Last night at my History of California class, I discovered some incredible information about the Donner Party
. We watched this
PBS documentary about them. I had studied about the Donner Party in 4th grade, and I knew about them.
The interesting part of this story is that one family involved in the tragedy, the Breen family, Irish and Catholic, all survived. All 9 children lived, and with both parents that makes 11. Their youngest daughter was a newborn, I believe. Virginia Reed, her 3 siblings, and her parents, also survived. Virginia watched Breen family patriarch Patrick Reed pray with his family in the cabin they stayed in, and prayed to God, promising to become a Catholic if she would just be able to see her father again. Her father, James Reed, was a central figure of the Donner Party. He was exiled from the party, made it to California, and brought back relief teams.
Virginia Reed kept her promise, according to the film "to the annoyance of her father," married and had a family, and died in San José, CA in 1935.
The other Catholic in the Donner Party, Mr. Patrick Dolan of Ireland, died in an attempt to get across the Sierra Nevada and find help.