A Name that Lives in Infamy

The leader of the Donner Party faced a tough end.

George Donner had the great misfortune of leading the wagon train that bears his name. In 1846, he and dozens of others left Illinois for northern California, seeking land and fortunes. They were trapped in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by blinding, heavy snowstorms. Eventually, many of the survivors were forced to engage in cannibalism to stay alive.

Most of those who died either starved or were malnourished—but not George Donner. He injured his right hand while fixing a wagon wheel. The wound turned gangrenous and he died of infection.

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