Ordeal by Hunger
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“Compulsive reading—a wonderful account, both scholarly and gripping, of a horrifying episode in the history of the west.” —Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

The tragedy of the Donner party constitutes one of the most amazing stories of the American West. In 1846 eighty-seven people—men, women, and children—set out for California, persuaded to attempt a new overland route. After struggling across the desert, losing many oxen, and nearly dying of thirst, they reached the very summit of the Sierras, only to be trapped by blinding snow and bitter storms. Many perished; some survived by resorting to cannibalism; all were subjected to unbearable suffering. Incorporating the diaries of the survivors and other contemporary documents, George Stewart wrote the definitive history of that ill-fated band of pioneers; an astonishing account of what human beings may endure and achieve in the final press of circumstance.



Publié par
Date de parution 30 septembre 2013
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780547525600
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0075€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Title Page
Preface to the 1960 Edition
Preface to the First Edition
The Longest Way Round
The Trap Clicks Behind
The Wahsatch
The Dry Drive
The Long Pull
Knife-Play by the River
The Last Desert
—And Closes in Front
In California
Two Fathers
Beyond the Wall
Death Bids God-Speed
The Snow-Shoers
The Hunting of the Deer
The Will to Live
California Responds
Yule-Tide by the Lake
“Provisions Scarce”
The Seven Against Death
“Old Dan Tucker’s Come to Town”
The Children Walk
Reed Tries Again
Reed Visits The Donners
At the Head of the Yuba
Cady and Stone
Eddy and Foster
Before the Last Plunge
Fallon Le Gros
The Characters
“Keseberg vs. Coffymere”
Diary of Patrick Breen
Diary of James F. Reed
Letter of Virginia Reed
Roster of the Donner Party
Condensed Itinerary of the Donner Party
Notes and References
About the Author
Copyright © 1936, 1960 and copyright © renewed 1963 by George R. Stewart Copyright © renewed 1988 by Theodosia B. Stewart

All rights reserved

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.


The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:
Stewart, George Rippey, date. Ordeal by hunger : the story of the Donner party / by George R. Stewart; with a supplement and three accounts by survivors, p. cm. ISBN 0-395-61159-8 1. Donner Party. I. Title. F 868. N 5 S 7 1960b 979.4'38—dc20 91-33181 CIP

e ISBN 978-0-547-52560-0 v2.0415
Preface to the 1960 Edition
I N THIS new edition the text of the original work is reproduced without change. I augment it with a Supplement—as I hope, thus increasing its interest and usefulness. In this new section I review recent scholarship, reconsider some controversial matters, and consider the impact upon the original work of two collections of Donnerana which have become available since 1936. Also added are three important original accounts which have not been previously published in a book designed for general circulation.
I am content thus to republish the 1936 text. In the first place, I believe that it still holds up, since the possible errors (in the light of the more recently available materials) are neither numerous nor vital, being concerned almost entirely with details of chronology during the early part of the journey. (See pp. 303–304 .) In the second place, I may say, paradoxically, that I did not wish to tamper with another man’s work; for I am not that man of a quarter-century ago, and to attempt to revise what he wrote would lead to unevenness and patchwork. Finally, I am perhaps deluded enough to think that a text which has existed for such a period of time and has been read by thousands of people has already begun to achieve a kind of classic quality.
With this 1960 edition I hope to put the book into final form—at least for as long as I shall be concerned about it. One may wonder as to whether still more new materials on the story will come to light. Certain papers of Woodworth’s, for instance, are believed to be extant, and they will doubtless become available at some time. These papers, however, will probably not change the story significantly, and I know of nothing eke, unless some miracle of excavation at Alder Creek should bring to light the diary which Tamsen Donner is said to have kept.
I wish to express my indebtedness to the late Dr. Douglas M. Kelley for having made available to me the Donner materials collected by his grandfather, C. F. McGlashan. Mrs. Kelley has since, in accordance with her husband’s expressed intention, generously presented the collection to the Bancroft Library.
The Southwest Museum, through its Librarian, Mrs. Ella Robinson, kindly sent me a photostat of the Virginia Reed letter of May 16, 1847, and permitted the printing of the text.
The Sutter’s Fort State Historical Monument, through its Supervisor, Mr. Carroll D. Hall, has generously allowed me to use the Reed diary.
As for the Bancroft Library, I have been under such heavy debt to it throughout so many years that I cannot fully express myself on the subject, and can do little more than refer to the original Preface. In particular, for this new edition, the Breen diary is reproduced from that library’s collection. Among present staff-members I am under especial debt to Mrs. Julia Macleod, Dr. George P. Hammond, and Mr. Dale L. Morgan.
On the original title-page my name appeared with a Jr. Shortly afterward, however, I dropped that distinction, and in this new edition my name appears as it does in my later books.
G. R. S.
Berkeley, California January 28, 1960
Preface to the First Edition
T HE misadventure of the Donner Party constitutes one of the most amazing stories of that land of amazing stories, the American West. It is worthy of record as a historical document upon what human beings may achieve, endure, and perpetrate, in the final press of circumstance.
This account is intended for a full and critical history of that ill-fated band of pioneers, and has been made possible by the remarkable preservation of detailed records. It is strictly factual, based upon the evidence of the sources and upon reasonable deduction from that evidence; it is not fiction.
More than a hundred characters are involved. I have given most of these some kind of introduction at the time of their appearance, but I found this, impossible with the children, and have accordingly appended for reference a roster of the Donner Party.
If in the story I have told much which is unpleasant and much which the actors themselves would have been glad to let be forgotten, I may at least plead that I have told all in charity. I blame none of the emigrants for their acts during that winter, any more than I should blame a man for his acts during a delirium. Upon controversial points I have honestly considered both sides, and have given each a chance to speak, in the notes if not always in the text.
The Bancroft Library of the University of California has made available from its excellent collections the greater part of the materials, both printed and manuscript, upon which this study is based. For the unfailing courtesy and the ready cooperation there afforded me I wish to thank Professor Herbert I. Priestley, Miss Edna Martin, and Mrs. Eleanor Ashby Bancroft. I have also used material from the collections of the University of California Library, California State Library, Huntington Library and Art Museum, and Illinois Historical Society. Mrs. Estelle Doheny permitted me to use from her private collection the important Jefferson map. The volume of Virginia Reed’s letters was made available through the courtesy of Mrs. W. W. Gilmore, and Dr. George Henry Hinkle. To these individuals and to the officers of the various libraries and societies I offer my sincere thanks.
Mrs. Theodosia Burton Stewart has, as always, been a helpful advisor. Mr. Harvey Fergusson has been generous of his time, and has given much valuable criticism. Professor George R. Potter has helped me explore the mountains upon several expeditions during which our sufferings were (I have sometimes thought) second only to those of the Donner Party. I wish also to acknowledge advice, information, and aid in the interpretation of data furnished in correspondence or conversation by: The California Fish and Game Commission, the Rev. James Culliton, Professors Herbert E. Bolton, Frederick L. Paxson, Charles L. Camp, and Erwin G. Gudde, Dr. Eric Ogden, Dr. C. W. Chapman, and Messrs. Charles Kelly, P. M. Weddell, and Grant Smith.
For the illustrations I am under obligation first of all to Professor Ray Boynton for his generously rendered services. For the right to reproduce the painting by A. P. Hill I am indebted to the Extension Division of the University of California and to Professor Owen C. Coy. The picture of Sutter’s Fort was kindly furnished by Professor Erwin G. Gudde from his extensive collection. For permission to reproduce the Breen diary and the print of Yerba Buena I am still further indebted to the Bancroft Library.
Berkeley, California , December 9, 1935 .
found here

A WAGON TRAIN From a painting by A. P. Hill

FIRST VIEW OF GREAT SALT LAKE From Stansbury’s Exploration and Survey of the Valley of Great Salt Lake

DONNER PASS From a drawing by Ray Boynton

DONNER LAKE FROM THE PASS From a drawing by Ray Boynton

THE CAMP AT DONNER LAKE (NOVEMBER, 1846) From Thompson and West’s History of Nevada County ,based on a description furnished by William G. Murphy

SUTTER’S FORT IN 1846 From Revere’s A Tour of Duty in California

YERBA BUENA IN 1847 From a print in the Bancroft Library

BREEN’S DIARY (FEBRUARY 6–8 ) From the original in the Bancroft Library

ARRIVAL OF RELIEF PARTY From Thompson and West’s History of Nevada County

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