Sunday, October 29, 2006

George Donner, Sr., Memorial

On September 3, 2006, a monument honoring George Donner, Sr., was dedicated at Oak Hill Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, by the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Don Springer, a 5th great-grandson and Springfield resident, organized the creation of the monument after his distant cousin, Jo Ann Brant Schmidt, a 4th generation descendant of the honoree, proved George's record of Revolutionary War service.

George Donner was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1752. About 1770 he moved to North Carolina, where he maintained a jail for British prisoners on his property during the Revolutionary War. George married Mary Huff, with whom he had several children, including George and Jacob of the Donner Party. The Donners moved to Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, arriving in Sangamon County about 1825. George Sr. died there in 1844 at the age of 92. The location of his grave is unknown, so the stone erected to his memory was placed in the Donner plot at Oak Hill. Also included on the stone are the names of his wife Mary Huff Donner; his son, George Jr.; and George Jr.'s wives Susannah Holloway, Mary Blue, and Tamzene Dozier, none of whose graves are known or marked.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bus tour

It's hard to believe that a week ago I returned from the Donner 2006 bus tour. I looked forward to it for a long time, enjoyed it thoroughly while it lasted, and now it's over. Sigh.

It was a great experience -- an interesting group of people, lots to see, lots to learn. For some it was pilgrimage, visiting sites read about but never actually seen; others had been on one of the previous tours in 1998 and 2000. But whatever the case, it was fun to spend time with folks who share your obsession and can talk intelligently about it.

The tour itself was well managed, with comfortable lodgings and good meals. Frankye Craig, the organizer, did a great job making the arrangements and keeping us us on schedule without being tyrannical about it. For instance, in the greater Kansas City area, where approximating the Oregon Trail meant taking our enormous tour bus down narrow residential streets, she insisted we go around the block so we could come back and stop at a child's lemonade stand, much to his, and the neighborhood's, amazement.

Eric, our driver, put up with a lot on this trip, yet remained unnaturally goodhumored. I don't know what they're paying him, but he deserves a raise. Or hazardous duty pay.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Here goes!

Well, I did it. I've been thinking about creating a Donner Party blog to present my research in a more informal fashion, so here goes! Watch this space as I learn just how this blogging thing works.