The Donner Party: Cannibals or Not?

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  • Topic: Donner Party, George Donner, James F. Reed
  • Pages : 3 (863 words )
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  • Published : March 30, 2006
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Most of us have all heard of the Donner Party. They were the group of traveling families, trying to reach the new land. Along the way, they were said to have partaken in cannibalism to survive harsh winters. Recent studies are trying to prove if in fact all of the survivors had joined in the cannibalism. If in fact they were all cannibals or not, only time and more extensive research can tell.

In April of 1846, the Donner Party set off from Springfield, Illinois in search of a new life and land in California. The travelers consisted of George Donner's family and himself, and also the seven teamster drivers he hired. Also on the trip was Jacob Donner and his family and James Frazier Reed, and his family, and their two hired servants that they were taking along on the trip. Along the way the emigrants stop at places such as Big Blue River, Platte River, and Fort Laramie. On July twentieth they reach the Little Sandy River, and the now larger party of travelers splits up. Many of the travelers went on the beaten path heading towards Oregon, but the Donner Party and followers headed towards Fort Bridger to meet Hastings, who would take them on his new, easier route. This was a mistake on their behalf, considering the events that follow.

In the weeks and months that followed, it is said the Donner Party endured harsh winters, starvation, dehydration, and is said to have lead to cannibalism. An article was published on April 10th, 1847, in the California Star by T.J. Schoonover entitled, The Life and Days of General John A. Stutter. In this article he mentions the supposed cannibalism of the Donner Party.

A woman sat by the side of the body of her dead
husband cutting out his tongue; the heart she had
already taken out, broiled, and eaten. The daughter
was seen eating the father; and the mother, that
of her children; children, that of father and mother.
The emaciated, wild, and ghastly appearance of
the survivors added to the...
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