Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good news!

Gabrielle Burton's new book, Searching for Tamsen Donner, is available ahead of schedule from the University of Nebraska Press. I haven't had a chance to read much of the published version, but can tell you that it's quite a story. In the summer of 1977, bitten by the Tamsen bug, Gabrielle, her husband, and five daughters piled into their station wagon and set out from their home in Buffalo, New York, on the trail of Tamsen Donner, a two-month oddyssey that took them to Springfield, Illinois, Independence, Missouri, and across the country to Donner Lake.  Gabrielle weaves Tamsen's story into her own, and a fine tale it is. As a bonus, she publishes all of Tamzene's known letters at the end.

Today's anniversaries

One hundred sixty-two years ago today, on February 19, 1847, the first relief party reached Donner Lake, a factoid which appears in several "on this day in history" features, including Chase's Calendar of Events,, and in a number of blogs. It's gratifying to see so much recognition of this event, and amusing to read some of the comments

By an interesting coincidence, today is also the anniversary of the death of Eliza Donner Houghton, who died in 1921 at the age of 78 (a fact noted by at least one other blogger). She's buried in the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

Friday, February 06, 2009

"The Forlorn" trailer

Today I got an e-mail from John E. Moore, producer of The Forlorn, Anacapa Entertainment's forthcoming movie based on the band of snowshoers (later known as the Forlorn Hope) who set out from the camp at Donner Lake in December 1846 to get help from Sutter's Fort. Anacapa's in the process of scoring/mixing the film; no release date has been set yet. You can view a trailer here. It's kinda hard to get a feel for the movie, but I must say I was surprised at how well groomed these "desperate" snowshoers look. Naval officer Joseph T. Downey had to say about other 1846 emigrants after they crossed the mountains:

"... such a mass was never seen before by mortal man. They were literally the rag tag and bobtail of all Creation. Here they came, some with coats and some no coats--some with deer skin trowsers and some with awful looking things in the shape of trowsers, some with moccasins, some with Boots, some with shoes and a great majority with no covering to their feet. In one thing however they were uniform: they had good rifles and shocking Bad Hats."

The Forlorn's Donner Party members, however, are clean, well-fed, and well-dressed. Musta spruced themselves up before they set out...