The Donner Party

The Donner Party It’s one of the greatest tragedies of all time, yet few of us know the whole story. The story is of the misled, inexperienced Donner Party. It is the story of eighty-one emigrants who traveled in hopes of reaching the land of California. Forty-seven, whose hopes were crushed by many contributing factors. The most horrible and misleading factor of all was the human mind and its persistent need to explore and conquer everything, whether within reach or not in the shortest and fastest way possible. This aspect of taking the shortest route that led to the downfall, and in some cases, to death, of the Donner Party. It was advertised as a new and shorter route west to California and saved pioneers 350 to 400. Unfortunately some crucial things weren’t mentioned in this advertisement, one of which was the fact that the new route had never been traveled upon; and two, that the writer was a power hungry man whose only motive was to lure settlers into California under his direction so he could establish the area as an independent republic. This route was known as Hasting’s Cutoff and was mentioned in Lansford W. Hasting’s book, “The Emigrant’s Guide to California and Oregon.” Many pioneers eager to make their fortunes, escape disease, or to satisfy their hankering for a new experience read this book and, I might add, all as quickly as possible. Among the readers of the book was James Reed. James Frasier Reed was a business man who had made a small fortune in his Illinois practice. He had logical reasons for moving to California. One, his wife, Margaret Reed, suffered from horrible headaches and it was assumed that she would fare better in a nicer climate and James Reed wanted more money. He felt that this could be accomplished in a land as rich as California. Reed also had four children: Virginia, Martha, James, and Thomas whom he wanted better lives for, and he believed this could be attained in California. When James…

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