Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Donner Party and the Blue Family

As my husband said yesterday, "You just never know who you're related to until you find out."


If you’ve had any interest in the American migration west, you’ve heard of the tragedy of the Donner Party. I had heard bits and pieces about this throughout my life. Was the first time in school while studying the Oregon Trail? Perhaps. Anyway, then  it was simply History – not my favorite subject.

If the details of the Donner Party are vague in your mind check out the well-documented Wikipedia entry or this wonderful PBS film from The American Experience.

I recently received The Chalice, the quarterly newsletter from the Blue Family Association and there was a wonderful article, “The Donner Party Revisited” by Kenneth Blue of Grass Valley, California regarding the Blues who were part of the Donner Party. You haven’t heard of them because, of course, the Blues are on the maternal side and we all know what happens to female surnames.

Even though I have to go back nine generations to our common ancestor, John Blaw of Sommerset County, New Jersey, I am still a distant cousin to the families that made that perilous journey back in 1846/47. Now it’s about Family, not just History; now I feel connected.

Below, Kenneth lists our Blue family as associated with the Donner Party:
The DONNER Family
George Donner’s second wife was Mary Blue, daughter of Solomon and Telitha Ann (Morris) Blue:
Mary BLUE, m1.1828 Charles R. TENANT, m2.1829 George DONNER (b.1784?-1847). Both of her marriages took place in Sangamon Co. IL. Mary was the second of the three wives of George DONNER, leader of the tragic Donner Party. Presumably, she died before his third marriage, to Tamzene or Tamsen (EUSTIS) DOZIER in 1839. Mary's two children survived the ordeal during the winter of 1846/7. George died at Alder Creek Camp, Nevada Co. CA, as a result of an infected hand.
First marriage [of Mary Blue]: No issue.
Second marriage [of Mary Blue]:
1. Elitha Cumi DONNER (1832-1923), m1.1847 Perry McCOON (ca1821-1851), m2.1853 Benjamin R. WILDER (1821- 1898).
2. Leanna Charity DONNER (1834-1930), m.1852 John Mathias APP (1821-1898).
Mary died before the westward trek, but her two daughters made the journey and mercifully they both survived to make lives for themselves in California.

Mary's sister, Elizabeth, and her family were not so fortunate. Elizabeth had married Jacob Donner, George's brother, in 1835 and they had five children:

Elizabeth BLUE (d.1847), m1.1829 James HOOK, divorced, m2.1835 Jacob DONNER (ca1790-1846). Both of her marriages took place in Sangamon Co. IL. James abandoned his family and Elizabeth divorced him. Jacob was a brother of George DONNER, second husband of Elizabeth's sister Mary. Elizabeth and Jacob died with the famous Donner Party at Alder Creek Camp, Nevada Co. CA.
First marriage [of Elizabeth Blue]:
1. Solomon Elijah HOOK (1832-1878), m.1866 Alice M. ROBERTS.
2. William HOOK (1834-1847). Died while with the Donner Party.
Second marriage [of Elizabeth Blue]:
3. George DONNER (ca1837-1874), m.1862 Margaret WATSON.
4. Mary Martha DONNER (ca1839-1860), m.1859 Sherman Otis HOUGHTON (1828-1914).
5. Isaac DONNER (ca1841-1846/7). Died while with the Donner Party.
6. Samuel DONNER (ca1843-1846/7). Died while with the Donner Party.
7. Lewis DONNER (ca1844-1846/7). Died while with the Donner Party.
Elizabeth (Blue) Donner, her husband Jacob, and all seven of her children were members of the
Donner Party. Of this group, only three of her children survived, Solomon Hook, George Donner and
Mary Martha Donner.

More fortunate was George Donner’s daughter from his first marriage, Susannah Donner. In 1835 she
married Barneybeth Marshall Blue, brother of Mary and Elizabeth (Blue) Donner. Susannah and Barney stayed behind in Illinois, then in 1850 they moved to Missouri.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grandma Stewart's Biography

I have been agonizing over writing the biography of my grandmother, Clara Elizabeth "Lizzie" Stewart, for a long time now. I have very few, and I do mean very few, personal memories of her. I've felt quite badly about that until recently.
You see our family moved from Indiana to Illinois when I had just turned ten years old. I thought surely by the age of ten I should have gathered lots of memories of family by then. And I had. I have some wonderful remembrances of my Grandma Miller and that whole family; but I can barely recall the other side.
As it turns out, however, there weren't that many opportunities to develop recollections of the Stewart grandparents because our family didn't visit there all that often. We weren't as embraced as the other siblings families so we stayed away. I don't need to go into the whys of that here as I've already dealt with it in my Dad's bio but at least I don't feel like a such dunce any more.
My little brother - 3 years older than me - remembers more and has promised to share so I'll be able to flesh out some bones with his stories. My big brother - 6 years older than me - doesn't remember any better than I do!
Bottom line, I think I'll be able to get that write-up done soon and be able to move on or rather back into the Leisure line.