.

During the Donner party's winter, Jacob and four of his sons died. George, Tamzene and Elizabeth Donner followed a similar fate in the spring.

Geo. Donner's Family: 7 Survived: 5
Jake. Donner's Family: 9 Survived: 3
Total: 16 Survived: 8

Noah James was still a teenager in 1846, and after rescue, became a gold miner in California. However, Samuel Shoemaker and John Denton both died of starvation in the early Winter.
Total: 3 Survived: 1

James Frazier Reed was a businessman of Springfield. He was tall, quiet, and was sometimes a little unusual. Margret, his wife, was a frail and depressed woman, but she never lost her determination to keep herself and children alive during the winter. Virginia was a young and pretty girl, and she and Patti were skilled equestrians like their father. Virginia's grandmother Sarah Keyes was very old and dying from tuberculosis, and she shared a deep bond with Margret and Virginia. The Reeds had several wagons, a huge herd of cattle and oxen, as well as horses, large dogs, and Cash, the children's terrier.
Total: 7 Survived: 6

Baylis Williams was an albino who rode in one of the Reeds' extra wagons during the day. At night, he watched the cattle and kept campfires lit. His sister Eliza was deaf and possibly was retarded. In the 19th century, mental disabilities weren't very well known of, so the disabled were often thought to be just stupid or plain. Eliza served as a cook and nanny for the Reed family.
The other teamsters were young men who showed great respect for James Reed. Milt Elliot, in particular, had a strong tie to the Reed family, and he loved the Reed children.

Teamsters: 6 Survived: 3

The Graves were a somewhat poorer family from Illinois. They were farmers, though Franklin W. Graves was quite a woodsman and hunter. His wife Elizabeth was known to be both very polite as well as crude, and according to Patrick Breen, she was "a case." Their eldest daughter Sarah had married just before the decision to head west, but Sarah and her beloved husband Jay Fosdick tagged along. Jay Fosdick was a young energetic farmer who played his violin for the Graves in the evenings. Though Franklin Graves himself was 57, he was still having children with his wife, the youngest of nine being an infant. Mary and William Graves, Sarah Fosdick's younger siblings, were adults but stayed with their family as well. Mary was slender and had a strong mouth, while William was tall and quiet, like his father.

Though Mary Graves later denied it, it is thought John Snyder was not only a teamster, but Mary's finacee. He was usually very friendly and cheerful, but on the day of his death he was surprisingly vulgar and obnoxious.

William Eddy was a carriagemaker, but this was not his originial profession. He was a tall and fairly strong man, with dark hair and a full beard, but no mustache. Eddy seems to have been generally knowledgable when it came to matters about the Trail; history, knowledge about hunting and local game, and had a natural logic in his mind. His wife Eleanor was a small, quiet woman. Little is known of her, but others appearantly thought well of her. William and Eleanor had a young child, James Eddy, and their infant Margaret. The Eddys had only one wagon and brought few personal possessions along with them on the journey.

Kristin Johnson's roster contains much more information and individuals