Across the Plains in the Donner Party by Virginia Reed Murphy

By Virginia Reed Murphy

This tragic tale of Virginia Reed?s trip west is informed via her memoirs of the twelve-year-old woman, with supplementary money owed in response to her father's letters and the diary of one other visitor. Given the delicate nature of elements of the adventure, younger readers will locate the historical past notes and explanatory reviews necessary. Maps and various reproductions incorporated.

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Sample text

March 3 Reed leaves Donner Lake with 17 people bound for Sutter's Fort. March 6-8 Reed's party is snowbound. March 10 Some of Reed's party stumbles into Woodworth's camp. A third rescue party leaves Woodworth's camp to bring in survivors from Reeds' party left along the trail as well as anyone able to walk out from Donner Lake. April 13-17 A fourth rescue team goes to Donner Lake and finds only Louis Keseberg alive. Of the 83 emigrants who were snowbound, 42 had perished. Only 18 of the 32 original Donner party members from Springfield survived to reach California.

The men were determined to save every life they could, and they would not risk Mama's life by letting her return, since there was always a chance that the next rescue party might not get through and she might die at the lake. It was better, they said, for her to continue to try to reach the valley. To make the parting easier, Mr. Glover promised Mama that as soon as we reached help in the Bear River valley, he personally would return for her children. My mother just stood there for a moment, trying to decide what to do.

We chose to eat. Our hides, when boiled in water, softened a little, and the water turned into a thick liquid that resembled glue. It was a most unappetizing mixture. When most of the skins were taken off our roof and we were left without a sound shelter, Patrick Breen kindly gave us a home with his family [January 10]. Mrs. Breen, who still had some beef left, saved my life by slipping me a piece of meat now and then and making sure that I ate it. Even so, my future and that of my family looked bleak indeed, and we were not alone.

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