Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's been a while...

Things have been a mite slow on the Donner Party front lately. I continue to research -- Ancestry.com has just added the 1852 California State Census to their online databases, so I've been tracking down Donner Party survivors and rescuers, or trying to -- some of them are pretty darn elusive. Some are right where you expect them, while others show up in surprising places. Baptiste, for instance, was living in Sonoma in 1852, or maybe he just happened to be there the day the census-taker came by. George Donner was over in Solano County -- he was there in the 1860 census, too. I found Philippine Keseberg and her two girls in Sacramento, but Louis isn't listed with them. Same with Flavilla Eddy -- she and the kids were in Santa Clara County, but where was Will? And Patrick Dunn, an obscure member of the Second Relief, was down in Santa Barbara County making a living as a monte dealer.

You may also have seen the Donner Party around the web lately -- the political metaphor has been making the rounds again, this time equating the Tea Party and/or Republicans with the Donner Party. This is a vile slander. I don't care about the political parties, they can fend for themselves, but I detest the image of the Donner Party as bunch of maniacs ripping at each other in a frenzied struggle to survive. Didn't happen, folks!


Heather J. Morris said...

Many of the Donner party ended up in the San Jose and Santa Cruz areas, close to where I live, so I've been visiting local places connected with the families.My original interest was in John Denton (I'm a British Denton who went to school in Sheffield). But Patty Reed/Lewis has many associations with the Santa Cruz area. I'm wondering if anyone has come across 'Hazeldell Charivari', a small book I found in the archives which purports to be 'the story of the wedding of patty Reed and Frank Lewis' by Thomas McHugh (1957). Also I obtained the death certificate of Patty Lewis - she died on July 2nd 1923.

Kristin Johnson said...

Hi, Heather--

Yes, I have a photocopy of "Hazeldell Charivari." It includes a lively description of Patty's wedding, but I wonder how much is fact and how much is from McHugh's imagination; he doesn't list his sources.

John Denton has proven a very elusive character. If you find out anything definite about his background, please let me know!

Thanks for writing,

Kristin Johnson