By Virginia Reed Murphy
This tragic tale of Virginia Reed?s trip west is informed via her memoirs of the twelve-year-old woman, with supplementary debts in line with her father's letters and the diary of one other visitor. Given the delicate nature of features of the adventure, younger readers will locate the history notes and explanatory reviews necessary. Maps and various reproductions integrated.
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Extra resources for Across the Plains in the Donner Party
February 6 Mrs. Eddy very weak. February 7 Milt here today. Says Mrs. Reed will get a hide from Mrs. Murphy. McCutchens' child died five days ago. 43 Never to Wake Again Virginia Reed Murphy Death claimed many in our party by the middle of February. Our handyman, Baylis Williams, who had been in delicate health before we left Springfield, was the first to die at Donner Lake. He passed away before starvation became common in our camp. The death that affected our family the most was that of Milt Elliott.
McCutchen and her baby stayed with the Graves family, and Stanton and the two Indians made their home with us. 35 Next, most of the cattle were slaughtered, and the meat was buried in the snow for preservation. My mother had no cattle to kill, but she made arrangements for some, promising to give two for one in California. All parts of the carcasses were used, even the animals' hides, which were thrown over our roofs to help keep out the snow. We had little beyond the cattle to eat, and because we feared starvation, some of our members decided to try to cross the mountains to get help from Sutter's Fort.
On February 22, my family left with the first rescue party. It was a bright, sunny morning, and we were so happy, so hopeful. But we had not gone far when my brother and sister, Tommy and Patty, gave out. They simply didn't have the strength to go on without frequent rests, and one of the leaders, Mr. Glover, thought it was too dangerous to allow them to proceed, for to do so would certainly slow down the party and greatly increase the risk of no one reaching safety before the food gave out. He informed Mama that Tommy and Patty would have to be sent back to the cabins to await the next expedition.