DONNER PARTY'S RELATIVES TO OBSERVE 150TH ANNIVERSARY.Byline: Martin Griffith Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.
Donner Party Donner Party, group of emigrants to California who in the winter of 1846–47 met with one of the most famous tragedies in Western history. The California-bound families were mostly from Illinois and Iowa, and most prominent among them were the two Donner descendants will return this summer to the site of their ancestors' worst nightmare to observe the 150th anniversary of one of the Old West's greatest tragedies.
Descendants named Donner, Breen and Graves will hold reunions at Donner Lake Donner Lake is a freshwater lake that is much smaller than nearby Lake Tahoe. A moraine serves as a natural dam for the lake. It is located in the town of Truckee in northeastern California. , where the snowbound snow·bound
Confined in one place by heavy snow.
shut in or blocked off by snow
Adj. 1. pioneers desperately holed up during the deadly winter of 1846-47. Nearly half never left alive.
Up to 200 descendants are expected to gather in August in Truckee and Reno, Nev., for what's being billed as the year's premier event - California Trail California Trail
route used by pioneers, extending from Wyoming to Sacramento. [Am. Hist.: WB, 21: 440f]
See : Wild West Days '96 and the Donner Party Sesquicentennial ses·qui·cen·ten·ni·al
Of or relating to a period of 150 years.
A 150th anniversary or its celebration.
Noun 1. .
``I hope they dwell on the positive aspects instead of opening up 150-year-old family wounds,'' said James F. Reed III of Edmonds, Wash., a great-great-grandson of party member James Reed
Many members of the dissension-racked party starved to death. Others resorted to cannibalism cannibalism (kăn`ĭbəlĭzəm) [Span. caníbal, referring to the Carib], eating of human flesh by other humans. to survive when stranded in the Sierra near Truckee. Forty-two of the 89 members died.
The group's farmers left homes in the Midwest 150 years ago this month to begin the covered-wagon journey. Their woes stemmed largely from a supposed shortcut (1) In Windows, a shortcut is an icon that points to a program or data file. Shortcuts can be placed on the desktop or stored in other folders, and double clicking a shortcut is the same as double clicking the original file. through Utah and from an early winter.
Descendants acknowledge the cannibalism but said it was not a subject discussed by survivors.
``It was traumatic for them and I think it was something they didn't want to talk about very much,'' said Barbara Wilder Politano of Rancho Cucamonga, a great-great-granddaughter of party captain George Donner. ``We won't dwell on it, either.''
More than 125 direct descendants of George Donner are expected to attend a family reunion July 20 at Donner Lake. The last such Donner reunion was held in 1990 in Truckee.
Plans call for family historians to speak about what happened to each Donner survivor after they reached California. Guests also will be given a chance to share memories passed down by ancestors.
``The purpose of it is to honor our ancestors,'' Politano said. ``We feel the dreams of George and Tamsen Donner were probably realized by their daughters. For any of them to make it through all the way to California took a lot of courage and stamina.''
Graves and Breen family reunion picnics will be held Aug. 16 and Aug. 17, respectively, at Donner Lake in conjunction with the California Trail Days '96 event.
More than 40 direct descendants are expected to attend each reunion, which will feature talks by historians.
``We haven't had a family reunion before. This will be a first and we're really looking forward to it,'' said Nancy Lyons of Davis, Calif., a great-great-granddaughter of Franklin Graves Sr.
The last major gathering of Breen descendants was in 1968 in San Juan Bautista San Juan Bautista (săn wän bətē`stə), mission, W Calif., in the fertile San Juan valley. Largest of the California missions, San Juan Bautista (1797) draws thousands of visitors annually. , Calif., where the Breens settled after the Sierra ordeal, said Philip Hudner of Kentfield, Calif., a great-great-grandson of Patrick Breen.
Descendants of party members James Reed and Lavina Murphy are expected to join other descendants at a reunion banquet Aug. 15 in Reno.
The banquet will help kick off California Trail Days '96, which is expected to draw 8,000 people between Aug. 15-18.
The event also will feature tours of the Emigrant Trail and Donner Party campsites in the Truckee area, as well as talks by experts on various aspects of the tragedy, including cannibalism and James Reed's killing of John Snyder in Nevada.
``We're trying to get the word out to other descendants about it,'' said coordinator Frankye Craig. ``We have tracked down at least 200 descendants and know there are 1,000 or more of them.''
The event is being sponsored by the Sierra State Parks Foundation, the interpretive arm for the California state park system's Sierra district.